Nov 14, 2013
Video: Sabrina and Julian's home tour in San Francisco
Video: Sabrina and Julian's home tour in San Francisco
Video: Sabrina and Julian's home tour in San Francisco
A photo canvas of New York City paired with Eames-style dining chairs lend this dining area a stylish look.
In her light-filled Toronto apartment, Style at Home associate design editor Morgan Lindsay cleverly combines old and new with her own crafty creations.
While most people in their 20s are cobbling together their first apartment from leftover student furnishings and dubious hand-me-downs, Style at Home's associate design editor, Morgan Lindsay, has managed to assemble a sweet and stylish look that would make most 40-somethings envious. And she's done it all on a small decorating budget, with a clever mix of new, thrifted and heirloom pieces, plus a good dose of DIY decor.
The 850-square-foot, two-bedroom Toronto apartment has an enviable uptown location with a distant view of the CN Tower from big south-facing windows. Morgan's brother already lived in the building, so she rented this top-floor unit as soon as it became available. The next step was to successfully woo her friend Lauren Hanna into being her roommate - an easy feat, as they've been tight since meeting in their first year of university. Once the pair moved in, Morgan set to workmaking the basic space into a reflection of their youthful style. "Lauren is not that into decorating, but thankfully she trusts my taste," says Morgan. "She's always happy to help, too!"
The girls' family members pitched in as well. "Lauren's dad is our handyman. He hung all the drapery rods, the heavy vintage mirror above the desk and the shelf in the kitchen," says Morgan. "And my mom sewed most of the toss cushions." This being a rental, major modifications obviously weren't feasible, but clever Morgan found ways around the no-permanent-changes rule. A feature wall just inside the entryway was treated with graphic wallpaper - hung with double-sided tape so it's easy to take down when the time comes. The same paper creates a low-commitment yet dynamic kitchen backsplash. Luckily, the white walls were in line with Morgan's clean and simple aesthetic, so her bedroom was the only room she painted - pale grey, her favourite shade.
In her spare time, Morgan can also be found getting crafty with paint, glue and glitter, making art pieces to frame and add to the galleries above her bed and the sofa. Happily, her friends eschewed the typical bottles of wine for a housewarming gift. After spotting a certain bar cart on Morgan's Pinterest board, her closest pals chipped in and bought it. Now it sits in one corner of the dining area, ready for entertaining her generous friends and family. We're guessing she'll still have it when she's 40-something.
Bold Marimekko wallpaper provides a graphic punch to the entryway wall. The pink bench gets pressed into service as extra seating when friends and family drop in.
Morgan added colour (in a scheme of course) to her entrance using stacked books, a flower arrangement and a fitting stock card that says "hello".
The so-out-it’s-in room divider is original to the ’70s-era apartment. The white slipcovered sofa is one of the few brand new items Morgan bought to furnish her first place. Her love of white, grey and pink is evident throughout the space.
Inspired by a favourite blogger, Morgan crafted this genius gallery wall with a label maker and cardboard.
Homeowner and Style at Home associate design editor Morgan Lindsay enlisted her mom to sew most of the toss cushions in the space.
The open-concept living area included a small office nook, where Morgan gets creative with her DIY projects. She scored the hanging mirror for $20 and transformed its beat-up frame with grey paint.
Morgan's DIY decor tools are always at an arms-length (and looking pretty!) just in case she's inspired to get crafty.
Morgan’s parents bought her the giant photo canvas of New York City. In it you can see Parsons the New School for Design, where Morgan attended a summer program. In this cozy space, Morgan loves her Earnes-style dining chairs.
It was a happy accident that the kitchen had basic white cabinetry and grey countertops and flooring. Morgan updated things by changing the hardware and using leftover wallpaper from the entryway as a makeshift backsplash.
Morgan added charm to her bedroom with vintage and heirloom pieces. There's an antique toile-covered sidechair and pine dresser (both passed down from her grandparents) commingle with the clean-lined bed and modern linens. The giant “M” came from the Christie Antique Show, which Morgan attends every year.
One resourceful designer creates a cozy space for her family.
One resourceful designer creates a cozy space for her family.Credits: Ashley Capp
A resourceful designer with a knack for all things DIY creates a cozy and contemporary space for her family of four.
For the design inclined, recognizing beautiful pieces is easy enough, but the real decorating challenge comes from knowing how to fit all the elements together in a harmonious way. Designer Sarah Walker has this down to a science. Last year, the reno expert transformed her Oakville, Ont., home’s uninspiring family room into a sophisticated space boasting symmetry and style. “I wanted a modern yet classic room that balances the masculine and feminine qualities of our family,” she says, referring to her husband, Graham, and two boys (Noah, 13, and Tate, 2). Having already installed the hardwood flooring and built-in wall unit with her husband five years prior, Sarah’s next order of business was the furniture layout. “I always pictured this space having a pair of sofas facing each other,” says the designer. “I love the conversational quality the set-up brings to a room.”
So she traded in her existing brown sectional for two handsome black velvet sofas and added a geometric-print rug to further delineate the sitting area. This design choice drew her toward a timeless marble herringbone tile treatment for the fireplace, which echoes the graphic quality of the rug but on a smaller scale (with budget top of mind, Sarah and Graham even installed the tile themselves). Other subtle additions to the fireplace like the contrasting white mantel and the curved screen enhance the unit’s bold and beautiful aesthetic. Next up was deciding what to make of an empty alcove set in the wall opposite the fireplace. In an act of creative daring, the deft DIYer transformed the space into a stylish office nook. Sarah began by making an elegant-meets-edgy pin board out of embossed reptile-patterned velvet fabric and then punctuated the look with antiqued brass nails before adding a floating desk and shelf. “The pin board blends in well with the room’s ikat wallpaper but still makes a visual statement that anchors the work area,” she says. After mastering the layout, the designer reinforced the room’s romantic and rustic feel with tasteful details like luxurious sheepskin pieces and natural wooden elements, ensuring each family member feels equally at home. “We spend just as much time here as we did before,” says Sarah, “but now we enjoy it 10 times as much.” That’s all the evidence we need that this master curator has done it again.
Since this family of four has a penchant for the outdoors, the designer incorporated nature-inspired finds, such as the large print depicting a foggy forest hanging above the fireplace. “The image reminds me of being in the woods and escaping the everyday,” says Sarah. She had the piece stretched onto canvas and then resined to deliver more of an ethereal effect.
Sarah and her husband upgraded their fireplace with a striking custom herringbone tile treatment.
The custom white oak coffee table lends an organic vibe to the family room and calls attention to the tall stack of logs tucked into the wall unit. “With a wood-burning fireplace, you want the logs to be close by so you’re not dragging bark everywhere,” says designer and homeowner Sarah Walker. “The display also has visual impact and adds warmth.”
For Sarah, a beautifully styled bookshelf relies on meaning just as much as placement and scale. “It’s important to tell your story through your space,” she says, referring to objects she added that were collected over time, from a sea urchin found in a quirky San Francisco shop to a sepia sketch purchased on the streets of Paris during her first trip there with her husband.
Playing with contrasting shapes, Sarah created a chic coffee table vignette using curved accents, including a vintage silver tray and a faceted black vase, to temper the sharp edges of the surface. “Bringing in round, soft elements is really important when you’re working with a room that has a lot of hard geometry,” says the designer.
Fashioning an inspiring and orderly work area came easily to Sarah thanks in part to location. “When a communal workspace is integrated into a kitchen, it winds up becoming a clutter collector,” she says. “But in the family room, it’s a bit more removed from that initial drop of mail and keys.”
You'll love these lavender shortbread cookies.
These sophisticated shortbread cookies are a wonderful pairing of citrus and herbs.
You're likely familiar with the wonderful results that come from pairing citrus and herbs, but our guess is that you tend to reach for rosemary or mint when preparing a lemony summer treat. Up the ante this month and try a combination that's a little more unexpected, but just as powerful. Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. These elegant shortbread cookies are a satisfying snack and the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea in the garden -- complete with big hats and sundresses, of course.
1 Cream the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the flour, sugar and salt; beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the lavender, beating until just incorporated.
2 Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and roll to a 1⁄4" thickness. Cut out the cookies using a round cookie cutter and place 1" apart on a greased baking sheet.
3 Bake on the centre rack of a 300°F oven for 20 minutes; let cool.
4 Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar and lemon juice together. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the glaze over each cookie, spreading to cover the whole surface. Let set for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Makes: 36 cookies
Bright and colourful basement
Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin reimagines her dim and dysfunctional basement games room as a bright multi-purpose space with Scandi flair.
Dark. Dated. Dungeon-like.
Just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when looking at the shocking “before” photo of Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin’s now-admirable Toronto basement. Low ceilings and black-stained hardwood flooring made the 600-square-foot space feel oppressive – and the hefty pool table, oversized oil paintings and orange-painted millwork didn’t help. “It screamed ’80s pool hall, but worse yet, it was pretty much unusable,” she says. “It needed a total overhaul.”
To the untrained eye, making something of the narrow, windowless space would have seemed like a wasted effort. But as the proud owner of a century home, Erin is no reno rookie and had a clear vision of an airy, functional family room.
Erin's basement before its bright and inviting renovation.
At the far end of the family room, blend-into-the-wall white storage cabinets offer function without adding visual weight for a bright, airy space. Classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s grace the TV screen on frequent family movie nights.
An existing large alcove was the natural choice for the dining nook. Grey paint defines it and balances out the stone-clad fireplace across the room.
The next big thing to windows that open to the outside? A pair of radiant nature photographs paired with newly installed pot lights. The wall treatment of white-painted wood boards lends the room a Scandi-chic vibe.
To sustain the airness of the space, Erin chose a palette of soft greys and taupes with mauve accents.
Erin opted for a touch-latch mechanism in place of door pulls on the high-gloss flat-panelled storage unit (made from prefab IKEA cabinetry) for a totally streamlined look.
A light push in the right spot on the white storage units reveals the family’s extended collection of classic flicks and literature.
Seating options abound in the new family-friendly space. Even Cloudy, homeowner Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin’s Siamese cat, gets a stylish perch of his very own in an unused corner. The inconspicuous wall-hung radiator was a practical addition in the circa-1920s room.