Images: Stacey Brandford
From a bistro-style dining set to a grand antique mirror propped up on the fireplace mantle, here are some surefire ways to add some je ne sais quoi to your space.
When Laurent Papaix and David Toto, originally from the south of France, decided to buy a house, they set their sights on The Beaches in Toronto. "We wanted a home with a relaxing quality and ocean-like feel, like on Ile de Re," says Laurent, referring to the island off the west coast of France. Though its sand dunes and salt marshes bear little resemblance to a big city, its rustic charm and light-bathed beauty were perfectly translated to the couple's bright, airy three-storey home.
Laurent Papaix and David Toto spent four months renovating and almost a year decorating their new home. They say their house is now like '"a nest in the city." Below, how they gave a healthy dose of French charm to every room in their home.
For Laurent and David, this sunny spot between the kitchen and the living room is the setting for enjoying weekend croissants and cafes. Laurent picked up the authentic marble-top bistro table at Les Puces de St-Ouen flea market near Paris for under $150.
Other than the original birch floors, everything in the kitchen is new. "We didn't have space for an island, so the trolley is a compromise," says Laurent. "Our carpenter used salvaged wood topped with acid-washed marble." The farm-style sink has rustic edge that's tempered by the modern pendant light.
Though the china cabinet comes from an east-end Toronto shop, its slatted sides and glass-front doors reminded Laurent of cabinets from the south of France. French luxury is layered into the mix with a Basque table runner and dramatic dark silk-and-cotton drapes from Paris. The lustrous crystal chandelier was purchased on a trip to Savannah, Georgia.
High and low items mix effortlessly in the living room. The antique mirror over the mantel rang in at over $500, but is perfectly at home with the vintage trunk scooped up for under $100. The antique ivory elephant figurines belonged to Laurent's grandmother, who lived on Africa's Ivory Coast.
Dark-colour shams punctuate the spot where a headboard should be. The bedside table was a HomeSense bargain; the DIY lamp was made from an at-home lighting kit — the base is a Spanish bottle, and the shade is from Restoration Hardware.
Next to the master bedroom, the third-floor sitting area is a welcoming retreat for reading and late-afternoon naps. The sofa, from the couple's former apartment in Paris, was covered in antique French colonial cotton that belonged to Laurent's grandmother.
In the second-floor main bathroom, the piece de resistance is the claw-foot tub, which was positioned on an angle for a dramatic effect. "We spent a lot here because we felt it was important to be comfortable in the bathroom," says Laurent.
Crisp striped wallpaper and a new porthole-style window infuse the third-floor ensuite with a nautical feel. "We hate bathrooms with no windows," says Laurent. "Even though this window is custom-made, it was much cheaper than installing a skylight." The ladder was an inexpensive antique store find.