Modern rustic townhouse
With a limited budget, a lot of creativity and loads of white paint, Toronto designer Jo Alcorn puts a stylish stamp on her sunny townhouse.
If her signature platinum blond hair and the moniker of her design firm – Whitewash & Co. – aren’t proof of her affinity for a certain shade, then a tour of Jo Alcorn’s west-end Toronto townhouse certainly is. White permeates the light-filled interior, from the furniture and accessories right down to the paint, which isn’t just any colour, but Jo Jo Whitewash, the namesake blend she custom designed for Para Paints. It was also the catalyst for her choice to infuse the 1,900-square-foot three-storey home with a fresh and crisp brio.
While the listing for the townhouse piqued her interest two years ago, tempting her with more space in her preferred neighbourhood, the viewing didn’t. “I actually wasn’t going to take it,” she says. “All the walls were painted yellow, and there were heavy old drapes, maple cabinetry and a sad-looking patio.” Before she shut the door on the property forever, her aesthetic instincts kicked in and she knew she could run with it. “I realized underneath it all, the house had good bones: 12-foot-high ceilings, detailed crown mouldings, clean lines and tons of natural light. I signed on the dotted line.”
“My dining room is just 10 feet wide, so it was tricky to figure out the scale of the furniture,” says homeowner and designer Jo Alcorn. To remedy this, she enlisted her father to craft a narrow dining table with benches that tuck underneath. “He used pine planks, and it cost a fraction of the price of a similar-looking table I had my eye on.” A modern white end chair plays off the rustic style of the table.
The galley kitchen’s maple cabinetry was punched up with paint and vintage brass hardware. “The upper cabinets are the same colour as the walls,” says Jo. “and I used a charcoal shade on the lowers to blend in with the black appliances and anchor the room.” A runner helps disguise the original floor tiles until Jo replaces them.
Myriad combinations of Jo’s signature look – an abundance of white, graphic black accents and soft touches like comfy furniture, throws and toss cushions – define the living room as both stylish and approachable.
“This is where my dogs, Lucy and Ricky, and I spend a lot of time,” she says. “White furniture is actually a cleaning lifesaver with white shedding dogs!”
Inspired by the conviviality of country kitchens with designated seating areas, Jo nixed an eat-in area in favour of a cozy sitting nook that’s perfect for morning coffee and evening cocktails.
Wallet-friendly black accents, whether in the form of paint, toss cushions, rugs or artwork, were used generously throughout to animate the pale backdrop and prevent the house from feeling stark.
Since every wall in the master bedroom features a window or a door, Jo had no choice but to position the bed in front of a small window. She found a headboard tall enough to hide its awkward placement, but the colour was wrong. Jo reupholstered it using a patterned fabric shower curtain and a staple gun. the result is a showpiece crafted on a shoestring budget.
The nightstand introduces a warm element (as well as handy storage) to the bedroom. The mirror reflects natural light and provides a feeling of spaciousness, while the dramatic horn lamp offers a sculptural balance to the large-scale headboard.
1 1006-02 loveseat, Cocoon Furnishings, from $2,280. 2 Dakota dining table, 77", Crate and Barrel, $1,699. 3 Triangular bevel rectangular framed mirror, Lowe’s, $80. 4 Scroll Tile rug in mocha, Pottery Barn, from $281. 5 Maison 4-drawer dresser in antiqued white, Restoration Hardware, $1,595 US. 6 Source kudu table lamp, West Elm, $219.
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Designer Jennifer Ferreira helps a Toronto couple reach a design verdict that's both practical and polished.
Contemporary artwork and kids' colouring books; a travertine dining table and a teepee fort - these anomalous pairings are the norm at Courtney Toomath-West and Ken West's Toronto house. "This is a family home," says Courtney. "Our daughters can play, and my husband and I can retreat to formal rooms, all in one fairly small space."
Courtney and Ken, both lawyers, bought the 1,800-square-foot rowhouse in 2008 before their girls - Honor, now 6, and Caroline, 4 - were born. "Ken and I had been living in a condo, but when we began to think about having kids, we yearned for the character of an older home," says Courtney. This Victorian, in the city's Little Italy neighbourhood, fit the bill. "I fell for its original plaster mouldings as well as its high arches and ceilings," she says. "It hadn't been updated in decades, but it was well loved, and I wanted to preserve its charm."
"The entryway feels grand for a 16-foot-wide house," says designer Jennifer Ferreira. The oversized mirror creates the illusion of space, and the large pendant light complements the black trim on the sisal runner.
"When I first saw Courtney and Ken's house, it simply needed finessing," says designer Jennifer Ferreira. "I wanted to complement its architectural details, inject a tailored look and create a comfortable family space." Jennifer incorporated a few new and custom-made pieces into the decor, but says the transformation really started with the window coverings. "Drapes make a house feel like a home," she says. "I added them to all the principal rooms, hanging them above the window frames to create a sense of grandeur." The black drapery rods fitted with brass finials and drapes with a band of grey ribbon lend a sense of elegance and formality to the living room.
When they couple moved in, they replaced the existing light oak floors, which were in bad shape, with darker oak and, keeping their art collection in mind, painted the walls gallery-like neutral shades. Jennifer also updated the living room's outdated armchairs with sophisticated zebra-print fabric.
The kitchen was expanded by removing a wall between it and the den, and fitted with new cabinetry and appliances.
The grey lower cabinets add contrast to the mostly white kitchen, which is outfitted with Caesarstone countertops and stainless steel appliances.
The homeowners love to entertain and often host dinner parties, so Jennifer designed chairs for lounging in the dining room. A sculptural light fixture illuminates the travertine table, a family heirloom.
"The master bedroom doesn't get a lot of light, so I wanted to brighten it up," says Jennifer. An airy wall colour, natural linen headboard and ikat-print bench do the trick.
"I painted the bathroom walls white and replaced a dark wooden vanity with a white one for a more tailored look."
In daughters Honor and Caroline's bedroom, the drapes match the pink linen headboards. "The fabrics can easily be changed if they ever tire of them," says Jennifer. Courtney added the princess sign for a little sparkle.
Soft pink hydrangeas add a sweet, fresh touch to the girls' pink bedroom.
"The Wests honeymooned in Morocco, so I chanelled that look on their patio," says Jennifer. "The pendant light, side table and toss cushions resemble items found in a souk."
Nothing brings the indoors out better than carrying your colour palette out onto the patio. The patterned toss cushions keep the family comfortable and cozy while adding a fun dose of the bright pink seen throughout the rest of the home.