Two styles combine to create this gorgeous farmhouse retreat.
Two styles combine to create this gorgeous farmhouse retreat.
Designer Viki Mansell blends contemporary and rustic styles with tons of texture and original artwork to create a fabulous farmhouse retreat.
Viki Mansell has an indisputable take on artwork in the home: “You can have beautiful design, but if you have a ghastly piece of art, that’s all anyone will look at.” It’s a conviction reflected in her two Toronto home furnishing stores, Absolutely and Absolutely North, which, in addition to offering furniture and decorative accessories, feature a range of artwork, from photographs and paintings to lithographs and drawings. “Most people are confident when picking out paint colours and furniture,” says Viki, “but few train their eyes for buying art – especially when it’s for a farmhouse.” The farmhouse referred to here belongs to one of Viki’s clients, an avid art collector, who enlisted the designer to transform a turn-of-the-century rural property into a picture-perfect retreat.
Situated north of Toronto, the 3,600-square-foot brick house was definitely in need of some serious loving care, but fortunately, its original floor plan required little finessing. So while the space was gutted to remedy old electrical, insufficient insulation and dated finishes, the staircase remained in its original position, and wherever possible, other features – such as the hardwood flooring upstairs, all the interior doors and the tongue-and-groove ceilings in the kitchen and dining room – were kept intact. Viki replaced the downstairs flooring, which couldn’t be saved, with butternut planks sourced and prepared by an arborist. The only structural changes were the addition of a fireplace flanked by French doors in the living room and the repositioning of an upstairs wall. “We siphoned off square footage from one of the three bedrooms to increase the size of the second-floor bathroom,” says Viki.
Once renovated, the house was ready to receive its artistic flourishes. “My vision was to maintain the farmhouse’s structural integrity while infusing it with a modern rustic overlay,” says Viki. This vision was inspired by the home’s setting. “The palette was drawn from the surrounding countryside, so we highlighted the neutral walls with furnishings in caramel, burnt orange and maple red.”
Viki’s choice of furniture amplifies the contemporary mood. “Comfort was a priority, but the furniture is tailored – there’s no overstuffing or rolled arms, just the simplicity of the lines,” she says. It’s a simplicity that extends to the windows on the main level, which were purposely left unadorned. “The homeowner didn’t want window coverings to distract from the beautiful views outside and the artwork on the walls.” It’s apparent that art is an essential design element, as it’s displayed everywhere from the dining and living rooms to less expected spots like above the bathtub and in the mud room. “While the artwork would look great anywhere, it truly complements this space,” says Viki. “It belongs here.” There’s no debating that.
“In the living room, I wanted to create a convivial sitting area focused on the fireplace,” says designer Viki Mansell.
The bucolic surroundings inspired Viki’s approach to the farmhouse’s palette and design.
Custom made from butternut, the living room sideboard features a black powder-coated steel base that ties in with the TV and the interior door, which Viki had painted black.
A 19th-century carpenter’s bench is used as a console and styled with modern pieces like a Tizio task lamp and Rothko poster in the mud room.
The kitchen, featuring rift-cut oak veneer-fronted cabinets, limestone countertops and a hand-applied plaster backsplash, has a simple charm belying its luxury.
In the dining room, a wooden trestle table combined with Italian leather chairs and a graphic light fixture capture the contemporary farmhouse aesthetic.
The living room’s slate-fronted fireplace encapsulates Viki’s take on turn of the century meets contemporary. “The mantel has a pared-back design, yet it’s crafted from 19th-century pilasters,” she says. The lithograph above the fireplace is by Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies.
A bathtub surround and vanity made of 150-year-old pine warm up the all-white second-floor bathroom.
The antique rug was the jumping-off point for the master bedroom. “I wanted the room to be cozy, so I chose a warm red fabric for the headboard and bedskirt,” says Viki.
A mix of textures lends interest to the upstairs hallway; the art by Ian Gray adds colour.
A bohemian-style bedroom display at Anthropologie.
Cover all of your decorating bases with our insiders’ guide to the top 50 design stores across the country.
We’ve all dreamt of a truly magnificent home that we’re eager to enter and proud to call our own – but beyond deciding how to decorate it, there’s an equally important (and often overlooked) first step: where to shop. With the bounty of home decor stores out there, each with its own unique appeal, the wild world of mesmerizing furnishings and accessories can make our heads spin. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide of our favourite interior design destinations across Canada. So grab hold of your list of decor must-haves and come shop with us.
Fed up with your ho-hum coffee machine and drab dishware? Look to Alessi for inspiration. The iconic design company transforms archetypal household items into wares so innovative, you’ll never view the standard versions the same way again. The Italian-born brand also offers products by prolific designers like Philippe Starck and Ettore Sottsass.
When a store boasts a chic bohemian-inspired aesthetic that most would happily reside in, and said store also happens to offer an expansive home collection, you better believe you’re in for a treat. Shop here for beautiful textiles in bold hues and mosaic patterns, artful furnishings, delicate ceramics and more.
Stylish and original artwork that’s accessible and affordable? Does such a thing exist? Thanks to Toronto-based gallery Art Interiors, the answer is a resounding yes. The store’s comprehensive collection of artistic works range in style (from paintings to photographs) and in price (from $25 to $6,500). Most of the pieces can also be purchased online. Cue the countrywide applause!
Located in Toronto’s Castlefield Design District, this furniture staple artfully fuses traditional elements with modern must-haves. The family-owned business (now in its third generation) features high-end items from across the globe in addition to a variety of Canadian-made products. Visit the 70,000 square foot showroom to find anything from contemporary credenzas to stunning sofas.
Think selecting paint colours is a mundane task? Think again. Benjamin Moore is one of our go-to brands for transforming literally anything – be it an entire space or a tired piece of furniture. Not only does the company provide affordable high-quality pigments, but it carries a variety of different types, from its eco-friendly Natura paint to its Chalkboard Paint collection.
For the ultimate in contemporary high-end furniture, make your way to BoConcept. The home decor shop sells Danish furnishings and accessories that will lend your home a sleek and sophisticated feel. The store’s stock is also designed to complement all lifestyles, whether you live in a compact condo or a spacious abode.
A Canadian decor staple, Bouclair is one of those design stores you can walk into and find exactly what you need (or an accent piece you never knew you needed but now suddenly do) – all thanks to its expansive collection of affordable furnishings and fixtures. The company also has its own atelier line that consists of stylish, higher-end items.
Characterized as the Canadian and curated version of Etsy, BRIKA is a Toronto-based retailer that specializes in well-crafted artisanal gifts and home goods. Though primarily an e-commerce site, the brand recently opened a permanent storefront on Toronto’s lively Queen West strip. Expect to find (and quickly fall in love with) colourful accessories, pretty prints and quirky cookware.
For home improvement needs, Canadian Tire is our trusted one-stop shop. But what’s more is that the company’s ever-expanding furniture collection is worthy of the same praise. Make a style statement with these sleek two-tone side tables that boast a trendy dipped look.
No matter your decor need, CB2 will help you meet it while ensuring you stay on trend. Stop in to find fashionable furniture and accessories that have the power to transform a space, from gold-plated bookshelves to faceted side tables. The brand is also big on design collaborations (they recently teamed up with Lenny Kravitz to create an earthy, ‘70s-inspired collection).
Light fixtures are often said to be the jewellery of a room, and Circa Lighting only reinforces that idea. The company provides a wide selection of eye-catching pieces fashioned by some of the world’s most influential brands and designers.
While owned by the same parent company as CB2, Crate & Barrel has been a leader in the design industry for far longer (since 1962 to be exact). The store carries modern-meets-traditional furnishings that will never fall out of fashion, from plush leather sofas to elegant pendant lights.
Committed to providing their customers with beautifully designed pieces that stray from the everyday, the owners of this Vancouver mainstay have amassed a large collection of tasteful pieces that will make your living space sparkle, from ornate mirrors and gilded coffee tables to tufted pouffes and decorative objets.
Forget furniture replicas – DWR prides itself on making authentic designer pieces accessible to the masses. Translation: it’s a sweet retreat for any design enthusiast. Here, you’ll find Eero Sarineen’s signature Tulip and Womb chairs, Charles and Ray Eames’ sought-after molded plastic seats and George Nelson’s ever-popular Bubble Lamps.
This family-owned business – now in its fourth generation – has long been a top Canadian importer of fine quality rugs. The 200,000 square foot Toronto furniture emporium also offers a vast selection of upscale pieces, light fixtures and accessories thanks to brothers and general managers Jamie and Andrew Metrick, who travel abroad in search of new finds to add to the collection.
Keeping first-time homebuyers in mind, the Elte brothers recognized a need for more affordable offerings and opened a market-style showroom in 2014 (which spans 50,000 square feet). The store sells well-priced furniture pieces sourced from around the world that are still of top quality and style.
Purchasing high-end furniture is about more than just the quality of the pieces themselves, at least if Ethan Allen has anything to do with it. In addition to selling elegant items for the home, the popular furniture chain provides free design services to help each customer dream up a masterful living space.
Browse the whimsical online world of Etsy and you’ll find it near impossible to leave. The e-commerce site, which sells handmade and original pieces by talented artisans, may seem overwhelming at first, but after a little exploring, you’re bound to discover a few one-of-a-kind gems.
Minimalist modern furniture with Canadian appeal – that pretty much sums up the glorious products sold here. Most of the furnishings can be customized for a reasonable price, and all of the upholstered pieces are manufactured in Canada. The Winnipeg-based company also sells items by iconic brands like Herman Miller and Alessi.
Dress your walls in a Farrow & Ball paint or artisanal wallpaper and you’re destined to create a thing of beauty. The premium paints and papers are produced in Dorset, England using top-notch ingredients and age-old methods, resulting in products that will add an extra layer of depth, texture and sophistication to your space.
Also part of the Elte empire, Ginger’s is the kitchen and bathroom arm of the company. If you’re looking to splurge on an ultra-fancy faucet or freestanding tub that will lend a luxe look to your space, this is the place to shop.
After spending (too) much time admiring H&M’s trendy decor products from across the border, we’re thrilled that the brand’s home collection has entered the Canadian market, too. Just as the company's garments will uplift your wardrobe for a new season, its stock of homeware goods will instantly refresh your living space.
Few things are more satisfying than remodelling a space from scratch or conquering a once-daunting DIY project. While not always easy, count on Home Depot to arm you with the tools you need to get started. Go ahead and enliven a room with the store’s collection of Behr paints or create this stylish storage cabinet using its hardware supplies.
The best thing about HomeSense (aside from the affordability of its products) is that you never know what you’ll find inside each store. It’s basically a giant treasure hunt for the design inclined. Maybe you’ll discover a show-stopping rug that ends up dictating your living room’s palette, or perhaps you’ll buy a dresser with the intention of updating it DIY style.
The most patriotic of companies, Hudson’s Bay brings all things Canadian to the forefront of the design scene. It also makes international brands more accessible. While you can’t go wrong with the store’s HBC Collection (just look for items clad in the iconic multi-hued stripes), we’re equally obsessed with other homeware brands on offer, including The Drake General Store, Gluckstein Home, Bluebellgray and Nespresso.
Believe us when we say well-made window coverings are worth the investment. Hunter Douglas designs custom, energy-efficient shades and blinds that control light exposure, insulate rooms (which preserves energy) and protect furniture from UV damage. Best of all, the window treatments have a stylish, refined look fit for any home.
Few need to be acquainted with the magical design world that is IKEA, but let us just say that part of our love for the company lies in the freedom it affords us to think outside each ready-to-assemble box of furniture. In other words, the DIY possibilities are endless – and we’ve got proof: from an easy dresser makeover to a budget-friendly mirror project.
Every bookworm knows that the only thing better than a compelling read is a beautiful space to hole up in while doing so. That’s the magic of Indigo. In addition to selling a mass of tomes, the bookstore boasts a stunning home collection chock full of stylish brands (we’re currently eyeing Torre & Tagus and Rifle Paper Co.).
When it comes to getting the designer look for less, Jysk makes it all too easy. The popular chain carries trendy patio sets, indoor furniture, gardening essentials, storage solutions, mattresses, accent pieces and more. The slender side table featured here is one of our favourite finds.
Create a dreamy bedroom or stylish playroom for your youngster with the help of Land of Nod. The children’s decor shop offers a plethora of inspiring pieces that have major staying power for when your tot grows older (we won’t judge if you happen to find a few pieces for yourself, too!).
Think of your outdoor living space as an extension of your home’s interior – and put just as much care into its design. Selling a wide selection of quality gardening tools, cabinetry hardware and other outdoor essentials, Lee Valley will help you transform your humdrum yard or balcony into a pleasing haven.
As one of the world’s largest home improvement retailers, Lowe’s is a brand we’ve come to rely on for an array of quality materials. We’re big fans of its expansive collection of Valspar paints, as well as its selection of Metrie mouldings. In other news, Lowe’s announced plans to acquire Rona, which means more good things to come.
Support independent artists and designers in exchange for inspiring home decor goods by shopping at this online marketplace. Minted boasts a curated collection of design must-haves (read: customizable stationery, Instagram-worthy party decorations and limited-edition artwork) created by independent artisans across the globe.
Sometimes all it takes to wake up a tired room is a quirky statement piece. If your home is in need of a playful pick-me-up, visit Morba. The Toronto-based furniture store looks like a well-curated flea market, with a bounty of Scandi-inspired light fixtures, chairs and accessories protruding from every corner. Not able to visit the store? Browse the shop’s website and place an order online.
For all of your tiling desires, look no further than this trusted company. The Canadian tile and stone manufacturer is an industry leader that offers a wide selection of striking materials. Dreaming about new bathroom floors? Opt for a dramatic porcelain tile. Kitchen backsplash in need of a major refresh? Update it with a dreamy marble.
If your backyard has you feeling less than inspired, trust Pier 1 to provide a quick and easy fix, whether that means adding a striped patio umbrella or a string of colourful paper lanterns. Outdoor decor isn’t the store’s only strong suit, either. Shop here for cheerful dishware, stylish pendant lights, plush furniture and more.
Part of the appeal of Pottery Barn is that the furniture and decor pieces on offer are undeniably timeless. The majority of items boast a chic rustic look to suit most living spaces. And as far as home decor is concerned, the store pretty much sells it all. We’re currently eyeing the brand’s expansive outdoor collection.
If you have a penchant for dazzling light fixtures, allow us to introduce you to Rejuvenation. The Portland-based lighting manufacturer sells a wide-range of arresting pieces meant for any design scheme. While lighting is the company’s claim to fame, it also carries high-quality furniture and a whole lot more.
It comes as no surprise that RH began as a small hardware business (one look at the brand’s collection of metal pulls and knobs and it’s clear they're an industry authority). Fast-forward to today, however, and the store has expanded its product offerings to include everything from home furnishings and light fixtures to outdoor pieces and window dressings. We also love its baby and child line.
Everyone needs a dependable store where they can stock up on the essentials, such as a new mattress (check out our buying guide here) and a feather-filled duvet (see here for how to keep yours fresh). Sears is that such place. We’ve also collaborated with the brand to bring forth an exclusive Style at Home collection comprised of everything from bedding to bath accents.
A home that boasts a relaxed, California-cool vibe is easy to fall in love with – which probably explains why we’re head-over-heels for Serena & Lily. The decor brand injects that beachy West Coast style into each of its products, whether it’s a nautical rattan-framed bistro chair or a coastal-inspired toss cushion.
When a furniture store’s mantra is to “think small”, you know it will be a refreshing departure from your typical big-box retailer. That’s why we love Shelter Furniture. The expansive showroom, located in Toronto’s Castlefield Design District, offers up Mid-Century Modern items alongside more contemporary furnishings.
If you’re searching for budget-friendly furniture with a modern edge, Structube has you covered. The Montreal-based business, which has more than 45 stores across Canada, sells affordable home decor that feels fresh and innovative.
What makes a retailer stand out from the pack? Its ability to cater to customers’ needs. In the land of home decor, that means creating customizable pieces. StyleGarage sells made-to-order furniture that’s produced in Canada using sustainably sourced materials whenever possible. If you prefer ready-made items, check out the store's collection of Gus* Modern products.
With a curated collection of beautiful fabrics, Tonic Living is a trusted source for all of your custom sewing needs. Whether you fancy pastel-hued florals, vibrant geometric prints or simple solids, the Toronto-based decor store’s textiles speak to every style.
As Canada’s largest lighting showroom, located in Toronto’s Castlefield Design District, this spacious store will ensure you never again underestimate the power of a great light fixture. Inside, you’ll find an array of shimmery showpieces, from chandeliers and wall sconces to floor and table lamps. To provide more of an all-in-one experience, Union also sells furniture and other adornments.
The first step to achieving a character-filled living space is simple: Introduce stylish elements with rustic appeal à la Urban Barn. The Canadian furniture store sells cabin chic items that are still decidedly modern, quickly taking a room from stark and sterile to warm and welcoming.
As the largest online furniture and home decor retailer in the U.S., Wayfair already had a lot going for it, but now that the company has launched its Canadian website, it’s become far more appealing to us all. The new homegrown site features more than 7 million products along with a host of local suppliers worth discovering.
Set foot inside one of West Elm’s 65 retail locations and you’ll soon see your space in a brand new light. That’s because the company partners with local makers and independent designers to bring forth inspiring collections that are just as modern as they are meaningful. Be sure to check out the store’s limited-edition collaborations for handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Aspiring and seasoned chefs alike need not look far for deluxe cookware. Upgrade your kitchen cupboards with help from Williams-Sonoma and its specialty tools, ranging from essentials like Le Creuset stoneware sets to fun extras like ice cream sandwich makers. Need recipe inspo? Browse the brand’s eye-catching Instagram account for appetizing ideas.
Add these tasty thumbprint cookies to your holiday baking list! Credits: Maya Visnyei
Try this decadently delicious spin on the traditional thumbprint cookie.
Offering a twist on a classic is something that comes up a lot in the Style at Home offices, but it’s never been as yummy as this. Our take on these traditional holiday cookies replaces the usual jam with three of our favourite sweet spreads – pure genius, if we do say so ourselves.
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2 In a large bowl, beat the butter with the icing sugar until fluffy; beat in the vanilla.
3 In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger and salt; stir into the butter mixture just until the ingredients are combined and come together to form a dough.
4 Shape the dough into thirty-six 1" balls.*
5 Arrange 1" apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press your thumb into the centre of each ball, leaving an indentation; pinch together any cracks around the edges.
6 Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden, about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
7 When the cookies are cool, spoon a scant 1 teaspoon of filling into the well of each one.
*To roll the cookies in nuts, whisk 2 egg whites with 1 teaspoon water until frothy; place finely chopped nuts (such as pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts) in a bowl. Using a fork, dip each dough ball into the egg mixture, then into the nuts to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheets and continue with the recipe as directed. To dust with cocoa or cinnamon, roll the dough balls into either cinnamon or cocoa powder, shaking off any excess. Place on the prepared baking sheets and continue with the recipe as directed.
Makes: 3 dozen cookies
Don't be afraid to add a layered look to your home decor.
Don't be afraid to add a layered look to your home decor.
Add interest and style to your space by layering your favourite decor accessories.
Layering can help add a homey feel to your space, making it both cozy and inviting. Perfect for those colder months (where much of your time is spent indoors), this decor trend will help showcase your favourite pieces while creating a warm and welcoming environment.
We've put together some of our favourite examples of layering from the pages of Style at Home to help inspire you to incorporate this trend into your space.
Credit: Robin Stubbert
1 Cooler Autumn air means it's time to take your duvets out of the closet. Have fun layering your bed with the seasons hottest prints and patterns or add texture with some faux-fur pillows and a quilted throw blanket.
Credit: Monic Richard
2 Instead of marking up your walls, showcase a gorgeous mirror or piece of artwork on top of a sideboard. This curated collection of your favourite decor accessories will instantly add interest to the space and save you any repainting when you feel it's time to switch up your display.
Credit: Robin Stubbert
3 Cozy layers, such as a hide rug atop a wool one and a warm throw on the ottoman, invite lounging and conversation in this living room. It's easy to recreate this look in your own space with just a few new fall accessories.
Credit: Tracey Ayton
4 Layer a large rug over hardwood floors to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. It can also double as a way to incorporate more of your colour scheme into your space.
Credit: Donna Griffith
5 Style a bedside table with all of your favourite items. In this bedroom, a large print is paired with a small lamp, plant and a few books.
Credit: Angus Fergusson
6 If you love the layered look, embrace it! From layered rugs to a styled coffee table and artwork resting on the fireplace mantle, this space isn't shy when it comes to creating a lived-in space.
Credit: Angus Fergusson
7 When space is an issue, use height to your advantage. In this entryway large-scale items were used to set a grand tone while a soft rug gives this entrance its cozy feel.
Credit: Ashley Capp
8 When shelving isn't an option, it's time to get creative! You may be surprised to find even the smallest of spaces will sometimes have room to display a few accessories.
Credit: Stacey Brandford
9 Open shelving is one of the easiest ways to layer your favourite items. Books, artwork, small accessories and even plants. They'll give your space that lived-in feel and best of all, you can change up your displays as many times as you want.