Image: Donna Griffith / Styling: Ann Marie Favot
A black and white palette, square-tiled backsplash, shaker-style cabinetry and iconic furnishings blend perfectly in this modern and traditional space.
Armed with a wishlist a mile long, Toronto homeowners Meghan Mann and Mike Shannon took the renovation plunge last year. With the help of designers Vanessa Kwan and Ingrid Oomen of Qummunicate, they transformed their dysfunctional, dowdy kitchen into a stylish dream and fit everything they wanted into its compact 198-square-foot space. The open-concept design now features a work station, an eat-in nook and a peninsula that overlooks the dining area. Its classic-chic look with a contemporary edge not only complements the young couple’s style but also suits the 1910 house’s traditional architecture and its up-and-coming west Toronto neighbourhood’s trendy vibe.
Opening up the 11-by-18-foot kitchen to the rest of the main floor and replacing the back wall with a glass-panelled door and sidelights were the first steps in creating a more airy and light-filled space. The kitchen has a timeless aesthetic, with Shaker-style cabinetry, classic architectural details and a neutral palette, while a few of-the-moment touches, such as the brass hardware and pendant lights, keep it hip. “It’s a brick house with traditional details like beams and mouldings at the front, and we wanted to carry that essence into the kitchen,” says designer Vanessa Kwan.
A banquette serves as part of the casual eat-in area for the couple and their children, Sadie, 6, and Spencer, 2. It features storage in the form of legal-sized filing cabinets, with flush brass pulls that don’t get in the way of dangling feet. Finding a table that fit the space proved challenging, so homeowner Mike Shannon built the base himself and had a piece of glass cut for the top. The Eames chairs are a classic pick, and the chandelier provides sparkle and blends in with all the brass.
The kitchen was designed with family-friendly functionality top of mind: The white quartzite countertops are aesthetically similar to marble but are more durable and require less maintenance; the six-inch-square ceramic tiled backsplash, with its grey grout, is easy to keep clean; and the cork floors are great for kids because they’re soft underfoot and don’t scratch easily. For homeowner Meghan Mann, who works in software sales from home, the desk area (with a lower counter and two pencil drawers) was a must.
The black faucets and window frame above the sink create contrast yet establish continuity with the black-painted door at the back of the room. The dark elements, offering the kitchen a slightly industrial edge, are also a nod to the neighbourhood’s commercial architecture. “The area has a lot of old factory buildings, some converted into lofts or artists’ spaces,” says Meghan. “And they have those steel windows, so we wanted to echo that look in the kitchen.”
Curvy iconic shapes and trendy accents make this kitchen down-right covetable.
Round wood and marble serving board, Indigo, $38.
Michael Thonet beech era stool in Black, Design Within Reach, $365.
Cotton Soiree toss cushion in Natural with feather-down insert, CB2, $63.
Jason Wu for brizo mixed metal solna faucet in Matte Black, Masco Canada, $611.
Brass and glass Luna pendant light with shade in Clear, 12", Schoolhouse Electric, $269 US.
Cowhide Koldby rug in Brown, IKEA, $299.
How to wash your pillows to keep them fresh and clean
Essential cleaning tips for keeping your pillows perfectly fresh and stain-free.
Cover them as you may, but pillows still develop odours and stains. Keep them fresh by washing them every three to six months. Our resourceful research editor, Mary Levitski, tells you how.
1 Start by checking the label for laundering instructions. Most newer pillows can be tossed in the washing machine, but some are dry clean only. Also, some fill materials, such as foam, can’t go in the dryer.
2 Use a front-loading washer (a top-loader isn’t suited for fully submerging a pillow). Select the warm water and gentle cycle settings. Add a bit of mild liquid laundry detergent (the powdered kind is harder to wash off). Insert pillows, ensuring they are not packed in tightly. To completely wash off the detergent, repeat the rinse cycle. Do not use the spin cycle unless your pillows are down.
3 To dry, squeeze out any excess water by hand. Put the pillows through a tumble dry cycle set to low heat. Repeat as necessary until completely dry. Pillows that can’t go in the dryer should be hung on a clothesline or rack.
Make a hotel-worthy bed by washing your linens regularly and ironing them with a scented mist like K. Hall Designs Washed Cotton Linen Water (Au Lit Fine Linens, $25). Trust us, you’ll be dreaming of a late checkout.
To extend the life of your pillows, dress them in protective pillow covers before putting on their cases.
Eco-friendly products to keep your pillows plump
On top of being greener and more cost-effective than dryer sheets, reusable balls also prevent pillows from getting lumpy in the dryer.
Scent your laundry with this Canadian brand’s delectable aromas like Apple Pie and Banana Bread. Tumbler tarts fair trade wool dryer balls, The Laundry Tarts, $30 per pack of 3; Re-scenting kit in Apple Pie, The Laundry Tarts, $13.
The prongs of these cute little rubber balls are great for keeping pillows soft and fluffy. Thermoplastic rubber hedgehog dryer balls, West Elm Market, $9 per pair.
These bright all-natural wool balls soften laundry and cut drying time. Wool Deluxe starter dryer balls, LooHoo, $28 US per pack of 3.
House tour: Rustic Nordic holiday style
A property in Ontario's Georgian Bay area adopts a holiday look that would feel right at home in the Nordic countryside.
During the holidays, Style at Home contributing design editor Christine Hanlon thinks nothing of skipping the traditional turkey dinner. For her, Christmas is a time to gather with loved ones, escape and relax. Really relax. This informal approach works especially well at her second property, in Thornbury, Ont. The holidays spent with family (her husband, Andrew Brady; their two children, Sophie, 10, and Henry, 7; and a couple of close relatives) at this 150-year-old house (featured in Style at Home’s January 2014 issue) resemble an idyllic rural scene straight from a Christmas card.
When the couple purchased the house three years ago, the solid 3,200-square-foot structure only required a cosmetic update. For the first year, whenever she could get away to the property, Christine worked on creating an inviting look with a mix of traditional and vintage elements and a few modern hits. A focus on natural materials like wood, sisal, cotton and linen suits the home’s surroundings.
Christine adheres to both this cozy aesthetic and her unstuffy take on Christmas when she dresses the house for the holidays. Inspired by the Nordic way of decorating (which usually involves homespun touches, the use of fresh greenery, a low-key palette and a spotlight on nature), she eschews “fancy-pants sparkle” for something more casual and simple.
During the holidays, the living room is the ultimate place to lounge. "I made sure to include enough seating so everyone has a good spot," says Christine "And there are a lot of throws around, because it gets a little bit drafty."
Christine transformed the living room fireplace into a festive focal point with a handmade bunting, a small tree placed in a vintage galvanized bucket and a boxwood garland. "I literally just plopped the garland there unattached, without any lights or ornaments. I like the simplicity of it."
Christine made the bunting that hands across the living room fireplace using black bristol board and thick twine, which prevents the triangular pieces from moving. The ends of the twine were left to dangle down the mantel, reinforcing the laid-back vibe.
On the living room coffee table, a hammered-metal Moroccan tray acts as a display spot for a natural holiday gropuing: a kraft-paper-wrapped gift, vintage-look spools and a sprig of pussy willow.
A couple of speckled guinea fowl feathers (a simple alternative to flowers) and ornaments (in a glass shadow box or laid out loose) form a pleasing Christmas vignette on the side table.
Old black and white family photographs clipped to a cute birdcage picture holder are a nostalgic touch. "The one of a woman smiling is of my Aunt Isabelle," says Christine. "And the other is of my aunt with my mother and father. There's something nice about the way they're walking arm in arm."
The garden room's soothing and sophisticated grey, black and white colour scheme is the perfect backdrop for unadorned greenery.
The barn, which is attached to the house, serves as an ideal spot to host a country-style holiday wine and cheese buffet. "We sit out there and munch on some cheese while talking and listening to Christmas music," says homeowner and Style at Home contributing design editor Christine Hanlon.
On a white-washed picnic table in the barn, Christine created a festive buffet tablescape with elements like a ticking runner, white dishware and shimmering tea light holders. A jug filled with branches makes for an easy centrepiece. It's not formally set," says Christine. "Guests can help themselves."
The barn's window is decorated with a cedar garland and lanterns. Piles of firewood and a galvanized trash can rilled with branches lend a casual life-in-the-country quality.
Beautiful, easygoing displays are what classic cottage style is all about.
Our 10 favourite ways to inject classic cottage style in your own space.
Here's to barefoot days and long, easy evenings - carefree summer style at its best! From pastel-painted furniture to delicately stitched bed linens, here are our favourite ways to inject classic cottage style.
Transform time-worn furnishings with a few coats of pastel-hued paint. To add a well-used cottagey patina after painting, lightly rub the edges with a piece of fine-grit sandpaper.
Customize an inexpensive mirror by spraying on a lacy pattern. Now, it's a romantic addition to a cottage-style bedroom or bathroom. Find the DIY here.
Make beds look inviting by layering linens that have detailed stitching and embroidered edges.
Store seashells and other treasures in vintage glass preserving jars. They're right at home on a counter or shelf and even make delightful doorstops.
Use soft colours - such as seafoam green and cotton candy - to make rooms look and feel soothing.
Choose flea market paintings with weathered frames to provide contrast in a traditional room. A simple floral still life looks like a million bucks over a formal fireplace mantel. Create a sense of occasion with the addition of a stunning chandelier and crystal candle holders. In a grand dining room, there's no such things as too much glitter.
Hang jewellery and scarves from furniture pulls on doorknobs - classic cottage style celebrates easygoing creativity.
Forget crystal vases and perfectly composed arrangements. Fresh-cut flowers are charmingly informal when placed in a ceramic jug and set atop a stack of books.
Craft a cute laundry-sorting system with a store-bought drapery panel and just a few stitches.