Modern-meets-rustic living room.
Designer Paula Velez's 112-year-old home gets a modern-rustic makeover, in which cherished keepsakes and new-found favourites happily coexist.
On a quaint, leafy street in midtown Toronto, a vibrant orange front door on a charming whitewashed brick home is the only clue to the study in contrasts that lies within.
Designer Paula Velez purchased the place two years ago, after combing the neighbourhood for its oldest homes. Built in 1903, the narrow, 2,800-square-foot three-floor house was cramped, dark and outdated. But Paula – who moved to Toronto from Colombia 14 years ago – saw its potential as an airy space that blended the building’s history with a modern-rustic vibe.
During a nine-month home renovation, the walls separating her kitchen, living room and dining room came down, creating one large open area flooded with light - a move that left the electricians scratching their heads over where to relocate the light switches and plugs.
Perhaps the biggest change was to the top floor, which was gutted to make way for a spacious master bedroom – and a dream ensuite bath – where new and expanded windows take full advantage of the outdoor scenery.
After falling in love with a pair of handmade woven stools she found in New York City, Paula brought them home to use together as a DIY coffee table in the family room, her most-used space in the house.
The white painted living room's wood-burning fireplace features a dramatic Italian steel tile surround and is complimented by the sculptural triangular coffee table. "I love the modern triangular shape - it's organic and classic," says Paula, who topped it with antique shoe moulds for contrast.
Paula saw that something was missing in her dining room: The painted white walls were too stark. "I happened to have three giant coffee bags I'd bought back from Colombia, so I framed them," she says.
Before Paula's rustic kitchen renovation.
The new rustic kitchen features dark grey lower kitchen cabinetry and floating metal shelves that showcase favourite pottery decor and collectibles from Paula's travels. The adjustable stools can be used at the kitchen island for quick breakfasts or lowered to serve as extra seating around the dining table.
The white honeycomb tiled kitchen backsplash stretches up to the ceiling, lending height to the room.
Paula updated a tired wooden chair in her new home office with cheerful yellow paint. "You don't have to spend millions of dollars for great design," she says. "Be creative, use what you have and love your pieces." The artwork made by her aunt in Colombia is another favourite.
In the master bedroom, a sliding barn door crafted from distressed wood is offset by the eclectic antler chandelier in the stairwell, which homeowner and designer Paula Velez spray-painted with five coats of splashy orange for a modern lodge look.
In the sun-drenched master bedroom, Paula positioned the new white windows to take full advantage of the wooded view beyond, which she echoed in the birch tree wallpaper.
Paula calls this antique 1940s chair and its matching companion (not shown). "The Survivors" after they endured nine months surrounded by plaster dust and power tools. "I bought them from the previous owners, but I had nowhere to store them. Every time I checked on the house, these chairs were in a different place - I thought they'd get destroyed, but they made it," she says. "They're now in my master bedroom."
A rustic industrial-style grey concrete sink ("it looks like something cows drink from on a farm," says Paula) is juxtaposed with a sculptural antique-look bathtub ("I love that it's traditional and romantic") to create the ultimate retreat in her master bath.
Antlers used as DIY towel hooks reference the others throughout the home.
For someone about to renovate: Count on the project taking longer than you'd expect. Things never go as smoothly as you think they will. Most worthwhile investment: The wireless ceiling speaker makes my home a beautiful jewellery box with music. Best out-of-the-box idea: Pairing an industrial concrete sink with a traditional clawfoot tub in her master bath. Favourite budget find: The reclaimed barn beams scored at a farm outside Toronto add character to the family room's vaulted ceiling. Biggest regret: Not making my bedroom closet bigger! It always seems larger before you move in.
Give this fresh citrus cake a try - we promise you'll love it!
Zingy citrus and Greek yogurt make this cake perfect for more than just dessert – try it morning, noon and night.
Lazy evenings at the cottage require a light “after” that’s easy to assemble but doesn’t skimp on taste – the kind of treat that keeps the fork in your hand, reaching for just one more bite. This juicy cake fits the bill. In fact, it’s a dessert that’s so fresh and good you’ll want it for a lazy cottage breakfast, too.
1 Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
2 Add the eggs, one at a time; continue beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
3 Turn the mixer to low speed and add 1/2 cup of the orange juice, the yogurt and zest; beat until thoroughly combined.
4 In a medium bowl, whisk together the instant polenta, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
5 Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
6 Scrape the batter into a greased 10" round springform pan.
7 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel from the oranges and slice the flesh crosswise into thin rounds; arrange the slices on top of the cake batter.
8 Bake until the edges of the cake are golden brown and the centre is lightly puffed but still dense and pudding-like to the touch, about 30 to 40 minutes.
9 Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the orange liqueur, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
10 Spoon the syrup over the warm cake before removing the cake from the pan. Let cool slightly before serving.
Serves: 8 to 10
Add or expand your closet space with helpful tips and tricks from Scott McGillivray
If you live in a condo or an older house, you know that closet space is at a premium. Adding a closet or expanding an existing one will help to increase the functionality and value of your home. Or, if it’s a low-cost, flexible solution you’re after, stand-alone wardrobes are always an option.
Photography courtesy of istockphoto.com
Adding and increasing
You’d be surprised where you can squeeze in closet space. Consider, for instance, the often overlooked area underneath your staircase. With a little ingenuity, you can really gain some valuable extra storage. If it’s your bedroom closet that’s lacking, you may be able to get away with widening or deepening it – or even building a new one – by expanding into an adjacent room. Just be sure the other space is large enough to give up that square footage without losing its functionality.
Photography courtesy of Stacey Van Berkel
The easiest and most affordable way to increase closet space is by adding stand-alone wardrobes along a wall. What’s great about this solution is that they’re a non-permanent addition, so when it comes time to sell, buyers will be able to visualize the space as either having the extra storage or not.
A lot of people ask me if converting a small bedroom into a walk-in closet is worth it. It’s the simplest and most obvious solution to a lack of closet space in a house, but before you commit to this type of reno, there’s something to consider first. Does your home have four (or more) bedrooms? The most appealing type of property to the majority of prospective buyers is a detached house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bringing your home down to two bedrooms eliminates a large portion of the home-buying population, so any value you gain by adding the big closet is erased. However, if you plan on staying in your home for the next 20 years and this is a “just for you” renovation, go for it.
A crisp and calm all-white bedroom is a dream in itself
These stylish master suites will have you inspired to redecorate your own space.
With a textured blush pink wall and storage ottoman this dreamy suite is anything but dull. The elegance continues through glass bedside tables and beautiful bedding, making anyone sleeping here feel calm and relaxed. See other white interiors here.
Give your bedroom a rustic feel with stylish wooden accessories. The wooden bench and wall art add texture to this space, keeping it warm and inviting. Get the look here.
A dreamy all-white room is guaranteed to look calm and crisp especially with light-grey accents, like throw pillows. We love the way the natural light in this room helps transform it into a bright, peaceful sanctuary. See the rest of the house here.
Offsetting patterns can take a while to perfect, but this bright, colourful room makes it look simple. Matching a patterned quilt on the bed with a printed navy rug pulls all the colours of the room together to create a natural palette that will leave you with sweet dreams. See the rest of the house here.
Textured walls are the key to this earth-toned room. Create your own spa-like master suite by mixing calming neutrals, like bedding and accessories. See the rest of the house here.
With such a lush view it's only natural that this bedroom be decorated with simple and chic accessories. This helps keep your eyes focused on the beautiful scenery without busy distractions. See the rest of the house here.
Decorating a large master suite doesn't need to feel intimidating. Pick a few key pieces to focus on and this will instantly become an effortless task. A large area rug easily breaks up the space while chandeliers keep the otherwise low-key room bright and inviting. See the rest of the house here.
Patterned throw pillows (which also accent the bed skirt) are the perfect way to brighten up a grey room. Light accents in this room keep the bed as the main focal point. See the rest of the house here.
Adding colour to a master suite doesn't have to be a daunting task. Hang a bold piece of artwork or above the bed, not only will it act as the perfect faux headboard, it can be replaced each time you want to add a new hue to your space. Get the look here.
An all-white bedroom can look clean and fresh but adding accents of grey or black will add some instant sophistication. In this room, the dark curtains, sofa and deep throw pillows are what truly creates a sleek look. See the rest of the house here.
Hints of colour are a great addition to any room, but this dreamy suite takes colour to the next level. Dark blue engulfs the room, creating the feeling of a royal suite. This room might have you considering what colour to try in your master bedroom. See the rest of the house here.
It's the perfect combination of a neutral palette and creative decor accessories that make this loft's master suit so dreamy. See the rest of the house here.
If there are large windows in your master suite, why not incorporate them into your decor. This bedroom's arched windows, delicately framed by neutral drapes, act as pieces of wall art. See the rest of the house here.
Draw attention to a glamorous bed with a dark wall colour that doubles as a large faux headboard. See the rest of the house here.
There is nothing dark and gloomy about this room. Instead, it has a polished and chic elegance that will leave you quickly craving a darker space of your own. See other dark bedrooms here.