This radiant living room is layered with fresh prints reminiscent of the beach.
Designer Robyn Rider’s use of juicy prints and vivid hues ensures there’s never a dull moment in this Palm Beach-inspired Victorian home.
Much like people, houses have personalities. Some homes – let’s call them the introverts – conjure up cool elegance. Others are like peacocks: a bold bunch of extroverts boasting pattern and colour. The latter describes this 2,400-square-foot four-bedroom Victorian semi in Toronto’s Summerhill neighbourhood. Designed by Robyn Rider of Robyn Madeline Interiors, the cheery home – with its eye-catching prints in blue and white and fresh coral and green accents – takes its cues from Palm Beach, Fla., which is meaningful to the young family of three living here. “We’ve been visiting Palm Beach for the last 15 years,” says one of the homeowners. Not just bold and bright, the design has all the hallmarks of that eclectic coastal style, from the crisp white walls to the mix of natural materials, such as linen and bamboo, as well as quirky touches like the artichoke lamp and chinoiserie plant pots.
It’s exactly what the homeowners wanted. They first spotted Robyn’s work on Instagram and immediately connected with her style, exemplified in her gallery of lively rooms filled with florals, stripes and Greek key motifs that delightfully pop against neutral backdrops. “Robyn’s tastes are very similar to ours,” says the husband, who admits he prefers a brighter palette than his wife does – “I know, it’s opposite of the norm,” he adds with a laugh. But luckily, she didn’t need much convincing, and the couple called on the designer to start as soon as possible.
When Robyn arrived on the scene, the architect and contractor had already removed a structural wall that had split the back of the house into two skinny, awkward rooms. The new layout allowed for an open-flow kitchen with an eat-in area, a petite powder room and a comfy family room (not shown). The wall that divides the back of the house from the front (with its living room and entryway) stayed intact, and the kitchen’s added Dutch door, painted a snappy navy blue, connects the two areas.
Such separation is surprising, considering the trend is to leave no wall standing, keeping a communal space as open as possible. But this family needed function, says Robyn. The homeowners requested the Dutch door (split horizontally, so the top half can open while the bottom stays fixed) to keep their one-year-old daughter contained. “It’s much nicer than an unsightly baby gate,” says Robyn.
This division also allows the house to have two moods: more formal in the front (think eclectic parlour) and relaxed and kid-friendly at the back (from the eat-in area’s hard-wearing 12-foot-long banquette to the slipcovered sofa in the family room). What joins the two spaces, though, is the joyful palette. “It’s the first thing you notice when you walk in the house,” says Robyn, referring to the living room and its floral-patterned armchairs.
But she made sure to use pattern sparingly, so the scheme can be easily switched up should the homeowners tire of it. “The room’s foil is decidedly neutral. Reupholster the chairs and change the toss cushions, and you have a whole new look,” says Robyn.
Tastes evolve, after all, and what’s important in a home is that it speaks to its inhabitants. And Robyn is sure that, like her, these homeowners will always gravitate to rooms that aren’t stuffy. Last year, they hosted a boisterous party during the NHL playoffs: “We had people all over: on the sofa in the family room, on the eat-in area’s banquette, at the kitchen island and in the backyard – you can see the TV from there,” recalls one of the homeowners, who says it was truly memorable for everyone in attendance. Happy houses have that effect on people.
“White kitchens never go out of style,” says one of the homeowners of the choice to go classic with crown moulding, Caesarstone countertops and a Calacatta marble subway tile backsplash. A Dutch door, made out of two custom ones, divides the front of the house from the back.
In the radiant living room of this Toronto Victorian, designer Robyn Rider layered fresh prints that bring to mind the beach. The bold botanical armchair fabric takes centre stage, while the rug and drapery’s subtle patterns play supporting roles. “Too much pattern can make a space feel cluttered and less sophisticated,” warns Robyn.
A lively tableau under the living room’s original stained glass window features the glitz and glamour associated with Hollywood Regency decor, including a gilded artichoke table lamp, a lacquered desk, a retro bamboo chair and a chinoiserie pot.
“It’s a small space, so it can take it,” says Robyn of going for drama in the petite powder room.
“Blue and white is one of my favourite colour combinations,” says Robyn (pictured). “It’s so fresh and happy.”
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.
Enjoy this delicious danish recipe any day of the week.
Created with pure dairy ingredients you'll love this delicious danish recipe from blogger Imen McDonnell's The Farmette Cookbook.
1 Place the sour cream, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over low heat; stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat; let cool to room temperature.
2 In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
3 Add the sour cream mixture, eggs and flour; mix to form a very soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
4 Using an electric mixer, beat together the ricotta, sugar, egg, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
5 Place the dough on a clean work surface dusted with flour. Knead 6 or 7 times, just until smooth and pliable. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a 12" x 8" rectangle.
6 Spread one-quarter of the filling on each piece of dough. Starting at one of the long sides, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seams and ends together to seal in the filling.
7 Place the pastries seam-side down on a buttered baking sheet and cut slits in the top of each one with a knife. Cover the baking sheet with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm draft-free place for about 1 hour, until the pastries have doubled in size.
8 Heat the oven to 375°F. Bake the pastries for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool.
9 Place the icing sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the elderflower cordial a little at a time, until a glaze forms.
10 Drizzle over the cooled danishes, then sprinkle with elderflowers and serve.
Prep & cook time: 6 hours
Makes: 4 pastries
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Excerpted from The Farmette Cookbook by Imen McDonnell. Text and photographs © 2016 Imen McDonnell, Food styling by Sonia Mulford Chaverri and Imen McDonnell. Excerpted by permission of Roost Books. All rights reserved.