Tour this lovely cottage on Lake Simcoe!
A designer lends her expertise to help a couple resolve a colourful debate over the scheme for their family cottage.
"He wanted dark tones and a woodsy Aspen vibe. I wanted everything white with clean lines." The “he” referred to is the husband, the “I” speaking is the wife, and in terms of their decor preferences for this new-build 4,900-square-foot cottage overlooking Lake Simcoe in Innisfil, Ont., they were clearly at odds. But the Toronto-based couple, who has a seven-year-old daughter, a five-year-old son and a Samoyed puppy, did agree on one thing: The design had to be practical. And after many reassurances on the wife’s part that her vision could be inviting and relaxing, she says, “My husband eventually gave me free rein. I wanted a gorgeous unfussy space that was easy to maintain.”
To get the look, she turned to Lidia van Zyl, a designer based in Barrie, Ont., who’s well known for decorating waterfront properties in the area. “When I was hired in 2014, the cottage was in its planning stage,” says Lidia. “This allowed us to pore over the plans and confirm almost every detail before the walls went up.” The walls themselves played a crucial role in setting the tone for the space. “Honouring the husband’s preference for a traditional look, I incorporated shiplap into the mix,” says Lidia. The wooden boards, which were most often used in the construction of homes, were applied horizontally in the kitchen, powder room, foyer and master bedroom. “Shiplap, even when painted white, provides a rustic contrast to drywall and has an informal feel that really adds to the casual cottage vibe,” says the designer.
While the scheme may be all white, it’s anything but stark. “The key to decorating with white is to use different shades of it,” says Lidia. “If you look closely, you’ll see the walls are a crisp white, while the beams are coated with a warmer shade.” Wide-plank pale hickory flooring completes the airy backdrop, which Lidia chose to punctuate with bold hits of black. “I love contrast, so I added black accessories to almost every room,” she says. Lidia extended this theme to the furniture as well and, with the kids and puppy in mind, paid specific attention to practicality. “The grey sofas in the living room are covered with indoor-outdoor fabric, so they’re stain resistant and easy to clean,” she says. “And some of the pieces, such as the living room coffee table and foyer console, are crafted from steel, so they’re pretty much damage-proof.” She also introduced a few well-placed antiques throughout the cottage to create interesting tension between old and new.
The 18-month process of building and decorating netted a year-round family retreat that Lidia describes as “refined but rustic.” And even though the wife had total control, she did make an effort to include her husband – sort of. She says: “He really wanted dark floors, but even he conceded the light ones looked better. So I let him think he helped with that decision in a roundabout way. Now we’re all happy!”
Accessories like the rope-hung mirrors and the lantern-style pendant lights make this practical space feel decorated. “I don’t like to take risks when decorating,” says one of the homeowners, “but I did want to mix things up in the kitchen so it didn’t read as plain.”
Designer Lidia van Zyl played the natural tones of wood and stone against sleek black accents to create character in the living room. The tall armoire holds things like games, books and blankets, while the bare floor, a practical option, is easy to clean. A trio of metal sculptures above the reclaimed wood mantel is a departure from the expected mirror or artwork.
In the foyer, the staircase’s natural wood handrail and treads were a purposeful choice. “If we had painted them black, it would have drawn the eye up the stairs as opposed to straight through the cottage to the lake,” says Lidia.
A mix of neutral tones creates subtle depth in the dining area. “The table and chairs appear white at first glance, but they’re actually a soft shade of grey,” says Lidia. the chandelier, painted white to downplay its ornate shape, illuminates everything from meals to crafts.
“This cottage always makes me smile,” says one of the homeowners. “It’s an amazing feeling to open the front door to beautiful surroundings.” the stone skirting – a concession to the aspen look the husband wanted – ties in nicely with the herringbone brick walkway.
The artful arrangement of dark-hued antiques in an all-white area of the living room makes a graphic statement. the antlers are a family heirloom.
“I love a white kitchen because I don’t like distractions when I’m cooking,” says one of the homeowners, “and I can also see what needs to be cleaned.” low-maintenance Caesarstone countertops and a glossy tiled backsplash on the range wall make cleanup even easier. the massive island is outfitted with cupboards that hold cottage necessities, such as candles, batteries and a tool kit.
While the silhouette of the chandelier in the master bedroom is traditional, its wooden beads give it an earthy appeal that suits a cottage. the wicker basket, sisal rug and rustic artwork (it’s made of wood and says “I Love Us”) echo that earthiness, which is tempered by the black furniture.
Hooks and baskets are enough to keep the mud room in order since the basement has ample storage. The built-in bench always comes in handy.
Like the rest of the cottage, the powder room is energized with hits of black. “I love the graphic mosaic-look floor here,” says Lidia. “It’s actually 24-by-24-inch tiles, and they have just the right amount of pattern for a small space.” Vintage racquets used as informal artwork perfectly fit the laid- back vibe of this family retreat.
A fashionista's walk-in closet gets a much-needed makeover.
Style at Home design editor Stacy Begg gives a once dull walk-in closet a glamorous update.
Though spacious, the frumpy pinstripe-wallpapered walk-in closet was outfitted with only a few precarious rods, a single overhead shelf and some hooks, while an adjacent staircase created an awkward slanted nook at one end.
Style at Home design editor Stacy Begg softened the dressing room’s hardwood floor with an overdyed vintage rug. She layered it with a small sheepskin to ensure comfort underfoot (and under paw – the homeowner’s Siamese cat approves).
Pretty yet functional accessories, including acrylic bracelet holders, a mirrored jewellery box and a plastic makeup sorter, transform the top of a simple dresser into a primping station.
Stacy added a sleek dresser, which stashes socks and skivvies and also serves as a primping station. The inexpensive mirror hung above it completes the ersatz vanity, its chinoiserie-style frame enhancing the asian feel of the accent wallpaper.
Wire mesh pullout baskets keep bed sheets tidy yet visible. “Even if your home has a dedicated linen closet, it makes sense to store bedding in the room in which it’s used,” says Stacy.
Each of this fashion lover’s glamorous garments has a place of its own thanks to IKEA’s super-affordable Algot system, which fits the awkward room like a glove. Everything from blouses and blazers to skirts and slacks is right at eye level on rods, while foldables (such as ts and PJs) are stowed in pullout baskets below and off-season items are stashed in neatly stacked boxes overhead.
Stacy finished the scene with a handful of accessories, including an overdyed vintage rug, a framed print and a cool clock.
Tour this Vancouver home's modern eclectic look.
This Vancouver home's modern eclectic look is a testament to the power of a sister act.
Now that the dust has settled on their massive whole-house renovation, homeowners Anna Wright and Alistair Sale – both busy professionals and parents of Lewis, 10, Freddie, 8, and George, 6 – each have their favourite features of the new interior. For Alistair, the cook of the family, the open kitchen is the (long-awaited) best part. Anna is most excited about the master ensuite bathroom she doesn’t have to share with the kids. And for the boys, it’s their bigger playroom in the finished basement.
The Vancouver family lived in the 3,700-square-foot 1920s home for five years before embarking on the huge overhaul. “I’m so glad we lived in the house for a while first and figured out what we wanted,” says Anna. “If we’d done the renovation right away, we would have done things very differently, and those decisions probably wouldn’t work for us now.”
The crisp white brick fireplace surround, built-ins and original wood panelling set off the dark grey on the upper walls of the den. Leaded glass cabinetry doors are another original feature. The antique chandelier was picked up at a London flea market.
A contemporary pale orange sofa pops against the white panelling and dark grey walls. The Mid-Century Modern desk was a lucky find at an antiques store a few years back, as was the Tolix chair.
Going vintage is often a more economical decorating idea than buying brand new, says Sophie.
The birdcage pendant light adds another unexpected dose of colour and whimsy.
In the dining area, an antique zinc-topped table from a French flea market pairs well with mismatched colourful Eames dining chairs. “We thought the different hues of the dining chairs would be quirky and fun,” says homeowner Anna Wright.
The designer pendant light was a pricey find from London, England.
Expanding the existing skylight and adding more windows above the sink brought loads of natural light into the white painted kitchen. Homeowner Alistair Sale greatly appreciates the bigger sink, but extra kitchen counter space, double wall ovens and a gas cooktop were at the top of his must-have list.
French doors lead out to a newly enlarged wraparound deck off the open kitchen/dining area, making the backyard much more accessible. The kitchen peninsula is perfect for casual breakfasts and homework time.
The zinc top on the antique dining table can take plenty of wear and tear from everyday family meals; the stark white modern dishware strikes a pleasing contrast against the patinated surface.
A desk area in the kitchen serves as the family workspace and offers plenty of storage space for the kids’ paperwork and school supplies. Inspirational photos and small pieces of art bring personality to the nook.
The new master ensuite bathroom is Anna’s retreat from hectic work and family life.
The matching gold mirrors in the master ensuite are a glitzy big-box score.
Grey and white cement floor tiles provide ornate pattern in the otherwise serene white room.
The bathroom floor tiles themselves weren't very expensive, but shipping the from California was.
Take a tour of this chic condo space.
Furniture and textile designer Lori Harrison is a neat freak living and working in a small space. Here’s how she keeps her home looking stylish.
Textile and furniture designer Lori Harrison is inspired by imperfection – she once recreated the peeling plaster of a building’s facade she saw in Venice, California, on a toss cushion to glamorous effect. But when it comes to her home, Lori is committed to creating the picture of perfection.
From the harmonious earthy palette that looks sharp against the white walls to the bespoke accessories, every inch of the 900-square-foot, one-bedroom condo she shares with her husband, Michael Clark, is mellow, meaningful and cohesive – key in an open-concept space.
When the couple bought the place last year, in an intimate, three-storey Art Deco building in an upscale midtown Toronto neighbourhood, they loved the layout of the petite but already renovated apartment. So they used sparsely placed and low-slung furniture – some of it designed by Lori herself – and clean contemporary lines to make the small space feel large and evoke a cultured air.
The woodsy details and large fiddle-leaf fig tree give the living room of this Toronto home a comfy California feel. Mismatched side tables look relaxed and artsy – the one on the left is Lori’s design.
No backsplash? No problem. “I kind of like that there isn’t one, because it looks more contemporary,” says Lori of the gorgeously restrained kitchen, with its space-saving built-in walnut dining table that offers extra counter space when needed.
Sticking to simple decor, Lori uses minimalist aesthetic in the kitchen and throughout the home.
The streamlined bank of cabinetry – deep and wide for optimum storage space – with barely visible hardware is framed by a sleek Corian countertop and doesn’t read too kitcheny in the open-concept room.
Lori’s artistic temperament is evident in her casually chic home office. “The white bust is actually my neck – I made it for a university project – and the bare-chested illustration I did in high school,” says the talented artist.
“I wanted to colour coordinate the books in the office, but my husband [Michael Clark] wouldn’t let me,” says Lori. The wire chair is paired with one of her prototype toss cushions.
The couple’s tastes – he’s into traditional, she likes contemporary – are established in the hallway vignette, with a handsome cabinet Michael bought in Cambodia topped with modern artwork.
With soothing fall colours, luxe linens and Lori’s own artwork, the bedroom boasts a relaxed, pared-back vibe.
Homeowner Lori Harrison of Lori Harrison Designs is content in her live/work abode. It’s perfect for creating her artwork, textiles and furniture, which are available online and in shops across North America.