Bright and colourful basement
Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin reimagines her dim and dysfunctional basement games room as a bright multi-purpose space with Scandi flair.
Dark. Dated. Dungeon-like.
Just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when looking at the shocking “before” photo of Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin’s now-admirable Toronto basement. Low ceilings and black-stained hardwood flooring made the 600-square-foot space feel oppressive – and the hefty pool table, oversized oil paintings and orange-painted millwork didn’t help. “It screamed ’80s pool hall, but worse yet, it was pretty much unusable,” she says. “It needed a total overhaul.”
To the untrained eye, making something of the narrow, windowless space would have seemed like a wasted effort. But as the proud owner of a century home, Erin is no reno rookie and had a clear vision of an airy, functional family room.
Erin's basement before its bright and inviting renovation.
At the far end of the family room, blend-into-the-wall white storage cabinets offer function without adding visual weight for a bright, airy space. Classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s grace the TV screen on frequent family movie nights.
An existing large alcove was the natural choice for the dining nook. Grey paint defines it and balances out the stone-clad fireplace across the room.
The next big thing to windows that open to the outside? A pair of radiant nature photographs paired with newly installed pot lights. The wall treatment of white-painted wood boards lends the room a Scandi-chic vibe.
To sustain the airness of the space, Erin chose a palette of soft greys and taupes with mauve accents.
Erin opted for a touch-latch mechanism in place of door pulls on the high-gloss flat-panelled storage unit (made from prefab IKEA cabinetry) for a totally streamlined look.
A light push in the right spot on the white storage units reveals the family’s extended collection of classic flicks and literature.
Seating options abound in the new family-friendly space. Even Cloudy, homeowner Style at Home editor-in-chief Erin McLaughlin’s Siamese cat, gets a stylish perch of his very own in an unused corner. The inconspicuous wall-hung radiator was a practical addition in the circa-1920s room.
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.
The post-presidential home for Barack Obama and his family.
Take a look inside the multi-million dollar home President Obama and his family will lease once it's time to leave the White House.
This January President Obama and his family will say goodbye to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and lease a 8,200-square-foot mansion in Washington, D.C.'s Kalorama neighbourhood. Owned by Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary, the multi-million dollar mansion will cost an estimated $22,000 per month to rent.
Built in the 1920s the Obama family will call this nine bedroom mansion their home for the next two years while their youngest daughter Sasha finishes high school. Located in one of Washington's most desired neighbourhoods the home also features two kitchens, nine bathrooms, a home office and large multimedia room. The home also features a spacious au pair suite which is said to be the perfect place for Michelle's mother (who currently lives with them at the White House).
Take the tour of this beautiful red-brick Tudor home below and check out the full listing here.
Built in the 1920s, this gorgeous Tudor-style home is located in one of Washington's most desired neighbourhoods.
It might not be the North Portico at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but that doesn't mean this front door is lacking in character. We love the large wrought iron door, wall sconces and the beautiful patina copper awning.
We're certain this grand foyer will be filled with framed family photos and lots of fresh flowers soon enough.
Once inside you can follow the beautiful black and white marble tile floor right into a spacious living room.
With lots of natural light and a walk-out to the backyard this living room is the perfect space for entertaining and relaxing. We can already invision Bo and Sunny (the family's Portuguese Water Dogs) laying comfortably by the large fireplace.
It's no oval office but we're sure President Obama will make good use of this cozy sitting room.
What's not to love about this spacious kitchen. From the Shaker-style cabinetry to the glossy subway tile backsplash and gorgeous hardwood flooring it's a great space for the family to enjoy making meals together (which is one of Michelle's favourite things to do).
We love the look of classic subway tile and marble countertops against the contrasting black window frames in this kitchen. And let's not forget about that glorious 6-burner gas range.
With lots of storage space, a small mini fridge and dishwasher a well organized pantry is sure to help keep this home's kitchen neat and tidy.
We can't help but wonder how the Obama family might redecorate their temporary home. Another large living space means plenty of opportunity to add family photos, keepsakes and artwork.
They might not be hosting state dinners but this dynamic dining room is definitely large enough for entertaining guests.
The home's master bedroom includes a fireplace and sitting area as well as his and hers ensuite bathrooms.
As a style and fashion icon we're certain Michelle will be able to fill every nook of this dressing room.
If there's one thing President Obama and the First Lady don't have to worry about it's sharing a bathroom. The master bedroom has both his and hers bathrooms with Michelle's featuring a luxurious deep-soaker tub and vanity.
It might not be as luxurious, but this bathroom features a spacious walk-in shower.
This guestroom is just one of eight others in the home. Which means there's plenty of options for both Malia and Sasha when choosing a post-White-House bedroom.
Michelle is quite the greenthumb (she's kept a garden at the White House since 2009) which means this large greenspace is bound to be full of fresh flowers, vegetables and herbs in no time.
The home also features a two car garage and parking pad to accomodate up to six other vehicles. Making it the perfect spot the family's Secret Service agents.
Black and white contrast create a classy and cosmopolitan look
Fresh, modern and fun, a revamped heritage home is the perfect place for one Montreal family.
Like the rest of the living room, the fireplace is striking in its lack of embellishment. “I wanted the whole space to be sleek,” says designer Sylvie Masse.
Sleek and modern as it may look, the kitchen is hard-working. Ample surface space makes prepping and cooking a cinch, and corralling clutter is easy thanks to the extra storage from the overhead and under-counter cabinetry. A TV integrated into the glass backsplash offers entertainment for cooks or those eating at the island. Visual interest is added through simple details like the pottery that appears to float on the ethereal glass shelving in front of the window in lieu of a blind.
A catch-all for cookbooks and culinary miscellany, the built-in oak unit along the kitchen’s back wall offers lots of extra storage and adds warm texture to the otherwise stark and minimalistic room.
High contrast black and white looks classy and cosmopolitan in the living room. Sylvie eschewed drapery for a barely-there roller shade to let the industrial-style window shine.
“With its bold black runner, the original white-painted staircase looks very old New York City,” says Sylvie.
Modern classics reign in the master bedroom, from the Eames rocker to the plush low-profile bed frame.
The clean-lined everything-in-its-place aesthetic took careful planning. By setting the wardrobe system within the wall and adding a lacquered MDF strip along the bottom, the contractor made the individual units appear built-in for a more refined look.