A fresh seaside-chic lake house
This cozy lake house in Port Carling, Ont., boasts a fresh seaside-chic vibe while paying homage to old-school Muskoka.
Nestled on the south shore of Lake Rosseau in Port Carlin, Ont., this 6,800-square-foot six-bedroom house is decorated the way one would dress when visiting: in a crisp Polo Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt and comfortable, well-worn chinos paired with Sperry Top-Siders. It's a timeless look that's coastal, casual and effortlessly chic with a neutral palette at its core.
"The homeowners wanted to capture that warm, windswept lake house aesthetic but with a relaxed, cozy Muskoka feel for their young family of four," says Cory DeFrancisco of Mukoka Living Interiors, who designed and built the home from scratch, finishing in 2013.
Like a friendly smile and a firm handshake, the entryway makes a confident and inviting introduction to the home.
"A lot of old cottages have those tunnelling hallways in their guest cottage or service quarters, and this beadboard wall treatment references that," says builder and designer Cory DeFrancisco.
This small boathouse sunroom is literally right on Ontario's Lake Rosseau: On windy days, you can feel waves crashing up through the floorboards.
"We took up 90 percent of the wall with windows," says Cory of the gorgeous great room, where the ceiling's oak beams guide your eye directly to the view. "The overstuffed sofas are insanely comfortable," he adds. "They're slipcovered in high-quality Belgian linen that gets softer with each wash.
Though the spacious kitchen is crisp, white and polished, simple details, such as the grain of the reclaimed-oak floors and the texture of the brush strokes on the hand-painted cabinetry, keep it humble and homey. "It's a new take on a traditional cottage kitchen, with all the modern amenities," says Cory.
A big weathered farmhouse table paired with slipcovered seating and sophisticated lighting that doesn't block the view equals a dining room with easy elegance. But the best feature of this space is that, with the doors open, you really feel like you're eating alfresco.
Even though this home is grand, the family who lives here wanted an overall feeling of togetherness, so Cory kept it largely open concept.
The west-facing Muskoka room, with wall-to-wall windows, is so bright that it can pull off the charcoal walls. "The darkness acts as an anchor, while the light that shines in highlights the furnishings," explains Cory. The modular sectional is meant for the outdoors (so go ahead, get it wet) and can be reconfigured when company comes to create multiple sitting areas.
The whole master bedroom is very generous, but its sleeping area is quite small. In it, you'll find only an upholstered bed, two small side tables and a 180-degree view of the water.
The large window behidn the free-standing bathtub overlooks a garden and granite. "It's hard to make boulders sound nice," says Cory with a laugh, "but it's a beautiful view."
"All of those elements are, I think, what makes it feel authentic to Muskoka. There's nothing ornate in the whole place," says Cory. And just 35 feet away, in the boathouse, the look is much the same. The palette is almost all white and the dress code is bathing suits - after all, the lake's right there. Take one step out the door, and jump right in. The water's perfect.
Image: Stacey Brandford / Styling: Ann Marie Favot
An all-white palette, glass backsplash, traditional architecture and contemporary furnishings create a chic cuisine.
As far as design overhauls go, this kitchen takes the cake. Once dark, narrow and tired, with basic fittings and worn-down finishes, it’s now light, bright and expansive – a contemporary design with serious wow factor, thanks to designer Shirley Meisels of MHouse. After living in this midtown Toronto Georgian-style house for 31 years, the homeowners were ready for a change. They wanted something youthful, fresh and modern, with ample room to host large family gatherings for their kids and grandchildren. Inspired by the European trend of marrying traditional architecture with modern design, the couple chose a mix of ultra-sleek details, such as minimalistic all-white cabinetry and a glass backsplash, and old-world elements like a coffered ceiling and sash windows. The result is not only a fresh youthful space where the family loves to hang out when they visit, but also one of the homeowners’ favourite spots in the house when they’re solo.
This kitchen overhaul included reconfiguring rooms (the laundry space was moved to the second floor and the powder room was relocated on the first) and adding an extension that replaced a covered porch at the back of the house. The resulting 22-by-20-foot kitchen is bright, expansive and full of character.
With practicality in mind, designer Shirley Meisels outfitted the kitchen with two types of countertop material. “Marble can be a little temperamental,” she says. “So we chose more durable composite quartz for the cooking areas and used marble on the island, which has no sink and won’t be used as a prep station.”
The uber-modern brass pendant lights, with their simple geometric design, as well as the iconic Louis Ghost stools, are sculptural focal points that add modern edge. The light oak floors were a happy accident. “Originally, they were going to be re-stained in a dark finish,” says Shirley. “But when the existing stain was stripped from the floor, the homeowners loved the lighter look and decided to keep it.”
Defined by a mix of old and new, the eat-in area features a Mid-Century Modern Saarinen dining table surrounded by Louis XVI-style dining chairs with wipeable white vinyl seats. “Those chairs used to be in my dining room,” says one of the homeowners. “They’re probably 36 years old and have been re-covered several times.” The windows and French doors lead to the backyard and let in lots of natural light.
Small hits of brass and a touch of colour bring this sleek modern white kitchen to life.
Perchoir pendant light in Brass, 18", Lambert & Fils, $945.
MDF 2-door Luna sideboard in White, Structube, $299.
Philippe Starck for Kartell polycarbonate One More stool in Clear, Design Within Reach, $585.
Safavieh glazed ceramic Tao garden stool, O.co, $126.
Stoneware Cambria dinner plate in Turquoise, Pottery Barn, $40 US per set of 4.
Oval marble-topped Marcel dining table, Elte Market, $2,975.
Stunning bathroom design with vintage appeal
A clawfoot tub and marble herringbone flooring are just some of the beautiful vintage features in this stylish bathroom.
After moving into their 125-year-old rowhouse in downtown Toronto last year, Jane and Jeff Wood did a few cosmetic fix-ups to update the charming home, but the dark, cramped, showerless bathroom needed a complete overhaul. The couple enlisted designer Cameron MacNeil to create a bathroom that better accommodated their family. Expanding and reconfiguring the space, he incorporated the original tub and added an expansive shower and double vanity. He used classic materials like marble and brass for a fresh, light look that suits the rest of the house.
The inside of the original clawfoot tub was re-enamelled and its outside painted black. “The bathtub is really beautiful,” says homeowner Jane Wood. “It’s six feet long but quite narrow, and apparently it’s a style that’s hard to find now.” A wall of oversized eight-by-12-inch bevelled subway tiles (which offer visual interest without being too busy) and a marble-topped ledge continue from the glass-enclosed shower for a seamless look.
Home of Sue de Chiara of The Zhush
Discover how an amateur decor enthusiast made a career out of what she loves.
It all started eight years ago when she was redecorating her home in Westchester County, N.Y. “I was working with a designer who was introducing me to magazines for inspiration and trying to push me out of my comfort zone,” says Sue De Chiara, the blogger behind the popular decor-inspiration destination and online store The Zhush (pronounced “je” + “oosh”). “When I started looking up designers I liked, I stumbled upon some blogs, which were much easier to email and share.” This was pre-Pinterest, before blogs became ubiquitous, and Sue decided she wanted her own curated collection of inspiration. So with her brother’s help, she signed up for a blog. “It was mostly for myself – I didn’t have any personal info on there,” she says. But then comments started rolling in, and Sue was encouraged. “I was off and running. I refined my taste, polished the blog and in 2009 launched The Zhush. My first post was about Burberry infinity scarves.” Since her start, Sue moved to a new house in Connecticut in 2014 and wrote about the design – which she did with the help of designer Lauren Muse of Muse Interiors.
After getting her inspiration from magazines and blogs, Sue has been able to create her own style, mixing patterns and colours to end up with an original home decor.
In the fall of 2014, Sue joined Calling It Home’s One Room Challenge, a six-week series in which design enthusiasts make over a space, chronicling on their blogs the successes and setbacks they encounter. For her first time participating, Sue took on a tall order: renovating the kitchen of her newly purchased home right before moving in. “We were scheduled to move in right when the challenge ended, so I thought it was perfect timing,” says Sue. “But that’s not how the real world works. It was an enormous project, and contractors don’t care about my move-in or blog deadlines. Throughout the whole thing, I kept repeating, ‘I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t have done this.’” Against all odds, Sue finished on schedule (save for some furniture that had yet to arrive), and though she loves the results, she learned her lesson. “For the 2015 fall challenge, I took on only a small guest bathroom, I have a very clear work-back plan, and I’m not moving. I don’t want to jinx myself,” she says, “but it’s going well.”
French-inspired lotus wallpaper and brass details make this pretty powder room feel like a true escape.
Midnight blue constellation-look wallpaper on the ceiling of Sue’s son’s bedroom adds depth and whimsy.
“It was a bit cost-prohibitive to wallpaper all the closets,” says Sue, “so I did the one that’d be seen the most.”
“Splurge on a stunning light fixture and a really great rug, and you can get away with saving on a lot of other things,” advises Sue on budgeting for decor. One of her favourite items to save on is artwork. “Find prints on Etsy or get creative and make your own,” she adds. The artwork on display in Sue’s place, such as the silhouettes of her three kids along the stairs in the front hall, is personal and special to the family. The portraits were created by artist Carter Kustera with Benjamin Moore paints.
“I love paint,” says Sue of the best way to quickly and inexpensively refresh a room. “On walls, on furniture – paint is a great option because if it doesn’t work out, you can just make it white again.” The butler’s pantry is a perfect example of paint saving the day: “When my husband and I looked at the house before buying it, the wooden cabinets in the butler’s pantry were stained a dark mahogany. They were very masculine and stodgy,” she says. “I instantly knew I wanted to paint them a very dark high-gloss blue, taking the pantry from a men’s club cigar room to a fresh, bold jewel-box space.”
The key to creating a home office you actually want to spend time in? “Surround yourself with the fun little things you love but aren’t to the tastes of the people you live with,” says Sue. “Your home office is where you get to express yourself.” In hers, Sue indulged in girlie accessories, which she shared on Instagram, including a bedazzled-lips telephone and an Yves Saint Laurent print.
“Bold, whimsical wallpaper is perfect in small doses on ceilings or covering rooms you don’t necessarily spend tons of time in – it’s a nice surprise,” says Sue, who keeps the walls of her main living areas neutral, but has fun in petite spaces.