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Industrial loft design with luxe details and an edgy appeal
Brimming with luxurious materials and industrial swagger, an edgy-meets-elegant makeover sees the union of two lofts.
In sitcoms, there’s always the jokester perpetually getting locked out of his apartment in the hallway wearing socks – or worse, far less. In real life, however, hallway humour is not so funny. Take this husband and wife who had to go out to the corridor every time they needed something from next door. They own (and inhabit) adjacent lofts in Toronto’s historic Merchandise Building. Commensurate with early 20th-century Chicago-style architecture, the building has hefty bones, high ceilings and factory windows – enthralling features that meant moving elsewhere to gain more space was out of the question. “Besides, the idea was always to merge the two units,” says the husband, joking, “but in the meantime, we had the best guest suite in the city.”
After owning the lofts for three years, the professional pair, who has a four-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, finally decided to fuse the 1,763- and 1,372-square-foot spaces. To bring the project from concept to fruition, they collaborated with Croma Design’s savvy Ryan Martin and Amy Kent. Building restrictions only allowed for a small opening between the suites, which was achieved by removing the kitchen and a small laundry closet from one unit, as well as reconfiguring the master bedroom. But it worked out perfectly. “It resulted in two separate zones: one for the family to relax in, the other for entertaining,” explains Amy. Toys are relegated to the family room in one unit, while in the other, the slick living room with its stand-out hot-rolled-steel fireplace is enjoyed when the adults are entertaining.
In the living room of this Toronto loft designed by Ryan Martin and Amy Kent of Croma Design, a standout fireplace surround made from 12 feet of hot-rolled steel creates architectural drama. Modern furnishings, hits of brass and pared-back artwork establish a look that’s at once livable and luxurious.
The dining room’s existing bar niche was updated with a Caesarstone-topped cabinet and upper shelves. An artistic take on utilitarian fluorescents over the dining table, the light fixture offers striking sculptural presence – but no harshness. “It uses LED bulbs, so it emits a warm glow,” says Amy.
The loft’s decor is all about sharp contrast and cohesion, exemplified in the long steel shelves that echo the steel-based dining table, as well as the doors of the nine-foot-long sideboard, which are the same as the ones used for the kitchen cabinetry.
The living room’s custom bookcases were so tall the contractor had to build them off-site and stack them here in components – but the extra effort was worth it. They’re a huge improvement from the cluttered stand-alones that once lived in the loft.
The weight of the kitchen’s darkness is balanced by the light and airy envelope around it, from the white surrounding walls and ceiling to the glass pendant lights. The island is equipped with open shelves to store cookbooks, which offer a hint of colour.
“We chose Caesarstone countertops because they’re durable and easy to maintain, which is great for this family, who is constantly trying out new recipes from their many cookbooks,” says Amy.
House tour: A white and gold Christmas morning
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and on Christmas morning that sentiment is even truer – after all, it’s what we eat before we unwrap our gifts!
Christmas is not the time to put your house on a decorating diet – especially if you’ve got children. Don’t, for instance, think that it’s excessive to have a parade of prancing forest critters on a tabletop, or that you shouldn’t unleash a spray of stars in a window already adorned with twinkle lights. And don’t think you can’t make it all look stylish. Because that’s exactly what cousins Monika Hibbs (the popular blogger of The Doctor’s Closet, who has since rebranded to monikahibbs.com) and Stephanie Giesbrecht (a designer who runs Stephanie Jean Design in Vancouver) did when they created a wintry, woodland-themed kids’ breakfast in Monika’s Langley, B.C., home last year. And they did it to stunning effect. “Kids appreciate good design,” says the pair. “It tells them that they’re special, and that you don’t only make your place look nice when other adults are coming over.”
Pretty and pale with shimmery hits of gold, vintage accoutrements and cozy textures, as well as a pair of decked out trees, the living and dining rooms are spaces as captivating as scenes from a fairytale. With personalized plates, decorated cookies, milk and hot chocolate, the day was as decadent as any kid would wish for. And though it was created for the little folks in their lives – Stephanie has three children and Monika has one – the holiday set-up is glamorous enough for grown-ups. Spiked hot cocoa, anyone?
Homeowner Monika Hibbs and her cousin, designer Stephanie Giesbrecht, decorated the living room of Monika’s home for Christmas with two trees instead of one so the kids could participate in decorating the four-foot number. Each child has his or her own twine-wrapped letter trinket to place on the small tree, and a monogrammed bauble hanging on the big one, too. Stockings strung up on a fireplace are often too high for kids to reach – so why not set them on the floor, where they can best be enjoyed? “It creates a really inviting atmosphere and adds coziness, making the under-the-tree area look fuller,” says Stephanie. Not that it needs it. The presents stunningly wrapped in combinations of white, black, brown and gold are beautiful, too.
Suspend stars and strings of twinkle lights vertically in a window for a snowfall effect. The simple arrangement adds celebratory cheer, and the kids can help out by adding their own handmade snowflakes to the mix. Kids’ Christmas decor doesn’t have to be a riotous mix of primary colours. Monika and Stephanie stuck to a dreamy meringue-white scheme, lacing in complementary pale accents for a soothing look.
Monika and Stephanie tucked a small print that subtly says Christmas (the word “mistletoe” is written in a funky, fanciful font) into the wooded tablescape for additional whimsy, interest and texture. In lieu of prints, use greeting cards to place fun messages on your dining table.
The simple beauty of script comes to life on a hand-painted personalized plate for a glam yet youthful place setting at this holiday breakfast for kids.
Intricately iced sugar cookie snowflakes and fawns were customized to emphasize the table’s glamorous vintage-classic vibe. (What is it about fawns that recalls old-fashioned storybooks?) Displaying cookies on a fluted plate lends a charming touch.
Mason jars filled with hot cocoa are topped with mile-high piles of irresistible marshmallows and garnished with peppermint candy canes for dunking. Rest assured, your kids will be happily occupied...for two minutes, at least.
Okay, we won’t dock points if you don’t match your jammies, but how fun is this coordinating crew? Stephanie (in solid black) sits with her three kids – Alexa, 8, Cole, 3, and Haley, 10 – while Monika holds her 17-month-old son, Liam. The foot of the tree is tailored for a post-party nap, complete with luxuriously soft faux fur sleeping bags and plush holiday toss cushions. “The kids can have their cousins over, exchange gifts, play and relax,” says Monika. “It’s so cozy and comfortable for the little ones. The arrangement – with the metallics, beiges and whites, not to mention the faux fur – complements the whimsical winter woodland theme.”
The milkman may have ceased delivery, but you can still harness old-timey charm by swapping humdrum cups for sweet clear vessels with cute striped paper straws.
If giving is what this season is all about, then sharing must come as a close second. The moms make sure to have shareable treats around so the young ones can start to understand the spirit of giving. (And for cute photo ops, as well!)
A fashionable couple treats their stylish abode as an ever-evolving runway that offers opportunities to strike a decorative pose using their chic collection.
A lot can happen in a year. At this time last year – September, to be exact – designer Matthew Meisner, owner of design firm Heirloom & Knot, moved into a new home in downtown Toronto with his partner, Rick Bettencourt, and Rick’s daughters, Milena, 15, and Celeste, 11, who live there part-time. The 2,100-square-foot three-storey ultra-modern abode had great architectural character and, even better, had recently been renovated. All that it required was a coat of white paint, warm wood elements and a healthy dose of personality – of which the couple has plenty.
Fashionable fiances Rick Bettencourt and Matthew (seated) pose in the living room of their downtown Toronto home.
Art collectors, travellers and curators of quirky vintage finds, the two are fashion savvy to boot. Rick is vice-president of Nine West Canada, so even though Matthew is the professional designer, he still lets stylish Rick provide plenty of input. “I want it to feel like we both contributed equally to the look,” says Matthew.
Take, for example, the wallpapers and textiles on display throughout the home: Most are designed by Matthew for his Heirloom & Knot collection but selected for the interior by his hubby-to-be. “It’s like choosing between my own children,” says Matthew. “I can’t pick favourites, so I leave that to Rick.” The open-concept space is also decorated with relics of the couple’s past, from the antique kitchen scale that was one of the first pieces they purchased together (“out of the garage of a random guy we met on Craigslist,” says the designer with a laugh) to the framed fashion show invites in the powder room (not shown) collected during Rick’s days working as the womens- and menswear director for Holt Renfrew (Prada and Hermès and Alexander McQueen, oh my!). Art purchased on vacations, knick-knacks picked out at antiques markets and a real deer head that’s been in Matthew’s family for years all lend the home its eclectic character while clearly reflecting the fashion-forward couple. “Anywhere we turn in our home, we see something that makes us smile,” says Matthew, noting that there are memories tied to almost every object in their house.
Matthew lugged the huge deer head on the plane home from his parents' cottage in Winnipeg. "It's been in my family for ages," he explains. "My great-uncle accidentally hit the deer with his car when he was young." The bust has lived with Matthew's grandparents and parents and now acts as the perfect pairing for the tartan wool-upholstered sofa in the living room, lending a rustic cabin vibe to this modern eclectic space.
And it’s always evolving. “If I were to describe our home in a sentence,” says Matthew, “I’d say, ‘It’s curated over time and never finished.’” The two buy new pieces whenever something catches their eyes and, as a result, the decor rotates almost twice monthly. “What it looks like now is very different from these pictures,” says Matthew, explaining that while big furniture items stay the same, smaller finds flow in and out. The artwork exhibited on the master bedroom’s feature wall is seemingly switched out more often than that of a commercial gallery, and textiles are turned over seasonally.
Though their house’s interior decor shifts many times in one year, it always feels like home. “We’ve brought in things from former jobs, from frequent travels and from day-to-day life,” says Matthew. “It’s the celebration of everything that has brought us to this point in our lives.”
Credits: Ashley Capp
It’s fitting, because almost one year after moving into their dream home, Matthew and Rick will mark another milestone with their September 2016 wedding. And judging by how their two styles harmonize so perfectly here in this home, we’d say they’re a match made in heaven. Chin-chin!
Designer Matthew Meisner had sections of his Rorschach ink blot test-inspired wallpaper blown up and framed as art for his dining area. It makes for lively dinner discussions: "Everyone has an opinion of what they see," says Matthew, "and it's not always rated PG!"
Credits: Ashley Capp
A dramatic departure from the crisp white envelope of the main living space, the kitchen is decidedly dark. Warming up the existing cabinetry is vinyl wallpaper Matthew designed and named after Rick: Bettencourt Series 2. "It's durable and easy to switch out should we want a new look in the future," says Matthew.
Credits: Ashley Capp
Credits: Ashley Capp
The wall tiles in the master bath are a spin on the classic checkerboard look and a clever design hack - Matthew simply cut adhesive kitchen shelf liner into triangles and stuck it to the existing white tiles (which never get wet).
Credits: Ashley Capp
"I love that the bed frame's cane detail has old-world character while the shape is Mid-Century Modern," says Matthew, who introduces layers of history into his designs.
Credits: Ashley Capp
Botanically inspired sunroom.
We designed a botanically inspired sunroom on budgets befitting a seedling and a mature plant. Can you tell the difference?
1 Frayed cotton canvas botanical No.81 and No.33 PRINTS (mounted on wooden dowels), Pottery Barn, $119 US each. 2 Hand-blown glass TERRARIUM, Crown Flora Studio, $55. 3 Steel Dark Leaf CONSOLE with reclaimed barnwood top, Urban Barn, $649. 4 Bar-height powder-coated iron Burke STOOLS with adjustable swivel elm seats in Grey, Structube, $159 each. 5 Woven BASKETS, HomeSense, $25 each. 6 Sugar Hill laminate FLOORING in Smoke Plank, Torlys, $3.70 per sq. ft. 7 Viscose blend Bohemian RUG, 5' x 8', Urban Barn, $329. 8 Gus Modern ash Truss ARMCHAIR with polyester Leaside cushions in Driftwood, Style-garage, $950. 9 Cotton TOSS CUSHION COVER, 20" x 20", H&M Home, $15; duck feather INSERT, H&M Home, $13.
1 Botanical linen canvas Cherry and Sunflower PRINTS (mounted on wooden dowels), The Evolution Store, $219 US each. 2 Handmade faceted soldered glass TERRARIUM, Crown Flora Studio, $165. 3 Custom handmade polished steel CONSOLE with reclaimed wood top, Junction Wood + Metal Co., $1,200. 4 Turner bar-height black-finished metal STOOLS with adjustable swivel seats, Crate and Barrel, $299. 5 Beachcomber extra-large round hand-woven seagrass BASKETS, Pottery Barn, $129 US each. 6 Artisan Elite maple engineered hardwood FLOORING in Bracken Hill, Torlys, $7.90 per sq. ft. 7 Hand-knotted wool and bamboo silk Bal Harbour RUG in Antique White & Ocean, 6' x 8', Weavers Art, $3,950. 8 Huppe beech Citta ARMCHAIR with leather cushions in Boston White, Shelter, $1,999. 9 Polyester Swaying Palms TOSS CUSHION with down alternative insert, 20" x 20", Tonic Living, $54.
Be inspired by spring in the sunroom. With the perfect chair the room will be nothing short of the ideal spot to grab a book, make a lemonade and check out your budding love for nature. LOW: Gus Modern ash Truss ARMCHAIR with polyester Leaside cushions in Driftwood, Style-garage, $950. HIGH: Huppe beech Citta ARMCHAIR with leather cushions in Boston White, Shelter, $1,999.
Some like to decorate with piles of books, others with an array of candles. But if you ask us, nothing beats the impact of plants, and this less-is-more tableau is a case in point. The key to this look is the negative space, created by loosely arranged unobtrusive glass vessels. The plantings are few but carefully chosen, varying in height, colour and texture. And don’t forget an element of surprise – did you notice the animal figurines in the terrariums? LOW: Hand-blown glass TERRARIUM, Crown Flora Studio, $55. HIGH: Handmade faceted soldered glass TERRARIUM, Crown Flora Studio, $165.
A long day doesn’t seem so daunting when you come home to stylish decor. That’s why we love these slender minimalistic consoles. Whether your place is ultra-modern or a bit rustic (and whatever your budget), there’s a choice for you. LOW: Steel Dark Leaf CONSOLE with reclaimed barnwood top, Urban Barn, $649. HIGH: Custom handmade polished steel CONSOLE with reclaimed wood top, Junction Wood + Metal Co., $1,200.
Introduced in the early 19th century, oversized botanical charts were a staple in classrooms throughout Europe, used to educate youth about the anatomy of various flora (such as the sunflower) and fauna. As close to the real deal as you can get, our High prints are exact copies of German charts from the 1950s and ’60s. In fact, they’re produced by the original internationally recognized manufacturer using the same film and methods. LOW: Frayed cotton canvas botanical No.81 and No.33 PRINTS (mounted on wooden dowels), Pottery Barn, $119 US each. HIGH: Botanical linen canvas Cherry and Sunflower PRINTS (mounted on wooden dowels), The Evolution Store, $219 US each.
Host a "welcome spring" party with a new smoothie recipe or take a seat while you care for your plants. Whatever the occassion, keep around some stylish seating to blend into the natural ambience of the space. LOW: Bar-height powder-coated iron Burke STOOLS with adjustable swivel elm seats in Grey, Structube, $159 each. HIGH: Turner bar-height black-finished metal STOOLS with adjustable swivel seats, Crate and Barrel, $299.
Greenery has a way of livening up any room, and when that verdant touch doesn’t require any maintenance and remains bright year-round, it’s a clear winner. From banana to palm leaves, the motifs of these printed toss cushions have a moving quality that calls to mind a tropical beach – a sunny ambience every Canadian household can use. LOW: Cotton TOSS CUSHION COVER, 20" x 20", H&M Home, $15; duck feather INSERT, H&M Home, $13. HIGH: Polyester Swaying Palms TOSS CUSHION with down alternative insert, 20" x 20", Tonic Living, $54.
In a room like this the only burst of colour should be coming from the plants. Keep your flooring and rugs low-key with a simple pattern that blends the flooring together to create a faux grass or dirt area. LOW: Sugar Hill laminate FLOORING in Smoke Plank, Torlys, $3.70 per sq. ft.; Viscose blend Bohemian RUG, 5' x 8', Urban Barn, $329. HIGH: Artisan Elite maple engineered hardwood FLOORING in Bracken Hill, Torlys, $7.90 per sq. ft.; Hand-knotted wool and bamboo silk Bal Harbour RUG in Antique White & Ocean, 6' x 8', Weavers Art, $3,950.
Nothing makes a space like this just a bit more unique like putting your own taste into the planters. Decorate your own pots or go for something more special, like these teacups for smaller plants. It doesn't really matter what you plant them in, just make sure it reflects you and the room you want to create. HIGH AND LOW: Teacup (used as pot), Crown Flora Studio, prices vary.