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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.
Image: Stephani Buchman
How a random Internet connection resulted in a cozy and luxuriously layered design for one family’s dream home.
Sometimes the perfect match comes at the most serendipitous time. Years ago, homeowners Peter Riggin and Alex Luby were searching for a sectional for their family room. They visited a store in Whitby, Ont., where Orsi Panos happened to be working as a designer, and she effortlessly connected them with exactly what they needed. Fast-forward a few years, and the homeowners were now ready to overhaul their whole home. Orsi’s name popped up on a friend’s social media profile; she now had her own design firm. It felt like fate.
The couple’s 2,800-square-foot home in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood had served the family (which includes daughters Mackenzie, 20, and Cassandra, 17) well for the past 16 years, but they were tired of the impractical design and outdated builder-basic finishes. So, with a function-focused wish list in hand, Peter and Alex tasked Orsi with creating a fresh interior vision.
On the top of the to-do list was the cramped, storage-challenged kitchen. While they initially debated removing the peninsula to open up the space, Orsi and the home owners ultimately decided to maintain the layout, providing more dining space so the couple can host company. Ductwork was strategically hidden behind panelling made to look like cabinetry and the cabinets were reconfigured to make it easy to access hidden space.
Another priority was addressing the living room’s functionality. A fireplace taking up most of one wall meant a lack of seating options. By removing the fireplace and instead adding one in the upstairs family room (not shown), Orsi could incorporate a slim sofa, a loveseat, arm chairs and stools, creating the perfect place for larger gatherings and book club meetings (Alex is an avid reader).
Choosing neutral furnishings meant cherished family items, such as the piano, oil lamp collection and artwork, could still take centre stage in the revamped space. “Mixing meaningful pieces with new ones creates the perfect balance for a soulful home,” says Orsi, who personalized even the colour palette.
Using a rich shade of blue (inspired by one of Alex’s purses) as a jumping-off point, Orsi worked her magic to imbue the entire home with a fresh and modern look that still feels warm, inviting and livable. Her effortless mix of recent purchases and old favourites, as well as her expert layering of textures, finishes and hues, add up to a functional and fashionable interior that’s big on character.
“When you’re redesigning a small house, plan carefully and personalize the process, and you’ll end up with your dream home,” says Orsi. It’s good advice, because it landed these homeowners in their perfect abode – and it’s all thanks to a random reconnection and being in the right place at the right time.
Removing the fireplace from this Toronto house’s living room allowed designer Orsi Panos to incorporate ample seating for the homeowners, who enjoy entertaining.
Wall panelling lends the entryway design prestige when little else would fit in the petite space save for a narrow console that serves as a drop-off spot for keys and mail.
The dining area adjacent to the kitchen provides maximum seating thanks to the bench and extendable dining table. An open-framed glass and metal shelving unit along the back wall provides not only a great spot to display decorative pieces but also plenty of storage for cookbooks and a mini-bar to serve guests.
The bright and eclectic living room is a lesson in layering done right. Crisp white walls are warmed by rich hits of blue, lush greenery and a whimsical collection of artwork and objets like homeowner Alex Luby’s exquisite vintage oil lamps. The family piano was a must-keep item for the homeowners – their daughters love to play.
With its crisp white cabinetry, warm walnut accents and quartz countertops, the chic kitchen now boasts a fresh look within the original layout. The bottom of the peninsula – painted rich blue – grounds the room and keeps it from feeling too uniform.
Because the family spends much of its time in the kitchen, Orsi decided to keep the pre-existing TV, but installed it in a dark-hued hutch to minimize its presence.
An inky blue accent wall draws attention to the luxurious upholstered bed frame. Articulating sconces installed above the bed in lieu of table lamps on the nightstands leave more room for personal items.
A bank of custom built-in closets was painted the same colour as the walls for a clean look. “We didn’t want them to attract much attention,” says Orsi.
Updated finishes give the ensuite bathroom a spa-like feel. Turquoise tiling in the shower echoes the touches of blue featured throughout the house.
Image: Tracey Ayton
Five ways to make a spotlight-worthy entry(way) – without sacrificing functionality.
Sashay onto an empty stage, strike a pose in your favourite clothes and make a statement that reflects who you are: That’s how to make a strong first impression, which is exactly what an entryway does for your home. It hints at the personality inside while beckoning guests to learn more.
No one knows this better than designer Chrissy Cottrell. When hired to decorate this Vancouver home for a mother and her 20-something daughter, Chrissy envisioned a high-fashion hybrid of Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn – a feminine take on French Modern style. And that is what’s immediately apparent when you step through the front door, from the pale pink upholstery to the Art Deco details, not to mention the pretty Parisian streetscape artwork and chic designer purses on display. Plus, the space is functional and hard-working, with ample storage for the fashionable accessories two style-loving women are bound to accumulate.
Keeping style and function at the forefront, here are five ways to make your entryway more memorable.
Your entryway is your home’s first impression: Like a book cover, it hints at what’s inside. So make it deliver a snapshot of your style, employing the palettes and patterns that adorn the rest of your abode.
A bold front door is an easy way to make a statement from the start. “An entryway has to have presence,” says Vancouver designer Chrissy Cottrell of her decision to paint the door a dramatic black.
Custom-fitted with pretty hardware, a big-box-store shoe cabinet delivers sleek style and function to boot (pun intended). The fashionable piece is a must-have for any entryway because, let’s face it, most front hall closets just aren’t big enough to hold all of our favourite footwear.
By turns a spot for pulling on shoes and setting down the things you need on your way out the door, simple seating like this pair of pink upholstered benches will definitely come in handy. Even better? These double-duty beauties can be moved to the living room for extra seating when company comes over.
Bright brushed brass hooks deliver unexpected shine in the otherwise muted space. Simple and unobtrusive, they’re perfect for putting designer purses and pretty scarves on display.
Classic touches with natural accents
Classic touches and natural accents take a builder-basic house from plain to pleasing.
The walnut-stained wire-brushed oak floors and new mouldings give the entryway timeless character, while the black faux-bamboo dresser offers handy storage.
Keeping the original cabinetry, designer Karla Amadatsu and her husband, Jeff, transformed the kitchen by filling the gap between the uppers and the ceiling and painting everything white. Details like the ceramic-tiled backsplash with light grey grout, decorative toe kicks and polished-nickel hardware dress up the space and create a fresh, traditional look.
To enhance the elegant aesthetic while keeping it inviting and fresh, Karla incorporated both classic and clean-lined pieces, natural fabrics, textural elements, a combination of metals and a neutral palette with hits of black.
The living room, with its neutral palette and warm mix of textures, gets a formal vibe from the chic scalloped-linen pendant light, marble-topped gold-leaf iron coffee table and herringbone marble fireplace surround.
A mixture of patterns and textures throughout the home reaffirms the traditional and charming look Karla was going for when renovating the house.
The family room, which is adjacent to the kitchen’s eat-in area, is both elegant and relaxed, with a neutral colour scheme and a mix of classic and clean-lined furnishings.