How to make your home cool

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How to make your home cool

Fashionable, sophisticated and filled with unexpected choices, this Toronto home exudes a cool that’s contagious. “My clients really wanted cutting edge,” says designer Jeffrey Douglas. He definitely delivered. Love the look? Here's how to get it.

Go for the unexpected

What makes this home ultrahip? Can't quite put your finger on it? Look closely – it's all about singular choices, unified by a restrained colour palette. In the ensuite, you'll find a deep soaker tub, not tucked into a corner but prominently displayed. Restaurant-style and pot-filler faucets in the kitchen are eminently practical, fun to use and far from commonplace. Within view, you'll also find grey Womb chairs by Eero Saarinen, which are a surprise departure from the tailored sofa or Barcelona chairs so often seen in modern interiors. And you probably wouldn't guess this seating area is where the homeowners' teenagers love to plunk down knapsacks and kick back after school (though on spotting the plasma TV, perhaps you would!).

Get the look by going for sculptural, unusual pieces you haven't seen everywhere, but keep it more fashionista than funky by sticking to one colour. For example, designer Jeffrey Douglas of Douglas Design Studio and the homeowners went for off-the-beaten-path furnishings like Brno dining chairs and the plastic spherical pendant light above the bathtub, but kept them to minimal white. Jeffrey avoided the obvious in the master bedroom, too. Instead of pulling one of the colours in the wall-length Chinese panel for the bed and bedding, he bucked the expected by using all white.

Get edgy

You have to be brave to inject cool into your home: it's all about taking a leap of faith. Here, the homeowners have countertops in an unusual material, a freestanding bathtub, and lots of pristine white and dusty grey. Theirs is a busy household; they could have gone more traditional but dared to go chic. “They wanted a big departure from their previous, traditional family home,” Jeffrey says. The result is triumphantly au courant. Those kitchen counters we mentioned – they're made of a material called mini-crystal.


Composed of compressed glass, it wears like granite and costs about the same. Front and centre in the seating area by the kitchen, a wall-mounted plasma TV not only looks techno-chic but also does wonders to free up floor space. And on-trend touches like see-through furnishings and a zebra-print rug keep the look fun. “My clients are well travelled and fashion oriented,” says Jeffrey. “This house is a stylish reflection of them.”

Cool, yes … Frosty, no

“Nothing can be 'precious' in this home,” the chatelaine of the house says. “Everything has to be user friendly because we have teenagers who like to put their feet up.” Following that dictum, the striking Victorian-era house is cool yet never cold or fragile. Walls are painted in softened whites: Benjamin Moore's Distant Gray in the kitchen, and Seashell in the living room and master bedroom. Throughout the home, wide-plank ipé flooring is warm, tough and, fittingly, not a run-of-the-mill selection. In the living room, the Montauk sofas fall under the definition of clean-lined; however, they're deep and cushy – perfect for chilling out.

A generous bergère matched with a zebra-print rug underfoot is mod but comfy for the homeowners and their three teens. Clear furniture, like the curved glass coffee table in the living room, has become a true hipster fave (and suits almost any decor). The Womb chairs seem to be straight out of a MoMa installation yet had to pass the homeowner's comfort test. “They're inviting and different,” she says. “You can sink right into them.” Bring this hip style home by “punctuating your space with sculptural pieces,” suggests Jeffrey, and test for cosiness, too. There's nothing cool about being uncomfortable!


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How to make your home cool