Interior: Eclectic charm
The former consulate’s centre hall, natural oak hardwood floors and original doors with ornate glass panels immediately spoke to Natalie, a dentist, and her CEO husband, Darren. They could envision turning this once entirely formal space into a comfortable home for their daughters, Charlotte, 10, and Lauren, 7.
Undaunted by its many less-than-desirable features – ’80s decor, drab colours and a tiny grassy green laminate kitchen – the Burkes enlisted designer Jonathan Legate to transform the interior into a family home that would embrace its history without looking dated and suit the Burkes for years to come.
Homeowner and designer
Homeowner Natalie Burke pictured with Jonathan, the designer who executed the vision for her home.
The dining area of this Nova Scotia home is a lively mix of styles and periods. “Contrast makes new items feel familiar and old ones revitalized,” says designer Jonathan Legate. The casual vibe means nothing is off limits: Homeowners Natalie and Darren Burke have dinner here most nights, and their daughters often turn the dining room table into a crafts station.
“I wanted the entryway to make a strong first impression of the rest of the house without dictating the direction of the other rooms,” says Jonathan of this simple vignette. The B, for Burke, is from an early 1900s store sign and lends a personal element.
The welcoming entryway, flanked by the living/ dining room to the left and the family room/kitchen to the right, still features the home’s original front door. “The green wall paint feels fresh and happy,” says Natalie, “which is just what I wanted.”
In the living room, Jonathan deliberately avoided matching furniture. “I prefer an eclectic mix that gives the impression of a room that’s taken years to build when in fact it only took a few months,” he says. Pale walls and pops of black keep the mix of patterns from becoming overwhelming.
Easy art collection
Framed botanical prints from The Art of Instruction, a book of vintage educational charts, are a cheap and cheerful way to add artwork to the stairway and achieve a gallery effect. “Black mats in black frames keep the flowers from feeling too pretty,” says Jonathan, “and the random white mats keep things looking collected rather than contrived.”
In the master bedroom, Jonathan skillfully balanced masculine and feminine forms to offer an ideal retreat for both Natalie and her husband, Darren. “The warm grey walls are a neutral backdrop that’s soft yet strong, and the heavy presence of the wingback chair is tempered by the floral duvet,” says Jonathan.
One corner of the master bedroom houses Natalie’s ornate antique French writing desk. “It holds my personalized stationery, and I write notes and birthday cards here,” she says. “It’s my own space in the room.” The vintage landscape painting is a nod to the East Coast shoreline. Its moody colours have a restful effect.