Photography: Stacey Brandford | Design: Tara Fingold | Styling: Christine Hanlon
With a lot of planning, some smart use of colour and oodles of storage, this show-stopping Toronto home proves superb style can be supremely livable.
Designer Tara Fingold likes to keep her finger on the pulse of decor innovations. She’s especially smitten with the new wave of man-made stones and technologically advanced fabrics. But her secret to successful design lies in something much more Luddite than the latest thing: good old-fashioned pen and paper. “It’s very important to know your needs and write them all down in advance,” she says. “That way, nothing’s forgotten and everything is accounted for in the planning stage.”
Tara took plenty of notes when mapping out this 4,500-square-foot Georgian-style new build in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood for a couple and their three young sons. The homeowners’ list of essentials included practical considerations, but they were also keen to factor in some decorative heft. “With three boys, I cook a lot and tend to stock up on supplies,” says one of the homeowners. “I need proper functionality, but I still want everything to look elegant.” Tara got the brief. “I envisioned a clean-lined home that would look great for years to come,” she says, “not too trendy but still with a lot of personality and the durability the family desired.”
How did she pull it off? Part of the answer lies in Tara’s stylish deployment of colour, which comes as second nature to this seasoned pro. “There’s a subtle theme of blues and greys at play on the first floor. In the family room, they’re bright and cheerful, and in the office, quiet and sophisticated. The key is that they are in every room for continuity, which creates flow so that it’s peaceful to walk through the house.”
Other factors that achieve flow in this abode include the repetition of brassy finishes and sheer drapery. Though they vary slightly in colour, the linen drapes on the main level cultivate a pulled-together look. “The common denominator is the fabric,” says the designer. “It’s the same throughout, so it works” – much like the fabrics used in the family room, which reference Tara’s love of innovative finishes and, in doing so, suit the needs of this family of five. The glam velvety sofas are anything but precious thanks to a Teflon coating, and the elegant ottoman is topped with vinyl so movie night spills can be easily wiped away. The gorgeous custom-made kitchen seating steals this idea, too, layering upscale patterned fabric backs with seats upholstered in leather-look vinyl.
All of Tara’s stylish selections crack the functionality-versus-elegance code and embody her approach to livable design. “There is balance in this home,” she says. “It’s harmonious, bright and airy but still very practical.” And that’s a result of bringing some of the latest innovative materials together with trusty notepad planning.
In the entryway, a navy Parsons-style console and burnished brass accessories encapsulate designer Tara Fingold’s tonal inspirations. Nearly every room boasts hits of brass and blue, netting a pleasing cohesive effect.
A judicious use of brass, particularly in the bold range hood framing, strikes an elegant note in the super practical kitchen and speaks to Tara’s knack for continuity among rooms. “People often see the kitchen as its own design entity, separate from the rest of the home,” she says. “While it does need its own personality, it should reflect the overall style of the rest of the house.” The countertops and backsplash are made of Geoluxe, a high-performance low-maintenance material that looks like marble.
The kitchen island stools, as well as the matching eat-in area chairs, are business in the front, party in the back: the vinyl seats require little upkeep, while the sketch-like fabric backs introduce some intriguing eye candy.
With three growing boys in the house, the homeowners tend to stock up on cooking staples, so Tara planned for ample kitchen storage – and then some. The eat-in area features built-in floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, while the drapes serve as a soft counterpoint to the hard surfaces.
Custom toss cushions introduce blues into the family room. “The tones and patterns are playful here – less serious than in the office,” says Tara. Built-ins flank the fireplace, and the bottom cabinets keep board games and books organized yet out of sight. She didn’t feel the need to hide the TV. “It’s a simple shape and functional, so it works.”
“I love the pewter patina of the front closet’s hardware but wanted to reference the office’s brass accents, which you can see from the hall, so I went with this chandelier,” says Tara. As for the high-end flooring choice? “Most people are scared to use marble in a foyer – they think it’s too precious, but it’s actually very durable. one like this, with veining, hides any scrapes or scuffs.” The luxe-meets-livable family room holds two banks of stylishly stocked built-in shelving. “Shelves are a great way to mix beautiful accessories with meaningful pieces,” says Tara of the feature.
The office has a dramatic boutique-hotel feel. “I was inspired by the J.K. Place Capri,” says one of the homeowners. The hotel’s breezy nautical blues appear here in richer tones, selected by Tara to better suit city living. Custom cabinetry keeps necessities like files and computer equipment out of sight. Art-work, a chandelier and sophisticated accents beautifully blur the line between functional and fabulous.
The master bedroom, a warm cocoon of pattern and soft upholstery, is a deliberate departure from the rest of the home’s cool blues (and the ensuite follows suit). “I wanted a serene bedroom with lots of taupes and a luxurious bed,” says Tara, who delivered just that with a simply stunning chenille-upholstered frame. Wallpaper creates a feature wall and furthers the textural effect, while wall-to-wall carpeting amps up the cozy feel.
The custom-made double-sink vanity is topped with white Caesarstone quartz and has storage to spare. “It’s a simple design, and its dusty, bluish-grey finish makes it pretty,” says the designer.
“The marble tile is the wow factor in the master bath, and its herringbone placement makes its contemporary veining even more dramatic,” says Tara. An unfussy vessel tub and chandelier leave the lime-light to the floor.