Photography: Alex Lukey
Designer Alicia Marchioni applies a neutral palette and a few daring finishes to transform a circa 1980s condo into a serene contemporary home.
On the surface, this Toronto condo reads like a luxe hotel, with clean-cut, transitional good looks and a neutral palette that has broad appeal. But dig deeper, and designer Alicia Marchioni’s unique and intentional approach – driven by a finely tuned mix of materials – comes into focus.
“My client loved an apartment in Paris he’d seen in an article,” says Alicia, who overhauled the 2,500-square-foot condo. “In European style, they use a lot of materials because they have that old-world layer of the building’s structure. They also use a lot of marble – really textured marble with lots of veining. When we found this marble with the maroon in it, we jumped on it because it was so different.” But overall, the owner wanted a modern look, so Alicia stuck to quieter tones for other materials: “White flat-panel uppers, the ribbed wood to give some warmth, and the rolled-steel range hood – different textures to offset the marble and make it shine as a centrepiece.”
For a cohesive look, Alicia repeated those finishes throughout. The ribbed wood and marble in the kitchen reappear in the family room; black from the range hood is reiterated in the coffee table and built-ins.
Compelling art is the final layer in the sophisticated palette of materials. “My client has a great collection,” Alicia says. “Things like that brightly coloured Andy Warhol apple are so much fun to work with.” And they’re also what imbues the home with charisma – what sets these polished interiors apart from, say, your average boutique hotel.
Photography: Alex Lukey | DESIGN, Alicia Marchioni, Harrison Fae Design. BUILDER, Nobility Homes. TABLE, Kravet. PENDANT, Elte. FLOORING, Ciot. Ceiling WALLPAPER, Metro Wallcoverings.
A sculptural table, pendant light and Edvard Munch woodcut lend a gallery-like presence to the entryway. Designer Alicia Marchioni replaced a black granite floor with a vivacious geometric- pattern mix of three marbles – Nero Marquina, Dolomite and Pietra Grey. “The statement marble floor creates a textured look that flows into the Versailles-patterned hardwood inside,” she says. She retained the handsome existing panelling. “The building isn’t ultra modern, so we didn’t want to step off the elevator into a home that didn’t fit the building.” The recessed ceiling is clad in warm neutral wallpaper.
Photography: Alex Lukey | DOORS, Chateau Windows and Doors. TABLE, BENCH, CB2. BENCH FABRIC by Pierre Frey, Primavera. SCONCES, Lightmaker Studio.
A large ink on paper by Canadian artist Oscar Cahén and a graphic Pierre Frey fabric on the stool riff on the palette and angularity of the marble floor. The black-steel-framed glass door lets light from the condo filter into this space. “The owner has an extensive art collection, so we had to think about the pieces and where they would go in the design,” Alicia explains. “Some are very colourful and some are dark and moody.” Her go-to gallery white for walls is Benjamin Moore’s Oxford White CC-30.
Photography: Alex Lukey | Ribbed MILLWORK, Crisstar Cabinets. MARBLE, Crystal Tile & Marble. Marble shelving FABRICATION, Marble Treasures. CHANDELIERS, Lightmaker Studio. SECTIONAL, Silva Custom Upholstery. COFFEE TABLE, RH. RUG, brass-frame CHAIRS, Elte. Apple SCREENPRINT by Andy Warhol.
The family room is the condo’s Grand Central Station, with all other spaces — including the study (in the background) and primary bedroom suite (through black-framed glass door on right) — radiating off from here. The wall between the family room and study was opened up, and Alicia added the centre column “to separate the space and make room for a TV that can be viewed from the kitchen when cooking,” she says. No gas access in the building meant a fireplace wasn’t doable, but Alicia designed the column to have a similar look, with a ribbed white oak chimney breast and a Breccia Medicea marble base outfitted with storage shelves. “The white walls and light white oak help keep the space light and airy,” Alicia says. “We brought in the black metal and the patterned marble to make sure it wasn’t too stark and boring. These two elements definitely create that transitional style.” She removed heavy crown mouldings from the existing recessed ceilings to lighten and modernize the look. A high-gloss paint on the ceiling reflects light and makes the ceilings appear taller.
Photography: Alex Lukey | CHAIRS, OTTOMAN, brass READING LAMPS, oak CONSOLE (foreground), RH. BASKET, Pottery Barn. SIDE TABLE, Black Rooster. DRAPERY, My Shade. PLANT, POT, Quince Flowers.
A pair of cozy swivel chairs in the family room afford stunning views of the downtown skyline from the southwest-facing window. Alicia had the once dark Versailles-style hardwood flooring refinished in a Scandi-modern blonde “to make all the other elements pop.” The semi-sheer drapes in a wool-linen blend gently filter the light. (Roller blinds can be lowered to darken the room for premium movie viewing.)
Photography: Alex Lukey | CABINET, Black Rooster. LAMP, RH.
Although new, the black-stained mahogany console reads like a mid-century piece. The large family room offers space for seating plus artful vignettes, like this simple but eye-catching arrangement. The lighter finish on the wood flooring dovetails well with the new ribbed white oak cabinetry in the kitchen and family room.
Photography: Alex Lukey | CABINETRY, RANGE HOOD, Crisstar Cabinets. WALL OVENS, Miele. MARBLE, Crystal Tile & Marble. Island FABRICATION, Marble Treasures. Blanco SINK, FAUCET, Taps. Fridge cabinet HANDLES, RH. Island STOOLS, Black Rooster.
Before overhauling the condo’s finishes, Alicia swapped the locations of the kitchen and dining room (through the passageway at back left), so that the kitchen would be more connected to the family room. The show-stopping Breccia Medicea marble island and rolled steel vent hood play the lead roles in the otherwise understated room. The ribbed white oak cabinets are gutsy enough to balance the marble, but not so dramatic that they clash. “The ribbed wood feels very ’70s. It’s coming back around in a more modern way,” she says. “We mixed it with modern flat-panel uppers. Everything else is really crisp and clean.” The black metal archway adds architectural definition.
Photography: Alex Lukey | COOKTOP, Miele. CABINETRY PULLS, Richelieu. Flush-mount LIGHTS, Amazon.
To imbue a light, transitional look in the kitchen, upper cabinets were painted crisp white, and the backsplash and perimeter countertops are a low-key durable Sky White quartzite. The floating eating counter in the sunny south-facing corner of the kitchen leaves much of the spectacular downtown view – not to mention the light flow – intact.
Photography: Alex Lukey | TABLE, Black Rooster. CHAIRS, RH. CHANDELIER, Lightmaker Studio.
A work by Connor Brothers sets a theatrical tone in the dining room. Alicia fearlessly mixed brass, chrome, black and bronze finishes. “If you’re going to mix the metals, do it throughout,” she says, advising that you include a balance of all finishes in each space. The fridge is tucked in a cabinet near the dining room.
Photography: Alex Lukey
The dining room’s shallow marble ledge acts as a serving platform in lieu of a sideboard in the tight space, but it also introduces handsome architectural detailing that links with the kitchen and family room. A limited-edition print by Joan Miró adds a playful dollop of colour.
Photography: Alex Lukey | Wine cellar CONSTRUCTION, Crisstar Cabinets and Nobility Homes. WINE RACK, Wayfair. MARBLE, Crystal Tile & Marble. TABLE, Black Rooster. CHAIRS, RH. CHANDELIER, SCONCES, Lightmaker Studio.
Often, it’s the little things that make a home feel truly personal. In the dining room, that’s the luxe bar wall with a stunning marble-adorned serving counter, a walk-in wine cellar, and glass-front bottle shelves. When the cellar door is closed, the whole thing resembles a continuous built-in cabinet. “It’s a unique conversation piece when entertaining, not too many people have this in a condo,” Alicia says. She transformed the otherwise unusable octagonal-shaped space that’s now the cellar into a feature. “We blocked it out to create a normal-shaped dining room and provide space for a small wine closet,” she says. “The condo is in a very angular 1980s building, so there are lots of odd nooks and corners.”
Photography: Alex Lukey | CABINETRY, Crisstar Cabinets. DESK, Elte Mkt. Cabinet PAINT COLOUR, Amherst Grey HC-167, Benjamin Moore. Cabinet HARDWARE, RH. Grey CHAIR, RUG, Elte. Leather desk CHAIR, gold COCKTAIL TABLE, West Elm. White CHAIRS, Drechsel Studio. CHANDELIER, Lightmaker Studio.
The study is tucked behind a partial wall at one end of the family room. Large south-facing windows here meant Alicia could go with a darker paint colour to add a masculine drama without making the room feel small. A combination of open and closed storage is practical for letting the owner display and appreciate treasures collected on his travels, while hiding less-handsome tech and office supplies. File drawers are built in below the open shelves.
Photography: Alex Lukey | CHAIR, OTTOMAN, LAMP, Elte. DRESSER, Crate and Barrel. CARPETING, Elte.
Invitingly clad in a cozy velvet, the lounge chair and ottoman in the primary bedroom provide the owner with a comfortable spot to read when his daughters visit from university. Wall-to-wall carpeting and full drapes in a slightly darker hue than in other rooms work with the grey headboard.
Photography: Alex Lukey | Shower mosaic wall TILE, Tycos Tile. Shower GLASS, Nobility Homes. Shower FIXTURES, sink FAUCET, Ginger’s. VANITY, Crisstar Cabinets. SCONCE (over mirror) by Kelly Wearstler through Elte.
Dynamic mosaic tile in the ensuite shower echoes the geo-patterned marble flooring in the entryway, while “creamy and warm” Calacatta Cremo marble and white oak on the vanity imbue a spa-like serenity.
Photography: Alex Lukey | BED, Silva Custom Upholstery. BEDSIDE TABLES, RH. BENCH, CARPETING, Elte. White BEDDING, grey QUILT, Au Lit Fine Linens. Silver THROW PILLOWS, purple THROW PILLOWS, Elte Mkt.
Alicia’s vision for the owner’s bedroom was “crisp and clean with a hotel vibe.” She injected architectural flair with new panelling on the walls and crown detailing in the recessed ceiling, then fitted a tailored upholstered headboard neatly into the centre wall panel. A bench always helps integrate a bed and makes it look more complete.
Photography: Alex Lukey | MARBLE, Olympia. Marble slab FABRICATING, Marble Treasures. WALLPAPER, JF Fabrics. VANITY, Crisstar Cabinets. PULLS, Richelieu. FAUCET, TAPS, MIRROR, Ginger’s.
With its intriguing interplay of Calacatta Cremo marble (behind the mirror) and painterly wallpaper that recalls geological striations, the powder room fits the adage, “Good things come in small packages.” LED backlighting on the mirror softly lights the room. “This is a space where you don’t need bright lights – it can be moody and dim,” Alicia says. She introduced a matte black faucet for drama.
Photography: Alex Lukey | Husk Vinyl WALLPAPER, Phillip Jeffries. BATHTUB, TAPS, FAUCETS, Ginger’s. MARBLE FLOORING, Ciot. WALLPAPER, Phillip Jeffries. SCONCES, Elte. TOWEL WARMING RACK, Taps.
Alicia turned lemons into lemonade in the ensuite bathroom, where the inability to move key plumbing forced her to get creative. “The bathtub drain couldn’t be re-located due to the concrete floor, so we created a marble step so that we could put the tub where we wanted,” says the designer. “Now, it looks like a feature, but it’s built to conceal a lot of piping!” A reveal at the base of the riser makes the hefty stone slab look likes it’s floating. The installation feels both luxe and purposeful.