Photography: Donna Griffith | Design: Jessica Waks
Designer Jessica Waks enhances the golden glow of a pal’s glam living and dining area to usher in the Festival of Lights.
Who better than a long-time friend to capture your essence in decor? This lucky homeowner had her former elementary school buddy, designer Jessica Waks, to call on when she and her husband bought this midtown Toronto new build in 2015. “They like to entertain, so having a beautifully appointed formal living and dining space was important to them,” says Jessica. “The house has handsome finishes and amazing ceiling height, but it was very neutral. My job was to add personality and colour befitting this vibrant and stylish young couple and their two kids.”
For the palette inspiration, Jessica looked no further than her pal. “She’s a striking redhead who wears jewel tones so gracefully,” says the designer. “So I joke that we chose her favourite hues – the ones she’s been dressing in since we were 10 – which are deep blues and greens.” An opulent sapphire and emerald scheme quickly emerged, displayed on classic furnishings, such as spotted wood-framed slipper chairs and nailhead-trimmed rounded dining chairs. Mid-century-feel elements like the owners’ existing Parsons-style dining table and a mod chandelier introduce a current feel, while a healthy dose of gold – particularly in the form of geometric brushed brass table bases – brings on glamour.
With Hanukkah on the horizon, this social family had a few dinner parties already on the agenda, so Jessica popped back into the stylish picture to imbue a jubilant vibe. The holiday’s typical palette consists of blues and metallics, so picking up where the interior’s year-round look leaves off was simple. Thanks to a handful of DIY projects, a select few on-theme accessories and a stunningly set table, the homeowners are ready to greet guests – Jessica surely among them.
Strung from a found branch that Jessica sprayed gold, a simple DIY dreidel silhouette garland makes a playful party photo backdrop. Offering extra seating, the X-base benches below feature navy piping that relates to the blue tones of the sofa and rug. “We really put a lot of thought into the selections, and I think it shows,” says the designer.
Loaded with treats, presents and cocktail-making accessories, the marble-topped gold-toned console is primed for pre- and post-dinner entertaining. A DIY Star of David wreath (made with twigs, faux greenery, floral wire and spray paint) is a festive focal point that draws the eye to this welcoming vignette.
“It’s fun to look beyond typical store-bought paper,” says Jessica, who used remnants of a blue leopard-print Thibaut wallpaper in addition to retro-feel metallic gift wrap. “Gold satin ribbon ties it all together,” she adds.
A Parsons-style table, contemporary artwork and a mod chandelier lend the dining room’s more traditional elements a fresh feel. To tie the holiday decor into the space’s existing scheme, Jessica cleverly utilized a length of the same Beacon Hill fabric that edges the custom drapery as a table runner.
Hanukkah-themed sugar cookies and prettily decanted gelt (foil-wrapped chocolate coins) complement the room’s chic scheme.
“Elegant ready-made Hanukkah decor is not always available at stores,” says Jessica. “So it forces you to think outside the box and make special sophisticated elements by hand.” Bedecked in kraft paper, bits of wallpaper (the same style used to wrap some of the gifts) and washi tape, matchboxes strike a pose by the hanukiah.
In luxe aged brass, the standout linear hanukiah suits the space’s traditional-with-a-twist decor well. “And the blue-flecked candles reminded me of the spotted slipper chair fabric, so we had to use them!” says Jessica.
“They’re old souls who really appreciate the allure of a formally set table,” says Jessica of the homeowners. Layered gold and navy china, crystal stemware and simple low white floral arrangements make for an elegant tablescape. Placed casually on each salad plate, cloisonné dreidel ornaments are special touches befitting the old-world aesthetic.