Interior: Modern classic century home
Walking the talk, Marla and her husband, James, a structural engineer, artist and owner of a fashion accessories company, stuck to this be-true-to-yourself design philosophy throughout the overhaul of their 1909 semi-detached gem, purchased in Montreal's Westmount area 15 years ago.
An inviting extension During the renovation, homeowners Marla and James extended the kitchen by four feet to create an inviting eating nook with banquette seating and a bay window that overlooks the backyard. The nook, which can seat up to eight people, showcases an elegant mix with French provincial caned chairs and a mahogany pedestal table. "We had someone make the tabletop to match the shape of the banquette," says Marla.
Storage-friendly sitting area Henry Jones, the family's four-year-old Coton de Tuléar, enjoys the kitchen's cozy sitting area, which features a large tufted mohair ottoman paired with a deladon damask sofa. The traditional gas fireplace mantel boasts a niche that cleanly fits the flat-screen television and also contains storage on either side (not shown). "I have all my cleaning supplies on one side and all my dog supplies on the other," says Marla.
Traditional twists The dining room showcases Marla's twist on traditional style. "With the Georgian-style mahogany table, crystal chandelier and traditional wall panelling, it would have been very easy for htis room to have a formal look, which can be a bit old and stodgy," says designer Ellen Coopersmith. But, she adds, elements like the sisal rug, mohair end chairs, blue ceiling and fuchsia damask fabric on the walls keep the room feeling fresh and young.
Mixing textures and tones The antique-white kitchen features a mix of textural and contrasting wood-toned elements. The grasscloth wallpaper, the island's expansive mahogany countertop and the hardwood floors ground the space and, along with the coffered tongue-and-groove ceiling, add warmth to enhance its inviting, comfortable feel. "The kitchen is our main room," says Marla, "be it for doing homework, watching TV, eating meals, entertaining friends or just hanging out."
Seamless storage and sparkle In the kitchen, which leads to the backyard, the mahogany-topped island houses a farmhouse-style sink and offers plenty of extra storage. The fridge, panelled in the same traditional cabinetry, creates a seamless effect. Two crystal chandeliers, used unexpectedly over the island, add glamour.
Office accents "A whole range of watery green and blue tones were used as accents in the kitchen," says Ellen. The blue grosgrain trim on the drapes and the floral-patterned celadon upholstered chair in the office nook are two examples. These hues offer a fresh, contemporary feeling when paired with antique white and neutral brown tones.
Livable laundry room "When we first moved here, we had to go all the way down to the basement to do the laundry, so when we renovated, it was essential to move the laundry upstairs to the third floor," says Marla. To that end, the girls' bathroom also serves as the laundry room and has cupboards that conceal the washer and dryer (to the left of the vanity), with an expansive counter for folding. The vanity features a mix of closed and open storage for easy access.
Breathtaking boudoir Formerly the master bedroom, daughter Olivia's room was outfitted with a built-in desk, shelving and plenty of closet space. A calm setting was created with cozy wall-to-wall carpeting, an elegant French settee, sateen drapery and a chandelier covered with a sheer fabric shade. "The room has an overall quiet feel but contains splashes of colour, like the fuchsia velvet on the desk chair," says Ellen.
Outdoor oasis In the backyard, flagstone pavers delineate the outdoor living area, defined by two rattan sofas and coffee tables. "I wanted it to feel like a living room," says Marla. "We could have added more grass, we could have put the dining table down here, but we wanted to just live out here, so we created a little family area." A cut-stone fountain gives the space a focal point and enhances the backyard's peaceful, Zen-like feel.
Beautiful brickwork A glass-paned door leads from the kitchen to the flagstone landing, which offers a convenient spot to place a dining table protected by the balcony's overhang. The brick stairs were chosen to match the home's exterior. "That's in keeping with my theory that you shouldn't change the integrity of the house," says Marla. "Even though the back was gutted, it looks like that brick was always there."
Take it outside An ormolu mirror, which was previously in the living room serves as a dramatic focal point and offsets the outdoor furniture's straight lines. "I tried to sell the mirror in a garage sale, but nobody bought it, so I kept it," says Marla. "It went from my garage to the backyard - and it's perfect!"
A protected retreat The backyard's new fence and the garage provide privacy. "At first we thought we might take down the garage because we never use it," says Marla. Instead, trellises with rose bushes serve to soften and camouflage the structure and lend a burst of pretty fuchsia throughout the summer. The outdoor furniture matches the brown tones used indoors, visually linking the exterior with the interior.