What this young couple wanted, what they needed, was storage. Storage and somewhere for guests to sit when they came over. This typical Greektown semi, with a renovated-to sell-open-concept-main floor, had three smallish bedrooms upstairs, and a not really usable basement. This home with its inadequate storage and limited space for seating, are the nagging contentions I hear over and over again from young Toronto families trying to make the most of their homes in their desired neighbourhoods.
The main floor here is the everything place. Their young son plays there and it is the all in one space for cooking, eating, entertaining, hanging out, and watching tv.
They wanted to entertain more but felt they couldn’t. They couldn’t figure out how to do it comfortably and never felt they could tidy up enough to want to invite people over. They have a big extended family to host and needed more space for dinners of 8-10 people which would require a bigger table and much more seating.
There were awkward spaces above the cabinetry under the stairs in the kitchen area that desperately need to be styled as they were in the sight line when sitting at the table. The entry to the home was nothing more than a mat so coming and going was frustrating as the space was not supporting them effectively, rather, not at all. The other problem I see most often when I arrive for consultation was repeated here as well- lack of good lighting.
The home was modern in style when they bought it but they wanted a cosy contemporary feel, natural yet simply chic, with their furniture preferences leaning towards mid-century modern design elements. Their design aspiration was Cafe Boulud in Yorkville (by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio) which employs mid-century design elements, layers of materials- leather, tweed and brass accents – that all contribute to the aesthetics that give the restaurant an elegant but informal feel.
We put a lot of thought into the new space and focused on beautifully pairing it down to the essentials. Individual elements ranging from rustic to luxurious, and layering natural elements of linen, new light and weathered woods, soft cottons, knits, and ceramics. The overall palette leans toward a focused and elegant style, with white, cream, pale grey, soft brown, mixed metals and lush blues. The rooms were painted in off-whites, with the ceiling was a slightly darker shade. This technique frames the room and limits it from feeling too expensive that a totally white space can, giving the space a cosy, but sophisticated feel that blends well into the existing kitchen design and lets the furnishings and design elements, like the new built-ins, take centre stage.
They had invested in a few pieces of art- like the Boxing Bears painting by Richard Anhert -and had a vintage 1950’s Eaton’s mirror, as well as some important family heirlooms, to work into the final space. The beautiful antique family dining set was missing the original leaves for the table resulting in only being able to seat 6. Since they felt it didn’t accommodate enough people, and they couldn’t see how it would fit into the modern and clean design they wanted, they were angsting to part with it. I felt it was really too lovely and had too much character and importance to replace, so we needed to get creative. There would be no way to match the table with new wood leaves so we had new leaves made from cast polished concrete to echo the style of the piece juxtapose the beautiful old walnut. The result is very clever and very modern in the mash-up of old and new, antique and industrial. We swapped out the old bulky dining chairs for slim streamlined grey tweet covered ones on black tripod legs and added a long wrap around built-in bench to maximise the awkward space and which can seat 6 comfortably and had storage under the seat. Win-win. The slanted back and plush feather pillows allow for comfortable lounging before and after a meal.
The final space is exactly what they wanted and needed. There is now abundant, storage- so much that it all hasn’t all been filled yet. All the toys are put away. The books are finally unpacked. The new dining table and bench can accommodate the whole family with room for future additions. They have an entry where the things of the day can be put down when returning home and located easily when rushing out the door. All the new lighting is soft and warm creating the perfect ambience for whatever the need, wither they are relaxing on the sofa or having a large family meal. It is both polished and relaxed, sophisticated yet inviting. A perfectly practical interior for modern life.
To see the full gallery of the project images click here :)