Many Torontonians find themselves in the same situation as Sarah and David. They intrinsically gravitate towards a contemporary style, but they had just purchased a historic Victorian home. They wanted to preserve some of the original detailing, while integrating what they feel most comfortable with – clean and contemporary lines.
Project Name: Moore Park Renovation
Firm Name: Swisterski Design Inc
Project size: 4500 ft2
Project Budget: $700000
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 2
Location: Toronto, Canada
Photography: Swisterski Design Inc.
After some psychoanalysis through examining photos of other houses they loved, some clarity began to immerse. They loved classic architectural details, ie crown mouldings, herringbone floors and wall paneling, but when it came to furniture, built-ins, lighting and art, they preferred the contemporary look. And so, the design journey began with a deeper level of understanding of their stylistic wants and needs. [image 1]
In the most modest of manners, this family room quietly combines two spaces that we often see separately. The feature fireplace, unadulterated by a TV mounted above it, provides a setting for civilized and sophisticated conversations by a glowing and flickering
fire. Adjacent to this, we have the TV wall. It sits unassumingly, with the TV camouflaging into its surroundings, yet provides a space for the whole family to sit, unwind and relax.
Because of the unique space requirements of the house, and the clients being dead-set against having a TV mounted above the fireplace, the room had to become ‘two-faced.’ When an entire room needs to be reoriented depending on the company you find yourself in, sectional sofas and square coffee tables become your best friend. [image 2]
When observed through a design lens, one might notice the two faces of the room are in opposing styles. The fireplace wall showcases classic features such as panel moulding with flourished corner pieces and an antiqued mirror. The other face imbues a contemporary
quality in all of its features. To tie them together, a rail continues from the top of the wooden doors to create a shelf spanning both sides of the fireplace. The crown moulding with dental work similarly intertwines these two walls and clasps them together.
The family room sits directly across from the kitchen, and so we see a recurrence of finishes tying the two spaces together. The two varieties of stone on the fireplace surround and coffee table can also be seen on the kitchen countertop and island. The warm wood lower cabinets coordinate with the kitchen lower cabinets and island.
Classic art in the forms of paintings and photos are abundant throughout the house. However, the clients also cherish lighting as a form of sculptural art. As a result, certain pieces find themselves in places where one might typically expect a painting or photo, like on either side of the fireplace, for example.
Despite being lovers of colour in their fashion sense, these clients found themselves throughout their lives gravitating towards and purchasing black and white art pieces. And because everything is an opportunity for art, the backsplash of the kitchen takes this to heart and creates not only a very practical surface for cleaning, but also a feature wall. The image printed on the back of the glass was actually a photo taken by the clients themselves on a trip to BC.
The clients adored the origami lights above the countertop, so much so, that a joke was made in passing about having furniture pieces in a similar shape. That joke led to a brainstorming session, and born was the custom breakfast table, emulating the folded paper characteristics of the light fixture.
Many families experience the phenomenon of the kitchen becoming the central hub of the entire household. “The kids like to do their homework while we cook,” was one of the comments that drove the layout of this kitchen. Ample seating either across from the chef themselves or somewhere nearby was a requirement. In addition to island seating, the breakfast table hosts chairs on one side and an upholstered window bench on the other, creating a warm and cozy nook, as well as maximizing the space available.
The clients overarching goals for the house from the outset were to have light and bright spaces, with a richness and well placed contrasting features. In this room, the black stone frame around the dramatic landscape, as well as the richness of the wood help provide that contrast, while allowing the rest of the space to be unapologetically white and vibrant.
“We usually undress in the bathroom before taking a shower, so it would be great to have hampers in there for each of us”. Statements like these often drive a design layout. For these clients, we could have ran the vanity the length of the room and given more countertop space, but based on learning more about their bathroom habits, it became clear that they required not only hampers for laundry, but generous storage.
The cabinets on both sides of the vanity open to provide linen storage, and the mirror above the sinks are doors that open to reveal medicine cabinets. Black chrome and matte black accents are seen throughout the bathroom, as well as integrated into the millwork drawer faces, lending depth and a tailored quality to the unit.
“Absolutely no downlighting on our faces, we’re getting older and we don’t want to be reminded daily of the lifetime of gravity our skin has endured.”Another colourful comment from the clients that shaped the design of this bathroom. Downlighting, often affectionately referred to by designers as ‘hag lighting,’ can cause harsh shadows on the face. Instead, lighting directly from the front and sides has the most complimentary affect.
A freestanding soaker tub with natural stone slabs is on the wish list of so many clients. It’s the mark of a luxury bathroom and has a crisp feeling that will leave anyone feeling clean. This bathtub replaces a previously built-in bathtub with an undermount deck that had grown very old and tired. It represents one of the many examples that the clients now look back on and marvel at the difference between the before and after photos.
Having lived adventurous lives full of curiosity, travel and the constant desire to learn, there was one room the clients wanted to have this reflected. With display shelving showcasing their favorite travel memorabilia, and rows containing their favorite books and travel guides, the rest of the room lives in simplicity. A custom designed desk contains a long and shallow pencil drawer on the front side, a chair for reading and a bar cabinet for further enjoyment of the reading.