TORONTO ANNEX HOME RENOVATION. My film design work was the connecting force that brought me onto this project, having worked with half of the couple, an entertainment lawyer on numerous television productions. She, with her CA husband and 2 teenage children lived in a large, detached Queen Anne home in downtown Toronto. The home had graceful high ceilings, elegant proportions, deep baseboards…and a lot of clutter. They all had extremely busy lives and since a major ‘Po-mo’ renovation in the 80’s, had not had a minute to think about nor deal with how to organize the space or how to create a sense of aesthetic pleasure and calm.
Working with my clients was a wonderful and sustained experience that spread out over the course of almost 2 years. The main focus over this time was to choose new exterior paint colours, and more importantly to address the entire Main Floor (save the Kitchen), the Children’s’ Bedrooms on the 2nd floor, with minor work on the Bathrooms and 3rd floor Master Bedroom.
I spoke extensively with my clients as to their individual tastes and personalities as well as their needs on a purely functional level. Employing a blend of well chosen, quasi-pedigreed old world style with contemporary accents in lighting and artwork was the preference, which is a direction I love to work with. Simplifying and neutralizing the lines of the rooms as well as the palette was an important first step to help showcase the unique pieces we were choosing and to help reclaim the original and elegant bones of the house itself.
The Dining Room was to be an important room, and the clients wanted a large and family-friendly yet elegant space to provide for the many important functions and celebrations throughout the year. Rather than buying a venerable antique dining table, we commissioned a talented young wood artisan to make a custom designed table using old growth oak wood and paired this magnificent piece with a set of bentwood chairs, reupholstered with embossed, pressed leather.
At that time I had recently been spending time in Venice, Italy and through connections made there, found a reliable and affordable source for the officially licenced Fortuny lamps. Not many homes can handle the 3-tiered Scheherazade Chandelier but their dining room with the oval windows flanking the fireplace provided a perfect setting and situation.
The Living Room would not be used extensively as the family tended to operate on a very casual, informal way. Yet having a place to sit quietly and away from the active household hustle was definitely desired. This room offered a wonderful place to showcase the Scudo Saraceno Fortuny lamp contrasting with the clean lines of the Ligne Roset sofa, and artwork by painter Marc Sequin and sculptor Tom Campbell.
In the Family Room several years prior, I personally had the ‘sea and sky’ mural painted–seen in the ‘Before’ photos, when we used the home for an imaginative short film. Although it was sad to paint over the magnificent work done by the scenic artists, the transition achieved was worth it. This room is the one where the family most often hangs out, reading, watching TV, playing games. A large, flexible and comfortable seating arrangement was paramount, as was a large amount of storage space. This room was renovated prior to the advent of mega-sized flat screen TVs so though this is a dated aspect of the otherwise beautifully made custom built-in wall unit I hope that it allowed for a relatively easy upgrade in the ensuing years.