Our chief task was to update the main level of this townhouse:
great room, living/dining room, and powder room. Pale yellow
walls, terra cotta tiles, and hulking oak fireplace were at odds
with the clients' taste for the modern. The inspiration for our
colour scheme of graphite and spice was a favorite vintage poster.
In the great room, we started by installing Brazilian black
slate on the floors, adding warm natural texture. Two sets of
French doors were given drama and focus simply by painting them
deep grey. A new open étagère, done in charcoal
grey, was placed between them to unify the two sections of the
The kitchen -- other than a dark granite counter -- was just
so-so, but had to stay. We added a gutsy mosaic backsplash of
stainless steel and black nickel, a high-tech note that somehow
manages to feel warm and cool at the same time. Rather than worrying
about the cabinetry's unappealing colour, we played off its golden
orange tone with a copper-fronted sideboard and cognac leather
sectional for the opposite side of the room. The previous layout
had a sofa floating in the space, with its back to the kitchen
area. By placing the new sectional along the perimeter instead,
not only did we make the room more inviting, but we also freed
up floor space in the center. For that area, we argued for an
island to improve the kitchen's function. However, given that
the clients seldom cook, they opted instead to add to the seating.
Now a long-coveted Eames chair occupies pride of place directly
in front of the entry into the great room -- a beautiful, timeless
work of art.
In the powder room, we represent all of the main floor's design
elements: black slate floor, metal tile detailing, grey stained
veneer vanity, AND pumpkin walls.
The bulk of the main floor is mainly a large open space for
living and dining. With little architectural appeal, uncomfortable
seating, and an unattractive fireplace, this room was under-used
by the clients. To add interest, we created more defined areas.
By constructing a column along the long common wall, we visually
separated the living and dining zones. In the living portion,
we also bumped out a chimneybreast for a new contemporary gas
fireplace insert with a sleek cement-toned quartz surround. This
created 2 alcoves on either side of the fireplace, for which
we commissioned simple wooden bookcases in cinnamon-toned maple,
with a backing of deep grey.
A black lacquer baby grand piano already occupied a sunny
corner of the living space. Paired with an old, orangey leather
club chair, it worked beautifully with our design scheme. For
the main seating area, a comfortable leather sofa was relocated
from the great room and now sits opposite a new pair of black
leather and chrome armchairs in front of the fireplace. To round
out the arrangement, we selected a clean-lined chrome and glass
coffee table and a geometric walnut end table. A vintage knotted
floor pillow, which the owners had volunteered to get rid of,
is a quirky addition to the seating.
In the dining area, a custom Parson's console and credenza
are painted charcoal grey. Rather than being boring, the use
of this single colour and variations thereof -- strategically
placed throughout the main floor -- creates rhythm, harmony,
emphasis, and balance. It also allows a very simple natural walnut
dining table, with its complement of vivid orange dining chairs,
to be the star of the show.