Having decided to simplify her life by moving from a generous
3-storey townhome to a 2-bedroom rental apartment, our client
was forced to edit her ample store of furnishings. Her trove
of family heirlooms, as well as treasures she and her husband
had collected together, ranged in styles from Louis XV to 60's
and 70's modern. The key was to identify the client's sentimental
favorites, to be ruthless in discarding the tired and dated,
and to combine what was left in a new way.
The apartment is a basic 70's unit, with no architectural
charm. Fortunately, the rooms are generous, bright, and well-proportioned.
With the client uncertain of the length of her occupancy, she
was understandably reluctant to invest in repainting or embellishing
the neutral walls. Window treatments too were kept functional
and minimal -- at least temporarily. With such a bare-bones backdrop,
we focused on enlivening the space with bold colour and unexpected
We divided the huge main living space into distinct zones.
In the main sitting area, we began with the client's own reproduction
French bergere from the 80's and iconic Maguire rattan chairs
from the 60's. We reupholstered the chairs in a mix of plaids,
damasks, and animal prints in bright pastels and teamed them
with a new clean-lined sofa in neutral navy. A mismatched pair
of vintage tables is topped by 30's table lamps from her grandparents'
home, and complemented by a new brass and glass coffee table.
Underfoot, a new Persian rug in sunny yellow combines all the
colours in our cheery scheme.
A corner of the living space close to the kitchen became the
breakfast room/games area. Here, an odd couple of Regency chairs
sit at a 60's glass table, with a colourfully accessorized 70's
ètagére as a backdrop. Nearby sits an antique secretary,
shipped from England by her parents.
In the dining area, we initially used a complete suite with
which the client was reluctant to part, as it was the first purchase
made by the couple together. When the china cabinet proved to
be too small for the generous space, we honoured the client's
wish to keep it and re-purposed it as kitchen storage. To replace
it, we found a vintage English-style sideboard whose imperfections
complemented those of the dining table perfectly. Another trip
to the consignment store netted us a tromp l'oeil hand-painted
mirror to reflect a curvaceous chandelier. Rounding out the furnishings
in this area is an antique French baker's rack laden with heritage
The large master bedroom is dominated by a new headboard and
over-sized pendant lamp -- both lending an exotic Moorish note.
The rest of the furnishings hold fond memories for the client,
from the night tables that once served as living room lamp tables,
to the chest of drawers and lady's armchair, through to the quirky
lime-green side chair. A kitschy over-sized lamp is a reminder
of her childhood, and paintings by her mother are given pride
of place, both here and throughout the apartment.
In the guest room/TV room, we once again partner the new --
sofa bed, ottoman, and whimsical armchair -- with the old --
a 60's Plexiglas shelving unit inherited from an aunt, and a
drop-leaf desk painted long ago by her mother. To finish it off,
we found the perfect rug: a patchwork of vintage carpet scraps
dyed vivid citrine.
Throughout the home, starting right at the front door, we
have managed to display a huge assortment of tchotchkes on walls,
shelves, tables, and even windowsills. Shopping in the client's
moving boxes was a fun and rewarding experience for client and
designer alike, as each piece brought with it a story. We knew
it was all coming together beautifully when a painting we unwrapped
to hang above the sofa proved to contain all of our design elements
within its imagery. And when we felt we needed a miniature artwork
and a sconce to complete the wall arrangement, we rooted through
the packaging and dug up just the right pieces.