These clients returned to Toronto to retire after living in
small-town New England for many years. They had recently moved
their cherished belongings into a compact 2-bedroom condo, chosen
chiefly for its location overlooking the propertyís gardens.
Their vision was to bring the comfortable traditional feel of
their rural home to this mid-town unit.
To dispell the generic feel of the space, we added traditional
architectural details. Crown mouldings
were installed throughout. In the foyer, we replaced mirrored
sliding closet doors with traditional french doors, and added
trim details to the flat front door. In the dining room, we walled
over a glass block insert and added a ceiling medallion.
Our major undertaking was to transform the kitchen within
the existing footprint. The clients had requested cork flooring
because it is easy on aging knees, but
its natural texture also lends a touch of rusticity. Replacing
the basic 80's style melamine cabinets with painted beadboard
fronts added instant country charm. The challenge was more in
adding function and storage enough to suit these avid cooks and
entertainers. Fortunately, the clients planned to use their dining
room daily, so we were able to extend the cabinetry into the
breakfast nook -- even creating a dedicated bar area tucked away
from the main work area. The kitchen colour scheme of bright
blue and caramel -- indeed that of the entire suite -- was pulled
from the clients' own furnishings. They delighted in searching
for the perfect complementing finishes that wouldn't break the
bank: hunting down an unusual metallic stone for their countertops,
finding hand-crafted subway tiles a step above the ordinary,
and accenting the basic white backsplash with a mother-of-pearl
The main living area required only some
artful decorating. We tweaked the furniture layout and added
a modular wall unit to accommodate a TV and sound system. Dark
hardwood is a rich backdrop to the clientsí area rug and
is complemented by a deep caramel on the walls. We updated a
generous wingchair with bold navy stripes and selected fabrics
for window coverings and pillows to pull the scheme together.
The rich tones of the furniture and finishes imbue the space
with an air of comfort and permanence.
In the bedrooms, we replaced bland carpeting
with a luxurious copper-coloured pile for coziness and brought
stronger colours to the walls. In the master suite, the clients
found themselves in need of much more storage, which we addressed
through the addition of bespoke cabinetry. We designed generous
built-in armoires and night tables to flank the bed, finished
in a traditional combination of paint and stain to complement
the clientsí furnishings. New colourful bedding in a coral,
blue, and cream paisley adds a cheerful note.
Last to be dealt with was the dilemma
all downsizers face: how to use the spare bedroom. The husband
needs a generous desk and file storage, while the wife needs
space to house her quilting supplies and work on her projects.
They also frequently host out-of-town guests. How to cram all
that function into a 10x13 foot space? First, proper closet organizers
were installed to max out the existing storage capacity. Then
we designed custom cabinets to create a home office that is compact
and highly organized. The desk expands with a flip-up leaf that
can hold a sewing machine. Traditional millwork details such
as turned legs, beadboard backing, and wooden desktops, make
this room feel less like an office and more like home. A small
occasional table and cane chair are easily moved to make way
for a blow-up bed on a frame when friends stay over.
While these clients had some initial trepidation over their
new living arrangements, we were able to transplant and reinterpret
enough of their former environment so that their condo is now
'home sweet home'.