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When we first met this homeowner, our brief was simple: to redecorate the dining room and family room. She said she hated the existing hardwood, but we'd have to work with it. She also mentioned she disliked the kitchen but it had to stay. And we would have to work with their existing leather sectional as well. By the next time we spoke, the couple had decided to replace the sofa. After we had found suitable furnishings, the discussion became about changing the flooring, and if we renovated the kitchen, what would I recommend? When I suggested removing the wall between the kitchen and family room and changing the configuration to include an island, the clients' interest was piqued. The project morphed from simple redecorating to a full-blown renovation of the entire main floor of the home.

The clients were inspired by each improvement to take a bigger step in upping the home's wow factor. Ultimately, not only was a new kitchen installed -- and all the construction that entailed -- but flooring (hardwood and tile) was changed throughout, staircase refinished, doors and trims upgraded, fireplace replaced and refaced, and powder room updated. The upgrade of particular note -- requested by the client -- is the dining room's coffered ceiling. The result of our collaboration is a clutter-free easy-living rustic chic home.

The new great room is a marriage of rustic and elegant finishes. In the kitchen area, the distressed black island contrasts with traditional white cabinetry and a sleek taupe quartz countertop. Overhead hangs a pair of chic crystal chandeliers with black rustic finish. A black sink and faucet provide another note of strong contrast. Counter stools juxtapose contemporary style with the kitchen's traditional tone. Running the herringbone marble backsplash vertically instead of the usual horizontal orientation is a more contemporary take as well. Turning lemons into lemonade, a duct that could not be moved was repurposed as a modern convenience -- hidden in a column that now functions as a charging station, display area, and speaker location for their sound system. Serendipitously, it also screens the clean-up area at the island from the front entry so that the view into the room always looks great.

In the sitting area, the fireplace is faced in rustic faux bois tile, mimicking the effect of the hand-scraped hardwood that runs through most of the main floor. A pair of retro modern armchairs creates a cozy conversational arrangement with the casual sectional opposite. Accompanying occasional tables are constructed of reclaimed wood and rough metal -- that rustic element once again. Our colour scheme of blues and browns was originally based on the premise that we would be keeping the previous paint colour as is (Benjamin Moore's Ranchwood), not anticipating that we would be undertaking the complete overhaul that ensued. We liked the classic combination so well that we kept the scheme and carried it throughout.

The dining room has a challenging layout, with multiple angled openings that were originally composed of a mash-up of columns and archways. We simplified the architecture and then made the most of the generous space by adding a sideboard as well as seating pieces at either end of the room. Now a distressed farmhouse dining table, surrounded by tailored cream chairs, is bookended by a sumptuous tufted sofa and an elegant bench, both upholstered in rich navy velvet. The window wall is given substance with navy silk blinds and cream embroidered drapery, flanking a glam silver-leafed cabinet with mirrored fretted front. A huge antiqued mirror above the sofa adds subtle shimmer, as does the metallic custom faux finish on the ceiling. Demanding attention at the heart of the room is an oversized chandelier that is the embodiment of both the rustic and the chic.

Across the hallway from the dining room was a small door, always closed, which I assumed opened to a closet. Instead, it turned out to be a cluttered home office -- unwelcoming, unloved and largely unused. Since the project scope was creeping already, I proposed making it more welcoming by enlarging the doorway to accommodate a pair of frosted glass doors. Flung open, these now reveal a newly organized and inviting space, outfitted to be functional for two. Bespoke cabinetry, rendered in white lacquer combined with grey-washed maple, repeats our rustic chic motif, and the display of decorative objects makes this room more "home" than "office".

My design brief extended to include all the accessorizing and finishing touches on the main floor, with well-considered vignettes bringing a fresh look right up to the front door. Even the powder room was given out-of-the-box pizzazz with a grid of small mirrors against a navy wall.

After hosting a few large gatherings, reveling in compliments, and appreciating the home's improved comfort and functionality, these delighted homeowners are now looking forward to collaborating on their basement. As am I!

We invite you to continue exploring our site for design inspiration, then contact us to find out how we can provide 'just the thing' for you!
Photography by: Ingrid Punwani

Also in this Portfolio:

VIEW | A Case of Scope Creep
VIEW | Jewel Box Condo
VIEW | A Very Personal Home
Entertaining Adults
VIEW | The Art of Compromise
VIEW | Pulling It Together
VIEW | Classic Modernism
Executive Townhouse
To the Next Level
VIEW | Calm, Cool, and Collected
VIEW | Home Sweet Home
VIEW | Going with the Flow
VIEW | Making it Work
Room with a View
Curated Downsize
VIEW | Downtown Pied-a-Terre
Designed to Sell
VIEW | Condo Kitchen

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JUST the THING specialises in makeovers of fine homes -- large and small -- throughout Toronto and the GTA.
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