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Sharon Azrieli presents

CANADIAN BY DESIGN

MIKE

HOLMES MAKING IT RIGHT

TORONTO

SUMMER

ISSUE

REDEFINING THE BACKYARD

From growing food to raising chickens

HISTORY BY THE LAKE

A Victorian house is preserved

WATER GARDENS GREAT GARDEN DESIGN

The calming effect of ponds

OUTDOOR LIVING

Backyard beauty for staycations

Backyard furnishings and accessories

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Superb architecture on a small lot

HERBS FOR COCKTAILS

FLOWER ARRANGING 101

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PUBLISHER’S LETTER

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Hello dear readers, Sometimes, the best things happen through serendipity. Consider, for example, how the talented Mike Holmes came to the attention of Canadians and became—pardon the pun—a household name. Mike Holmes, who has made a career of righting the wrongs of bad contractors on a succession of television shows that he’s hosted, had no plans to become a TV star. Brought up by his dad to do renovation work with the motto “build from the outside in,” he founded his own contracting firm in 1982 at the age of 19. Serendipity arrived in 2001, when he was working as a stagehand, building sets for the HGTV program Just Ask Jon Eakes. Mike, an outspoken critic of incompetent and dishonest contractors, complained to a studio programming executive that he was tired of seeing homeowners being exploited by bad and duplicitous builders. His righteous indignation, which would become his signature style, gave the network executive an idea: to create a program that would profile Mike righting renovation mistakes. Thus, in 2003, Holmes on Homes was launched. Within three seasons, the show was so popular that Mike was receiving hundreds of emails every week from homeowners who were desperate for his help. He was shining a moral spotlight on the dark side of the renovation industry in Canada. Soon, he was able to help his philanthropic causes around the world, change outdated building codes, and create awareness about important safety issues such as radon gas. It was not only an honour to talk with someone whose morals and work ethic I admire and whose background seems similar to my own, but who was a downright pleasure to be with. With Mike Holmes, what you see is what you get. He tackles everyday issues with gusto, one at a time, with honesty and genuine concern, knowing that in this way, he will save the world. He is a real Canadian hero.

DR. SHARON AZRIELI Publisher

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EDITOR’S LETTER

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WE CANADIANS LOVE OUR BACKYARDS during the summer. That’s become increasingly evident in the past two decades as a growing number of homeowners has transformed those spaces, at considerable financial expense, into outdoor rooms, complete with exterior kitchens and areas for dining and lounging. There are also swimming pools, hot tubs, pool houses, fire bowls, she sheds. And did we mention the importance of vegetation? Ornamental or food-producing, gardens are vital elements that give us a sense of connection to Nature. If we loved our backyards before 2020, we will love them even more dearly this year. Many of us, grounded by quarantine and physical distancing, have abandoned plans to vacation out of town this summer. So where does that leave us? At home, in the backyard. If you’re planning to improve your backyard this year, you’ll love the stories in this issue. Our regular horticulture contributor, Cheryl Cornacchia, takes us into two recently renovated backyards designed by Tatiana Povereny. In one, Povereny applied the principles of design normally reserved for grand European landscapes; in the other, she ensured that a food-producing yard—a potager—is aesthetic…a lovely place for relaxing. Cheryl also introduces us to water gardens created by aquatic-garden designer Jean Brûlé, explaining why we feel so well near water, be it a trickling fountain or a swimming pond.

Susan Kelly profiles a residential garden in Victoria that is both private and public. In fact, in an effort to create community, its owners stationed a garden bench in their front yard, where passersby can rest and chat. If this summer’s staycation keeps you busier than usual cultivating flowers in your garden, you’ll want to read Julie Gedeon’s feature about flower arranging. You’ll learn how to use your garden’s floral gifts to beautify the interiors of your home. And if you’re curious about how the current stay-at-home zeitgeist is likely to affect the design of gardens in the future, do read Barbara Milner’s column. Barbara tells us that food production and chicken-keeping are burgeoning interests that are likely to expand. I am one of those gardeners who has converted her borders of perennials and shrubs to food gardens. I love harvesting my organic vegetables and berries. This season will be particularly interesting. Staying so close to home will allow me to pay close attention to the needs of my plants. I believe this time is an opportunity to decelerate, observe, cultivate, nurture. And I’m not referring just to our interaction with plants. We can give ourselves these gifts, too. I, for one, will spend this summer nurturing my garden and myself. Time to stop and literally smell the roses.

STEPHANIE WHITTAKER Editor-in-Chief stephanie@homeincanadamagazine.ca There are several ways you can stay in touch with us: @homeincanada @athomeincanada @HomeInCanadaMag

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MADE IN ITALY CERTIFIED


CONTRIBUTORS

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CHERYL CORNACCHIA Since leaving daily-newspaper journalism in 2016, Cheryl Cornacchia has been actively engaging her green thumb. An enthusiastic new graduate of a Quebec horticulture school, Cheryl has reconnected with her teenage love of gardening and is now writing about it. In this issue, she profiles two gardens: a modern potager and a grand garden in a tight suburban backyard space. She also interviews a specialist in aquatic gardens about why water is such a mesmerizing and sought-after element in residential landscaping. “It’s good to be out in the garden again,” Cheryl says. “I’m so happy, I’m pinching myself.” BARBARA MILNER Barbara Milner is a Toronto-based journalist, designer and realtor. She has covered design for several national television networks and reports for Houzz America on a wide range of decor topics. She also writes about housing market news and developments for premier luxury brokerage Forest Hill Real Estate. Barbara spent her childhood summers on Lake Ouareau in the Laurentian mountains, where she developed a lasting connection with the simple pleasures of nature. In this issue, she explores back-to-basics backyard living, a movement involving the emergence of ecological landscaping and backyard-to-table gardening. JEAN MONET “In these challenging times, we are all yearning for comfort,” says stylist Jean Monet. “The house in Montreal’s West Island area delivers that.” Jean styled the interiors of an impeccably renovated Victorian home for this issue. “When you read the story of this fabulous house and admire the photos,” he says, “you will feel what we felt while photographing it: peaceful, comforted, happy. All of these emotions at once…all of the ingredients we need at this time in our lives. The house has beautiful views of Lake St. Louis, a unique decor, and an amazing little Flame Point Himalayan cat. What more could we ask for?” DREW HADLEY For this issue, photographer Drew Hadley, a regular contributor to Home in Canada, joined stylist Jean Monet and editorin-chief Stephanie Whittaker to shoot photos of a lovely old home in Montreal’s West Island. “The house was so filled with good energy,” Drew recalls. “It was also really well located on the shores of the lake. We had such a joyful day.” Drew, who is based in Montreal, specializes in shooting interior design and architecture.

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Toronto Edition Volume 10, number 3; Summer 2020 Date of Issue: June, 2020 6100 TransCanada Highway Suite 100, Pointe-Claire Quebec H9R 1B9

Call 1-866-846-1640 www.athomeincanada.ca sales@homeincanadamagazine.ca info@homeincanadamagazine.ca

PUBLISHER Dr. Sharon Azrieli, CQ CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Stanley Kirsh EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Stephanie Whittaker ART DIRECTOR Nader Meleika EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Carmen Lefebvre CONTRIBUTORS Cheryl Cornacchia Julie Gedeon Lana Harper Elisabeth Kalbfuss Susan Kelly Barbara Milner Phillipa Rispin Susan Semenak PHOTOGRAPHERS Larry Arnal Nicole Aubrey Maxime Bocken Jean Brûlé Nicole Franzen Donna Griffith Drew Hadley Gillian Jackson Joshua Lawrence Ema Peter Tatiana Povereny STYLISTS Sophie Burke Michaela Burns Jamie Deck Chad Falkenberg Nicole Gomes Érik Maillé Jean Monet Cosette Ramsay Yvonne Whelan

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Matthew Azrieli CONTROLLER Jenny Marques DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Artur Kozyra DIRECTOR OF PARTNERSHIPS MARKETING & SALES Liliana Da Costa DIRECTOR OF SALES NATIONAL (ON LEAVE) Kelly Chicoine For sales inquiries, please email Liliana DaCosta: liliana@ homeincanadamagazine.ca LEGAL DEPOSIT 1927-324x Home In Canada Inc. 2019. All rights reserved. Any copying or reproduction of content without the written permission of Home In Canada is strictly prohibited. issn


CONTENTS

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20 ON THE COVER MAKE IT RIGHT

TV’s Mike Holmes has spent the past two decades righting wrongs and making us aware that we can, too

GRAND STYLE IN A SUBURBAN SPACE

Despite modest dimensions, this garden has elements found in classical European landscapes

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FOOD, WATER, AND CHICKENS

How we are redefining our backyards for contemporary life

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SEASIDE GETAWAY

A 1970s home in Long Island is renovated with edgy, contemporary design for the rental market

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CONTENTS

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WE CAN ARRANGE THAT

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PUBLISHER’S LETTER

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EDITOR’S LETTER

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THIS JUST IN A selection of new items for your home

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MAKING THE MOST OF A MODEST SPACE An architect and designer squeeze plenty of style into a building lot that is only 20 feet wide

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ROOMS WITH A VIEW A Vancouver condo on the 37th floor offers its owners 360-degree vistas

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HERBAL DRINKS The herbs you grow can be used to flavour and enhance your cocktails

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IN BLACK AND WHITE A restricted palette and contemporary furnishings are used to update this North Vancouver home

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BACKYARD HANGOUT The summer of 2020 will give us the opportunity to really use our outdoor living spaces

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FABULOUS FENESTRATION Walls of windows open design possibilities in this Port Credit home

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SMITTEN AT FIRST SIGHT Owners and tenant are enamoured with this historic house the minute they see it

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IMARI WARE Why the centuries-old porcelain is beloved and coveted today

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DON’T MOVE! A family upgrades their ageing home after unsuccessfully scouting the real estate market in search of another house

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LOVE AND LIGHT THIS SUMMER Astrological outlook: Make the most of Venus’s creative and romantic beams

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PERFECT POTAGER Raised beds for vegetables and herbs are both practical and beautiful in this garden

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A FRESH START A couple raze a Toronto home and replace it with one that fits their vision

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NEW AND IMPROVED An outdated traditional home is gutted and revamped to reflect the owners’ love of contemporary design

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People are learning the ancient art of flower arranging to display the floral bounty from their gardens

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AQUATIC LIFE

Water features in gardens range from fountains to swimming ponds, and all offer a sense of peace

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COMMUNITY SPIRIT IN A RESIDENTIAL GARDEN

A landscape in a Vancouver neighbourhood encourages interaction among neighbours

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DESIGN

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T H IS JUST IN

OUT OF AFRICA The Etro Home Masai armchair is an iconic piece of furniture inspired by travel. In a tribute to Africa, the continent’s soul is expressed in the chair’s ebonized finish, in the shape of the armrest reminding us of traditional tools, and in the detail of the bronzed metal rings. North American exclusive dealer: Import Temptations. Import Temptations 188 Bentworth Ave., Toronto 416-256-3150 ext. 216 www.import-temptations.com

SINUOUS AND STYLISH Soft and refined, the Ribbon bed features a carved frame that curves around its headboard and traces along the side rails and footboard. The carving adds elegance to this sumptuous bed. Featuring gold leaf finish, the frame is the perfect trim for plush black velvet upholstering. French in style, it’s available exclusively through Import Temptations. Import Temptations 188 Bentworth Ave., Toronto 416-256-3150 ext. 216 www.import-temptations.com

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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CUSHY LIFE The Safari and Metropolis cushion collection allows you to relax in plush comfort. Accessorize with the Safari and Metropolis collection to add exotic flair to any room or outdoor space. Made of waterproof, mildew- and fade-resistant fabric they’re ideal for indoor and outdoor use. Linen Chest www.linenchest.com

COCKTAIL HOUR Combining the elegance of glass and the durability of break-resistant acrylic, the Swirl drinkware collection is perfect for everyday dining both indoors and outdoors. This collection includes wine glass, stemless wine glass, highball glass and pitcher. Sip your favourite beverage in the comfort of your backyard. Linen Chest www.linenchest.com

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COVER STORY

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MR “MAKE IT RIGHT” MAN

Photo courtesy of The Holmes Group

TV’s Mike Holmes has spent the past two decades righting wrongs and making us aware that we can, too BY SHARON AZRIELI PHOTOGRAPHY: DONNA GRIFFITH

MY MEETING WITH MIKE HOLMES was every bit as exciting as I had dreamed. Very few celebrities can live up to the impression that they create on screen; how can one person who looks like “Mr. Clean” actually be that charismatic? Larger than life? But, on a grey, blustery day in Toronto, there he was. We met at his large, quasi-commercial, sprawling offices in the Toronto area. He sauntered in, perfectly professional, perfectly on time, in his lumberjack jacket, at ease and looking exactly as we all picture him.

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Mike Holmes is well known to Canadians as the man who not only fixes the renovation messes made by other builders and contractors, but has actually caused building codes to be rewritten and has created his own charity. A skilled contractor from the age of 19, Holmes introduced the television program that made him famous, Holmes on Homes, in 2001. The show featured him mitigating the damage done by inept and/or dishonest contractors. Other shows followed, including Holmes Inspection, Holmes Makes it Right, Holmes 911 and a new show, airing on CTV later this year. –>


COVER STORY • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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“I love creating. I love designing. It’s just what I do. I build houses. I solve problems. If you ever see me standing there with my arms crossed, looking…all of a sudden…it’s a pose. It’s not a pose. It was me thinking. I was thinking: ‘How am I going to fix that?’ I mean, I come up with it in my head and boom, I’ve solved the problem.”

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COVER STORY

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Mike Jr. and Mike Holmes, photos courtesy of The Holmes Group

We took over his personal office to conduct the interview, which Holmes did not mind at all. I was impressed by his kind and affectionate grace, and how charming and direct he was with me. The first topic of our interview centred on the most important and first catchphrase that he trademarked in 2007: “Make it Right.” I asked him where it had originated, and he told me it came from a saying of his dad’s: “Simple. When I was young, my dad would always say to me, ‘Mike, if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.’ He was a good man. What he meant was you are only as good as your word; it follows you wherever you go. ‘Make it right’ was quite simple. We need to live in a healthy home. We should be living in a home that lasts forever, like the three little pigs. I always talk about the three little pigs.”

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When we speak about “legacy,” we can mean our kids, our philanthropy, and what we have accomplished with our work. In talking with Mike Holmes, it was clear to me that all of the above are in his thinking all the time. He reminisced about being brought up in a “bad” neighbourhood and said that he knew that, even when he was younger, his kids would never be brought up in that same neighborhood. And yet, he says, “kids, humans especially, don’t learn unless they bang their heads. It’s called bruising. I don’t care what anyone says. Often, we don’t listen to advice because we need to learn from our own mistakes.” Two of his three children—Sherry and Mike Jr.—will join their father on their new show. The three also teamed up on Holmes 911, which premiered on CTV Life last fall.

Holmes is excited about the new series, which shows the trio using their construction expertise to help communities transform vital structures and buildings to—what else?—make it right! He’s particularly proud of his kids on this show, saying that although they started out being competitive as kids, they grew up to realize that the values that their dad had taught them about building community and helping were what they wanted to show to the world and each other. “Pay attention to Sherry,” he says. “She’s a passionate tradeswoman. She really is, but she’s also keen on helping others. –>


COVER STORY • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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“Yes, I get frustrated when I rip (a house) apart because I’m looking at it saying, ‘Who the hell did this? Why did they do it this way? This is how it should be done.’ Then, I do it that way.”

Sherry and Mike Holmes

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COVER STORY

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Photos courtesy of The Holmes Group

“Sherry and Michael really grew close from doing the show together. They worked long hours, but by the end of it, they were happy because they were responsible for helping the organizations that deserved our help. They worked together to make it right.” We will all be watching, I am sure, as soon as the Holmes family’s new show is released. It has been delayed because of the covid -19 situation. A large part of my conversation with Mike Holmes got sidelined by my fascination with his impact on the industry and his impressive product partnerships, not only in Canada, but around the world.

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One of his greatest accomplishments is spreading awareness of the impact of radon gas. Radon, a naturally occurring gas, can infiltrate homes and sicken the inhabitants. Holmes started working with Canadian health organizations to educate homeowners, bringing it to people’s attention, starting in 2007. He has made it one of his missions to encourage homeowners to test their properties for the deadly gas. –>

“How many people have had lung cancer who never smoked in their lives? Have they ever tested their homes for radon? Because it comes out of the ground and is odourless and invisible, it is difficult to detect. The smartest thing to do is have your home professionally tested for radon. It’s time we start paying attention to our indoor air quality.”


COVER STORY • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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Mike Jr. with a radon testing device

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COVER STORY

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Photos courtesy of The Holmes Group

Besides his famous Make it Right trademark, Holmes’s lexicon includes another phrase: “Build from the outside in,” which I wanted to address with him before our time was up. I asked him about it because as part of this intriguing series on brilliant Canadians, what I have loved is how each has developed their own lexicon. And so, I asked because my father, also a builder, had a similar expression which was, “Build a strong foundation, and all the rest will follow.”

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“What’s the difference?” I asked. He replied that he was sick and tired of homeowners who don’t look at anything when they buy a house or get a good inspection. “They just say ‘Oh honey, let’s put in a new kitchen.’ Start from the outside and work your way in,” says Holmes. “Protect your home from the outside first.” And finally, when I ask him if his life turned out the way he wanted, he answers “yes!” because in the end, he is everyone’s friend. Everyone he meets tells him “Don’t stop, whatever you do,” even though he says he is getting tired, and sometimes just wants to get on his boat and let it all go.

I ask what tires him out. “What’s frustrating me is that things really aren’t changing as fast as I had hoped,” he says. “Am I seeing the next generation get into trades? Yes. Am I proud of that? Yes. Has my family had any part to do with that? I sure hope so. That makes me feel better. Eighteen years on television and that’s a long time. There’s still a lot of work to be done.” –>


COVER STORY • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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“Build a strong foundation, and all the rest will follow.”

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COVER STORY

Sharon Azrieli and Mike Holmes

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COVER STORY • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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Photo courtesy of The Holmes Group

What upsets Mike Holmes the most is that there are no consequences, just like minimum codes, for contractors who leave with jobs half-finished or poorly done. If a contractor takes your money and demolishes your bathroom and then leaves you with no bathroom for six months, you have absolutely no recourse but to get a lawyer and go to court, which takes months. “Stealing a pack of gum; you go to jail quicker than if you take $100,000, demolish a house and just leave,” he says.

Often, to change minimum code, there have to be disasters. Fires, f loods, deaths. Holmes wants to create changes so that houses built now will last lifetimes. All in all, though, he is happy with his life’s work. He is happy that he has created opportunities for the next generation to enter the trades, as well as for women, who have become interested in pursuing careers in the industry that they may have not considered before.

I asked him what there is left that he must do. And he said he wants to build the greenest, strongest, smartest houses somewhere in this country, that everyone will pay attention to. “When I do this, I’m done,” he says. “I don’t think you’ll ever be done,” I said, to which he replied: “Maybe not, but I’m trying.” “Don’t,” I said. “We need you.” And we do. We need people like Mike Holmes in this world. That’s what I wanted to say. But the truth is I have only ever met one like him. So, we need him now more than ever.

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LANDSCAPE

A GRAND GARDEN IN SUBURBIA Despite its modest dimensions, this garden has elements found in classical European landscapes BY CHERYL CORNACCHIA PHOTOGRAPHY: TATIANA POVERENY

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LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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LANDSCAPE

GR AND GARDENS can come in small packages: A stately new garden created on a residential property in Terrebonne, a suburb on the northeastern edge of metropolitan Montreal, is a case in point. Featuring a twotiered water fountain, a formal promenade, and mass plantings of perennials, the garden has a simplicity and elegance more commonly associated with an estate property than a typical suburban home.

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The home’s owner, an interior designer and world traveller, wanted a garden that would mirror the refined style of her own home’s interior, as well as the design of historical gardens that she had visited in France and Spain. Classic gardens such as those offer different views and sensations from multiple angles—day or night.

In addition to multiple shades of green, interesting foliage shapes and textures add depth and interest to this predominantly shady garden. Simple straight-angle stone paths give it a classic style.


LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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Tatiana Povereny, a landscape designer with Terrebonne-based Prestige Paysage and the designer who created the new garden, transformed the suburban yard with stone pathways, framed garden beds, spot lighting, and a stunning two-tiered black concrete fountain (from Campania International) that is the garden’s central feature. Making things a little easier, she says, was that the yard was a relatively blank canvas, and had dozens of mature trees, including several stunning white birches on its perimeter. The organic simplicity served as a natural backdrop for the new garden as well as providing privacy. –>

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LANDSCAPE

Since the client worked from home in an office located on the main floor of an addition jutting out from the back of the house, Povereny says, it was important that the new garden provide spectacular views, even when the homeowner was working. For this reason, she adds, the new garden’s central stone walkway starts at a small raised patio platform/seating area that abuts the exterior doors of the homeowner’s office; the walkway leads straight through the garden to the fountain at the far back of the property. Mass plantings of Ajuga reptans (a ground cover also known as bugleweed), impatiens, and the blue-flowering perennial Brunnera

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macrophylla (Siberian bugloss) that run in long beds flanking the full length of the path turned what would otherwise be an ordinary walkway into an impressive promenade. In addition, the pathway encircles the fountain, which is a focal point, amplifying that space and the impact of the water feature. Povereny says cedar hedging is often used to create privacy, but in this case, there was insufficient sunshine for cedars. Instead, she says, nine Aristolochia vines were planted along the screen to create a green wall. The deciduous vine, also known as Dutchman’s pipe, has striking green leaves and can climb 20 to 35 feet. –>

(Above) Pots on a small patio pick up the garden’s green and white theme with boxwood and Bacopa, a whiteflowering annual. Boston ferns add height and interest to the gardens at the side of the house.

(Opposite) The stone pathway running from the house to the two-tiered fountain is flanked by matching borders planted with white impatiens, Ajuga reptans, Brunnera macrophylla and Buxus (boxwood). (Opposite, top) Ligularia dentata injects a splash of orange.


LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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LANDSCAPE

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LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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A stone bench surrounded by plantings of varying heights offers a perfect place for contemplation. Delicate white flowers (gaura) and showy white Annabelle hydrangea blooms amplify the plantings.

Creating further interest, a stone pathway running at 90-degree angles off one side of the main promenade leads to a side garden, a 10-by-seven-foot bed of loose river stones that are surrounded by three ornamental trees: Catalpa bignonioides ‘Nana.’ The catalpas are planted in individual seven-by-seven-foot boxwood hedge squares, which are lit at night. The side garden is both a place from which to admire the wider garden and to sit and relax; a simple stone bench has been strategically placed in the space. More plantings—white-flowered Annabelle hydrangeas; Rubus, another flowering shrub; and Gaura (an annual known as bee blossom and boasting delicate white and purple flowers)—add lushness to the greenery. This is primarily a shade garden, so extra time was spent on plant selection. Povereny chose varieties with various-shaped leaves in assorted shades of green and variegated with white. There are few flowers in the garden, and those that are there are simple white or blue—the homeowner’s choice. In the end, Povereny says, the homeowner loved her new garden and how it matched her vision.

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ARCHITECTURE

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HIGH STYLE IN A MODEST SPACE The design of a Vancouver home in a tight spot elegantly marries form and function

BY PHILLIPA RISPIN PHOTOGRAPHY: EMA PETER STYLING: CHAD FALKENBERG

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ARCHITECTURE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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ARCHITECTURE

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THE AVERAGE HOUSE built on spec is typically designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes. This home in Vancouver’s South Main district, however, is anything but average. Built to wow potential buyers with its design, it’s a functional home that offers unique architecture and finishes. To begin with, it’s on an unusually shaped lot, 20 feet wide and 200 feet long. Each side of the lot runs along the backyards of five properties; at the end of the lot is another property’s backyard. It required an imaginative approach for designing a building that said “home,” not “bowling alley.” The lot’s unusual challenges appealed to Kenton and Jayme Lepp, who own Lepp Construction, a boutique home-construction, renovation and project management practice. “We were looking for something not typical,” Kenton Lepp says of acquiring the lot in 2015. “We knew there was a market in Vancouver for people looking for a turnkey higher-end home. We wanted to apply our experience and add value through design on this long, narrow property.”

(Preceding pages) The backyard and side courtyard allow for plenty of daylight to illuminate the interiors. “Aaron Teer, from Teer Co., did the landscaping,” says builder Kenton Lepp. “We loved his vision for the backyard, with its weeping birch trees that made me immediately think of Dr. Seuss.”

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ARCHITECTURE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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To meet the challenge of the lot, they turned to architect Randy Bens. “Randy was phenomenal,” says Lepp. “He was immediately passionate about the lot design and size. He came up with the exterior shape and interior flow of the house while navigating through the city’s requirements.” For instance, proximity to neighbours on each side meant restrictions on placement of windows to meet Vancouver’s setback rules. Bens designed a small side courtyard that allows large amounts of light into the house while keeping the windows and door the required distance from the lot boundary. “Randy created the courtyard and back patio space in a way that made it an extension of the interior space, making it seem larger, and allowing an easy connection in warmer months between the interior and exterior through the use of a large lift-and-slide, fullheight glass door,” Lepp says. The lot’s dimensions demanded ingenuity and diplomacy from Lepp and team during all phases, and especially during construction. “There was a surprising amount of management with 11 neighbours involved,” Lepp says. They made fence agreements with all the homeowners of adjoining properties, some of whom were quite demanding. “Being adjacent to that many people is unpredictable, and they had to deal with [annoyances such as] noise, sawdust, parking.” –>

The backyard and accessory building, as seen from the family room. Most of the furniture in the home is from Inform Interiors.

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Once they could move forward, “we had to sequence things precisely,” Lepp says. “With the only access from the 20-foot-wide front of the lot, construction had to start from the back and move forward.” The team left large spaces for windows and doors open as long as possible so they could bring in materials without damaging the building. Luck was on their side in the timing, because there was a new build happening on one of the many adjacent lots. “We could use their back lot near the end of our lot,” Lepp says. “A lot of pre-planning went into building this house to avoid expenses. It was unique in the nature of the challenges.” In all, the construction took 16 months. The result of this is a house of 2,200 square feet made for family living. It comprises a foyer, kitchen, dining area, family room and powder room on the main floor. Upstairs are a master bedroom with ensuite bathroom,

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two children’s bedrooms served by a full bath and a half bath, a den on the upstairs landing and a study area for the children. There’s a tidy little courtyard tucked into one side, and a deck outside the family room that leads onto a grassy little backyard with an accessory building that could serve as, say, a workspace, studio or playroom. “By designing the studio building, architect Randy Bens added another 100 square feet of space in a quiet and calm area of the block, where there is no alley or traffic,” Lepp says. “In this home, we played around a lot with space planning,” he adds. “The interiors were a huge focus.” Based on happy experience on previous projects with Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds, of Falken Reynolds Interiors, Lepp engaged them early in the process to design the interior, which is in an envelope only 16 feet wide from one exterior side wall to the other. –>

Entering from the back deck, one sees the fireplace and the bright kitchen and dining area. The tall window on the left overlooks the side courtyard. White-oak Nordic planks from Frontier Flooring run through nearly every room to enhance the feeling of spaciousness.

(Opposite, top left) The upstairs landing makes for a cozy den with a view. (Top, right) Fittings from Blu Bath in the powder room and other bathrooms are sleek and unfussy. (Bottom) Like nearly all the rooms, this child’s bedroom has a characteristically tall window, this one with a view over the side courtyard.


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“We got involved when the plans were being drawn up,” says Falkenberg. “We massaged the floor plans to make spaces feel even bigger than they were.” A masterstroke was to use circulation space as “rooms,” so although the building is long and relatively narrow, it doesn’t feel so because there are relatively few walls and doors. Falkenberg used the same white oak flooring throughout to emphasize the continuity of spaces. An abundance of light also contributes to making the house feel open. A total of 11 skylights brings in natural light, as do large windows in spaces such as the dining area;

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there the wide window goes right down to the floor and looks out onto the courtyard, so this narrowest part of the house feels open. Upstairs, Falkenberg provided several places for people to move around. “We decided that, instead of larger bedrooms, we’d have the desk and work zone outside bedrooms,” he says. “A lot of clients don’t want young kids tucked away in their rooms. The study space is accessible for parenting. The den on the upstairs landing is cozy enough to feel like a separate space without being cramped.” In the Modern tradition, the house has unadorned finishes. It was designed and

constructed meticulously, to tight tolerances. Falkenberg specified “materials that could get banged up a little bit.” This was evidenced by how well the house showed during open viewings, part a recent IDS Vancouver tour, when about 500 people trooped through it.

The children’s study area upstairs is illuminated by a round skylight, designed by architect Randy Bens. Downstairs, the dining area benefits from the huge window looking onto the side courtyard.


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Just past the dining area, the handsome staircase provides an in-situ sculpture that allows light to filter down from above.

Falkenberg is particularly proud of the stairwell leading to the second floor, enclosed by a file of powder-coated metal slats. Practical, yes, but also stunning architectural sculpture. “The rail lets the light in, but it’s tough,” he says. He’s delighted with how his design was executed, not just here but throughout the house. Lepp is similarly enthusiastic about the venture. “We have no regrets,” he says of his company’s work on this unique house. “This was a great project for us as young developers.”

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THE ART OF FLOWER ARRANGING

Harvest the blooms you grow in your garden for beautiful indoor displays BY JULIE GEDEON

A DEAR FRIEND recently cheered me up by leaving tulips at my door. Thank goodness she didn’t see what became of them! Without thinking, I dumped them with their elastic into a dusty vase with some water and Aspirins. The poor things flopped the next day, their stems appearing to elongate to escape the vase. I realized it was high time for me to learn something about flower arranging, perhaps with garden blooms. I recalled enjoying a talk by Maryse Hudon, a marketer who turned her love of flowers into Lutaflore, a flourishing business in the West Island of Montreal. –>

Photo courtesy of Jeremie Dupont

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Photos courtesy of Maryse Hudon at Lutaflore

A visit starts with a tour of Hudon’s garden where she takes advantage of a microclimate created by lake air and a huge garage—transformed into a f loral-workshop studio—to grow a myriad of blooms. “Hellebores are the best-kept secret,” Hudon says. “They’re first to bloom, last forever and their colourful sepals make them look as if they’re flowering all summer.” Hyacinths also open early next to sunwarmed bricks. “And I was told we can’t grow wisteria in this climate but, yes, we can,” she says. “You just need to experiment with the same plants in different locations to discover where you have the most heat units.”

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Hudon has planted 75 dahlia varieties from across Canada for this summer’s garden. Her 1,500 tulip bulbs are in various locations to bloom over weeks. “I explain in my workshops how to time plantings for a summer-long supply of flowers.” Through my favourite Toronto-based florist, Wild North Flowers, I also discovered My Luscious Backyard, run by Sarah Nixon. She uses her own garden and nine other residential yards to grow everything from Icelandic poppies to colourful new varieties of Rudbeckia.

Maryse Hudon, the owner of Lutaflore, has turned her garage into a workshop where she shows others how they can arrange backyard blooms and seasonal foliage into beautiful displays. Required social distancing might soon be possible within this large space.

“Keep things simple.”


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Nixon suggests that novice gardeners try planting cosmos, which is tolerant of poor soil. “You can grow them from seeds in May or buy seedings,” she says. “Remember, they may need staking to keep them upright in summer storms. And when they’re about a foot tall, snip a few inches off the top just above a set of leaves to create side shoots.” Zinnias are likewise easy. “Look for the tall varieties,” Nixon advises. “And reach deep into the plant to do first cuts so they branch out into more flowers.” She recommends cutting f lowers early or late in the day when the air is cool. “You need good clippers, sharpened by a professional or with a sharpening stone or a knife sharpener. Dull clippers can crush the stem’s cellular structure,” Nixon says. “Cut stems at an angle and put them in water right away to condition.” –>

By planting the same flowers in different locations, Maryse Hudon discovered the best locations in her garden for her dahlias (top, left), blush hellebores (bottom, left), and twisted yellow celosias (below, right).

Photos courtesy of Maryse Hudon at Lutaflore

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Photos courtesy of My Luscious Backyard by Jeremie Dupont

Planting flowers wilds our gardens in ways that benefit nature. Numerous varieties bloom all the more if cut early and often to create additional offshoots. A single clipped rose can brighten a table or the corner of a room.

Regarding the vase: “You want it so clean you’d let your grandmother drink from it,” she says. “Any crusty brown residue will produce bacteria that will block a stem’s ability to hydrate.” Soaking a vase in soapy hot water and then swirling uncooked rice inside might do the trick. Otherwise, discard it in favour of vases with openings large enough to scrub. Water-resistant florist tape can be used to create a grid across the top of a vase to keep elements in place, but any strong clear tape might do. A kenzan (floral pin frog) is likewise great for positioning flowers, but some chicken wire also works. “Please don’t use ‘florist foam,’ ” Nixon urges. “It breaks down into microplastics within our water system.”

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LIFESTYLE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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Photo courtesy of Canadian Institute of Floral Design

A trick as simple as placing vases side by side is some of the in-depth expertise gained by students at the Canadian Institute of Floral Design. Generous greenery makes the colour of pastel blooms stand out, while branches create greater breadth and height.

My Aspirins were a big mistake. “They probably killed your tulips,” laughs Donald Waltho, founder of the Canadian Institute of Floral Design, based in Etobicoke. “They’re among the first myths we dismiss at the start of our three weeks of intensive training.” Yet some old wives’ tales have merit. “My grandmother poured a little 7Up into vases,” Waltho says. “The citric acid lowered the water’s pH level while the drink’s sugar fed the flowers.” Packaged floral food is great as long as instructions are followed. “Otherwise, the proportions are off and there’s likely to be more bacteria than with plain water,” Waltho warns. Various homemade recipes are not

recommended, he adds. However, a capful of bleach as a bactericide and a sprinkling of sugar would suffice if professional floral preservatives are unavailable. With or without these, though, the water should be changed every second day. Another mistake: putting the vase in a sunny place. “You’ll just shorten your flowers’ life cycle,” Hudon says. To arrange flowers on their own, cut stems at various lengths for visual interest. “If you have curving stems, work with them to create pleasing new angles,” she suggests.

Hudon prefers vases that flange out so that flowers and foliage can hang over the edges. Readily available garden cedar, boxwood, ninebark or spirea from broken or trimmed branches make great foliage. Pachysandra and other vine-like ground covers are pretty, too. “Keep things simple,” she advises. “Perhaps create three angled points of interest within your arrangement or pair pussy willows with a single stunning tulip.” –>

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Photo courtesy of My Luscious Backyard by Jeremie Dupont

Photo courtesy of Maryse Hudon at Lutaflore

Photo courtesy of Maryse Hudon at Lutaflore

(Top, left) Since 2002, Sarah Nixon at My Luscious Backyard has been growing cut flowers organically (including varieties rarely found in Toronto florist shops) as part of her innovative micro-farming in her own garden and those of neighbours and friends. (Above): Maryse Hudon encourages the use of innovative containers to hide glass vase mechanics. Her rainbow display is created by repeating similar flowers in a range of brilliant hues. She grows black pearl pepper (left) as a unique foliage for her displays.

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Photo courtesy of Maryse Hudon at Lutaflore

Forcing flowering by using branches of honeysuckle, magnolia or forsythia, has become popular. “Harvest when buds start to crack open; then cut the last inch or so of the end of a stem lengthwise to help the branch hydrate,” Hudon instructs. Of course, lilacs are a scented favourite. “Just remember that while their blooms will drink water, the foliage won’t,” says Waltho. “It’s best to remove the leaves, since any that fall below the waterline creates bacteria.” Scented geraniums and mountain mint are Nixon’s other fragrant recommendations. “I also like the herb shiso; the purply-red variety has beautiful ruffled leaves and selfseeds,” she says.

Our gardens already contain all kinds of beauty to fill a vase. The experts recommend azaleas, fresh/dried hydrangeas, plucked hosta leaves, even seed pods. “I’ve used dried fertile fern fronds, scrolled birch bark, plumes of dried grass, and feathers,” Maryse Hudon says. “Give yourself permission to be creative.” As for my tulips looking as if they wanted to run away…“You do know they’re among the few flowers whose cut stems keep growing, right?” she asks. “You have to recut the stems.” So it wasn’t my imagination!

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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ROOMS WITH A VIEW A Vancouver condo on the 37th floor offers its owners 360-degree vistas

BY ELISABETH KALBFUSS PHOTOGRAPHY: EMA PETER STYLING: SOPHIE BURKE, NICOLE GOMES AND COSETTE RAMSAY

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FOR ONE VANCOUVER COUPLE, downsizing meant trading in their traditional family home of 30 years for city life: the 37th floor of a newly built high-rise condo, with views over the city and across English Bay. They bought the entire floor—3,250 square feet—with a plan to combine it into a single unit and they left behind everything except the artwork they had collected over the years. The couple turned to designer Sophie Burke of Sophie Burke Design to give them the new contemporary home they wanted. Burke and the firm’s lead designer, Nicole Gomes, had a blank slate to work with; the only thing set in stone was the location of the elevator and the unit’s front door, so they set out to match the layout to their clients’ wish

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list, while maximizing the views and taking advantage of all the natural light. The space was configured to create a master bedroom with his and her ensuite bathrooms, two other guest bedrooms and a guest bath, a family room, powder room, living room, and dining and kitchen area with easy flow for entertaining. Though the homeowners were keen to embrace a contemporary design, they still wanted it to feel comfortable and homey, says Gomes. To achieve that, the designers added a few traditional touches: a herringbone pattern for the white oak floors, and textured wallpapers, including navy grasscloth in the dining area and hallways.

With floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides, it can be difficult to know where to place sofas and other furniture without obscuring the view. A pop-up television mounted on a hydraulic lift is hidden in the fireplace console, custom-built by Munro Woodworking. Sofa: B & B Italia.

“You wake up at night and can feel like you’re in Las Vegas.”


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“Because they’re so high up, they have 360-degree views and balconies facing in all different directions,” Gomes says. But no matter how you arrange things, with so many floor-to-ceiling windows and so few walls, at some point you have to block some of that view. The living room fireplace, for instance, stands in front of a wall of windows. The custom-built unit that encases it was kept as low as possible, she says, and designed to extend out on one side to hide a large-screen television. It’s installed on a hydraulic lift and pops up when the homeowners want to watch it. –>

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“Most people are worried about restricting the view, but there are views everywhere,” the homeowner says. “We have friends who put their sofa in front of the windows. That also blocks the view. We weren’t sure at first, but now we’re really happy we did it.” Gomes says the homeowner was drawn to greys and blues with white. That colour scheme, the homeowner says, reminded her of a navy blazer with a white shirt, a look she calls classic but not formal, and she likes that it’s offset with some pale grey. “When I look at it, these are colours I wear a lot,” the homeowner

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says. “We had a lot of red in our previous place. I said ‘no more.’ ” Gomes and Burke also carefully considered the entertaining space. The couple wanted a large dining table that could seat 10 to 12 people and a kitchen island that could accommodate up to eight stools. They carved out a bar area, with a wine fridge, sparkling water on tap and a second, small dishwasher for glasses. In the kitchen, many of the appliances are integrated, including freezer drawers in the 13-foot-long island, and another television, hidden behind the cabinets over the sink.

(Avove) The designers chose a textured grasscloth wallpaper in navy for the dining room and the hallways as a backdrop for the couple’s paintings, the only things they brought with them when they downsized. Febo dining chairs in navy: B & B Italia; Cloud light fixture: Apparatus. (Right) Despite the large dining table, family and guests mostly congregate at the 13-foot-long kitchen island. The island provides storage as well as seating and includes built-in freezer drawers. Joko stools: Kristalia; Arc Well lights: Allied Maker.


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The master bedroom boasts his and her ensuite bathrooms in similar designs. Hers has a large Blu Bathworks soaker tub, flanked by a wall of tiles clad in a herringbone pattern. His has a large steam shower with a long bench. The tiles on one wall of the shower are in a stacked pattern.

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In the bedrooms, including the master suite, the homeowner opted for plush carpets to create a feeling of warmth and luxury underfoot, Gomes says. As well, the couple insisted on both his and her bathrooms. There’s a practical side: his has a steam area in the shower. Hers has both a soaker tub and a shower. “I like it a little prettier than he would,” the homeowner says, “And tidier.” The light-coloured bedroom and ensuite bathrooms with both white and marble tiles

feel very soft and relaxing, Gomes says, especially “coming in from the navy hallways. It’s quite light and fresh.” The transition to city living has worked well for the couple, the homeowner says. “We really love being on one floor; it’s quite different.” And though the many windows can sometimes make it feel like they’re in a fishbowl, there’s a magic to it, especially at night. “You wake up at night and can feel like you’re in Las Vegas.”

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LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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THE WONDERS OF WATER Backyard ponds are a splendid addition to any garden and a welcome home for many flora and fauna BY CHERYL CORNACCHIA PHOTOGRAPHY: JEAN BRÛLÉ

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ASK ANYONE to name their favourite place to bliss out and there’s a good chance it will be beside a body of water—an ocean, lake or river. Water has that kind of magical hold over us. That fact fuels Montreal landscape designer Jean Brûlé’s passion for water gardens. Water is the defining feature of Brûlé’s garden-design projects. He has designed hundreds of water gardens since leaving behind ordinary landscape design in 1998 to found Jardins Aquadesign, in the Laurentian town of Val Morin. “Water is a different dimension,” says Brûlé, explaining his attraction to the element. “It’s fluid. There’s movement, there’s sound, and that’s very soothing.

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“But that’s only half of it,” he adds. “Water is life. If there’s no water, there’s no life. We have to bring back nature to the backyard and there’s no better way to do that than with water.” A mon g h i s f avou r it e c re at ion s: a Japanese-inspired pond and stream in a suburban yard in Montreal’s West Island suburb of Beaconsfield; a large swimming pond (30 by 50 feet) on an expansive country property outside the Laurentian town of Morin Heights; and a beautiful pond and waterfall surrounded by f lowering perennials and native plants, set within a landscaped forest setting, in a garden in the Laurentian town of Ste-Adele.

Brûlé says that since he has moved into water-garden design, people have increasingly come to appreciate the benefits of aquatic landscaping. In the early days, he says, he had to give talks to horticulture clubs to promote water gardens and explain how they nurture beneficial insects (dragon flies) and provide drinking water to birds and other wildlife. (Mosquitoes are not a problem because they prefer still water to the moving variety.) –> The soothing sounds of falling water and a gurgling stream (out of frame) fill this elaborate water garden. Weeping hemlock (Tsuga) beneath the pergola lends the garden Japanese style. Plantings of hostas, grasses and water lilies are joined by Butomus (tiny starshaped pinkish flowers), yellow Iris pseudacorus, Iris versicolor, and purple-topped Alliums.

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In more recent years, he says, the environmental movement has helped raise awareness of the importance of water in the landscape, helping to boost his business further. “Our goal is to recreate an aquatic ecosystem, like that of Mother Nature, right in your backyard.” Brûlé says there’s a water garden that’s right for every property, even downtown apartments and condos. He cites patio ponds, which are fibreglass or concrete containers measuring three-by-three feet or four-by-four feet, and outfitted with a pump to circulate water in a closed system. They make a gurgling sound and can transform a balcony into a mini water oasis, particularly if Japanese bamboo, water lilies and tropical plants are added. However, the bulk of Jardins Aquadesign’s work involves larger installations. They range from a classic turnkey water garden and pond measuring six-by-eight feet and costing from $6,000 to $7,000, to sophisticated aquatic ecosystems with large ponds, multiple waterfalls, streams and rockery that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Artificial-pond ecosystems rely on a system of pumps, filters and skimmers to circulate and keep the water clean. The company uses Aquascape BioFall filters and skimmer systems, the industry standard. Once installed, the ponds couldn’t look more real. An artificial pond can be made to imitate a natural one, with the deepest point in its centre and step-like contour levels radiating out to the perimeter, at which point the pond’s banks begin to rise in steps, usually about eight inches at a time, to further replicate Mother Nature’s own design. –>

Rhubarb (left foreground), Cotoneaster ground cover (right foreground), Stephanandra, Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle), Astilbes (red and pink) and orange day lilies give the water garden a natural look. A stand of Miscanthus frames the small stone patio.

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A skimmer box, which filters the pond’s water, is hidden in faux rock (right foreground). Echinacea (purple coneflower), Sedum (stonecrop), hemerocallis (daylily), Alchemilla Mollis (lady’s mantle) and Lysimachia nummularia (creeping Jenny) create a flowering perennial border around the pond.

Pond water is kept at between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius so as not to kill aquatic plants— both visible and microscopic—and to prevent algae build-up. Finishing the design, the pond banks are fortified with boulders and planted with marginal plants—the name for species that do well in moist conditions. Marginal plants include Lobelia cardinalis, Iris versicolor, Pontederia cordata, Sagittaria latifolia and Caltha palustris. Many people choose to add koi and goldfish to their ponds, Brûlé says, noting that they feed wholly on the microscopic life in the pond. However, the fish can overwinter

only if the pond’s depth is two feet or more. Otherwise, they must winter in an indoor aquarium. Herons, which feed on the fish, can be problem. A heron statue can help deter those hungry birds. Submersible LED lighting is also an option, and something that Brûlé recommends to clients. “It gives you two different water gardens,” he says, citing the night-and-day difference. Finally, there’s maintenance and municipal regulations. Many municipalities require fencing around a backyard pond as they do for swimming pools. Brûlé adds that maintenance is less complicated than that for a

swimming pool or spa. With ponds, there’s no need to balance chemicals and the water’s pH. The average pond simply needs a cleaning at the beginning and end of each season, something that can be done by a contractor. And with the automatic dosing system, the pond will always receive the right amounts of beneficial bacteria and enzymes to keep the water healthy and crystal clear. “You can go away,” he says, “and not worry about your pond turning green.” After all, Mother Nature is in control.

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SUN, SAND AND SEA

A bungalow on Long Island is updated as a contemporary beach home for the rental market BY CHERYL CORNACCHIA PHOTOGRAPHY: NICOLE FRANZEN

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No room in the vacation home says “Welcome to Montauk” quite as the pool-house room does. Low key and relaxed, it is outfitted with a Floyd platform daybed and a Smeg fridge.

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THE 1970S RANCH-STYLE HOME had a modest beginning as a summer getaway. However, after a major renovation, the four-bedroom bungalow in the Long Island community of Montauk is now a luxury rental—and a showcase for contemporary design. The McKinley Bungalow Federal, as the property is called, is the second Montauk house to be transformed by New York city designer Robert McKinley of Studio Robert McKinley. The reinvention of the 2,400-square-foot home was completed for the 2019 summer rental season, following on the heels of the

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renovation of McKinley’s first bungalow, which he named the McKinley Bungalow Fairview. Each is an eclectic showcase of contemporary design, vintage pieces and found objects, modern art, and a blend of seaside aesthetics from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. “We drew inspiration from Montauk’s coastline, the seaside towns of France, the Mediterranean, and the way we live and travel,” says McKinley, who is now working on his third bungalow, slated for completion in summer 2020.

In years past, Montauk was a secluded summer enclave at the easternmost tip of Long Island that attracted some of the 20th century’s most celebrated modern artists, including Andy Warhol, Peter Beard and Julian Schnabel. McKinley says it is this slice of Montauk’s past, its history as an art community, that he is trying to embody in the bungalow series.


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Clean lines and simple design characterize the kitchen. The natural travertine limestone backsplash features a wave-like pattern in a nod to the ocean’s beauty. Natural light pours through the bare windows.

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When he bought the property that he turned into the McKinley Bungalow Federal (the word Federal was taken from the name of the street on which it is located), it was in rough shape. The house had been neglected for many years and had undergone a number of half-hearted renovations through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Although it was a good size, it had low ceilings and poky rooms. The natural light inside the house wasn’t what it should have been for a Long Island resort town.

Opening up the house’s interiors was paramount. For starters, says McKinley, the ceilings were raised and the home’s original wood beams were exposed to open up the main living area. Some of the walls were removed to create an open-concept space around the free-standing fireplace and raised bluestone hearth. The renovation also created new sight lines between the kitchen, breakfast nook, dining and living areas, and, of course, the doors that access the outdoor deck. –>

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A mix of woods, fabrics, leather, plastic, terracotta, rattan and a bluestone hearth (below) give the lime-washed white communal space its warmth and texture. Plants and such found objects as seashells accentuate the nature-inspired aesthetic.

The entire space was lime-washed white to amplify the natural light. New floors of natural white oak were also installed. With a neutral palette as an unobtrusive backdrop, the property’s sophisticated beach house aesthetic could now be brought to life with furnishings and complementary works by artists and artisans. Among some of the unusual pieces: A funky rocking chair made of blue rebar, with red and black plastic weaving that was assembled by prison inmates in Colombia and sold through Marni Fashion House of Milan, Italy; an ash wood dining table from HAY; vintage fibreglass Kangaroo chairs from the 1960s; reed and leather rugs made by Tuareg nomads; and flat-weave textile tapestries designed by McKinley himself in collaboration with AELFIE.

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A bold textile wall hanging designed by the designer himself—Robert McKinley—is the only burst of colour in one of the bedrooms. The home’s four bedrooms are all lime-washed white and simply decorated.

Even though many of the pieces were purchased from design houses, there is nothing fussy about the decor in the main living space. The organic and seaside style has been enhanced through the addition of shells and rocks, a shark jaw, and tropical plants in terracotta pots. The home’s four bedrooms were also limewashed white and furnished to blend with the almost Bohemian aesthetic of the communal space. They are outfitted with simple-looking furnishings, including Floyd platform beds, which feature ingeniously designed lift-upand-fold plywood frames, held together with straps. More modern art, found objects, and works by artisans decorate the bedrooms. –>

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The palm-green sitting room/library is the only room in the house that has colourful walls. The lime-washed walls give the room an exotic feel and warmth.

A second sitting room a few steps down from the main floor is the only room in the house with colourful walls. Painted palm-green, the room was lime-washed, giving the walls an architectural texture. “It feels like a jungle room,” says McKinley. It’s decorated with a mix of contemporary furnishings, rattan, exotic woods, tropical plants and North African light fixtures. The final step in the renovation was an update of the backyard deck and pool-house room. Neither of the McKinley bungalows is directly on the beach, so the designer wanted the outdoor recreational area of the house to look modern and beachy.

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The architectural screen and a backyard fence are fashioned out of vertical wood slats. Together they give the outdoor space a modern facelift and bring together the pool house, upper deck and patio area around the pool.

To achieve the look, he installed a spa-like architectural screen, made of wood fashioned in vertical slats, onto the exterior of the pool house. The screen extends from the backyard’s weathered mahogany deck upward 20 feet to where it becomes an enclosure for a smaller upper deck. The screening extends the comforts of the home’s interior to the outdoor area, and the same pattern is repeated in fencing surrounding part of the yard. McKinley says the pool-house room is his personal favourite place in the renovation. White walls, a full-sized daybed, a small bar and a tiled shower make the pool-house room a perfect place to relax out of the sun with a Long Island iced tea.

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PLANTED, STIRRED AND SHAKEN The herbs you grow in your garden can be used to flavour and enhance your cocktails TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUSAN SEMENAK

THERE’S A SUNNY SPOT on the back balcony where two of my favourite words spend the summer in a tangle of aromatic green co-existence: “cocktail garden.” Most people would call this cluster of terracotta pots by the kitchen door an herb garden. And that it is. I’m always snipping basil, rosemary and thyme for soup, sauce or pesto. But mostly, my harvest is reserved for the cocktail hour: for making flavoured syrups and herbal infusions for drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Herbs are easy to grow, thriving even in tight spaces, with minimal care. All they need is a decent-sized pot with drainage, faithful watering (whenever the soil feels dry to the touch), adequate sunshine (at least four hours a day) and regular snipping to encourage new growth. For my cocktail garden, I look for especially aromatic varieties of herbs—ones that readily release their fragrance and flavour when infused in tea, syrup or alcohol, or muddled with sugar. The best way to choose herbs for a cocktail garden is to touch them at the market or the nursery, to rub their leaves between your fingers and then smell. –>

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Among my all-time cocktail-garden favourites: Moroccan mint, a form of spearmint with bright green leaves, is especially aromatic. It is great for muddling into mojitos, or for sweet Moroccan iced tea made with black tea and sugar. Pineapple sage isn’t at all like the sage most of us know. It’s a tall plant with downy leaves that produces brilliant scarlet flowers in fall. Its leaves have the most subtle, surprising pineapple fragrance. Really nice for iced tea

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sweetened with honey. Lemon thyme might be my all-time favourite herb. Tiny variegated green leaves are topped with pretty pink flowers, both of which are edible. Great for syrups and sorbet, but also as a garnish. Rosemary is one of the most aromatic of all herbs. Just a few sprigs yield an intensely flavoured syrup. You can also dry the leaves with coarse sea salt and hot chili pepper flakes and then, using a spice mill, grind the mix

into an herb salt for rimming margarita or bloody Caesar glasses. Lemon verbena is a beauty of a plant that can grow to three feet tall in a big pot, with glossy pointed leaves that release a glorious citrus scent when rubbed. Cut the branches all summer long and dry the leaves for a year’s worth of tisane or use them fresh in white sangria or iced tea made with green tea.


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My summer cocktail bar is always well stocked with a few basics: simple syrup, lemons and limes, sparkling water and bitters. A fresh supply of ice cubes is a must. I keep mine in a zippered bag so they don’t absorb odours from the freezer. And I make fresh ones. Then I get busy in the kitchen mixing up the syrups and herb salts that lend my drinks their summer personality. Here are a few favourites: Rosemary Syrup A splash of this highly aromatic syrup jazzes up gin and tonic or a glass of Prosecco. It is also really good in the fall, stirred into bourbon and unfiltered apple cider, with a twist of lemon.

You can make other herbal syrups following this recipe by substituting a handful of lemon thyme, lemon verbena or other fresh herbs. Thai purple basil will yield an exquisite mauve syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine one cup water, one cup sugar and four sprigs rosemary. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Turn off heat and let stand one to two hours. Strain, discard the herbs and transfer to a clean bottle or jar. Keep refrigerated up to a month.

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Mint & Maple Bourbon Smash Cut a lemon in half crosswise and squeeze the juice into a cocktail shaker or Mason jar. Cut the remaining halves into smaller pieces and add to the shaker. Add two ounces maple syrup and a handful of fresh mint leaves and muddle until fragrant. Pour in four ounces of bourbon and stir. Strain into two cocktail glasses and add a drop or two of bitters to each. Drop in some ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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BLACK AND WHITE AND ELEGANT ALL OVER

A restricted palette and contemporary furnishings are used to update this North Vancouver home BY CHERYL CORNACCHIA PHOTOGRAPHY: EMA PETER STYLING: JAMIE DECK

JUST THE RIGHT COMBINATION of white and black walls, custom millwork and well-chosen furnishings took a tired North Vancouver home from the early 1980s and transformed it into a vibrant, contemporary living space. The difference that the contrasting black and white palette made to the interior was like night and day. Even the home’s former red-brick exterior got a blackand-white makeover to match the urban look inside. “We love it; we absolutely love it,” says Susie Da Silva, who along with her husband, two daughters and two cats moved back into their 3,088-square-foot home in August 2019 after six months of renovations. “My husband really likes black. I love white. The designer helped us balance the two.” –>

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The North Vancouver home’s red-brick exterior underwent a black-and-white makeover to match the urban vibe of the home’s black-and-white interior.

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The front hall is a contrast in black and white. The eyecatching contemporary bench is from Vancouver’s Bloom Furniture Studio Ikon series.

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The designer who made it all work was Jamie Deck, owner and creative director of Shift Interiors of Vancouver. Deck says many clients are attracted to the idea of using black to update their living spaces. Over the past few years, black has been named colour of the year by several arbiters of design. However, when it comes to making the final decision, she says, they often shy away from the bold idea. In this case, Deck says, she is happy the couple stayed with their choice. Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace (OC-65), a crisp, clean white, and Black Tar (2126-10), a bold, saturated black, were exactly what

the four-bedroom home needed to bring it into today’s world. The two colours are used throughout. With limited natural light on the main level, and a layout characterized by angled ceilings of varying heights as well as limitations in the number of interior walls that could be removed, the white walls helped to open up the main living space. “We really flooded (the home) with white,” says Deck. “Architecturally, it is a complicated space. By using black, the white looks even whiter. The space became even brighter. Between five to 10 per cent of the overall decor is black.” –>

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(Above) Family meals are enjoyed at a table that extends from the kitchen island. The table top is white quartz, which matches the kitchen’s countertops and backsplash.

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The entire two-storey house was renovated. On the main floor is the kitchen, an adjacent dining area, family room, living room, entrance hall and stairway. On the second level, there are three bedrooms. Using the same black-and-white palette throughout brought it all together. Rift-cut white oak was chosen for the floors on the main level as well as on the new staircase to the second-floor landing. The neutral-coloured flooring serves as a backdrop to the black and white palette while it harmonizes the space, says Deck. In the kitchen, white was chosen for the custom cabinetry, matching the quartz backsplash and countertops of

the island and the adjoining table. Black pot lights on the ceiling, white-coloured bubble sconces and a smoked-glass lighting fixture over the dining table flesh out the contemporary design. Further brightening the space, new and larger windows with black matte moldings were installed on the main level. After the back wall of the house was bumped out, two new windows were installed in the kitchen. And three new floor-to-ceiling windows went into the family room. They open from the bottom like a garage door, allowing easy walking access to the patio and facilitating outdoor-indoor entertaining. –>

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(Top, left) Black quartz makes a stunning statement in the powder room, white sconces highlight it. (Top, right) A built-in desk and bookshelves make a tidy office in one of the bedrooms.

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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The ultimate dramatic touch is the black wall in the family room. There are four components to the chic blackness: a black flat-screen television, black matte cabinetry on each side of the TV, a five-foot-wide black gas fireplace, and a black faux-concrete hearth surrounding the fireplace with a matching ledge running the full width of the wall. Homeowner Susie Da Silva says she and her husband could never have imagined it would turn out as well as it did. Both work in real estate—Susie in marketing and her husband as a developer. In the back of their minds, she says, they secretly thought they could always sell the house if it didn’t turn out as they had hoped. That isn’t the case, of course. In her words: “We don’t foresee going anywhere.” (Above) Black-on-black creates drama in the family room. Black matte custom millwork provides storage on each side of the television. The fireplace hearth is made of black faux concrete.

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HANGING OUT IN THE BACKYARD The summer of 2020 will be a time for us to love our outdoor living spaces more than ever

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We’re at home this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we’ll ignore the beauty of the season. In fact, many of us are discovering how wonderful the great outdoors can be right at home, in our own backyards. If you’re planning to have an elegant staycation this summer, you may want to upgrade your outdoor rooms. Here are some furnishings and accessories that will make staying home both fun and beautiful.


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OUTDOOR LIVING GUIDE 2020

PRACTICAL AND BEAUTIFUL Add style to your table with the Lome ceramic pitcher from Casualife Outdoor Living. Made of high-quality ceramics, it features a textured surface that gives it depth and definition. Useful for outdoor meal service all summer long, it’s a sophisticated display piece when it’s not holding liquid. Small size: $80; larger size: $125. Available from Casualife Outdoor Living. www.casualife.ca

MADE FOR THE WEATHER The Bridgewater Cove teak outdoor sofa has a strong Mid-century Modern aesthetic with its clean lines and tapered details. Its frame is made of plantation teak, fitted with strong mortise-and-tenon joinery and concealed stainless steel hardware. It has a wire-brushed finish. Cushions are upholstered in a choice of 100 Sunbrella fabrics, which are stain-resistant and colourfast, and provide up to 98 per cent UV protection. Available from Ethan Allen. wwww.ethanallen.ca

DIVINE DIVAN Whether you’re soaking up the sun by the pool or curled up with that special someone under the stars, this daybed will keep you comfortable as you relax. Designed for outdoors, it’s crafted of weather-resistant materials, but should be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep it looking as good as new. Available from Jardin de Ville. www.jardindeville.com

GATHER ’ROUND The Equinox from Tuuci is a bioethanol fire pit that is supported by a concrete-composite stand and provides some extended surface space. The stand lifts the fire pit to make it convenient to access. Perfect for those cool evenings when you want to relax as long as possible on the patio. Available from Southern Living Design. www.southernlivingdesign.ca

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OUTDOOR LIVING GUIDE 2020

ALL FIRED UP Heat up the grill. The Kamado Joe barbecue, from Maison DF Jade, is portable and powerful. It features a ceramic firebox, a cast-iron top vent, side shelves and a four-legged stand. The Kamado Joe has a thick ceramic interior wall that gives a smoky flavour to meats and other foods. It allows for slow cooking at low temperatures and grilling at high temperatures. A built-in, removable ashtray makes the grill easy to clean. Available from Maison DF Jade. www.maisondfjade.com

PRIVATE PARADISE Privacy screens from Garden Living allow for hidden integrated lighting, audio-visual features, and irrigation and misting systems through framing channels. Using the latest engineered materials and aluminium-core construction, they’re both lightweight and weather-durable. Will not rust, rot, warp or fade under the most extreme weather conditions. Available from Garden Living. www.gardenliving.com

GATHERING OF THE CLANS While social distancing may keep us at arm’s length from each other, families can still gather ’round in the backyard. This free-standing outdoor kitchen is designed to be a central gathering space with the cook in the middle. Featuring refrigeration, open shelving and counter-height seating, this design blends the kitchen and dining room into one. Shown here is Urban Bonfire’s signature Chantilly colour with a Dekton countertop in Strato. Available from Urban Bonfire. www.urbanbonfire.com

WILD SIDE A staycation should be cozy and comfortable. Relax on outdoor furnishings adorned with beautiful cushions from Linen Chest. These funky patterns add an alluring flair to an outdoor room. The collection of cushions, chair pads and placemats resists mildew, water, and fading. Available from Linen Chest. www.linenchest.com

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OUTDOOR LIVING GUIDE 2020

CUT-OUTS These precision-cut, hand-finished architectural metal panels can work as shades, screens, railings or cladding. Panels by Parasoleil withstand the elements and provide a functional and durable design that lasts. The panels have unique patterns that bestow an artistic aesthetic to an outdoor space. Available from Parasoleil. www.parasoleil.com

DOWN-TO-EARTH Add an element of antiquity to your outdoor space with this unusual grey earthenware side table that can double as a stool. Its surfaces boast a unique embossed detail, all done by hand. The patterned piece can support cocktails chaise-side or can double as extra seating. It can be cleaned with a soft, damp cloth and is outdoor-safe. Store indoors during inclement weather or when not in use. Made in Vietnam, it’s exclusive to CB2. Available from CB2. www.cb2.ca

GARDEN GLOW Evenings in the garden are rendered so romantic when candlelight is added. The Limoux lantern from Restoration Hardware pairs simple geometry with a minimalist design. Designed by Jonathan Browning as an understated, contemporary interpretation of a classic shape, they’re available in four colours: Brushed Brass, Slate, Bronze and Iron. Available from Restoration Hardware. www.restorationhardware.com

SPEND SUMMER IN THE CITY While they resemble concrete containers, these planters are made of a blend of sand, cement and fibreglass. Their grey solidity brings a strong industrial look to a balcony, patio or porch. They’re beautiful indoors too, and look great when they’re clustered in groups. Made in Vietnam, they are exclusive to CB2. Available from CB2. www.cb2.ca

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OUTDOOR LIVING GUIDE 2020

DO YOU LIKE PIÑA COLADAS? This set of two pineapple cocktail glasses by Brilliant is irresistible for an afternoon cocktail by the pool. The glasses are designed with a textured, diamond-patterned surface and topped with a removable, gold-painted glass lid that accommodates a straw. Includes gold-coloured steel drinking straws. Available from Linen Chest. www.linenchest.com

CHILLIN’ Take a break from the sun under this spectacular shade sectional, complete with a coffee table. Made of woven high-density polyethylene resin, it has been extensively tested to withstand UV rays as well as the heat and cold of the Canadian climate. It will not crack or absorb moisture and will experience only very minimal fading in its lifetime. The frame is crafted of a high-density tubular aluminum. Available from Casualife. wwww,casualife.ca

COOKING ON THE GO The new Ricardo portable barbecue is the ideal cooking companion for camping trips or picnics. Its large non-stick cooking surface is perfect for searing meats or grilling food on skewers. A silent fan continuously circulates heat, optimizing its power. Lightweight and compact, this barbecue is easy to carry wherever you go. Eleven-inch-diameter cooking surface. Height: 10.5 inches; diameter: 13 inches. Available from Linen Chest. www.linenchest.com

COLOURS OF SUMMER These joyful Adirondack chairs may well compete with the most vibrant blooms in your garden this summer. Available in an array of bright hues, they’re made of hardy polyresin, so there’s no need to repaint every year. They’re also available in various styles, including single armchair, rockers, swivel style, garden bench and loveseat. Available from General Products. www.gppatio.com

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LANDSCAPE

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BACK TO BASICS IN BACKYARD LIVING

Being at home has given many homeowners a practical new approach to using their gardens BY BARBARA MILNER

FROM STATUS TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY, our outdoor living spaces are experiencing an interesting paradigm shift. Lavish swimming pools and pizza ovens are slowly being snubbed for some unusual suspects. Maybe it’s their predictability. Maybe it’s the general ennui typical of chronic consumerism. Or maybe it’s the preposterous price tags with little to no return on investment. As we blur the lines between the great outdoors and outdoor living, these hallmarks of luxury are being challenged by back-to-basic ideas that feed the mind, body and soul.

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LIVING POOLS Ecological landscaping is challenging traditional formal backyard aesthetics that fight with nature by trying to tame it. Living pools or “natural swimming ponds” are helping to shape this movement. These aquatic living ecosystems are designed to look, feel and function like natural ponds. They mimic the natural environment by creating a chlorinefree-water habitat where wildlife and flora help keep the water clean and clear. The result is a freshwater swimming experience, surrounded by birds, dragonflies, frogs, turtles, newts and a host of other fauna.

“It’s a complete experience – it is not just a pool,” says Jean-Marc Daigle, president and senior landscape architect of Genus Loci Ecological Landscapes Inc. in King City, Ontario. “We put a lot of work and thought into the context, into the surroundings. The aesthetic is very much grounded in nature.” For the past 25 years, Daigle has worked toward landscaping with natural ecosystems versus manicured lawns. “People think a natural aesthetic will look messy, but there is a way of designing naturally that looks structured,” he says. “It’s not a tangled mess. Good design is about looking for patterns in nature and distilling them so that they are palatable to the eye.”


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Daigle says urban settings are more suitable to natural dipping holes. These are small basins with steps leading to a little water cove that is about five or six feet deep. In larger backyards, natural swimming pools can be customized to be tucked away on the property and accessible through a nature trail or connected to the home with a dock, deck or stone terrace.

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Unlike conventional swimming pools that are covered and unused during the cold months, natural swimming ponds are a landscape feature that can be appreciated all year long. In the fall, they provide beautiful reflective qualities and in the winter, they can be converted to skating rinks. “Think holistically about your yard,” says Daigle. “I’d like to

see more yards with less grass. More yards that incorporate pollinator gardens, yards that are subdued and informed by nature. The more I can encourage this, the more I feel I can make an impact, a positive change.” –>

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EDIBLE GARDENS Landscaping has also taken a delicious twist with the emergence of foodscaping, or edible gardening. Pretty with a purpose, foodscaping incorporates beautiful, edible plants, called “ornamedibles,” into an existing garden. By adding “ornamedibles,” gardeners not only grow food, but also minimize bare soil, which prevents the growth of weeds. This means they spend less time maintaining the garden and more time enjoying it. Lifelong gardener, fifth-generation chicken keeper and author Lisa Steele says there is also a plethora of health benefits that can be derived from edible gardening. According to Steele, a simple mix of five herbs is beneficial to respiratory and immune system health: anise hyssop, blue cornflower, echinacea, rosemary and thyme keep mucous membranes healthy, lungs in good working order and immune systems working properly.

“You can still have a pretty yard and grow things that make sense. I think it’s kind of contagious,” says Steele. Coping with a global pandemic and fears of a food shortage have propelled the idea into the mainstream. “We are going to see more backyard-to-table where you are not relying on someone else for a fresh healthy food source,” she says. The idea of a sustainable, homegrown food supply doesn’t end with herbs, fruits and vegetables. “Nearly everything you plant for your family is good for chickens as well,” Steele says in her book Gardening with Chickens.

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“Backyard chickens are booming,” she says. While the idea of a farm-fresh egg supply has resulted in a heightened interest in hatcheries, chickens have also proven to provide more than their yolky yield. “People are surprised at how pet-like chickens are; they have big personalities. Their social order is fascinating. They have a pecking order, little squabbles, and friends that they pair up with. The interaction between them is fascinating because they are a little society. You wouldn’t really get that from a cat or dog.”


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DRINKING WITH CHICKENS Along with her three dogs, four cats and African Grey parrot, Kate Richards keeps a small flock of chickens in her edible garden in Los Angeles. “My goal with the garden was to be an urban farmer,” says Richards. “Then I noticed I was growing more things that were used for cocktails than food—I realized I had made a cocktail garden more than a food garden.” Enjoying her garden-to-glass beverages with her backyard chickens hatched the concept of her new book Drinking with Chickens, a quirky cocktail book with a nod to backyard chicken-keeping.

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According to Steele, backyard chickens take about 30 minutes a day of maintenance, and in the words of Richards, in addition to producing fresh free-range eggs, they also facilitate a “homebody happy hour.” For Richards, “homebody happy hour” is a celebration of the backyard as a sanctuary. It’s a daily happening that combines cocktails mixed with homegrown ingredients, including egg whites, and f loral garnishes, with lively entertainment by her feathery friends. “Drinking with Chickens found an enthusiastic audience almost immediately because, as it turns out, this is something that quite a lot of chicken keepers (and other

pet owners) do, and I was just the first to fly my flag about it,” says Richards. “For me it’s about making a fresh, elevated cocktail and celebrating the joy of where you are and being grateful for it. Especially in this current time, the thing that really helps is perspective and appreciating little moments of happiness at home.” Columnist Barbara Milner is an interior designer and principal at South Hill Interiors, a design firm that serves the Greater Toronto Area and Kawartha Lakes region. The firm’s real estate arm offers realt y services with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc.

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A WINDOW ON

L U XU RY Walls of windows open design possibilities in this Port Credit home BY SUSAN KELLY PHOTOGRAPHY: GILLIAN JACKSON AND MAXIME BOCKEN STYLING: TARA FINLAY

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FEW SUBURBAN HOMES CAN BOAST 20-foot-tall window walls. Though more common in upscale downtown condos, this feature is integral to the design of this newly built three-storey home in the Port Credit area of Mississauga, says its designer, Nicholas Ancerl. “We really wanted to make the most of the southern exposure, which means lots of natural light,” says Ancerl, owner and principal of Ancerl Studio design firm. “Plus, they frame amazing views of the surrounding greenspace and nearby historic waterfront.” The designer and his team were called in at the beginning of the project. A vacant 45-by120-foot lot provided a blank canvas. They worked with the homeowner on every aspect, from concept through approvals and construction to interior furnishings. The completed 4,500-square-foot home was shortlisted in four categories by the 2020 International Design & Architecture Awards jury. Window walls form a courtyard, cutting in at the midpoint of the main floor and extending upwards to the floor above it. The central dining room facing it benefits directly. And two other rooms at ground level benefit from the three sides of windows it makes possible.

The contemporary-style black-steel-framed windows contrast with the more traditional red-brick exterior walls. Corten (weathering) steel on the house’s facade provides a warm architectural accent. Windows: Kingshore Windows.

The living room, located off the front entrance, receives light from two sides through 20-foot-tall windows. At the opposite end of the home, the family room that opens into the kitchen is also treated to the full 20-foot expanse on two sides. “That window adds a lot of both light and drama,” the designer says. “As a complement, we installed a 12-foot-high fireplace faced with black riveted steel beside it.”

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Views of the rooms on each side of the courtyard: Above, the view from the front living room; below, the family room and breakfast area adjacent to the kitchen. Black steel fireplace surround: designed by Ancerl Studio; custom cabinetry: Space Furniture.

The home’s layout includes three bedrooms on the second f loor, with the third storey given entirely to the master suite. The basement has a spare bedroom, wine cellar, and family and home theatre rooms. When it came to design, the homeowner, a single mother of one teenage daughter who recently relocated from China, was on board with the Ancerl Studio team’s contemporary approach. At the same time, her own tastes were more on the traditional side. So, in addition to the contemporary window walls and black steel roof, the home’s exterior is also clad in red brick. –>

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A bank of mirrors above the vanity reflects the freestanding tub and porthole window. The other side of the wall is devoted to a steam shower. Bathtub and filler: TopBath; pendant lights: Kuzco.

The roof is adorned with gables, resulting in areas with sharply sloping ceilings on the third floor, where the master suite is located. The designers made ingenious use of one in the master bathroom, inserting a contemporary porthole window. In front of it stands a sculptural freestanding tub. A long vanity parallels it, over which a wall of mirrors lets the homeowner enjoy the reflected view as she applies makeup. “It feels like a spa somewhere in the Alps,” says Ancerl. Natural materials were used judiciously in the home’s interior design. For consistency’s sake, the same six-inch engineered white oak flooring was run throughout. Sheer and chic white linen curtains soften some of the window walls. As well, every room has a finishing flourish in the form of sparkling crystal. Most striking are the unique crystal pot light casings in the centre of each square of the coffered ceilings that define the living room, breakfast area and kitchen. –>

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Ornate coffered ceilings with contemporary crystal details define the living room, breakfast area and kitchen (shown above). A corridor off the master bedroom (below right) is furnished with seating, a small refrigerator, and coffeemaker for a private lounge area. Crystal fixtures: Eurofase; appliances: Wolf; Statuarietto marble kitchen countertops and backsplash: Crystal Tile & Stone.

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And for a touch of timeless luxury, every tile and stone feature found in the house is of genuine marble: For the kitchen backsplash and countertop, strikingly veined Statuarietto marble slabs. A mix of solid and tumbled white mosaic marble tiles was used in the master bathroom, while an elegant burnished black marble surround adorns the adjoining bedroom’s fireplace. “As materials, both marble and crystal have the kind of Old-World elegance the homeowner wanted,” Ancerl says, “but the way we incorporated them is sophisticated and modern.” The home’s design is also notable for what lies out of sight. A clutter-free entryway is ensured by two closets hidden behind cabinet doors in the first room to the right, the living room. Near the closets is the elevator that runs to all three storeys plus the basement. In the kitchen, a panel opens with a touch to reveal a second, smaller kitchen beyond. Called a wok, fry or spice kitchen, it is an amenity more commonly found in Vancouver homes.

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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(Above) Viewed from the third floor, the custom-made contemporary chandelier, crafted of heavy-gauge metal wire and LED pin lights, fills the stairwell while artfully providing overhead lighting for the dining area. Table: Restoration Hardware; vintage chairs: Elle & Eve; chandelier: KINGLONG Lighting.

In contrast, the dining area provides a feast for the eyes, and from every angle. Situated at the bottom of the stairwell, the ceiling soars to 30 feet above it. The stairway itself provides ample design interest, with plain oak treads that complement the railing, made of ultra-slender steel spindles. Each is slightly offset for a softer effect and finished in a mix of black, chrome and bronze. And it is the room that has proven to be the homeowner’s favourite spot in the house. She loves nothing better than sitting in one of the refinished antique Vienna straw-backed chairs to gaze at the beautiful view outside the windows. Or, when entertaining, showing off the massive light fixture overhead that is more like an art installation than chandelier. “We wanted every ceiling to have a distinctive feature,” Ancerl says. “I had seen one like this in a high-end shop in China, which was able to create this custom version to my exact specifications. And it’s a showstopper.” Just like the rest of the house.

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COMMUNITY SPIRIT IN A RESIDENTIAL GARDEN

A designer creates a landscape for her clients that encourages interaction with the neighbours BY SUSAN KELLY PHOTOGRAPHY: JOSHUA LAWRENCE

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CONTEMPORARY-STYLE LANDSCAPING is all about sharp angles and minimalism. Nature, on the other hand, can appear random, even chaotic. Yet these two are far from mutually exclusive in the gardens of this newly built home in the Fairfield area of Victoria. “Honouring the home’s modern architecture was important to the owners,” says Bianca Bodley, owner and principal at Biophilia Design Collective in Victoria, B.C. “But so was creating a very natural, friendly and welcoming space.”

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The couple, who share their home with a pug dog, brought the designer in before tearing down the house that had previously occupied the lot. Together, they toured the existing garden with an eye to repurposing as many of the original plants as possible. Several apple trees, an imposing mature grapevine and countless bulbs were carefully uprooted and set aside.


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Essential elements for the homeowners—custom-crafted concrete and Corten steel water features—serve as design focal points in both the front and back gardens. Designed by Biophilia Design Collective.

First, Bodley tackled the design of the new gardens. Water features were not only a musthave for the owners, but serve as focal points for the overall design. She devised interlinked troughs in modernist rectilinear shapes: long and rectangular for the front yard, squaredoff cubes on the back terrace. Both fountains are crafted of concrete and Corten, a type of steel that develops a highly textured and organic-appearing surface over time. –>

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A rich mix of natural materials leads the eye to the home’s front door. Although designed pre-pandemic, the front garden layout provides ample opportunity to interact with the neighbours while maintaining physical distance.

The home, designed and built by the team at MDRN Built of Victoria, features a stunning front porch. Crafted with spare lines and of warm and exotic balau batu wood, its design is resolutely contemporary. Yet it also embraces an old-school concept dear to the owners’ hearts: that of encouraging interaction with neighbours passing by. Bodley and her team created a three-foot-tall natural Vancouver Island stone wall with a built-in bench to encourage socializing; it delineates the garden’s edge. The bench faces the street, providing passersby with a place to stop and chat.

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“I really enjoy using grounded natural materials and contrasting them with modern architecture and the hard lines of concrete and metal,” she says. She also used flagstone for pathways, and in the back garden, pea gravel, a natural material that feels good underfoot when the homeowners go shoeless. The front porch faces east, making it a prime spot in which to enjoy a morning cup of coffee. To further encourage interaction, the civic-minded couple were among the first in their neighbourhood to put up a community book box.

The layout of the 1,500-square-foot back garden reflects the couple’s down-to-earth and laid-back lifestyle. Bodley devised it with smooth flow in mind. A series of paths winds through, punctuated by beds of flowering perennials such as Salvia divinorum, nepeta, Perovskia atriplicifolia, verbena and ornamental grasses. They connect the patios and the vegetable-and-herb patch located in the lot’s northwest corner.


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An organic rounded shape and strategic mix of plants contributes to the contemporary yet natural back garden design. One corner is devoted to a vegetable and herb patch (not shown). Low bordering plant: woolly thyme (Thymus serpyllum); grass immediately behind: New Zealand Hair Sedge

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In contrast, privacy was the main goal for the elevated patio that wraps around a corner of the top floor. It lies off the master suite and provides a cozy and intimate spot. For additional privacy, Bodley designed a green roof surrounding the master bedroom and patio, replete with tall ornamental grasses and feature planters that hold bamboo. “The homeowners are ecologically minded and wanted to make sure we were using sustainable materials and using water very efficiently,” the designer says. To ensure they stay low-maintenance through British Columbia’s dry summers, plants that need water only once or twice a week were selected for all gardens. Typically, a contemporary garden is planted in sharply demarcated blocks, with one type of flower or greenery per section. The result can be rather stark, Bodley says. She prefers to take her cues from meadows, where plants may appear in clusters, yet also overlap with those nearby. There are also more different species and more colour than in most modern gardens. “I love a more natural form,” she says. “Nature is my muse. I love her natural flow and layered textures and colours. I try to channel this in this garden.”

(Carex Testacea); tall purple foliage: Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).

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A POWERFUL ATTRACTION

Owners and tenant feel love at first sight for this historic house, built as a summer home `

BY STEPHANIE WHITTAKER PHOTOGRAPHY: DREW HADLEY STYLING: JEAN MONET

LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT HOUSE can be a bit like dating. We know when there’s no chemistry and it’s time to walk away. But then, when we least expect it, the right one comes along and we experience what the French call a coup de foudre: love at first sight. That’s what happened to Donna-Marie Hallessey in 2014 when she found the home that she rents in a West Island suburb of Montreal. She walked through the front door and immediately felt as if she belonged there. “The first night I was in the house, I looked out of my bedroom window at the lake, and I felt as if I was home,” she says. “It felt so safe.” The house, built some time between the 1880s and early 20th century, is on the shores of Lake St. Louis (a widening of the St. Lawrence River) in Pointe-Claire, and dates to a time when the neighbourhood was a summer resort area, attracting vacationers from Montreal. The municipality evolved into a suburb after the Second World War, but some architectural vestiges of the resort era remain, including this one. The property was in serious need of care when owners Suzanne Vaillant and Howard Brown bought it in 1981, but “when I saw the doors and windows, I wanted to have it,” says Suzanne. “And I fell in love with the living room.” The curious thing about the living room is its openness to the adjacent dining area. Open-plan layouts were unusual in houses of this vintage, which generally had warrens of closed rooms. –>

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In addition to its openness, the ground floor originally had two connecting bedrooms, each with a transom over its door, and a water closet/bathtub room between them. Two renovations later, that space now accommodates a cloakroom closet, one bedroom, a full bathroom and storage cabinets. A third-floor octagonal cupola, which Suzanne calls “the tower,” was used as a perch from which to watch regattas on the lake. Suzanne and Howard did some historic research on the property, but were hampered by the fact that Pointe-Claire’s town hall had burned down in 1900, resulting in the loss

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of historic documents. So they gathered anecdotal information from elderly neighbours. They learned that the house was most likely a seasonal retreat. “It was built by Urgel Bourgie (owner of a Quebec funeral company) probably for parties, because it was close to his other home, which was one block away. We currently live in that other house while we rent out the blue house,” Suzanne says. “The blue house wasn’t warm when we bought it and the cellar had an earthen floor, so we think it was used only during the summer.”

(Above) The living room’s sofa, love seat and ottomans were slip-covered in a creamy-coloured cotton. Donna-Marie uses blue-hued contrasting cushions during the summer, and coral-coloured ones to warm up the space in winter. All of the original windows and interior doors were preserved; the owners refurbished the original windows with new rope-and-sash systems. New maple flooring replaced the original floor, which could not be saved.

(Opposite, above) Owners Suzanne and Howard created a new veranda on the house’s back facade. It replaces a small, enclosed and unheated porch that was off the kitchen. The back of the house benefits from cooling breezes off the lake.

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The couple did three major renovations over several decades, notably to accommodate their growing family; they have two sons. The first overhaul saw the insulation of the outer walls. The house’s clapboard facade was painted Wedgwood blue, recalling the style of maritime residential architecture. The original staircase to the second storey was in the tiny kitchen at the back of the house; under it was a toilet. “We got rid of the toilet and moved the stairs to the living room,” says Suzanne. The kitchen was enlarged and modernized, and a veranda added across the back of the house, which offers Donna-Marie a wonderful place for summer lounging. –>

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(Above) The cupola, once accessed by a ladder and trap door, can now be reached by the circular staircase that the homeowners installed. (Opposite, top) The secondstorey master bedroom, at the back of the house, was enlarged when the couple enclosed a rooftop balcony they had created in a previous renovation. (Opposite, bottom) The bathroom, adjacent to the master bedroom, was renovated in a yesteryear style.

“It’s different every day. I love everything about this house. I get to see the sun-

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When Suzanne and Howard bought the house, it had a bedroom on the second floor along with an attic space. That storey was reconfigured to house a bathroom and two bedrooms. While renovating the space, Suzanne and Howard found a pile of newspapers dating to 1882. They created a rooftop balcony off the second-floor bedroom that overlooks the lake. However, in a later renovation, says Suzanne, “we integrated the balcony into the structure to create a larger bedroom.”

The cupola, once connected to the second storey by a ladder and trap door, is now accessed by a circular staircase. Donna-Marie uses the space for quietude and meditation and keeps a bed in it for visitors. In the cellar, spray insulation and gravel were added for insulation. And wherever they could, the owners saved architectural elements, including original windows and doors. “We didn’t change what we didn’t need to change,” Suzanne says. Tongue-and-groove wood walls, typical of the late Victorian era, were preserved. The f loors, however, were unsalvageable, so the couple installed new maple planks. –>

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(Above) The kitchen’s original cabinet doors were repurposed to create the reproduction armoire.

The home’s original kitchen had been small, dysfunctional and cold, thanks to the lack of insulation and strong winds that whip across the lake. It was renovated in a style that recalls kitchens of a century ago. Old cabinet doors were repurposed to create an impressive armoire. “I hired an artisan to build the kitchen,” Suzanne recalls, adding that new large windows offer lake views. Because the couple now live in the other neighbourhood house built by Urgel Bourgie—also a Victorian-era structure that they renovated—the “blue house,” as they call it, is lovingly cared for by their tenant, DonnaMarie. She’s the former owner of a hairdressing salon, who now works as an intuitive medium, channeling the spirit world.

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The kitchen was custom-built by craftsman Léo Sarrazin. The house’s original staircase was against the wall that now houses the refrigerator and ceiling-high cabinetry. The owners moved the stairs to the living room.


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After a divorce, she was searching for a home for herself and her teenaged daughter. Donna-Marie wanted a subdued beachhouse look. “This would be my home by the sea. I wanted the look of Maine: soft,” she says. A seafoam-blue-and-white palette is used throughout the house, creating design cohesion. And true to the building’s history, Donna-Marie has placed rustic but elegant antiques throughout: a carriage seat in the entry hall flanked by a buffet, an eye-catching blue armoire in the dining area, upholstered white-painted dining chairs with distressed frames. –>

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(Above) The family room, which is part of the kitchen, is decorated in the blue-and-white palette that gives this house a beachy feel. The tongue-and-groove wainscoting is typical of the 19th-century summer houses built in this area.

Creamy-hued, slip-covered sofas and chairs in the living room and den—which is an extension of the kitchen—also confer the casual ambience found in seafront homes. “Everything I own fits perfectly here,” says Donna-Marie. Because the house was built for summer stays, she added an electric fireplace to the living room’s north wall to create winter warmth. A sofa and chairs are positioned in front of it during the cold months. But it is the little decor touches redolent of seaside houses that create strong visual interest: a mermaid weather vane atop the dining table, beach stones in a sink, sea shells in jars, starfish on walls.

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(Below) The powder room, adjacent to the den, features a farm-style sink, moved from the former kitchen. Donna-Marie uses it to display a collection of beach rocks.

Generous fenestration on all sides of the house ensures that sunlight floods the interiors by day, moonlight by night. “I take pictures every night of the sunset,” Donna-Marie says. “It’s different every day. I love everything about this house. I get to see the sunrise and sunset every day.” There is a palpably peaceful energy throughout the house. Shortly after moving in, DonnaMarie had a strong sense of déja-vu. “I was about to walk upstairs, and as I put my hand on the newel post, I felt a reverberation, and I knew instantly that I had been in this house before … that I had once lived here in the past,” she says. “I do feel as if I have returned home.” Sometimes, the irresistible pull of love at first sight becomes an old, happy love story.

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English imari Coalport bowl c 1890

IMARI WARE Why this centuries-old porcelain originating in Japan is beloved and sought after worldwide today BY LANA HARPER

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IMARI. Is it the name of a port in Japan? Ceramics from Japan, China, Europe, England? A generic term for red, blue and gold porcelain? A plate, vase, bowl? In fact, all of those answers are correct. “Imari ware” is the term bestowed on a brightly coloured form of Japanese porcelain that was exported to Europe beginning in the 17th century. After years of producing underglaze blue and white ceramics, Japan made its mark in the ceramic world when it began shipping porcelain from the Port of Imari; hence, the name given to a kind of hand-painted blue and white china with red added over the glaze. Imari’s design quickly became fashionable. Japanese Imari had its signature styles,

including the chrysanthemum, and the vase with a bursting flower motif at its centre. The Japanese added red paint over the underglaze blue in a technique called “clobbering.” The Chinese were quick to copy the “clobbered“ style and created their own version of Imari. The Europeans followed. The Meissen factory in Germany began producing porcelain in the early 18th century; it was harder, stronger and lighter in weight than its Chinese and Japanese counterparts. France was next. In fact, the French and German factories were subsidized by those countries’ royal families; the funding permitted ceramicists to experiment and create elaborate, original wares with crests, armorials and gold highlights.


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English imari plates, 1 Masons, 2 Royal Crown Derby c 1920 - 1960

English Spode trio c 1820

Chinese imari waste bowl clobbered with red over unglazed blue and white c 1750

Japanese imari barber bottles, hand-painted c 1891

By 1770, the English were also making porcelain. There is a story that the English improved the quality of porcelain when wig powder accidentally fell into some clay, adding kaolin to the mix. The English copied the Chinese blue-and-white designs, the Blue Willow pattern being the most popular. Many other Chinese designs were copied and became known as “Chinoiserie.” The English soon added red, and so began their version of Imari ware. They began by making small wares, such as tea sets, to fit into their small kilns. The English factories were not government-subsidized

and had to make a profit to survive. By 1800, many factories had opened across the country, including—by 1820—Derby, Coalport, Spode, Wedgwood and Masons. By then, Imari decoration was being sought after by the masses, who had begun buying dessert and dinner services to enhance their daily lives. Production soared and factories became profitable. Imari colours and designs remain popular. Even in contemporary decor, the addition of some Imari porcelain for display adds warmth, colour and a sense of history to a dining space or living room.

How can buyers of Imari ware determine the provenance of their pieces? One way is to handle it. How heavy is it? Chinese and Japanese pieces are heavier and have a greyer porcelain body. They’re also opaque compared with more translucent European pieces. The size of the piece is also a clue: Asian kilns were bigger than European ones, to fire such large pieces as vases and chargers. In contrast, England’s smaller kilns were sized to hold tableware. If gold is added to a piece, it is likely to be thicker and heavier on the French and German pieces than on the English wares. –>

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Chinese imari hand painted square plate c 1890

English Copeland Spode imari plate c 1900

English imari Barr Flight Barr Worcester plate c 1810

English sprig plate c 1800

In contrast to its European counterpart, which has a whiter background, Japanese Imari features designs that cover the overall surface of a piece. Also, on Japanese and Chinese wares, the borders are decorated with repeating designs.

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Check to see if the piece is hand-painted or transfer-printed. Hand-painting is executed by a brush to produce a smooth line in a pattern. Transfer-printing was done with a tool that sculpted patterns on copper plates and transferred them to the items for mass production.


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English Wedgwood imari platter, Etruria, clobbered red over transfer-printed blue and white design c 1891

Another question about Imari ware is its age. To determine a piece’s vintage, turn it over and inspect it for telltale signs: a mark or addition such as blue circles or flower stems. Next, consider the size. Reproductions are often larger than originals. Check for wear that would be commensurate with age. Finally check for repairs and observe the piece’s general condition. I fell in love with Imari ware when I was a university student. While studying fine arts at

McGill University, I spent a lot of time at The China Shop on Mackay Street in Montreal, where Betty Ramsey gave courses on porcelain. I loved simple patterns, such as the motif of a single sprig on a plate. I proudly bought my mother an early-19th-century English plate as a birthday gift. She told me: “When you get a little older, dear, you will like a little more colour.” She was right. Years later, I understood. Imari decoration had become my favourite.

Lana Harper, who holds a bachelor of arts from McGill University and a masters in translation from l’Université de Montréal, is a member of the Canadian Professional Appraisers. For 30 years, she partnered with London-based Ellen Lyons in buying, selling and exhibiting porcelain at fairs in Canada and the United States. Currently, she does estate, private and online sales and appraisals. (www.lyonsharperantiques.com)

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DON’T MOVE! R E N O VA T E INSTEAD A family upgrades their ageing home after unsuccessfully scouting the real estate market in search of another house BY ELISABETH KALBFUSS PHOTOGRAPHY: LARRY ARNAL STYLING: YVONNE WHELAN

TO MOVE OR TO RENOVATE? Like many families, Noele Wrycraft and husband Brad Warren started house-hunting when the home in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood that they’d lived in for 20 years became tired and outdated. Instead of finding their dream home, all those open house visits persuaded them to stay put, says Noele, who hired designer Yvonne Whelan to carry out the transformation of their entire home, from the basement entertainment area to the third-floor master suite. Whelan says the couple were both very involved in the design process. “They just needed someone to goad them a little, push them out of their comfort zone,” she says. The work was executed by Ecclestone Contracting, which, says Noele, “did an amazing job,” completing the reno in a tight time frame. “We put them on a tight schedule as we moved out in mid-June and told them we had to be back in for the start of school first week of September, and we were!” she says. –>

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The best part of the renovation was replacing the back wall with sliding glass doors, the homeowners say. It brightened up the whole house. The sofa and built-in cabinets beside the fireplace are by Yvonne Whelan Design and were custom-built. Swivel chairs: ELTE Market; credenza: West Elm.

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The biggest changes are in the main floor living area, where they removed an inside wall to create one long, open area, and where they blew out the home’s back wall, replacing it with a series of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. “It’s the biggest, the most dramatic thing, and we’re super happy we did it,” says Noele. “It makes the whole space brighter, and makes it feel bigger.” It’s a trend that many homeowners are embracing, says Yvonne Whelan, the principal at Yvonne Whelan Design, especially in neighbourhoods where houses are built so closely together. “People want to bring the light in. The back of the house is where you’re

going to see the most light. Now the room is light and airy, where before it was so dark.” That back area has become the living/ family room, leading through the kitchen and then into the dining room at the front of the house. Whelan moved the fireplace, which had previously been on the back wall, to the side of the house, and Noele says one of the first things she and her husband chose was the marble-like tile around it. “We fell in love with it,” she says, “We built around that.” The next item they decided on was the sofa, which Whelan designed and had custom-built, and then the rest of the design just followed, she says. –>

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In the kitchen, Noele wanted the island to be as big as possible, knowing that’s where the family would tend to congregate. One side has a waterfall edge, but she wanted the other side open for seating so the family could move their seats around to see each other and chat during meals. “We knew we wanted highgloss for the cabinetry, and knew we didn’t want all white, so we chose a grey-brown just to give it a little bit of contrast,” she says. In the space leading into the dining area, Brad wanted a wine cabinet with a live-edge plank, similar to one the couple had seen at

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the Toronto Home Show. That live edge gives the wood an unfinished, raw and rustic look, Whelan says, one that’s become increasingly popular, especially on dining tables. The basement was designed for their two teenage boys, and it centres around a large pull-down screen for family movie nights or for video games. Whelan designed custom cabinetry to include a beverage fridge, shelving and storage, and Noele says they chose family favourites James Bond- and Indiana Jones-themed art. –>

(Above) Given the generous size of the island, it took a while to find the right pendant lighting overhead, says designer Yvonne Whelan. “They’re huge and the insides are brushed gold; the lighting adds a lot of warmth.” Pendants: Union Lighting & Home; cabinets and live-edge wood wine cabinet: custom-built by Ecclestone Custom Contracting. (Opposite, bottom) With the living area taking over the back of the house, the dining room has moved to the front. Table: designed by Yvonne Whelan; chairs: Korson Furniture; credenza: Modshop.


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The brushed gold accents that designer Yvonne Whelan added in the bedroom are similar to those used on the main floor. They make the room both soothing and sophisticated, the homeowner says. Wallpaper: Graham & Brown. The marble-like porcelain tile in the ensuite gives the room a rich, extravagant look, Whelan says. Tiles: Saltillo Tile.

In the master bedroom, Whelan brought in many of the same brushed-gold tones used on the main floor, in lighting accents and even on the wallpaper. “We thought it would be nice to bring some of that upstairs,” Noele says. “The wallpaper really makes the room look sophisticated and also soothing.” In the ensuite bathroom, they removed the big corner tub and opted for a single sink so they could have more counter space. “It’s a very small master, but we feel we really utilized the space,” Whelan says. She used porcelain tiles that resemble marble, black accents, a sleek soaker tub and a big shower. “It looks like it cost a lot, but it was one of the more affordable masters,” she says. “Probably because the porcelain tiles look extravagant.” Because the owners were both so involved in the process, Noele says, it was important that every design decision be unanimous, winning her approval, Brad’s and, of course, Yvonne’s. “We had to get a three-way agreement on everything,” she says, though she adds: “She (Yvonne) might have been the tie-breaker a couple of times!”

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A SUMMER OF LOVE AND LIGHT How to make the most of Venus’s creative and romantic beams BY SUSAN KELLY

THE SUMMER SOLSTICE DRAWS NIGH, when the sun shines longest and brightest. This is usually the time when we of northern climes have a love-in with it, making getaways big and small to revel under its beams. But “usually” does not apply under the “new normal.” Astrologically, summer 2020’s start is literally eclipsed, as three eclipses are slated between June 5 and July 5. This is a rare occurrence, as eclipses usually occur in pairs. Outdoor festivals and other activities continue to be thwarted by previous cancellations or ongoing travel restrictions. Right on cue, a bright beacon appears to show us the light. Venus, in close orbit and shining boldly as the morning star, shifts into direct motion just after the solstice. The planet brings with it the enjoyment of life’s sensual pleasures and social relationships, including

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romantic ones, and with the arts under its aegis, a fervour to create that encompasses architecture and decorating. All of which could inspire something of a minor design renaissance. Venus has embraced Gemini since April, the sign that other factors indicate we should follow to find joy, growth and fulfillment. It has a lot to do with one-on-one communication and our immediate circle. It’s also quick to learn and knows how to improvise. Everyone, even the most tech-illiterate, was suddenly videoconferencing and livestreaming, and joining every online community that piqued their curiosity—another Gemini trait. The first wave of social isolation saw people finding inventive ways to get together at a distance offline, too. They also held block parties by all heading to their balconies at an

appointed time, or by gathering at the point where properties meet to schmooze, staying two metres apart. Venus’s retrograde motion from May 13 to June 25 hit the snooze button on all this ingenuity. With Venus direct and awake again after that, inventive creativity should hit new heights. Even if travel restrictions ease, many people will eschew stressful airport lines to favour a tranquil staycation. Hitting the backyard or urban balcony is the perfect way to get out of the house while staying home, which likely will lead to a frenzy to create outdoor living spaces you’ll never want to leave. Upgrading media systems and lighting, adding more seating options or that dream outdoor kitchen are just the start.


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The love-goddess planet also flirts shamelessly With Neptune this summer. This combo inspires a boundless romanticism. Expressed through design, we would see flower beds and chaise longue cushions take on a soft, dreamy pastel colour scheme. Many backyards will be reconfigured to include a nook in which to enjoy moments à deux. Others will be eyed as alternate venues in which to host summer weddings with the wedding party attending in person and most guests doing so online. Venus snuggles into the sign of Cancer on August 8. This homebody sign helps us to settle in and enjoy the changes we made under variety-loving, changeable Gemini. We’ll also be less restless and more family-oriented that month. A highly social and creative summer lies ahead, impulses best expressed in our outdoor spaces. Here are five Venus-inspired trends for summer 2020 to fire your design imagination: Higher tech: With most of us in total or partial lockdown, online chat and videoconferencing hit an all-time high. Time to take it outdoors! There likely will be a greater demand for Wi-Fi connectivity with a greater range, allowing access in the backyard or on the balcony. Not only will doing so open more streaming options, but it means far-flung relatives in

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Corner Brook or Canmore can make a virtual appearance at the backyard barbecue. A riot of colour: After a sombre spring, bold hues can inject life into outdoor space. To really make some noise, think on-trend fashion shades such as flame scarlet, coral pink or saffron yellow for throw cushions or flower beds. Consider taking an indoor decor trend outside, opting for a bold, monochromatic scheme of one shade everywhere. On the other extreme, Venus in Gemini loves variety, so an English-inspired mix of different coloured blooms might appeal, especially to retroloving “grandmillennials.” Game zones: Gemini craves mental stimulation and social input, and so loves to play games of all kinds. During the long spring cooped up indoors, many families turned to game nights to relieve the tedium and get away from electronic devices. This summer, young and old alike will be giddy with the need to get out and play. Mars also will be in Aries, a sign that very much needs a competitive outlet. Besides such standby backyard games as croquet and badminton, we might see innovative new options emerging for both the children and adults that mix new tech with old school.

Outdoor workstations: Even as social distancing restrictions ease, many people will continue to work from home. For some, it will be a choice; for others, a necessity as companies cut back on overhead expenses such as office space. We should see an acceleration in what the Washington Post once called “the next revolution,” that is, employees setting up workspace on the back patio, or converting sheds to serve as office space with more privacy and permanence. Fairy or butterfly gardens: Venus in both Gemini and Cancer knows the power of a little whimsy to lighten the heart. Adding ludic animal statues to our interiors was a big home-decor trend at the Maison & Objet show earlier this year. It’s one that exports well to the backyard—only in 2020, the more exotic the species, the better. So rather than a frog or robin statue, opt for a monkey, tiger or armadillo. Or, tongue firmly in cheek, plant a flamingo on the lawn or gnome in the shrubbery. The butterfly is a Gemini symbol, so consider setting aside a section of the garden for blooms that attract them.

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THE PERFECT POTAGER

Raised beds for vegetables and herbs are both practical and beautiful in this garden BY CHERYL CORNACCHIA PHOTOGRAPHY: TATIANA POVERENY

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IF THERE WERE EVER A YEAR to integrate a vegetable patch into one’s backyard, this year would be it. A steady flow of fresh greens, herbs and other vegetables throughout the summer months can only be seen as a blessing in these COVID-19 days. A backyard garden created in Terrebonne, a suburb on the northeastern edge of the Montreal metropolitan region, is a perfect example of how a so-called kitchen garden (or potager, to use the French term) can be integrated into a modern garden in a stylish way. It just takes a little thinking outside the box, says Tatiana Povereny, a garden designer with Prestige Paysage, the Terrebonne-based landscape design company that executed the work.

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Povereny says the property had been already tastefully developed with a built-in pool, pool house, pergola for outdoor dining, and borders planted with perennials and ornamental shrubs. The idea now was to do away with the yard’s old kitchen garden, which consisted of two 12-by-five-foot beds that had been set off on one side of the yard and consistently ravaged by groundhogs. They were replaced with a new potager around a new raised slab seating area, through a network of raised garden boxes and paths made of pavers and loose river rocks. –>

The homeowner opted for a potager with raised container beds after several years of watching groundhogs devour the vegetables she grew. The garden boxes are 26 and 30 inches tall—just high enough to keep the critters out.

“I have to give her credit. She was courageous to go with the idea. It’s not something you see every day.”


LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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LANDSCAPE • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

Is there a better place to relax with a cocktail? The 60,000-BTU propane fire bowl warms up a chilly evening and allows the homeowners to enjoy starry nights, both early and late in the summer season.

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“We suggested to the client that we blend the two areas together,” says Povereny. The new raised seating area is made of straight-edged, grey-coloured slabs (Permacon’s Melville plank pavers) and measures 16 by 18 feet. It is bordered on one side by a seven-foot-tall architectural cedar screen that runs the full width of the new patio. A long L-shaped bench was installed in front of the screen. The bench, along with a collection of lounge chairs, creates an intimate arrangement around a new concrete fire bowl from Dekko Concrete that emits 60,000 BTU of propane-fueled heat. The new potager abuts two sides of the raised patio and consists of 12 garden boxes, each measuring 60-by-30 inches. The custom

boxes are made of Corten steel from Acier Urbain Inc. and come with irrigation. They are grouped in twos and threes, and one row of five boxes. Half of the boxes stand 30 inches tall while the other half stand 36 inches tall, creating visual interest. Planted herbs, cherry tomatoes, mixed greens and other vegetables complete the scene. And because the planters are made of weathered steel, they warm up quickly in spring and stay warm later into fall, extending the growing season. Povereny says she loves the way the project turned out—and so did the homeowner, who says: “I have to give her credit. She was courageous to go with the idea. It’s not something you see every day.”

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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A FRESH START A couple raze a Toronto home and replace it with one that is both functional and beautiful BY SUSAN KELLY PHOTOGRAPHY: NICOLE AUBREY STYLING: YVONNE WHELAN

“OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW” could be the motto that applies to the design of this two-storey contemporary detached home in the Yonge and Eglinton area. For not only was the structure constructed to spec from the ground up, but every element of the interior decor is new as well. “We brought a couple of beds from our old home, and not much else,” says Simon Gray, who lives there with his wife Jacqueline and nine-year-old daughter Lily. “I guess we wanted a blank slate.” Simon, a national account manager for a consulting firm, and Jacqueline, co-owner of an event-planning business, have been married for 12 years. They were delighted to find a property in their favourite neighbourhood, which is known as being home to a largely youthful and professional demographic. –>

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DESIGN

Black accents punctuate the family room’s serene scheme. The dark frame around the door balances the fireplace and television while drawing the eye to the backyard beyond, notes designer Yvonne Whelan. Sofa: Future Fine Furniture; rug: Wayfair; coffee table: Sunpan.

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But they were less than enamoured with the aging 1920s-era house that sat on the lot. No matter how they crunched the numbers, there was no way to convert its cramped, closed rooms within budget. And so they chose to tear it down and build a new home with three spacious bedrooms on the second floor, each with an ensuite bathroom, and a fourth in the finished basement. For the design of the home’s interior, they gave carte blanche to Yvonne Whelan, principal at Yvonne Whelan Design. “At the beginning, we really had no idea what we wanted,” says Simon. “But she brought us such unique options, and it seemed we were always on the same wavelength. And I discovered that my

own tastes were more on the modern side than I expected, which surprised me.” The first challenge the designer faced was the home’s narrow profile. Like most in the area, it measures a scant 22 feet wide. To create a feeling of spaciousness, the architects made the most of vertical space. Ceilings soar to 10.5 feet on the main and upper floors, nine feet in the basement. “We wanted to further enhance the light, airy feel and give a look that was fresh and contemporary,” says Whelan. “So we went with seven-inch white European oak f looring throughout the home.” To complement it, most walls are painted in Silver Satin, a “greige-tinted” white from Benjamin Moore’s Off White collection.


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It was with some trepidation that the designer proposed punctuating the home with doors and moldings painted a contrasting black. But the homeowners enthusiastically okayed this bold and on-trend addition to the colour scheme. They were also onboard with luxe finishing touches such as brushed gold lighting fixtures and statement wall treatments. Most rooms have at least one wall adorned with graphic-print wallpaper. For instance, a wall that spans both the living and dining rooms is papered with a fine cream-and-gold pattern that resembles abstract tilework. The approach was repeated in the downstairs powder room and in the daughter’s room. –>

The designer says lighting is a crucial element in any decor. Fixtures serve as sculpture by day and create ambience by night. Dining room chandelier: West Elm; breakfast nook chandelier: Arteriors; powder room mirror: Wayfair; sink: Taps.

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A problem arose when it was discovered that the builder had installed red oak, a hardwood with a natural colour that jarred against the pale floors, on the main staircase leading to the second floor. The designer’s solution: stain the stair treads black, then paint the risers white, then add unique custom-crafted spindles, also black. “It added some drama, the big wow the front entrance needed,” she says. A formal living room lies off the front entrance, with the dining room beyond; a half wall separates it from the kitchen and family room beyond. It was added to accommodate more storage and create an L-shaped food preparation area. Shaker-style cabinetry flanks the kitchen’s centre island and counter stools. Slabs of marble-look quartz form the backsplash, which creates a visual flow into the family room, the area of the home in which the family spends 80 per cent of their time together. Because storage is so important for the homeowners, Whelan and her team designed an additional stunning bank of custom floorto-ceiling cabinetry along the wall facing the kitchen. White Shaker-style cabinets extend into the living room, flanking the fireplace over which the TV hangs, and then on to the windows overlooking the back garden. A breakfast nook complete with inset upholstered banquette was carved from the area facing the kitchen. –>

(This page) The designer had the stair treads stained black and the risers painted white to create drama. The spindles were custom-crafted. (Opposite) White Shakerstyle kitchen cabinetry is echoed in the breakfast nook, and creates a flow into the family room beyond. Kitchen cabinets: Davisville Kitchens; family room cabinetry: Designed by Yvonne Whelan Designs, built by Greystone Custom Millwork; pendant lights: Visual Comfort; counter stools: Sunpan.

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Every room has at least one live plant. The precedent is set at the front door, adjacent which stands a stately fig tree. “I put plants everywhere in all my projects,” says Whelan. “They add a lot of warmth. I feel every room needs some greenery in it; it softens and adds a natural element. To me, a room doesn’t feel finished without it.” After living in the home for two years, the couple still field compliments on its interior design. They never tire of hearing how perfectly everything fits, both in size and style. Especially noticed are the sofas and dining table, all designed by Whelan and her team, then custom made.

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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Accessories in soft pastel colours add a calming touch to the second-floor private retreats: blue for the master bedroom (left) and pink for the little girl’s bedroom (opposite). Master chandelier: West Elm; wall art: PI Fine Art; wallpaper in girl’s room: Etsy.

And the family’s enjoyment of their home doesn’t get old, either. “With our designer’s help, it took on a life of its own and ended up being something very different than we could have imagined,” says Simon. “It really is our forever home, and I love it even more with every day that we live there.”

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NEW AND IMPROVED An outdated traditional home is gutted and revamped to reflect the owners’ love of contemporary design BY SUSAN SEMENAK PHOTOGRAPHY: LARRY ARNAL STYLING: MICHAELA BURNS

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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(Previous pages) Interior designer Michaela Burns uses pattern and restrained colour statements—a blue, patterned rug and persimmoncoloured cushions—to add interest to the living room’s otherwise neutral palette. (Above) In the dining room, a four-globe pendant from Elte casts a warm glow while a round mirror with smoked glass captures light but diffuses reflections for a soft, moody effect.

MICHAELA BURNS HAS A WAY with lines. They appear as geometric shapes on wallpaper, in the dramatic cross-hatched veins of a faux-stone wall, and within the muted Moorish pattern in a rug. The Toronto designer, owner of Mint Décor Interiors, is a master at imbuing contemporary spaces with interest and depth. The best way to bring visual energy to otherwise restrained designs, she says, is to introduce subtle lines and patterns. This is just what Burns did throughout the once-traditional, five-bedroom home in midtown Toronto that her firm recently

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revamped with Nick’s Developments Inc. for a couple and their two teenagers. The two-storey house, which dates to the 1930s, is solid, spacious and well-built. But it hadn’t been updated in decades, and its features—including wainscot panelling, crown moldings and drywall curtain valances—had come to feel quaint and outdated to the homeowners. They wanted a house that would better reflect their own modern personalities and minimalist style and they were eager to be done with the traditional features.

“It was my job to bring in design elements that created interest and energy, but didn’t clutter the space.”


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The kitchen features all-new Miele appliances, including wall and steam ovens, an induction cooktop on the island and a 30-inch fridge and freezer that provides space to stock food for two always-hungry teenagers. A wall of cabinets, clad in walnut veneer, houses a pantry, broom closet and storage for dishes and pots and pans. The cutlery drawers are lined with the same walnut veneer. The counter below the window is topped with white Caesarstone, which continues 18 inches up the wall as a backsplash. The island’s waterfall countertop is also quartz.

So Burns and her team gutted the main floor, keeping only the load-bearing walls, and added an extension off the kitchen to create a family room. The old double-wide entry between kitchen and dining room disappeared, making way for an open, integrated space that accommodates a longer dining room table. The new kitchen was outfitted with walnut-veneer cabinets equipped with plenty of integrated storage space, plus an island topped with light-grey quartz where the teenagers now hang out with friends and do homework while dinner preparation is underway on the built-in induction cooktop. –>

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The stairway gets a contemporary look with a carpet runner by Stark Carpet, from Elte.

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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Almost all of the master bedroom’s furniture is Ontario-made, including a custom-made bed with a lush teal velvet headboard from Mint Décor Interiors. The motifs in the Surya rug and the wallpaper from York Wallcoverings add “gentle movement” to the bedroom, Burns says, but they don’t overpower.

The “modernization” process continued throughout the house. A traditional staircase with long, shallow steps was replaced with a contemporary one that takes up less space, both dimensionally and aesthetically. The new stairway features treads and a hand rail made of white oak, and powder-coated steel balusters. At every step, Burns says, her clients reiterated their desire for a minimalist, modern aesthetic. But she knew that should not come at the cost of warmth and personality. “Often, modern and minimal can end up looking empty and bare,” she says. “It was my job to

bring in design elements that created interest and energy, but didn’t clutter the space,” That’s where the lines come in. Throughout the house, Burns introduced simple, unobtrusive pattern as a way of adding energy and dimension. In the master bedroom, for example, she created “movement” by integrating not one, but several patterns: in the wallpaper, the drapery, the carpet and even the texture of the bed linens. A luxurious teal-coloured tufted velvet headboard serves as the room’s visual anchor. “The key is to keep the various patterns and lines soft, subtle and monochromatic so that they don’t overpower,” she says. –>

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The wall behind the fireplace in the family room is clad in a wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries designed to resemble woven leather. The cabinets flanking the fireplace repeat the kitchen’s walnut veneer. (Opposite) The breakfast nook boasts views of the backyard through sliding doors. A landscape by Ontario artist Sarah Rutledge brings nature inside. Nearby, a walnut-clad alcove serves as a coffee station. Burns outfitted it with a bronze-finished picture light from Union Lighting.

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DESIGN • HOME IN CANADA • SUMMER 2020

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The repeating lines and patterns are at peak effect in the sleek new family room, which features a gas fireplace surrounded by a single slab of porcelain that extends from floor to ceiling, its matte-black finish punctuated by bold, oversized veining. The designer echoed those artful strokes in the abstract black and gold-foil Satellite light fixture from the home-furnishing store Elte; it hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the room. In another corner of the new addition, closer to the kitchen, the family now has a breakfast nook furnished with a marble-topped tulip table on an unexpected black base, surrounded by four faux-leather chairs.

“This whole space has a really creative feel with its design elements and the abstract art on the walls,” says Burns. “It makes for an interesting spot to gather.” The same is true for the living room, where the existing fireplace was re-clad in Laminam large-format porcelain slabs and f lanked by a f loating media cabinet that houses the sound system and television. Here again is Burns’s love for lines on display. “See how the navy-blue rug grounds the space?” she asks. “Now look how well the silver detailing in the rug marries with the smaller pattern in the stone.”

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BUYERS’ GUIDE

MR “MAKE IT RIGHT” MAN Mike Holmes www.makeitright.ca A SUMMER OF LOVE AND LIGHT Susan Kelly Astrology www.susankellyastrology.com DON’T MOVE! RENOVATE INSTEAD Yvonne Whalen Design www.yvonnewhelandesign.com 416-602-9303 COMMUNITY SPIRIT IN A RESIDENTIAL GARDEN Biophilia Design Collective www.biophiliacollective.ca 250-590-1156 BLACK AND WHITE AND ELEGANT ALL OVER Shift Interiors www.shift-interiors.com 778-668-0659 SUN, SAND AND SEA Studio Robert McKinley www.robertmckinley.com 646-719-1607 THE ART OF FLOWER ARRANGING Lutaflore www.lutaflore.ca My Luscious Backyard www.mylusciousbackyard.com 416-873-2611 Canadian Institute of Floral Design www.cifd.ca 416-733-9968

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THE WONDERS OF WATER Jardins Aquadesign www.jardinsaquadesign.com 450-229-7505

A GRAND GARDEN IN SUBURBIA Prestige Paysage www.prestigepaysage.com 514-795-5557

A WINDOW ON LUXURY Ancerl Studio www.ancerlstudio.com 416-884-6020

WELCOME HOME Érik Maillé Design www.erikmailledesign.com

BACK TO BASICS IN BACKYARD LIVING Genus Loci Ecological Landscapes Inc. www.genus-loci.ca 905-726-8498 ~ 877-467-2079 Fresh Eggs Daily www.fresheggsdaily.com Kate Richards Drinking With Chickens www.drinkingwithchickens.com IMARI WARE Lana Harper www.lyonsharperantiques.com A FRESH START Yvonne Whalen Design www.yvonnewhelandesign.com 416-602-9303 ROOMS WITH A VIEW Sophie Burke Design www.sophieburkedesign.com 604-428-0877 THE PERFECT POTAGER Prestige Paysage www.prestigepaysage.com 514-795-5557

HIGH STYLE IN A MODEST SPACE Falken Reynolds Interiors www.falkenreynolds.com 604-568-9487 Lepp Construction www.leppconstruction.com 604-250-3736 Randy Bens, Architect www.rb-architect.com 604-540-5102 Teer Co. www.teercolandscape.com 778-549-3409 Frontier Flooring Studio www.frontierluxury.com 604-336-2909 ~ 1-855-336-2903 Inform Interiors www.informinteriors.com 604-682-3868 NEW AND IMPROVED Mint Décor Interiors www.mintdecor.ca 647-462-6688 Nick’s Developments Inc. www.nicksdevelopments.com 416-899-3394


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In the past 50 years, we, as a society, have become aware of how essential it is to create buildings that are accessible to those who might otherwise struggle to navigate them. We have laws that govern physical accessibility and, as a result, buildings that permit people to live and work in hospitable and helpful environments, despite disability. The urgency to create and modify more such structures is increasing as the current baby boom population gets older and wants to live in buildings that will meet their needs as they age. In our upcoming Autumn issue, we will explore the concept of accessibility and how it impacts us all.

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Home In Canada - Toronto - Summer 2020  

Our Summer edition of Home in Canada (Toronto) is out now, head inside to find a selection of fabulous homes, gardens, a profile on builder/...

Home In Canada - Toronto - Summer 2020  

Our Summer edition of Home in Canada (Toronto) is out now, head inside to find a selection of fabulous homes, gardens, a profile on builder/...

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