Erica Wark, a TV fashion personality and wardrobe stylist, knows how to work it — or wark it, if you will. The fashion chameleon has herself dressed the gamut: she’s rocked puff sleeves in homage to the hit show Bridgerton, done full-blown brights down to her toes just because, and donned a midriff-baring blouse with a biker jacket while pregnant with her daughter, Audrey, who was born this past June.
Erica wanted to bring her sense of style to her new rowhouse. She and husband Corey Laurysen, a third-generation owner of
Laurysen Kitchens in Ottawa — and Erica’s high school sweetheart — had purchased the 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house located in Toronto’s Fashion District. “One of the reasons why we fell in love with this house was its potential for character,” says Erica. “It was built in the 1880s. She’s old but sturdy, and we loved that.” The previous owner had done a partial reno. The basement had been underpinned, the electrical brought to code and the third floor opened up into an airy principal suite. “But the interior needed zhuzhing,” says designer Lindsay Mens, a partner at TOM Design Studio. She worked on the six-month project alongside her TOM colleague Tommy Smythe. Tommy and Erica are longtime pals who met doing media appearances. “Erica understands style, color, form, shape and all the things that inform the work I do, so we had a terrific rapport,” says Tommy.
Scroll down to step into this stylish rowhouse!
Here, Erica and Corey stand outside their restored rowhouse. Hollow-core doors were replaced with vintage ones, including a reeded glass door in the couple’s bedroom. The new doors and windows work beautifully with the 19th-century chunky trim that had been spared the pry bar.
The goal was to reinstate the charm that had been removed from the Victorian. “We put in proper traditional wood balusters and railings, which are period-appropriate,” says Lindsay. The console boasts a vignette of mostly vintage things and is a focal point of the foyer.
Pieces in the living room span decades, from the jaunty, mid-century-era chaise longue to the 1980s cocktail tables used side by side as a coffee table. And then there’s contemporary art living its best life above a Victorian fireplace. “It all hangs together nicely,” says Tommy. “Eclecticism is the hardest way to decorate, but it’s the most successful.” Erica loves to shoot segments for
The Social and Access Hollywood here because of the quality of light.
Shelves were customized to fit beside the fireplace and are often filled with whimsical pieces. “They’ve got Lego sculptures mixed in with their books,” says Tommy. Raymond Girard’s
Pen & Brick lego sculptures form beautiful vignettes on the custom built-ins. Erica and Corey are excited to host friends and family in their new digs. “I’m obsessed with entertaining,” says Erica. “When Tommy and I were chatting about ideas for this house, I wanted to make sure it was built for entertaining, so we have a lot of seating options on the main floor.”
A ceiling medallion in the dining room, architectural wall paneling and a mix of antique lighting throughout also bring grace back to the space. So that it’s not too stuffy and “far down the museum garden path,” says Tommy, the furniture borrows from a range of periods. “Just like the best outfits,” he quips. “Tommy is known for putting a lantern over everything,” says Lindsay with a laugh. Elegant and commanding, the copper fixture is a perfect fit for the dining room.
As the cabinet guy, Corey took the lead on the kitchen with the help of his aunt — and Laurysen Kitchens CEO — Caroline Castrucci. “We wanted a classic look and feel with all the conveniences, but not too modern,” he says. White high-gloss cabinets were replaced with ones that have a simple yet elegant profile. The two-tone navy blue and white millwork puts a dynamic spin on the space and mingles with streaky slabs of marble. The Liebherr fridge is concealed behind a panel that’s as stately as a fine armoire. Two drawers, dressed in brass cup handles, pull open to reveal the freezer.
“The cool thing about the cabinets is that the doors aren’t painted,” says Corey. He explains that they’re clad in polyester that’s 10 times more durable. “We knew our family was growing so we wanted a kitchen that would last.” Erica adds that, because the kitchen is visible from the foyer, she didn’t want an eyesore of broken-up stainless steel appliances. “It has a furniture feel; the fridge looks like a giant armoire,” she says. “In a rowhouse, there’s not a huge amount of space for a kitchen. The panel-ready cabinets make it look so much cleaner and more sleek.” Crown molding is a sophisticated finishing detail at the top of the cabinets. “It was Tommy’s great suggestion,” says Erica. “It ties the whole room together and connects it with the rest of the house.”
The couple went back and forth on using this dramatic marble in the kitchen. “He was super practical, and I wanted beautiful,” says Erica. (She won.)
Being in Erica’s orbit has clearly had an effect on Corey: he chose the wild wallpaper in the powder room. Guests always emerge smiling, says Erica.
In the principal bedroom, a scalloped chair with a spotted seat is fun with the textured Kelly Wearstler table lamp and leopard-print accent pillow.
An unused nook was turned into a multipurpose spot to do makeup and pay bills.
An elegant antiqued mirror, sconce and art bring character to the principal ensuite.
How is the principal closet divided when you live with a fashion guru? “I’ve got two little doors on the left, and Erica has the three big doors on the right,” says Corey with a laugh. Today, the updated home blends beautifully with its past; it’s got modern attitude but only where needed. “Much like with fashion, I love to mix trendy with traditional pieces,” says Erica. “Timeless wardrobe staples never go out of style with modern elements. It makes sense that my home would have that same vibe — if I could dress like my house every day, I’d be so happy.”