The design brief for this first floor renovation was to create a cozy, cottage-like oasis in the heart of the city. “Our clients have a great view of the Toronto skyline from the back of their house — including the CN Tower and all of downtown — so they wanted their home to feel calm and organic,” says designer Jordy Fagan of
The homeowners, a young family with three young kids, love to sit by the fire, listen to music and casually entertain, so designing a retreat-like atmosphere was ideal for their lifestyle. We chatted with design duo Jordy Fagan and Alana Firestone to learn more about how they brought the look home.
Scroll down to see how they transformed this city home into a modern urban cottage.
House & Home: How would you describe the overall aesthetic of your client’s house before the reno?
Alana Firestone: The house had been lovingly renovated over the past 20-30 years by the previous owners. It had an artsy aesthetic, but the original character of the 100-year-old-home was stripped. It was very angular and closed off — not conducive to young family living.
H&H: How did you bring cottage elements into the space?
Jordy Fagan: We used a mix of wood millwork and furniture, exposed brick and organic materials throughout.
H&H: What a transformation! We love the panelled kitchen island and cabinets. Can you tell us more about the materials you used?
JF: We incorporated a v-groove profile. It’s a more modern take on “beadboard” and still brings a modern cottage feel to the space.
H&H: What were some of the biggest changes you made?
AF: We swapped the location of the dining room and kitchen. There was a lot of structural work done in order to open up the walls between the previous kitchen and dining room.
H&H: How did you decide to install two types of backsplash into the kitchen?
AF: We had enough countertop slab left over to carry throughout, but we loved the organic feel of the square Zellige tiles over the buffet area to make the dining room feel like a defined space separate from the kitchen.
H&H: Can you share some tips for styling open kitchen shelves?
JF: Collect items you love over time and layer in as many textures as you can.
H&H: Is that a beverage bar?
AF: Yes! We wanted it to remain tucked away and out of sight but still look beautiful and be functional when open.
A custom wood banquette off the kitchen is the perfect spot to enjoy a casual meal or watch TV. Framed art by Tara Hogan is highlighted by a brass sconce.
H&H: What’s unique about this kitchen banquette?
AF: Our clients wanted an informal place for their kids to eat breakfast and do their homework in the future. Because it’s located behind the sofa we wanted to make sure it didn’t feel too kitchen-like. We designed the bench back to look like furniture and we chose a hardwearing table and chairs.
The open-concept space is kid-friendly and ideal for entertaining.
H&H: We see a lot of beautiful ottomans in your spaces (in place of coffee tables). Tell us more about this signature design move!
JF: They are so kid friendly! We always make sure they are sturdy enough to hold a drink and soft enough to rest your feet comfortably. They also act as amazing stages and obstacle courses for the kids!
Art by Teri Leese known as “Folded Paper Piece” hangs above the living room sectional.
Custom storage adjacent to the wood burning fireplace conceals household items and kids’ toys.
H&H: What was the biggest splurge?
AF: Definitely moving the fireplace. We had to redo the entire chimney structure but it was well worth it to achieve the cottage vibe.
H&H: Do you have any other advice for homeowners looking to bring rustic style into their city home?
JF: Use neutral and warm colors and bring in lots of texture for an organic feel. Add in lots of wood tones and cozy textiles! Here, exposed firewood beneath the custom bench is a clever way to bring style and texture into the space.
Author: Talia Hart
Build: SB Homes