Celebrate 150 Years Of Style! Peek Inside Our Favorite Canadian Family Homes
With Canada 150 celebrations kicking off this summer, there’s never been a better time to embrace Canadian style. So we’ve rounded up family-friendly spaces from the pages of H&H to inspire your next reno. Some are elegant, while some throw formality out the window. Some opt for a riot of color, while others go for a sea of neutrals. No matter the look, one thing is certain: In Canada, the best real-life decorating is practical — but never predictable!
Family-friendly picks and sentimental accents abound in this sunny Vancouver new-build — the forever home of CTV news anchor Tamara Taggart, music producer Dave Genn and their three kids, Poppy, Zoë and Beckett.
The living room is peppered with paintings by Dave’s sister and father, both fine artists, while crisp white seating and walls keep the look light and airy. Should one of the kids spill on the pristine sofa? No problem: Tamara is armed with bleach and a laid-back attitude. “Being a parent has loosened me up,” says Tamara. “I refuse to be precious about anything.”
A piece by Dave’s late father, renowned artist Robert Genn, hangs above a vintage china cabinet in the living space. The painting depicts Dave as a child in his mother’s arms — a colorful and heartwarming addition to the room.
In the kitchen, kids stash their art supplies in the built-in desk nook. “We wanted our home to be filled with spaces that inspire — somewhere our kids can dream, create and make fond memories,” says Tamara. The long dining table is perfect for enjoying meals with extended family. “Dave’s mom is Japanese so we always have ‘Sushi Sundays’ with our mothers and the kids.”
Beckett’s room is one of the most charming spaces in the house, with graphic superhero bedding and vintage car-patterned wallpaper. When he gets older, he’ll have the option to move to roomier quarters downstairs. “Besides the location, the selling point for us for this house was the basement,” explains Tamara. “Beckett has Down Syndrome, so the basement apartment gives him the option to be independent when he’s older with us close by, if that’s what he chooses.”
Calgarians Mark and Skye McLean left behind a builder-basic suburban home — with kids Keira and Caden in tow — for this handsome Georgian-style house. Designer Nam-Dang Mitchell stepped in to help them make the new-build their own. “This is our long-term house and was designed for us to stay in,” says Mark.
An unpretentious blend of furniture styles, contemporary art and kid-friendly touches — like the wipe-clean vinyl ottomans, shown here — is ideal for the vibrant young family. “It matches our lifestyle perfectly,” says Skye.
The McLean’s open-concept kitchen has the same classic bones and irreverent mix of furniture styles — a little bit modern, a little bit traditional — as the rest of the house. But this room is probably their favorite spot to spend time as a family, cooking and enjoying casual meals. “Even when we have guests over, we’re mainly in the kitchen,” shares Mark.
Keira’s bedroom balances sweetness and sophistication, with its soft pink drapes and dreamy cloud-print wallpaper. “I love this Nuvolette pattern by Cole & Son,” says Nam. “When you walk into the room and the clouds envelop you, you just feel like a kid again!”
With its grand double-doored entrance, the principal suite functions as a true retreat for working parents Mark and Skye. Just beyond the tailored vestibule is a large bedroom unencumbered by clutter, TVs or other distractions. “It’s calming and subtle,” says Mark.
Faced with a charming, but not entirely functional heritage home — a tiny kitchen, a cramped basement, an overgrown yard — Toronto business owners Magela Bruno and Marcelo Palacios knew they had work to do.
“It didn’t look very good,” admits Magela of their circa-1926 house. “But I have a lot of respect for the way homes were built back then, and we just fell in love with it.” With a little elbow grease, the couple turned the aging abode into a warm, character-filled home — the perfect place to raise their kids Santiago and Juana.
The Palacios’s basement received one of the biggest makeovers. “We didn’t want little rooms; we wanted one big space,” says Magela. “We also needed to add storage in a beautiful way.” This meant taking down walls for an open feel and adding handy maple built-ins. White walls and a recessed ceiling make the space feel even more spacious, while accents in warm, saturated tones keep it from looking sterile.
Though it’s on the smaller side, Juana’s bedroom makes a big impact. Youthful bubblegum walls and a red and white–checkered bed frame make it a fun place for her to kick back. A lifelike portrait, picked up during a family trip to Paris, is a quirky finishing touch.
Since Magela and Marcelo own a landscaping business, their outdoor living spaces needed to be just as eye-catching as their interiors. Their narrow city yard lent itself to three distinct zones: a deck for entertaining, a patch of lawn for the kids to play on and an inviting pool area.
Home to architectural designer Nicholas Lewin, his wife Lisa LaFrance and their teenage daughters Antonia and Georgia, this Chester, Nova Scotia, home is as striking on the outside and as it is breezy on the inside.
“The architectural style of the house is inspired by the local vernacular — the barns and fish shacks and old commercial buildings of Nova Scotia,” explains Nicholas, who designed the home. The interiors are similarly well-suited to the seaside locale: airy, crisp and primed for relaxation.
In the open dining area, a table topped with 200-year-old pine flooring makes room for a crowd. “The house is full of south-facing windows, so you’re always in the light,” says Nicholas. “And being open gives [the kitchen/living space] a great, loft-like feeling, whether it’s just us at the counter, 18 sitting down for dinner or 100 people milling around, spilling outside.”
The kitchen’s 14′-long island was topped with the same warm salvaged pine, and is now a magnet for family members and dinner guests. “This house is built for entertaining, since Lisa loves to cook,” shares Nicholas. A set of nautical striped barstools nod to the home’s harbor-adjacent setting — and the family’s love of sailing.
Even the home’s bathrooms have a casual ease about them. In the principal bath, untreated wood mingles with woven baskets and fresh-cut flowers, while a fresh blue–striped rug ties in with the house’s enviable views of sea and sky.
“Believe it or not, we bought our house because of its peculiar kitchen,” says H&H’s own Alice Lawlor of her Toronto semi. “My partner, Amy, and I are both British so we have an affection for higgledy-piggledy homes.” Still, the layout — an island that spanned almost the entire width of the space, a dishwasher set beside the back door and an entire wall with no lower cabinets — wasn’t ideal.
Thankfully, the room boasted great bones and hadn’t abeen decorated in a particular style. This meant Alice and Amy could infuse their own aesthetic: “colorful, English-inspired and little bit eccentric.” With the help of designer Sarah Hartill and Mason Brothers Construction, the kitchen is now the perfect place to cook, dine and just hang out.
A bold botanical wallpaper is one of the most striking elements of the space, adding a shot of quirky color and pattern to the room. “Tempting as it was to pack our small kitchen with mess-concealing closed storage, this pair of shelves is a smart way to combine display with useful storage — and show off the wallpaper behind,” says Alice.
The kitchen’s cabinet doors were made by U.S.-based company Semihandmade, who specialize in doors for Ikea cabinetry. Their simple Shaker-style profile is highlighted by a soft, barely-there shade of green paint.
A slim island enhances the room’s functionality. “I worried that our 10′-wide kitchen couldn’t fit an island, but we needed the prep space,” says Alice. “The answer was a custom piece designed by Sarah Hartill in collaboration with 1925 Workbench, and stools that can tuck right in.”
Sarah also strategically shifted the location of the basement door. “Our old basement entry stole space and heat from the kitchen,” says Alice. “Moving it to the adjacent dining room meant the pantry cupboards could go all the way across. Painted the same shade as the cabinets, the new door looks like it’s always been here.”
Tour this kitchen on H&H TV.
Visual artist and actor Michael Soltis and his wife, Ann, share their contemporary, custom-built home in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with their kids Zane and Kaya. Pops of vibrant color, like their fun, highlighter-yellow back door, lend an appropriately youthful energy to the home, while found accessories, like the metal scale shown here, add a bit of edge. “It’s all about balance,” says Michael of his home’s refreshing aesthetic.
In the kitchen, a vintage sign and a weathered step stool offset the pristine look of the white cabinets, backsplash and oversized island. “We’ve never chosen something because it would ‘match,’” says Michael of the home’s layered look. “We pick up things we like, and then we make them work.”
A distressed sliding door is an edgy showstopper in the otherwise clean white space. “We love to have people over for dinners and parties,” says Michael of his hip-meets-hardworking kitchen. “Ann is an excellent cook, so we’re rarely short of visitors.”
Michael and Ann’s principal bedroom features an eye-catching spherical wood pendant light, which mirrors the shape of the airy round fixtures in the attached bathroom. One of Michael’s own canvasses — part of the home’s ever-evolving collection of art — has pride of place on the wall.
Tamara Napoleon and Merle Alexander, both lawyers specializing in Indigenous resource law, fell in love with their East Saanich bungalow at first sight — despite its unusual decor. “When you walked through the house, you were in different decades,” says Merle, recalling the home’s mishmash of finishes (’60s-style bathrooms, ’30s-style wall sconces, a ’90s-style kitchen…).
A yearlong renovation gave the interiors a more unified look, and now, the home’s enviable architecture can finally shine. “We knew the house had potential because it’s very well-built with a craftsmanship that’s just not common,” Merle explains. “Its Moorish influence is pretty unique in Victoria,” Tamara adds.
The arches and window frames in the entryway were originally white, blending in with the walls. “We painted them black to create visual impact,” notes interior designer Kyla Bidgood, who spearheaded the reno. An unexpected combination of patterned flooring, whimsical lighting and vintage furniture gives the space fresh, contemporary appeal. “They’re a young family, so we didn’t want to make the home too traditional,” she adds.
The designers maintained the kitchen’s original charm — which was opened up and tripled in size — by cladding the 15-foot-long back wall in subway tile, and opting for handsome Shaker cabinets, which neatly conceal the fridge, dishwasher and pantry.
The great room’s high ceiling is just one of its draws. “We underestimated how much time we would spend there,” says Merle, “but the beautiful views, the way it’s furnished and that centerpiece fireplace make it such a warm space.” It’s a particularly popular spot for the couple’s 3-year-old son, Elijah, to play.
During their hunt for a new family home, My Le Nguyen and Rock Huynh prioritized location above all else. “We wanted to be in a more community-oriented area, and this is what we could afford,” says My Le of their 90-year-old Toronto fixer-upper. After plenty of updating, the home is now packed with custom detail and lighthearted decor — a great space for the couple to raise their young sons Khai and Dan.
The house also functions as a home office for Rock and My Le, who own their own custom door and furniture business, 1925 Workbench. A solid walnut dining table, shown here, is one of their own designs, dividing the kitchen and living spaces, and adding additional food prep and work space.
Every nook and cranny in My Le and Rock’s home is maximized, thanks to creative built-ins and cozy cubbies. Located behind the kitchen, the mudroom closet has two closed cupboards that act as a pantry, while simple compartments organize shoes and small accessories. “I find it easier to design in a smaller pace, because you can visualize the entire area in your mind, and it forces you to be creative, making every little corner useful,” says My Le.
In the open-concept kitchen, ample cabinetry hides everyday clutter, while a bright white marble backsplash stretches to the ceiling to enhance the room’s sunny feeling. Sleek appliances are clever additions to the compact space.
A kid-sized table and chairs provide Dan and Khai with a spot to draw and dine in the main living area. The small aquarium — one of two in the house — brings a bit of life to the room, and is home to some of the family’s 30 pet fish.
Decorator Heidi Smith has her hands full with four active kids. Thankfully, her laid-back Laurentians cottage has room for everyone. Soaring 19′-high ceilings and stunning cedar beams make the 2,000-square-foot space feel even larger than it is, while warm white wall paneling and judicious pops of color make it super inviting (a big step up from the cottage’s dark and dated past). Vintage lighting and accents bring character to the rooms. “Things in a cottage should look like they were assembled over the years — not dropped off by your decorator,” Heidi says.
Inspired by Cape Cod beach houses, Heidi infused the living spaces with plenty of white, mint green and pale blue. She also embraced natural materials like wood and wicker for a breezy vibe. The dining area (left) is super functional, with a built-in banquette that can seat up to 10 little ones — perfect for when Heidi hosts extended family and her kids’ friends.
Since Heidi loves to cook and entertain, the cottage’s galley kitchen needed a fresh update. She started by coating the formerly red walls in an uplifting shade of light blue, then painted a budget-friendly upper cabinet from Ikea white to match her custom Shaker-style lowers. Wood countertops were an economical choice, and keep the kitchen’s overall look warm and welcoming.
This compact kids’ room can sleep two thanks to a charming red bunk bed. More kids can pile into the loft space above the kitchen during sleepovers. “With a few sleeping bags, the kids can have great adventures up there,” Heidi says. “It’s like a real camp vacation.”