See How This Designer Renovated Her Childhood Home On A Budget
Homeowner and designer Francesca Albertazzi shares how moving back in with her mother was the greatest investment.
“When I was 12 years old, I was always thinking about how I would redesign our house. It was a childhood dream of mine: scheming about how to make the kitchen larger, carving out a space in the attic for a bedroom and bathroom, creating an oasis for abandoned animals. The house wasn’t ritzy — an early 1900s Craftsman-style home in East Vancouver with just one floor and an unfinished basement — but the details were beautiful.
My husband proposed that we redesign the family home and all three (my mother included) live together under one roof. I thought it was an amazing idea. So, for Christmas in 2014, we surprised my mom with a sketch of the design and I said, “Let’s all live together — Italian style!” My mom was thrilled.”
Francesca and her husband, Sandy Blair, with her mother, Rita Monaco, on their front porch. “From the start, we were very cost-conscious,” says Francesca. “I like to begin with fairly big dreams and then scale back selectively, if needed.”
The entryway announces the feel of the house: an inviting collection of European and Craftsman influences.
Francesca’s maternal grandmother gave this console to Rita as a wedding gift more than 30 years ago.
Instead of a conventional runner, Francesca used carpet tiles that won’t budge while cooking. The deep green paint for the cabinets is a custom color.
Francesca often stands in this corner of the kitchen to watch the birds in the lilac and magnolia trees outside. “Instead of an island, we incorporated a large table for working at and dining,” says Francesca.
The kitchen backsplash is a nod to Francesca’s Italian heritage.
Francesca painted the hallway navy blue to create an eye-catching sight line from the kitchen.
“The floating shelves around the fireplace offer a built-in feeling for a lower price tag,” says Francesca. The painting above the fireplace is by Rita.
The living room is peppered with contemporary flourishes.
When renovating, Francesca advises clients to shop their own homes before buying new. “Many people have elements that can be used again,” she says. “Our old condo dining table is now my desk.” She chose Wisteria Blossom wallpaper by Sanderson for the sunny second-floor workspace. She had the vaulted ceiling panelled to add texture.
Built-in cabinets keep Francesca and Sandy’s home office neat and organized.
A window seat in the principal bedroom makes the large space feel more quaint. Francesca nabbed her solid wood, Canadian-made bed frame from Craigslist for $250.
Francesca with her two dogs, Rudy, an Australian shepherd-cross, and Valentino, a cavapoo, in her bedroom’s window seat.
Francesca debated adding a separate guest bathroom but instead created one large bathroom that can be accessed from the hallway or principal bedroom. Now, there’s space for a clawfoot tub, shower and double vanity.