Elyssa Maldoff, principal designer of Design State is used to designing homes for families with young kids, so when a high-powered lawyer and her 16-year-old daughter found her on Instagram, she was excited about the prospect of designing a space with elevated, timeless style. “After living in their midtown Toronto house for many years, the homeowners considered renovating the existing property, but ultimately decided on a new build,” says Elyssa.
Located in the Bedford Park neighborhood, the skinny 2,241-square-foot house feels like a relaxing oasis, full of ‘comfortable luxury’ according to Elyssa. “We wanted to go for something really calming that had a quiet elegance. With every room you’ll find the same elements — a neutral palette, soft curves and refined simplicity.”
House & Home: How do you stay on top of what’s going on in the design world?
Elyssa Maldoff: When I first got into the business, I was trying so hard to stay up to date with the top trends. This year, I promised myself I was going to design timeless, beautiful spaces. If I do it this way, I think people will come to our firm simply because they love our designs. This house is not trendy and it will still feel relevant in 10 years.
H&H: Do you have any tips for designing a small space?
EM: Find those moments to be fun and playful. In the petite foyer, we took limestone and marble which you don’t typically find together, and played up on the classic checkerboard.
H&H: How do you balance trends with classic design?
EM: Right now people want those warm colors and earthy organic shapes, but we were intentional about incorporating timeless pieces.
“White oak millwork in a Shaker style adds to the transitional feel of the space,” says Elyssa.
H&H: Real stone or not — where do you stand on the design debate?
EM: Everyone wants the look of marble, it has so much more character than porcelain. We always push for it. When you go to Europe, everything is marble. People walk on it, sit on it — it’s everywhere. It’s OK for it to patina and age, and it’s a beautiful product that’s stood the test of time.
“The other cabinets are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak and we opted for a lime-wash hood that’s flanked by two reeded glass doors,” adds Elyssa.
H&H: We’re seeing so many beautiful banquettes right now. Tell us about this one!
EM: We fell in love with a curved Kelly Wearstler banquette in blush, so that’s where the inspiration came from. Our client really wanted it to feel like she had a sofa in the kitchen. We also brought in a white oak to complement the kitchen which creates a cohesive space.
H&H: Designing a living room in an open-concept space can be challenging. Do you have any advice?
EM: Consider adding larger furniture pieces to make your room feel grand. We explored different shapes with a curved sofa and nesting tables.
“We wanted to add a little edge, so we defined the built-ins with black which makes the decorative pieces feel sculptural,” says Elyssa. A Frame TV sits above a fireplace clad in Arabescato Fantastico marble. Velvet swivel chairs play up the soft curves throughout.
H&H: The details in the dining room feel like they’ve been there forever. How did you achieve that look?
EM: I’ve always been attracted to the heritage homes of Rosedale and Forest Hill. In newly built homes with 10-foot ceilings, you don’t always get those traditional elements, so I tried to add charm and interest to the walls and ceilings with paneling and art.
HH: How do you incorporate art into a space with panel molding?
EM: There are no rules — like art itself it doesn’t need to go with the room!
Products: Much Regard by Ashley Woodson Bailey, Citizen Atelier
H&H: The Motel Tuck was one of our 2023 trends. You mastered the look in this principal bedroom!
EM: Thank you! The idea for this bedroom was to create a very calm oasis so we wanted to scale it all back. We started with a palette of chocolates and sandy tones and kept the decorating minimal. We commissioned artist Teri Leese for a custom piece above the bed that truly feels one-of-a-kind.
Products: Release By Teri Leese Art
H&H: What was the most unique thing you did in this project?
EM: The floors in the primary bathroom. We took three different tiles and played on our AutoCAD program until we we stumbled on this design. It’s a busy pattern yet it doesn’t feel loud in the small space.
“Adding wall to wall drapes helped to soften and warm up the room. Plus, it’s an elegant way to establish privacy in a bathroom” say Elyssa.
A custom bench that matches the walls in the shower has a luxe, spa feel.