Inside A Charming Historic Home In Niagara-On-The-Lake
Brett Sherlock and James Booty’s historic home in Niagara-on-the-Lake is the ultimate small town heritage estate. Decorated with antiques, fresh linens, cornflower blue and contemporary art, Hill House, as they’ve named it, excels in that rarest mixture of warmth and polish. It’s no surprise, considering Brett is a Senior Vice-President of Christie’s and managing director of Christie’s Canada. His husband James is an executive director of La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, a charitable organization. Go inside the storied home and discover the secrets behind its lasting charm.
The Federal-style saltbox home’s black shutters and white trim are suitably formal, while free-form boxwood, yew and holly ensure the exterior doesn’t look too buttoned up.
“We’ve developed a routine where we have our early morning coffee in this room because it faces east and the light is amazing,” says James. A palette of pale blue and neutral linen, a simple sisal rug and contemporary art provide clean counterpoints to the home’s traditional bones.
The mantel is kept clutter-free, reserved only for a modern British still life by Bobbie Russon and two 19th-century Irish crystal compotes. A mix of traditional chairs in different fabrics creates a cooler look than matching sets.
Brett and James often entertain, and set up a Maison Jansen games table in the living room. The 19th-century French chairs are monogrammed with a B (for Booty) or S (for Sherlock) — an apt pairing, notes Brett, for a spot that regularly sees bluffs being called.
The kitchen’s simple sensibility, from the Shaker-style cabinets to the classic black and white palette, make it timeless. A racing car photograph taken (and gifted) by British furniture designer and chairman of Christie’s U.K., David Linley, rests casually on the counter. On the wood table, clamped into an easel, is a tile scene of the Niagara River and marina by local early 20th-century artisans.
The dining room was inspired by Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt’s calm, minimalist style. “We wanted it to feel really clean and stripped down,” says James. Surrounding the 19th-century Gustavian table with 1930s Danish chairs gives the room a modern slant.
“When we bought the house, everything was dark. We had to undo all of that to give ourselves a contemporary canvas,” says Brett. A few coats of Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White paint and sofas slipcovered in creamy white linen did the trick in the great room. Built-ins filled with books help the large space feel cozy. James’ late mother, Wendy-Claire Booty, made the ceramic sculptures on the mantel.
“The garden room is a favorite spot because it attracts so much light. There’s no heating in this room but we can spend hours here on a sunny winter afternoon,” says James. The duo rescued the antique wicker chair from a burn pile left during the renovation of a nearby estate.
Earthy chocolate and grey envelop the principal bedroom, bringing warmth and modernity to the space. Light-dimming drapes, plush carpeting and blankets layered over furniture deliver both comfort and style.
The principal bathroom’s oval tub fits perfectly below a double window. The English armchair, upholstered in grey linen, strikes a traditional note.
Brett and James split the frame of an American Federal daybed to make headboards for twin beds in a guest bedroom.
A Murano glass table lamp bought in Italy and a vintage mirror found at London’s Portobello Market are personal touches in a guest room.
An extra bedroom became Brett’s dressing room. He paired the French Provincial antique daybed with historical-grey walls. “Like the kind you’d find at Fort George,” he says. Linen and grosgrain banded cushions also make this a great spot to nap.