Designer Julie Charbonneau aims to make living an art. After a tour of her Toronto home, it’s clear she’s succeeded. The historical gem is decorated with a spare, serene touch — a perfect canvas for her collection of scene-stealing contemporary artwork. As much as Julie loved the picture-perfect Tudor façade, she was determined to update the house for modern living without destroying its historical charm, so she kept the original fireplaces, wood panelling, trimwork, leaded glass windows, main-level flooring and the majestic staircase. Because Julie is passionate about contemporary art and photography, she made sure the home’s finishes were subdued, sleek and calming. Click through to see inside her contemporary, glamorous space.
In the entry hall, the original woodwork was stained black. The statement light fixture is by celebrated New York designer Lindsey Adelman, and Julie found the table in Paris in the late ’90s.
The coffee table in the living room is a classic Aldo Tura design that’s covered in goat hide. Julie kept the original 1920s leaded glass windows on the inside of her home, but fitted new weathertight steel windows on the outside.
Julie bought the antique writing desk — her first significant antique purchase — 15 years ago from a dealer in Montreal. Treasured pieces have followed the designer from home to home. “My first love is antiques,” she says. “They’re part of my past and will be with me forever.”
“I wanted a blank canvas for beautiful furniture and artwork,” she says.
In the dining room, Julie placed upholstered, high-backed benches on either side of the fireplace for dramatic impact and to maximize seating. Crown molding and walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Silver Fox bring a stately elegance to the space.
The sleek kitchen contrasts white walls and a sculptural vent hood with streamlined, ebony-colored cabinetry. Instead of the usual uppers, Julie prefers installing custom floor-to-ceiling pantries. “I don’t believe in stocking too many things,” she says. “I like to have just the right amount of dishware and glasses.”
The kitchen table is surrounded by comfortable seating so guests can lounge while Julie cooks. A transparent pendant light ensures the statement-making artwork is the center of attention.
Julie’s minimalist approach to decorating even extends to her kitchen countertop. “I like simplicity and cleanliness,” she says. “With a big vase of flowers, my kitchen comes to life.”
Custom-designed pantries with sliding shelves store a collection of dishware.
The dramatic, dark-stained woodwork continues into the family room. “I didn’t want the house to be old and stuffy,” says Julie. “I wanted it to be young and hip but with vintage character.”
Julie and her daughter, Alexia, in the family room. The striking contemporary artwork is by Bogdan Molea.
Julie’s vintage ribbon chair is upholstered in a bouclé fabric. Although it reads as a piece of fine sculpture, it’s actually very comfortable, she says.
A Rue Picot light fixture in the sunroom looks like it’s made of twigs, mirroring the wooded area outside the windows.
Julie with their two standard poodles, Elle and Louis.
In the principal bedroom, a custom, pony hide-covered headboard reaches the ceiling and features built-in side tables with plenty of storage.
In a sunny corner of the bedroom, a generous armchair is an inviting spot for reading.
The dressing room off the principal bedroom is anchored by a central island and features a lush, blush sofa and coordinating floor-to-ceiling drapery. Surprisingly, the room has become an unexpected gathering place. “Guests often want to hang out in here and drink champagne,” says Julie with a laugh.
The bathroom was designed around Massimo Vitali’s large-scale photograph taken of Scala dei Turchi. “The ocean has always been an inspiration to me,” says Julie. “I like to imagine the woman swimming in the middle of the photograph is me in another life.”
Author: Tammy Sutherland
House & Home October 2018