See How This Bright & Airy Home Masters Decorated Minimalism
Jackie Di Cara has long lived by the design motto, “If it’s not beautiful or useful, it has no place in your home,” but walking the walk got substantially easier recently when she rebuilt her home around the concept.
In 2016, when their son, Dane, was a fast-growing toddler, Jackie and her husband, Nino, finally gave up on their “cool and happening” St. Lawrence Market condo in Toronto and moved out to a more kid-friendly neighborhood near the lake and local shops and cafés. But the charming wood and cedar-shingled two-storey home they bought — built in 1895 as a quaint holiday cottage just outside the city — was dark, cramped and poorly laid out. So, they embarked on an eight-month reno that saw them gut the interior and add a third-floor principal suite, taking the 1,500-square-foot living space up to 2,200.
Jackie spoke to us about the pitfalls of being both homeowner and designer on the project, and about how she builds (and maintains!) her decorated minimalist look.
Simple, striking elements such as the oversized mirror and pillowy Safari bench set a mod tone near the front door.
Jackie and her husband, Nino, in their dining room. “I have a newfound sense of empathy for all the decisions my clients have to make,” she says about the reno. “I tortured myself a bit; it wasn’t pretty from what my husband says. But I got some unique pieces — and I’m content I made the right choices.”
For an integrated aesthetic, the banquette extends from the kitchen cabinets in the same white oak. Iconic bentwood chairs are curvy and comfy.
Clean-lined elements such as the new staircase and flat-front white oak built-ins are the architectural underpinnings of Jackie’s modern redesign. “With a clean shell, I can rotate my personal items and have those be the stars,” she says. “I think of the look as decorated minimalism.”
Black steel boxes installed under the upper cabinets add a graphic element and a spot for Jackie to display treasured pieces. “I had to incorporate storage because, in an open space, there are no doors to let you close away the clutter,” she says.
Jackie painted the living room wall black to make the sofa and art pop. “My husband, Nino, loves color so the rug was his request,” she says.
The TV is tucked in a black niche above the fireplace in the white oak built-ins to help it disappear.
The couple’s son, Dane, skates next to the bright, new skylighted staircase. “It does a great job of brightening the space, even on overcast days,” says Jackie.
Graffiti-esque wallpaper brings an irreverent undertone to Jackie’s home office, located in one of two second-floor bedrooms.
In Dane’s bedroom, lighthearted wallpaper nods at childhood, while a mod light fixture and shelving unit bring design gravitas to the space.
In the wet room-style bathroom, a huge framed mirror offers space for storage and display.
In the principal bedroom, inky walls and white linens let the warm tones of the wall sculpture and walnut table stand out.
Jackie designed a clever self-shading porthole window for the principal bedroom and had it constructed in unstained white oak.