Modern Makeover: A Family’s Colorful Arts & Crafts Home
When an art-loving family with two small children purchased this century home in Toronto’s West End, they quickly got to work putting a youthful stamp on the too-formal interior. For 18 months, David Sword and Lise Anne Gougeon worked with interior designer Stephanie Pellatt of Pivot Design and designers Leanne Tammaro and Adolphina Karachok of Designtheory to create their dream home. Original features like fireplaces and stained-glass windows were lovingly restored or repurposed, while an addition at the back of the house created an open-concept kitchen and family room. The result is a home where cheerful colors and patterns set a joyful backdrop for family life. Get a glimpse of the before and after below by sliding the arrows on the images.
In the center hall of Lise Anne and David’s house — shared with son Garner, 4, and daughter Vivienne, 6 — a classic black and white envelope is brightened by a sunny yellow rug, the first hint that the house holds a few surprises.
Bold pattern and bright hues give this old house youthful energy. In the front hall, viewed here from the grey-panelled dining room, a work by British photographer Luke Stephenson of “cheeky birds” reflects the design’s lighthearted approach.
In the foyer, a modern glass waterfall console is an unexpected accent overtop of the original radiator. The designers painted out the heavy wood panelling in a warm white, pairing it with high-contrast black and white floor tiles for a classic feel.
The living room fireplace was updated from wood-burning to gas (the house still has three other wood-burning fireplaces). Heavy wainscotting was removed to make way for more delicate recessed panels, plus new baseboards and intricate ceiling detailing. The new look is lighter and more refined, and helps draw the eye upward, making the room feel airier. The formal architecture is set off by a casual mix of modern and traditional furnishings.
An old back stairway was removed to open up the kitchen and allow for more storage, including a full pantry wall and small servery. Flat-front cabinet doors with recessed pulls plus uninterrupted white counters create a sleek and quiet backdrop. A mix of materials — Corian, marble, walnut, stainless steel — gives the room dimension and texture.
The steel-frame windows extend from the breakfast area to the kitchen and help ground the mostly white space.
Lise Anne and David wanted a unified new kitchen and family room where they could hang out with the kids. “The only way to do so elegantly was to add on a small, square addition by covering over an existing porch,” says Lise Anne. Now 12′-high ceilings and wall- to-wall steel-case windows frame views to the garden and add to the enormous sense of space.
Open to the kitchen and breakfast area in the new addition, the family room is the go-to place for spending time together. While the walls are painted crisp white, the team injected color in other ways, making the space thoroughly inviting for all. Original stained-glass windows in the older part of the house served as muse, resulting in a mix of soft, almost pastel shades with more saturated tones like royal blue and yellow.
In David’s home office, originally the den, mid-century modern pieces are paired with a hide rug — a can’t-miss masculine mix. The unique angled mantel and extra-high panelling were repainted navy blue, a still-studious but more colorful choice than the original dark grey. (Lise Anne works from home full-time, running her custom advent calendar company, Pomegranate, from her office on the second floor.)
The principal bedroom’s pale pink linens and bed wrapped in tufted grey upholstery are soft and calming at the end of the day. A modern brass chandelier amps up sophistication.
Stephanie thoroughly modernized the principal bedroom’s closet space, revamping the old cabinetry and shifting a doorway to improve flow and open up sight lines — like the one straight through to the ensuite’s tub and window. A heavy wood island was removed, and a plush ottoman now sits atop the room’s star feature, a painterly rug from Scottish textile studio Bluebellgray. Lise Anne’s favourite color, pink, was a natural accent.
Bird-themed wallpaper by Julia Rothman for Hygge & West encourages flights of fancy in the kids’ bath on the third floor.