Having built, designed or refinished six homes from Denver to Muskoka over the past 17 years, Aly and Alf Douglas are no strangers to intensive planning and process. But when they recently moved back to Toronto, the couple was keen to try something new: they wanted to live in an older urban home with easy access to shops, restaurants and walking paths — and they didn’t want to build it or decorate it themselves. They found an elegant, 1,900-square-foot red brick townhouse in Rosedale that perfectly fit the bill. But even though the 93-year-old, ivy-covered exterior was lovely and timeless, the interiors, which had been redone by a developer 10 years prior, needed some TLC.
Enter designer Gillian Gillies. They loved her style, her ability to make bold design elements work, and that her interiors cleverly used every inch of space. Over a six-month period, Gillian deftly revamped the interiors. New French oak floors laid in a herringbone pattern bring old world elegance to rooms, and original plaster walls are wallpapered — with an ulterior motive. “It makes sense,” says Alf. “Wallpaper hides a lot of plaster’s imperfections.” Gillian loves playing with texture but so, too, do cats, and the couple has both a cat and a dog. With that in mind, the designer clad the backs of chairs with fabrics like velvet so claws wouldn’t be able to hook into them.
The overall effect is graceful and contemporary, a seamless dovetailing of the home’s classic features with a modern aesthetic, all against a black and white palette punctuated by hits of rich color. “I love a mix of pattern and texture, so there’s not a time stamp for when rooms were designed,” says Gillian.
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