Revisit Brian Gluckstein’s Stunning Princess Margaret Showhomes
Brian Gluckstein is no stranger to the pages of House & Home — or to the thousands of people who wander through the Princess Margaret showhomes each year, admiring his work. The veteran designer has lent his signature style to the cause since 2013, and we’ve compiled his handiwork here in honor of his new book, Brian Gluckstein: The Art Of Home. Click through and tell us which showhome is your favorite!
Brian fashioned a mix of glamor and comfort in the 2013 Princess Margaret Showhome. The house is on a tree-lined corner lot in Oakville, Ontario. To create an elegant façade, the two door garage was placed at the side of the house.
“I love hallways to be experiences,” says Brian. “Sometimes, I’ll line them with bookcases; sometimes, they’re more like galleries. This one is a garden area. We did a cathedral ceiling with a skylight and outdoor-style lanterns, then hung photographs of beautiful gardens on the walls.”
Brian wallpapered the backs of the kitchen’s upper cabinets with grey grasscloth for contrast. The island’s stepped marble surface ensures countertop mess isn’t visible from the adjacent family room.
A plate-glass window at the end of the center hallway overlooks the backyard. The stone pedestal table functions as a breakfast area. “I wanted it to feel like you’re sitting in the garden,” Brian says.
Full silk drapes create the illusion of wider windows in the dining room. A mirror reflects art hung in the hallway.
Brian filled the family room with plenty of display pieces. “Display space, whether built-in bookcases or a tall étagère, injects height and character. I like to fill shelves with a collection, rather than a variety of things,” says Brian, who grouped vintage cameras among the books flanking the fireplace.
The library is open to the second floor, where there’s a perimeter wide enough for built-in bookcases. Down below, panelled walls create a cozy shell.
A canopy bed introduces coziness in the principal bedroom, which boasts an airy cathedral ceiling.
Heated mosaic-tile floors anchor his-and-hers quartz and mirror vanities in the principal ensuite.
In the mudroom, Brian incorporated a bench within a wall of storage that includes two closets.
A stone portico shelters the front door of this 2014 showhouse, which is surrounded by trees. The home strikes a glamorous first impression and is ideal for entertaining.
Brian designed the kitchen for entertaining, starting with the glossy black, brass and grey palette. Brass supports make the open shelves look like fine furniture, while a collection of vintage toasters adds personality.
The kitchen’s dining area is surrounded by full-height windows and doors to the back deck, making it feel like part of the garden. Upholstered chairs and a modern chandelier give the casual nook an elegant spin.
The formal front room’s combined living and dining areas make it ideal for entertaining. A panel of custom-made wallpaper by Fromental features hand-embroidered silk flowers and is bookended by mirrors.
Hits of brass and silver bring a glamorous shine to the living room’s winter white and pale green palette. Symmetrical doorways open the room to the front foyer and main hall, creating a luxurious sense of spaciousness as you enter.
The ficus tree in the conservatory extends the garden indoors. Sunlight streams in through steel-framed windows that rise one-and-a-half storeys high.
A French-style iron railing turns the curved staircase into a showpiece.
A mix of furniture styles — an Asian-inspired end table, 1940s-look glass lamps and a traditional sofa — gives the principal bedroom a collected feel.
Sheer drapes add privacy on a picture window in the principal ensuite, but still let in natural light. The “floating” vanity looks airy, while mosaic floor tiles inject timeless pattern.
For the 2015 showhome, Brian made a particular effort to save any trees on the property, so that the house feels like it has been in its Oakville, Ontario locale forever.
Brian went ultramodern in the kitchen with flat-front cabinets and an extra-long island that’s destined to become the home’s social club. “I didn’t do a breakfast table,” says Brian. “I thought, ‘The hell with it; let’s just stand around the island.'”
A planter runs below the large windows in the kitchen, forming what Brian calls a “perimeter hedge of herbs” to clean the air and release a nice fragrance. The light fixture was originally black, but Brian had the whole thing painted white so that it would disappear into the ceiling.
Beautiful tablescapes bring the living room to life. “There’s nothing I hate more than a little coffee table,” says Brian, who often uses multiple coffee tables together — sometimes different shapes, sometimes the same.
“What gives the family room wow factor is the color,” says Brian. “The power of color is so extreme. When this room was painted white, it felt little. Now, you want to spend time here. It’s such a different atmosphere.”
In the dining area, a modern pedestal table and upholstered chairs provide plenty of space for guests, while arched windows add a trad note. The knock-out feature of the room is the art wall, where the fresco-inspired piece makes for a dramatic feature.
In the study, satin Bordeaux-colored drapes blend into the wall covering, while built-in bookcases in the same hue extend to the ceiling for a sense of grandeur.
Brian stole space from the attic to give the second floor high ceilings, a trick that makes the principal bedroom feel more spacious. “Why have an 8′ ceiling when you can have a 12′ one?” he says of the room’s tray ceiling.
Subtle faux-paint finishes give the walls in the principal ensuite a soft patina. “These are faux finishes that are art,” says Brian. He used the technique as a backdrop for the feature walls around the tub, which are decorated with hand-cast resin and sculpted-plaster flowers.
Brian had a marble shaving station installed in the principal ensuite shower.
When designing the 2016 showhome in Oakville, Ontario, Brian imagined how a young family would live. The home’s classic stucco and brick exterior has an old world air.
Symmetry reigns in the kitchen, where two lanterns hover above the island on either side of the sink. The range hood is clad in the same opalized grey tile as the backsplash, and a partly open pantry at the far end offers tons of storage.
Brian’s skillful layering is on full display in the great room, where panelled mirrors flank an upholstered screen that serves as a dynamic backdrop for photography. Ample seating upholstered in a similar hue as the pale grey walls creates an airy feel.
The family room’s faux-silk drapes and deep blue grasscloth walls are a luxe backdrop for the mid-century-style furnishings. The pairing strikes an informal yet sophisticated note.
With its copper grasscloth walls and sky-high bookcase, the study feels both grand and cozy. A chocolate sisal rug and grey chaise lounge add to the effect.
Brian took some risks, like a bold floor, in the powder room: “Adventurous choices, like a patterned floor, are easier when you’re not staring at it 24 hours a day, seven days a week!” says Brian.
A squared-off soaker tub continues the sleek lines in the principal ensuite. “I believe a principal bathroom should be a destination unto itself,” says Brian. “My own bathroom has a library wall, and I wouldn’t give anything less to a client.”
A window nook in the principal ensuite is a natural spot for a showstopping tropical plant — a big trend in design at the moment. Extending the counters across the opening ensures there’s plenty of room for a couple to share the counter space.
A pergola, large concrete pavers, patches of greenery and interlocking stone all work to delineate the long, slim yard into a series of outdoor rooms.
In the latest 2017 showhome, Brian pulled out all the stops to make the home incredible. “Every year I make a secret Pinterest board and then sit down with the team,” says Brian. “We talk about what we want to do, as well as take comments from previous showhome visitors into consideration. Last year, people mentioned that they wished the laundry room was on the second floor, so this year, that’s where it is.”
Verre églomisé mirrors by Toronto artist Cristina Pepe and a vintage-style chandelier bring glamor to the foyer. A dark marble floor grounds the space.
Brian tweaked the concept of a formal library to reflect the way people work now and made it a social hub. “Libraries are not a necessity,” he says. “We’re more fluid in the way we work with laptops on sofas now. This is a much cooler take on the library.”
To keep the look flexible, Brian chose freestanding étagères with a mix of open and closed storage instead of built-ins. A railing keeps the sight lines into the dining room clear.
The contrast of dark metal against pale, dove grey walls makes the entry’s Deco-style stair rail stand out.
For a showhome, the kitchen has a relatively modest footprint, but the ceiling detail makes it feel special. “I’m tall and I don’t like having to look around low pendants over an island,” says Brian. “This one is hung high to illuminate the vaulted ceiling.” French doors to the garden let in lots of light.
In the kitchen, banquette seating in a bay window (flanked by pantry units) overlooks the backyard patio and pool.
The dining room offers entertaining versatility with a custom banquette in the bay window that can serve as a spot for cocktails or seating for buffet-style meals.
Brian saves statement wallpaper — like this metallic scenic print — for the powder room, along with a mirrored wall and floating vanity.
In the principal bedroom, the furniture floats away from the walls for a relaxed look. “The chaise in front of the window — that’s a signature for me,” says Brian. “I love to come home and put my feet up.”
Windows wrap around the soaker tub, bathing the principal ensuite in natural light.
Black trim punches up the white bathroom. A frosted glass panel conceals the water closet (left) and shower (not shown).