Carly Stone has a thing for quirky houses. Ever since moving to Toronto’s Wychwood area, the filmmaker and her husband, Jeff Mikelberg, a lawyer, would walk the leafy streets with their dog, Bear, and son, Bodie, and admire the bohemian neighborhood’s more offbeat houses — particularly, the few perched on a crest above the city with south-facing views. “I was looking for something unique and creative,” says Carly, whose first feature film,
, was awarded a special jury prize at the 2018 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. “We were considering moving to L.A., where I went to film school, but then this very unusual house came up on one of those streets that backs onto the slope.” The New Romantic
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The house needed structural changes to work as a family home. As luck would have it, help for re-imagining the property would come by way of one of Carly’s closest friends and her former college roommate, designer
Jaime Zimmerman (shown). When Carly and Jeff closed on the property in 2020, the couple hired Jaime (who was on maternity leave and mulling over whether to launch of her own design firm). So Jaime quit her day job and went out on her own to work on this bright and airy 3,300-square-foot house, which embodies “Mediterranean minimalism meets California cool,” says Jaime.
Homeowner Carly and son Bodie like to hang out at the cosy banquette just off the kitchen. In February 2021, Carly and Jeff welcomed their second child, Maggie.
The project involved a major reconfiguration of the main floor, with a pantry being eliminated and the former sunken living room raised and transformed into the new kitchen.
Formerly owned by an artist and architect, the house had been fashioned into a one-of-a-kind artisan home-studio, and it had exactly the kind of inspirational eccentricity Carly had been searching for. “I was all-in on the very first day and just fell in love,” she says. “Luckily, Jeff was able to see what I saw in it — even though the walls were orange and it had an unconventional floor plan.”
Exterior stone arches, some of which were brought inside the kitchen in an earlier renovation, inspired both the beachy palette and the many curves repeated in the design. An arch above the range has rough stone on one side that was formerly an exterior column.
The design features a calming envelope of creamy white grounded with textured, organic materials that enhance the home’s indoor-outdoor mood.
Fitting for a house on the eccentric side, many design solutions were custom: when actual flagstone proved impractical for the entry, Jaime created a mosaic of three different hues of ordinary ceramic tile with a heavier grout for a convincing indoor-outdoor faux flagstone effect.
Simple blooms complement a rustic wooden bench in the foyer.
An inset panel flows up the dining room wall for a seamless, soothing effect.
In the dining room, a once-vivid cabinet fashioned from a pair of carved Balinese doors is given new elegance with a coat of white paint.
In the studio, round inset shelves on the wall are a nod to the many original curves and arches in the house.
A cozy corner in Bodie’s room is perfect for story time. Two bedrooms were added above the garage and studio, turning what was initially a two-bedroom house into a functional four-bedroom family home.
A nook that used to be an office is now a play area. New built-ins create cubbies for toys and books.
Porcelain tile in a herringbone pattern warms up the guest bathroom.
The addition of simple, sculptural details in the form of arched doorways and circular motifs imparts softness, for a Mediterranean-inspired take on the old “less is more” design adage.
The original vaulted ceiling in the principal bedroom frames a charming reading and computer nook. “I love keeping the original details intact and blending old and new together,” says Jaime.
A built-in vanity area is flanked by additional storage columns in the spacious walk-in closet.
To hear it from both designer and client, besides images of farmhouses and Greek interiors (admired by Carly for their peaceful and warm yet minimal style), most of their inspiration came from the quirks of the original house. “We thought the elements we initially loved — the stone arch in the kitchen, the funky fireplaces, and little nooks and windows — should continue on,” says Jaime.
The soft palette continues throughout the principal ensuite.
A long search for the perfect tile was resolved with one that proved to be such a statement that they continued it into the shower.
The area leading out to the deck is the perfect spot to add a fun moment with tilework in a sunny motif.
Author: Karen von Hahn
House & Home January/February 2022