Hayley Atkins’ life may be in Canada, but her heart lives in California. It beats for the beach in Malibu and the sweeping vistas of glittering ocean along the Pacific Coast Highway. In reality, Hayley lives on a quiet street in north Toronto, but she didn’t let any of that stop her from creating the West Coast beach house of her dreams. She found a kindred spirit in designer Montana Burnett, who has created beach-inspired spaces for restaurants, cottages and the sandal brand Tkees, a favorite of celebrities.
The home’s urban beachside quality is both livable and luxurious — a daily escape with all the conveniences of big-city life. It’s not Malibu, but when you’re stretched out on the down-filled sofas, sunlight streaming over your shoulder, you can almost hear the crashing Pacific Ocean outside the windows. Take a virtual tour of the 4,500-square-foot house that’s a stunning homage to everything sun, sand and surf.
“There was an organic element that I wanted to carry through,” says Montana, who ran pale white oak floors throughout the house. “You have sisal rugs, a lot of palm tree photos, there are beach scenes, waterfalls… you’ll see a little bit of that in every room.” The curves of a round mirror, circular pendant light and oval bench soften the main hallway.
In the living room, a pair of wood-framed Arata chairs by Vito Selma are part seating, part sculpture. A sisal rug anchors the space.
Hayley commissioned the painting above the fireplace from Eva Claessens after Montana showed her the Uruguay-based artist’s work on Instagram. Eva requested the piece be pinned to the wall, not framed, a detail perfectly in sync with the home’s refined-yet-casual vibe.
“It’s quite an open, airy house and there’s so much light that I thought it could afford a black room,” says Montana of the dining room’s high-contrast matte black walls and ceiling trim. “When you have a black room and then a white room, it’s beautiful.” A branch-like chandelier by Lindsey Adelman hangs above a custom table by Camilla House.
The redesigned kitchen features a large island topped by two-inch-thick quartzite. Hardware-free cabinet fronts help give the room a sleek, clutter-free appearance. The matte black herringbone backsplash adds a subtle accent. “It keeps the look clean but adds texture,” says Montana.
A collage of palms and waterfalls by Nicole Franchy, which fills one wall of the kitchen, was the first piece of artwork Montana and Hayley purchased for the house. “There was this constant flow between us of discovering new artists,” says Montana. A tall bank of cabinetry is veneered in white oak, an earthy and grounding contrast to the white hues of the rest of the room.
The kitchen table was custom made by Toronto furniture designer Mary Ratcliffe using a variation of the Japanese shou sugi ban technique, in which boards are charred to create a hardy surface. Armchairs by Pierre Jeanneret and side chairs by Niels Otto Møller complete the balance of classic and contemporary.
Artist Alex Katz’s Ariel print adds a shock of red to the otherwise neutral family room. “It brings a little bit of the beach here without being a typical beach scene,” says Hayley.
One wall in the principal bedroom showcases a custom wallpaper mural made from a close-up photo of grasses. “It makes me feel like I’m in Tulum,” says Hayley. A woven bench, knit throw, speckled wool rug and thick linen drapes add touchable texture.
The principal ensuite includes a walk-in shower, marble accents and oversized black hexagonal floor tiles. “We really put a lot of effort into making it special,” says Hayley. It’s not a kid-free zone, though. “Everybody uses my bathroom,” she admits.
Hayley’s oldest son, Chase, relishes beach life as much as his mother, an enthusiasm that’s reflected in his room. “He’s big into surfing,” says Hayley, noting the surfboard triptych that hangs above his bed. Even the kids’ rooms stick to a black, white and natural palette.
A crib in son Jax’s room, nicknamed “the treehouse” for its leafy surroundings, can be accessed from all sides. A section of ceiling painted matte black provides playful contrast to the light streaming in from the windows, which are dressed with blackout drapery.
Throughout the summer, Hayley and her family make frequent use of the back deck’s lounge seating, barbecue area and dining table with seating for 12. “On weekends, everyone’s always over,” says Hayley. “We’re outside as much as we