This Vibrant Family Home Proves Small Changes Can Make A Big Impact
Without hiring a dumpster or moving a single wall, Toronto designer Shirley Meisels of MHouse resuscitated a family’s tired, turn-of-the-century home in midtown Toronto with creative thinking (ombré cabinetry!) and bold moves (wallpaper on the ceiling!). “People are always amazed at what they can do with what they already have,” says the designer.
The homeowners are a busy professional couple with three young boys, ages 5, 8 and 9, who’ve lived in the 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house (alongside a hamster named Hummingbird and various tropical fish) for almost four years. “We wanted to graduate to a more sophisticated, grown-up space where we could entertain and relax,” says the homeowner. But they didn’t want the changes to feel out-of-the-box new. So, rather than jettison the past, Shirley set out to rearrange, reupholster, repaint and rejuvenate the house with clever infusions of color, pattern and personality.
Click through to tour this vibrant family home!
Removing an old radiator in the formerly dark and uninviting entrance hallway provided space for a simple welcome-home bench where family and guests can comfortably take off their shoes.
“Since we don’t have a mudroom, we needed a place for stuff like hats, gloves and knapsacks,” says the homeowner. A custom-made console designed to corral clutter gives the entrance a stylish storage solution.
A splash of colorful wallpaper installed on the ceiling of the vestibule is an inexpensive and creative way to suggest that the style beyond is more “ta-da!” than blah.
A pair of red velvet Beetle lounge chairs and a stretch limo-length cream sofa define the living room’s sophisticated new look.
A vintage armchair the homeowners didn’t want to part with was given a cheerful new look with multicolored striped upholstery.
Open to the adjacent living room, the family’s sunny dining area is ground zero for dinner parties, family meals and homework. Wraparound windows and heated wide-plank oak flooring add light and comfort. Books, and a few toys and games are stashed in new built-in cabinetry with doors Shirley (pictured) had painted with an ombré effect for a mod yet pretty look. Rather than replace the family’s perfectly good table, the designer updated it with a matching set of mid-century modern chairs.
The homeowners wanted the updated kitchen backsplash tile to suit the age of the house — “as though it had always been here,” says Shirley. A swathe of white hexagonal tile from counter to ceiling creates a perfect new-old vibe.
A sculptural brass light fixture emphasizes the kitchen’s nine-foot-high ceiling and adds a vintage, bistro feel.
A cabinet precisely tailored to the homeowners’ glassware and spirits acts as a rolling bar cart that effortlessly moves from kitchen to living room for cocktails.
The den’s dark navy walls and feet-up furniture create a cozy, quiet space the family can retreat to. The mobile-style light fixture ups the room’s snug feel. “When there are high ceilings, interesting overhead lighting fills the space and adds drama,” says Shirley.
Built-in bookshelves and a mid-century modern chair create a peaceful reading nook. With the help of Toronto art advisor Stefan Hancherow, the homeowners have built a vibrant collection of modern Canadian art, including a colorful work (left) by Monica Tap.
Wallpaper in a graphic fish pattern adds personality to the home’s powder room. Black subway tiles are easy to maintain and accent the room’s tailored lines.
Colorful striped drapery, floral linens, a zigzag rug and bright honeycomb-shaped ottoman tables create a playful space for the homeowners’ sons
Linens in a casual mix of patterns and fresh colors provide a calming palette in the principal bedroom. An artwork above the bed injects childlike whimsy. “Each owl has its own personality, and it reminds us of our three uniquely different boys,” says the homeowner.