Modern Design for a Traditional Home

By Jane Lockhart, BAAID

When homeowners Danica and Derek were touring houses in search of a new home, they walked into the backyard of this Etobicoke property and fell instantly in love. Situated on a huge mature garden lot bordering on a golf course, they were won over by the park-like setting. They were so entranced that they were ready to make an offer before they had even looked at the traditional house on the property.

While both prefer a more modern style, the couple took stock of all the house’s positive features. It had “great bones”—the large principal rooms with original oak floors were in excellent condition and the recently updated kitchen, even if it was in a traditional style, was an added bonus. Ultimately, they knew that the one-of-a-kind setting couldn’t be duplicated but that the house, in time, could be transformed to reflect their style and become their dream home. They made an offer and soon the house was theirs.

hf-design2No reno required
Once they had moved in, Danica and Derek decided to give things a more contemporary feel. Without renovating the structure, and keeping the original features in place, the goal was to add a modern flair using décor.

The walls were originally a beige colour, which didn’t work with the couple’s dark grey and black furniture. For an instant transformation, a contrasting white paint in a matte finish was used. The baseboards and crown moulding got the same colour treatment with an added hint of sheen. The oak floors added a rich, warm tone, preventing the cool colours from appearing too stark. The mantel was typically traditional so it was treated with a contrasting grey—an unexpected choice that instantly updated the fireplace. Modern furnishings, including low-slung, leather-covered side chairs and two boxy sofas kept the lines clean and sleek, while mixed-metal tables added a touch of shine.

Art and décor statements
Although these homeowners are art lovers, they don’t necessarily share the same taste. Derek loves colourful works by Indigenous peoples, while Danica loves colourful abstracts; colour being the common denominator. Along with bold, full-statement accessories, colour brings harmony and draws the eye around a room. Window blinds match the wall colour, but the formal border on the full drapery adds the right amount of sophistication and softness to make the room cozy.

The dining room is open to both the living and family rooms, creating a nice flow on the main floor. The homeowners love to entertain and wanted the dining space to feel comfortable, not fussy. Down came the crystal chandelier and up went a whimsical, orb-shaped metal light fixture with Edison bulbs in the dining room. It playfully complements the metal base of the custom-designed, raw-edged walnut table.

Full-sized, upholstered dining chairs flank two sides of the table and cool teal armchairs helm the ends. The custom-made walnut sideboard plays host to the homeowners’ collection of antique and contemporary decanters, while modern art takes centre-stage on the focal wall. A common factor in both modern and traditional design is scale. Large artwork helps to create balance in any room.

Contemporary doesn’t have to mean cold. By adding soft textures and comfortable seating, modern can be both inviting and warm. This property’s new family room is a good example of modern style with its hair down. Working with built-ins and niches, colourful, custom-made art, artifacts and antiquities create points of interest throughout the room. A boxy sectional is accompanied by a modern interpretation of wingback chairs flanking the fireplace, and the television gets to be the focal point here.

Now that the main floor has been infused with modern style, curated accessories, colour and warmth, the house is almost as perfect as their great backyard. Almost.