Text Lisa Stevens | Photography Brandon Barre | Produced by Canadian Home Trends
This Georgian home was lovely and traditional but rather formal and it was transformed into an airy, cosmopolitan home that became a personal expression of its current owners, Chef David Lee and Realtor Jennifer O’Brien.
Being solidly built and restored over the years, with carefully selected interior architectural details – from the trim work right through to the door hardware – this house seemed, nonetheless, from a different time period where formal interactions between family, friends and neighbours were the norm. David and Jennifer, while immersed in creative culture and style, are warm, engaging and personal in their everyday lives. Our goal for this project was to respect, refresh and amplify the classic framework of the home while interjecting the homeowners’ sense of style.
The design project felt more like a chemical peel than a full face-lift. We sanded away the stenciled, decorative Damask wall finishes and stripped away toile wall covering, replacing all with a symphony of creamy white linen and pewter shades traveling throughout the house. The gold toned oak floors were sanded and refinished to reveal a natural grey-white oak.
In the kitchen, the heart of the house for this chef (and his only-slightly-less-proficient wife) provencal yellow glazed cabinets were stripped and re-painted in clear tones of creamy white and celadon. This colour selection, along with an updated grey glazed crackle subway tile, rejuvenated the look of the sea-green marble counter surfaces.
To illuminate the new interior, the existing yellow glow of incandescent, recessed lights were replaced with the clear, white sparkle of halogen lights.
As for the decorative lighting, gone were the lovely – but not for this home – antique gilt sconces and hanging lights, replaced by a selection of sculptural lighting. All of this, personally selected by Jennifer (with some designer conversations and guidance, of course!). This included pieces made from exterior architectural elements, from European railings, to street lanterns, or artful creations by the likes of Lindsey Adelman and BDDW. Jennifer’s beautiful antique crystal chandelier still graces the dining room, providing a romantic counterpoint to the remainder of the room.
Similarly swagged, trimmed and tasseled patterned draperies were abandoned for simple rendered curtains and blinds in a selection of linen, silk and wool sheer fabrics.
A considerable mix of furnishings from their previous home alongside a collection of new pieces (both modern and antique) provided the framework for the décor of the home. Comfortable lines of generously upholstered goods are seen in counterpoint with tailored, even austere, wood and metal pieces. Each new custom furnishing was carefully chosen, and designed (and many locally-built, by artisans who are truly passionate for their craft).
Admittedly, the décor of this home is in constant, ongoing development by the homeowners. It is never too full, nor complete enough, to preclude the addition of some original pieces that might strike either the designer’s or the homeowners’ eye, while traveling. An ever-changing selection of books, decorative objects and artwork are such personal selections (of both high design and witty, even quirky, vintage provenance) that it is impossible not to see the nature and character of the family all around.
From a before-and-after perspective, it seems possible that the transformation of this house mirrors the nature of what our collective concept of home has become. Now, it is rooted in classic architectural concepts and proportions, generously layered with comfort, simplicity and artfulness, with a dash or a dollop of personal style, history and life evident in every corner.
Kitchen: Roman Shade Fabric, Y&Co, ycocarpet.com; Lantern, 507 antiques, 507antiques.com; Antique Tressel Table, 507 antiques, 507antiques.com; Forged Iron Benches, LS&Co custom, lisastevensco.com; Proto-Type “Sprung” Stool, John Tong, tongtong.co; Designed by, Lisa Stevens, lisastevensco.com
Dining Room: Handmade Solid Oak Harvest Table, LS&Co custom, lisastevensco.com; Drapery Fabric, Great Plains through Primavera, primavera.ca; Carpet, Elte. elte.com; Chairs, Avenue Road, avenue-road.com; Designed by, Lisa Stevens, lisastevensco.com
Living Room: All Upholstery, LS&Co. custom, lisastevensco.com; Sheer Wool for Drapery: Laura Linehardt through Y&Co, ycocarpet.com; Extendible Walnut Coffee Table, LS&Co. custom, lisastevensco.com; Floor Lamp, Roll&Hill through Hollace Cluny, hollacecluny.ca; Solid Wood Chunk Tables, Brent Comber through Nienkamper, nienkamper.com; Carpet, Elte, elte.com; Vintage Leather Side Chairs, Kantelberg & Co., kantelbergco.com; Silver-Leafed Forged Cocktail Tables with Limestone Tops, LS&Co custom, lisastevensco.com; Antique Empire Table, John Young Galleries, johnyounggallery.com; Swimmer Artwork, Elizabeth Lennie through Art Interiors, artinteriors.ca; Designed by, Lisa Stevens, lisastevensco.com