October 2013

AS FALL BREEZES IN WITH ITS CRISP WEATHER AND COLOURFUL VISTAS, OUR THOUGHTS TURN TO COZY TEXTURES AND A WARM MIX OF OLD AND NEW PERFECT FOR RESTFUL DAYS AT HOME.

Good design doesn’t always announce itself with pattern, paint or wow-factor wallpaper. Sometimes, it’s just about the way the eye moves around a room, skimming over a surface, pausing to take in the shimmer of crystal or mirror, then moving outward to the source of natural light. It’s found in the marriage of materials and the combination of finishes — and it’s the way Toronto designer Ingrid Oomen of Qummunicate approaches every project. «You have to focus on how things work together,» she says. «Not every piece can say, ‘look at me.'»

When approached by a couple to rethink the layout of their 3,000-square-foot Edwardian home that had been «sliced and diced» into three apartments, Ingrid focused on space planning before style. After all, these two busy parents with two kids wanted the home to accommodate a growing family (they’ve since had their third child). «I focused on the family’s needs, both now and in the future,» says Ingrid. «For me, form follows function.» She recommended increasing the home’s square footage by removing the back of the house and building an addition that would contain an open kitchen and family room and an additional bedroom and bathroom upstairs, giving the family room to grow.

With the structure established, Ingrid moved on to the style. She and the homeowner agreed the best approach was to highlight the home’s traditional bones while adding some playful, modern touches. «I definitely have a look that I gravitate to, but the homeowner was pulling me toward a more lively feel,» says Ingrid. «It was a great collaboration and we ended up with something we’re both happy with.»

The inviting kitchen showcases the perfect meeting of design minds. Mid-tone floors in quarter-sawn oak provide a warm counterpoint for white walls and cabinetry. Shaker panels with nickel hardware are a traditional foil for the backsplash’s unique marble with its beautiful veining. «The marble is subtle and expresses the homeowner’s personality,» says Ingrid. To ground all the white tones, Ingrid chose black honed marble for the island countertop.

Throughout the house, substantial doors and fireplace mantels, refreshed with a coat of paint, add character. In the case of the two-way door between the kitchen and the dining room, the homeowner suggested adding a porthole, which she sourced through a boating supply company. «It lends a restaurant feel that I thought had some whimsy but in a sophisticated way,» says Ingrid.

Post-reno, the home’s primary living spaces feel comfortable and lived-in. Ingrid dressed the family room fireplace with marble tiles for a dash of exotic flair, while a gallery of family photos offers energy, as do a few splashes of apple green.

With the right combination of quiet corners and look-at-me moments, Ingrid’s design for the house will suit the family for years to come. «It’s a young family living in an old house,» she says, «and the interior reflects that now.»

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