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Some newlyweds cobble together a ragtag collection of furnishings in the early years of their married life, but Brodie Lawson didn’t want a stop-gap measure in her first official married home.
Snatching up temporary tables from whatever online retailer was shipping during the pandemic was out of the question, says Lawson, who got married to Garrett Moore, who works in finance, in December 2020, at the end of a very strange year.
“I don’t have a designer’s eye,” says Lawson, a sportscaster. “Why get crappy furniture that will only be replaced later? I don’t want to create waste for the environment.”
And so the couple — who have a mini Goldendoodle named Minnie along with a young son — entrusted their three-bedroom Tudor home in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood to Kelly Lynn Armstrong and Laura Collins of LC & Kel Interiors. The interior designers were hired for a refresh that gradually morphed into a down-to-the-studs renovation.
“I like very traditional formal spaces and grandmillennial style,” says Lawson – or “granny chic” as the kids are calling it, which puts a fresh spin on old pieces, mixing cane furniture, faux bamboo, wing chairs, chandeliers and chintz.
But she didn’t want a look that was precious or fussy. “I wanted a streamlined kitchen. Kelly and Laura were able to blend two styles beautifully: clean and bright and California-y — a look that is my heart — and the blue and white and green and preppy-to-the-max vibe that’s also so me. I was always asking, ‘Where can we add a ribbon, a pleated lampshade, a chinoiserie vase?’”
Lawson admits Laura and Kelly Lynn were “getting conflicting information.”
On top of that, the designers were initially hired only to smarten up the living and dining room. But midway through, with the rooms dressed, the couple had a financial windfall. So the designers were asked to dismantle what they’d started in order to start construction, now that the budget to fund a full renovation was available.
“We had to reverse engineer everything,” laughs Collins, who says “it was important to honour the integrity of the old home and restore and enhance it.”
Adds Armstrong, “People tend to neutralize and modernize these spaces. We shifted around the layout and kept the original flavour of the home.”
Stained glass windows were retained as a nod to the house’s history. Outside, dentil moulding underneath the roofline was buffed up and repeated in the living room’s reconstructed fireplace. Together with the posts on the porch and the shingles, “the house is very Nantuckety,” says Collins.
Blue and white — gateway colours to Cape Cod style — are woven throughout: “Ethan Allen X-benches from the 1960s sit by the fireplace,” says Collins. “They were too quirky so we redid them in a punchy patterned fabric.” A pair of blue-and-white traditional chairs Lawson inherited were thrown into the mix. Vases, textiles and pillows, also in shades of blue and cream, recall the beach. Sweeping full-length drapes are edged in blue. For cohesion the palette is carried to the principal bedroom, too.
“We added more storage in there,” says Collins, referring to a bank of closets with display cubbies. “And since I became a parent, I appreciate a sitting situation in every room.” Hence the window seat. The adjoining bathroom was made over with a tub and wood vanity.
“That notched-out shelving in the bathroom was an exterior window original to the home. It was framed out, so we utilized it,” says Armstrong, noting “the space was modelled after a boutique hotel in New York City.”
But the real magnificence happens on the main floor: The designers nixed the ’90s honeyed-wood galley kitchen. Splashed across the rear is its replacement, a Shaker-doored showstopper by Thorncrest Kitchens. “It’s a touch taupe” for warmth, says Collins. Brass hardware, a HanStone quartz backsplash and countertops, a seamless ledge and traditional lighting are elements of the space. A whale of an island — complete with fridge drawers — has plush stools.
“We went to Cocoon Furnishings to test them out in the parking lot to make sure we could sit for hours working from home,” says Lawson, who says they were a splurge but she was serious about buying only forever pieces.
Lighting was key to the space, too. “We try not to use pot lights,” says Armstrong of the mix of library pendants and sconces. “Having warm lighting is everything to create a nice ambience.”
The entire effect of which is a kitchen that’s timeless, sturdy and classic. Like a solid marriage, there’s nothing temporary about it.