PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
Designer helps family create a custom-looking home with little or no extra cost
There are aspects of their home Christa and Dave Rosser never would have chosen on their own.
There are elements that look high-end custom-made that cost very little. There is a unity to the style of the house from room to room, floor to floor and inside to outdoors.
Those are the visible benefits they discovered using a professional designer. The intangible advantages are just as important.
Although they had built two previous homes on their own, the Rossers tackled a third one two years ago. Dave’s own carpentry business was keeping him busy with long hours.
“It was pretty chaotic,” said Christa. And they both had definite ideas of what they wanted in the new house, not necessarily the same.
They also knew from experience how much time and thought goes into selecting all the surface materials and design elements of a new build and all the trips to stores to check out products.
“It can be overwhelming. There are so many choices,” said Christa. “I tend to second-guess my choices.”
So they decided to enlist the help of London, Ont., designer Rebecca Courey. Dave had worked with her on projects and knew she could incorporate their style preferences.
“She came to the house, saw our style, asked questions, looked at my Pinterest board and put together an inspiration book,” said Christa, a mother of three.
The couple’s furnishings were mostly creams, whites and neutrals and they wanted to add more colour in their new home. Dave wanted a blue/grey kitchen. Christa described their style as transitional — “nothing too modern but more modern than traditional and something that feels homey.”
They also wanted something that suited their young family, but looked great for entertaining adult friends.
“When you do something on your own, you’re often choosing a look that will be done in five years,” said Christa. “A designer knows what will work now and still be good in 10 years. When you’re spending that much money, it’s a huge investment and you want to do it once and do it right. Hiring a professional gives you those results.”
Dave sees plenty of inspirational design because he provides builtins for builders.
“I also see people who think they want something but once it’s executed, it’s not what they thought. Working with a designer makes everything easier. They know what something will look like. And you’re not spending hours and hours in stores.”
A third party can also navigate differing opinions. “There wasn’t the stress of pitching things between us. We didn’t fight over things,” Dave said.
“It’s hard when both can’t envision something,” added Christa. “Becky could show us options and pictures. She really understood our style and what we were going for. Just picking paint colours can be difficult. How often do you pick a colour, put it on the wall and it is not what you thought.”
Another benefit the Rossers cite is their style carries through the entire property.
“The biggest thing we noticed is Becky made the whole house cohesive,” Christa said.
“And she made it work with what we had,” added Dave.
They also say they haven’t had the details before that make the house look custom. The ceiling in the kitchen/living/dining room is a darker wood than the flooring, runs in the opposite direction and is set off by white beams. It’s a good foil for the light furnishing and makes the colour of the cabinets stand out.
White built-in display shelves and cabinets flank the fireplace. The cabinets are great to stash toys out of sight when visitors arrive. The back of the open shelves are painted a dark charcoal which makes the objects pop with presence.
“The insets are a different colour but it didn’t cost more to get a different look,” Christa said. “Young families want their money to go as far as possible. There are ways of doing things that do not cost more but give a different look.”
Another detail is the millwork delineating the dining area. Horizontal lines echo the kitchen cabinets and add an elegant accent.
“We would never have thought of it,” Christa said. “It took Dave half an hour to do. It gives a different texture.”
Courey also changed the layout of the kitchen. Christa wanted a double-door pantry with the fridge and stove along the long wall. Courey showed them it was better visually to centre the range and hood, place the fridge on the other wall beside the pantry. As well as looking great from the living area, it gives the kids easy access to snacks without getting in the way of the cook. “I’m so glad she got me to do it. I really like the backsplash. It’s white but it’s textured,” said Christa. It spans between two small drywall sections that define the area. “It feels custom at no extra cost.”
They didn’t know what to expect with the lights over the island. Usually two or three fixtures are hung in a row, but Courey clustered three over-sized open metal pieces to create the effect of a light sculpture.
“I love it. It sticks out,” said Christa.
The mud room, coming in from the garage, is organized for everyone’s gear. Stripes painted in the colours from the rest of the house illustrate how well the palette works together. Wooden spools act as hooks for coats.
“That outside-the-box feel adds more character to each room,” said Christa.
One wall in their office is covered in flooring laid in a decorative pattern. “I would never have thought of it. Most people go for four plain walls,” Christa said.
The spool motif appears in the stair spindles and area carpet in the entry. Christa didn’t think she would like the chandelier, but once installed, loved it. She also raves about the hammered metal wallpaper and carpet runner going up the stairs: “I love all the details.”
In the master ensuite, a wall of zigzag striped tile is another example of custom style at minimum cost. Cream floor tiles frame a section laid in a pattern, providing a feature in front of the vanity. The countertop is 7.5 centimetres deep, adding height for a shelf below the usual drawers and cabinets.
On the lower level, a wall of builtin cabinets hide electrical panels in the kids’ family room.
Outside, Courey helped the Rossers choose stone to flow into the concrete surrounding the pool, and arrange cooking, eating and sitting areas.
Dave and Christa Rosser with children, Nolan, 8, Aidan, 2, and Drew, 5 are happy in their home designed with the expert help of Rebecca Courey.
The master ensuite features a wall of striped tile, a custom style at minimum cost, suggested by designer Rebecca Courey.
Patio stones flow into the concrete surrounding the pool area.