Breath­ing space

An all-white pal­ette ex­pands the hori­zons of what’s pos­si­ble in a small city home.

Style at Home Big Style for small spaces - - Contents - text Kath­leen Dore pho­tog­ra­phy Stacey Van Berkel

An all-white pal­ette ex­pands the hori­zons of what’s pos­si­ble in a com­pact city home

1. Pare to Per­fec­tion

“Less is more” is a fa­mil­iar small space re­frain – and for good rea­son. Our home & style direc­tor Ann Marie Favot loves the Eero Saari­nen din­ing ta­ble, she says, be­cause “it’s a pedestal – fewer legs, less chaos. It’s airy look­ing.” The back-to­ba­sics form of the chairs also ex­em­pli­fies un­clut­tered de­sign, while an over­sized mir­ror makes max­i­mum im­pact. “The mir­ror de­fined the space, cre­at­ing a vis­ual sep­a­ra­tion from the liv­ing area, and helped the room look big­ger by re­flect­ing all the white,” she says, which was key in the win­dow­less zone. Round­ing out the fur­nish­ings, a small con­sole that was less hefty than a cab­i­net cre­ated a chic spot for dis­play.

2. Cre­ate Com­fort With­out Crowd­ing

In a nar­row house with small rooms, it’s es­sen­tial to have enough space to nav­i­gate through, but to also achieve a cozy vibe. “The din­ing room bench [against the stair wall] was lit­tle, so you could walk by, but it was so use­ful,” says Ann Marie. It could be pulled into the liv­ing and din­ing ar­eas for guest seat­ing and was close to the front door for sit­ting on while putting on shoes. A vin­tage wash­stand with a mir­ror at the bot­tom of the stairs by the door of­fered a table­top for keys and draw­ers for mitts. Ann Marie painted the stairs white to help make them fade into the back­ground. “And they were su­per easy to wipe clean,” she says.

Our amaz­ing

home & style direc­tor Ann Marie Favot is, more than most peo­ple, sur­rounded by colour, pat­tern and a myr­iad of ob­jects ev­ery work­day. What she needed at home was the op­po­site – a place to ex­hale. All white was the seren­ity-now so­lu­tion she used to vis­ually ex­pand her for­mer house, a nar­row 974-square-foot Toronto home. “It was just so… ah­h­hhh,” she says. “There wasn’t any vis­ual noise, and the clean pal­ette was so sooth­ing.” Ann Marie’s ad­vice on how to make an all-white abode tran­quil (not ster­ile) will have small space dwellers ev­ery­where echo­ing her deep sigh of con­tent­ment.

3. Ex­pand the Tonal Range

Even though white vis­ually en­larges a space, ex­e­cuted im­prop­erly this sin­gle hue can be bor­ing or off-putting. Ann Marie’s se­cret to cre­at­ing a wel­com­ing and calm­but-not-cold space is three­fold: Add tex­ture, keep it un­clut­tered and em­ploy a va­ri­ety of shades. “I used a bunch of dif­fer­ent in­ten­si­ties and un­der­tones,” she says. The cus­tom chairs are a bright white linen, while the sofa’s a nat­u­ral flax linen, and vel­vet cush­ions in pale grey added a cooler tone and dif­fer­ent tex­ture. Up­hol­stery is trim and tai­lored. Cru­cially, the room wasn’t over­stuffed with fur­ni­ture or ob­jects, which achieves the light and bright feel­ing Ann Marie loves.

“You don’t want too many ob­jects in a small space ar­range­ment. Pick pieces that work well to­gether, vary­ing scale, shape and height.”

4. Don’t In­ter­rupt

Kitchens are busy rooms, with many dif­fer­ent el­e­ments at play. In this cook­ing space, the pale scheme lends har­mony. “I wanted it to be seam­less,” says Ann Marie, who opted to keep the white ap­pli­ances and cab­i­netry but re­placed the coun­ter­tops and painted the walls a bright grey-white that echoes the new mar­ble back­splash. She also swapped out the sink and faucet and in­stalled clear glass doors on two up­per cab­i­nets to open up the room and dis­play her dish­ware. A pe­tite glass pen­dant light over the sink added more than task light­ing. “I needed to have a pretty shape up there,” says Ann Marie. “The room would have been too sim­ple with­out it.”

5. Em­brace All Shapes

Ann Marie even opted for all-white art and ac­ces­sories. “I didn’t want colour on the walls,” she says. “I love the bare ef­fect.” She only dis­plays favourite ob­jects, ar­rang­ing them in des­ig­nated group­ings (on a white-painted tray and on the float­ing shelves, which were painted the same as the wall colour). Her tip: Vary tex­ture and shape for in­ter­est. The ot­toman did triple-duty: “It worked as ex­tra seat­ing, a spot to dis­play and a place to put up your feet af­ter a long day,” she says.

6. Count(er) Care­fully

Ann Marie eked out space for bar stools by in­cor­po­rat­ing a bit of an over­hang on the ex­ist­ing penin­sula’s new coun­ter­top, all the while mak­ing sure the walk­ways in the work zone around the fridge, stove and sink were free and clear for easy move­ment. The deep brown stain on all the floors down­stairs “el­e­vated the de­sign and made it look richer,” says Ann Marie.

7. Let Lux­ury Lead

Beds take up not only square footage but also most of the vis­ual space in a small bed­room, so white linens were a must. “Imag­ine if I’d used navy – it would have sucked the light out of the room,” says Ann Marie. Lay­ers of luxe bedding backed by a linen head­board made the bed ap­pear to float in the sooth­ing space. A softly pleated linen skirt hid an ar­ray of stored items. Wallto-wall car­pet­ing brought unity to pre­vi­ously dis­parate floor fin­ishes up­stairs. “Hav­ing car­pet in the bed­room is the best thing be­cause it keeps the room warm, cozy and lux­u­ri­ous,” says Ann Marie. “It’s dreamy.”

8. Add Va­ri­ety

In a neu­tral bed­room, hav­ing the same style of dresser in stag­gered heights “is more in­ter­est­ing than one long dresser,” says Ann Marie. The com­pact pieces pro­vided tons of much-needed stor­age. She placed a large mir­ror on the shorter dresser and bal­anced it with two small pieces of art above the taller one.

9. Get Pretty Prac­ti­cal

Grey tiles made more sense than wood or white tiles for the mud­room, which of­ten gets wet and messy, and luck­ily these lime­stone-look ce­ramic tiles were a bar­gain. Ann Marie in­stalled the squares in a brick pat­tern. “It cre­ated more move­ment for the eye than a grid, which would have chopped up the room and made it feel smaller,” she says. Left­over wall­pa­per from the bed­room added a pretty, fem­i­nine feel. Hooks were a space-spac­ing must-have.

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