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