All stories by Meaghan Binstock
The newest mini-gâteau from Nadège’s spring collection, the Kochi, is named after the Japanese city and prefecture—a nod to the cake’s yuzu flavour. The diminutive dessert, measuring in at only one-and-a-half inches wide by two-inches high, packs a lot into two perfect bites. We had Nadège Nourian, proprietress of the eponymous Queen West pâtisserie, deconstruct it for us.
Between shopping, tree-trimming and seasonal party-hopping, the holidays offer precious little time to relax. Having to stuff a 15-pound bird certainly doesn’t help. This year, avoid turkey (and the kitchen) by ordering in a different kind of dinner. Here, six unconventional holiday meals from some of the city’s top caterers.
Bar snacks are big right now, which means the finger-licking chicken wing is, too. Here, seven of the best chicken wings in Toronto
For years, Antje Bulthaup, an architectural designer, had her eye on a house with a fusty beauty salon on the ground floor and a two-storey residence on top. When the owner decided to sell, she pounced. “Since I’d dreamed about this building for so long, I was full of visions for it,” she says. During a 14-month reno, her crew ripped the main floor down to the studs. Bulthaup brought in Douglas fir planks from Denmark for flooring and designed oak-framed windows to swallow up the sun—perfect for the space’s reincarnation as a yoga studio.
Geoff Cullen, an ad executive, and his wife, Mieke, had two kids under five years of age and a suburban house with a dearth of functional space—and only one loo. Enter W Network’s Love It or List It, which snapped up their application for a before-and-after. (On the program, homeowners with space challenges go through a reno while simultaneously scoping out their options to move up the property ladder.) The show’s design team, Hilary Farr and Desta Ostapyk, zeroed in on the neglected basement, which was essentially unfinished. During a whirlwind TV-style two-week makeover, the Cullens got a laundry room, a much-needed second bathroom and an entertainment room with storage and a sectional that divides the living space from the kids’ play area. In other words, they didn’t list it.
In the past few years, upcycling has taken a high-end turn, with a spate of designers transforming trash-bound castoffs into splurge-worthy luxury items. One of our favourite indulgences comes from the South African firm REcreate, where designer Katie Thompson has turned an old faux snakeskin suitcase into a covetable throne swathed in button-tufted black velvet and supported by turned-wood legs. The chic, playful piece combines the whimsy of vintage, the sleekness of contemporary design and the quality of great craftsmanship. In the past, repurposing old junk was a practice born of economic necessity and enviro-friendly good will—nice sentiment, ramshackle results. But a luxe repurposed chair with plush upholstery and fine wood detailing? That’s something we can get behind. $942. recreate.za.net
When Kate Halpenny, a fundraiser, and Sean Smith, a banker, bought a dreary, oddly divided 1900s semi in the Beach, family members nearly fainted. “My mom actually cried,” says Halpenny. They embarked on an 18-month reno with architect Heather Dubbeldam, who envisioned an uncomplicated space that was functional for the couple’s kids, Kieran, now 8, and Charlotte, 6. The major project was to update a room-dissecting staircase—a common feature in the Beach’s older houses. Dubbeldam reversed the second-floor stairs to align with the first and added a budget-friendly transparent plastic wrap. Light filters down from a skylight in the master bedroom. In the end, the relatives were appeased. “It’s a delight when people walk in and see how spacious it has become,” says Halpenny.
In design circles in the 1970s, this midtown house was considered a momentous piece—the first notable reno by modernist architect Peter Hamilton. The house’s new owners, a doctor and an investment exec, loved the property’s multi-level concept but not its exposed heating ducts and glass blocks. They hired architect Ian MacDonald, who added soaring windows, removed walls, installed warm Brazilian cherry floors and relocated the living room and master bedroom to the back of the house for a view of the yard. Outdoors, there’s a new swimming pool, deck and fireplace. The four stainless steel chimneys that run the height of the home are MacDonald’s homage to Hamilton’s erstwhile ducts.
Not long ago, Emma Reddington and Myles McCutcheon—she’s an interior designer, he’s a photo editor—were on the hunt for a character-rich historic house in the west end. But they didn’t want to tear down too many walls to make it livable. They finally chose a tired but solid Roncey Victorian with original details, including a stained glass transom and a cast iron claw-foot tub. Reddington, co-owner of the firm Marion Melbourne and founder of the design blog The Marion House Book, planned a makeover that would highlight the home’s pedigree and reflect her vintage-meets-metropolitan style. She decided to sand and oil the oak floors and re-plaster and whitewash the faded yellow walls to create a neutral backdrop for her rustic decor. Many of these items were architectural reclamation finds from the Dundas West shop Post and Beam, and antiques from the St. Lawrence Market. The only room that was demolished was the kitchen, which gained a 36-inch industrial stove and an elegant Calacatta marble wall. Reddington designed a walnut shelving unit to give the room its warmth and painted one wall black for contrast. Her work on the house isn’t done; “We just flipped the dining room and living room,” Reddington says. They have a three-year-old son, Henry, and she’s redoing the guest room for baby number two. “If I live here for 20 years, it’ll be a 20-year project.”
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Interior designer Theresa Casey lives for large-scale projects. So when she and her husband, graphic designer Robert Gray, began a house hunt, her goal was “to buy a box and make it our own.” A 1930s brick Rosedale home with a forgettable interior was the ideal big, messy job. Among its dysfunctions: a cumbersome wall divided the main floor down the middle, and Moroccan arches made rooms heavy and funereal. The sole, tiny bathroom was at the top of the stairs. After the space was gutted, Casey sourced all-new decor and had much of it custom made. She explored a period design, mixing traditional elements with 1930s modernism. The master bath now has smoky, Old World glamour, with black glass and Negro Marquina marble, cherrywood accents and vintage brass faucets. The petite kitchen is modelled after the galley in a cabin on a luxury ocean liner, with Statuario marble and unlacquered brass. Casey brought in vintage hardware and custom cherry doors for all the entranceways. The dining room’s grillwork is salvaged from the Eaton’s College Park building (now the Carlu), another dramatic art deco touch.
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Situated on a 250-foot lot overlooking a ravine and the Humber River, Tom and Jenni Kapler’s 3,200-square-foot house in Baby Point had all the space in the world. But the 1940s home (where Tom grew up) just didn’t function for a family of five. It had an awkward layout: a collection of isolated, bizarrely proportioned rooms that felt confining, and small windows that diminished the ravine view. Architect Paul Raff started by updating the master bedroom and adding a large ensuite. Then he blew out the walls on the main floor to create a family-centric Bulthaup kitchen that’s three times the size of the original. Now, new glass doors lead out to the backyard. Raff also reimagined the living room as a modern entertainment space with a limestone fireplace and built-in shelving (joined to a picture rail) that covers up the old radiators. During the lengthy construction, the Kaplers practically cohabitated with the contractors and constantly moved around to avoid the cordoned-off areas. For a stretch, they set up a cooking area in the laundry room. “The kids totally adapted,” says Tom. “It was kind of like camping.” Read the rest of this entry »
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