Designer Parris McKenna’s approach to this Toronto home was an artful blend of old-meets-new: “Rooted in an Eclectic aesthetic, we paired historical and traditional styles with modern elements to put a fresh spin on something you might find in old European homes and cottages,” she shares. Taking a peek at the kitchen and bathroom, you’ll find bold tile choices, textural details, and inspiration at every turn. 

Tell us about this home. Where is it located?
The project location was a lovely, spacious semi-detached home in the Upper Beaches neighborhood in Toronto that had a ton of potential and zero existing character save the original brick fireplace in the living room. After several piecemeal renovations during different owners’ time in the home, there was much left to be desired when our clients purchased it. In Toronto, though, buying a home (especially in recent years) has been incredibly difficult – the market is constantly on fire and there are often multiple bids and bidding wars on houses for sale. While the home technically checked the necessary boxes, the main allure was the location. Close to the beach and the shores of Lake Ontario and dotted with cafes and boutiques nearby, they purchased the home knowing the area couldn’t be beat and that the home had potential to become a space that reflected them.

We’d love to know more about your clients!
I met these clients in the summer of 2021 and we had an instant connection. The husband, an advertising exec, and the wife, a labor & delivery nurse, are an incredibly down to earth and overall fun couple to be around. They were expecting their first baby, and they wanted to get the big-ticket renovations completed before his arrival. They bought this home with the intention of updating it but didn’t know where to start. They wanted a space that reflected their personalities but also allowed for them to maximize enjoyment in their space (i.e a more functional kitchen because they love to cook, a better flowing bathroom with a tub because the wife loves to take long baths, etc.). They wanted to start and grow their family in this home and needed to plan with the future in mind when designing the spaces slated for renovation. My favorite part about working with them was that they were open to anything; they didn’t have any preconceived visions or Pinterest boards that dictated the design. They had different ideas of inspiration but put their full trust in me as their designer. This allowed me to exercise a high level of creativity and push them outside their comfort zone to design spaces that had longevity but that weren’t run of the mill.

The bathroom and kitchen feel unique and not beholden to one style. How do you describe the space?
While the kitchen showcases more bold and contrasting colors, the bathroom plays on various shades of creams and browns. We ensured continuity in the two spaces and overall cohesion between the two floors by using the same tile for the kitchen backsplash and the bathroom wall tiles, only in different colours. We used grey countertops in both the kitchen and bathroom, with a deeper and veinier grey in the kitchen and a concrete finish in the bathroom. We used brass fixtures throughout, and rich wood tones in both the kitchen shelving and the bathroom vanity to exude warmth and elegance.

Did this project have any challenges? If so, could you tell us how you overcame a few of the hurdles?
This may be one of the only projects I’ve worked on that didn’t have any major challenges. There were inconsequential things here and there, but the only real issue arose when a portion of the kitchen wall was removed and the flooring was taken up. Galen and his team from Echo Rock Contracting noticed the post within the wall didn’t have proper footings, which was a great thing to catch. The crew was able to reinforce the post and add a beam in the floor to help carry the load over the basement, and that was the end of that problem! You never know what you’ll find once the walls come down and the floors come up – it’s always a bit of a breath holding moment until the demo is complete. We were very lucky to have a mostly challenge-free project, which allowed us to stay on time and on budget.

How long did the project take, and what did the client say when they saw the finished space?
The project took just over 4 months, starting in late February and wrapping up in early June. We wrapped up just in time for my clients’ baby shower (literally the day before) and I got a text from them the day of the shower saying how in love they were with everything. That kind of feedback is always the goal, but the best part about their note was that they said showing off their new renovation during the shower made them feel so proud that this was their house. To me, that is the ultimate compliment. They were thrilled with the outcome and just so grateful, and they couldn’t believe that they got to live there. This was truly one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on to date.