Who: Jane Hall, a designer known for her anti-cookie-cutter, colourful interiors and custom furniture (she’s been in the business for 35 years!)
The living room with custom pieces and hand painted ottoman; All photos by Harry Gils
What: The home was built in the early 1940s. What’s interesting is that the homes in this area were designed by woman architects, as all the men were away at war. One of the things I loved about it was it had all of the 40’s detailing, the scalloped window trim, the rounded fireplace, the great molding. It inspired me to think about that period of design.
Where: Toronto’s east end
Why: The most recent design of Jane’s home is a unique, feminine and layered look inspired by Paris, Coco Chanel, texture, colour and fabric. We know that many interiors are all white walls with pops of colour and once we saw Jane’s eclectic home, we had to include it! Plus, Jane shares excellent tips on how to bring colour into your own home below.
Living room looking into the dining area
HGTV: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? How you would describe your style?
Jane: For the past 35 years, I have been championing the use of colour, pattern and texture, using exclusive European fabric lines such as Designers Guild, Osborne and Little, Pierre Frey, Manuel Canovas, as the Europeans use colour and pattern much more liberally then the North Americans do. I play with fabric to create one-of-a-kind pieces out of reclaimed, refurbished and recycled furniture. I am also known for my unique custom draperies, bedding, cushions, signature lamps and shades, painted furniture, as well as one-of-a-kind accessories and original art.
My extensive experience in textile design, fine art, interior design, colour and fashion is reflected in my singular aesthetic approach. I have built a reputation for whimsical, exuberant design. It continues to grow and it reflects ever-increasing consumer disenchantment with mass produced, cookie-cutter goods for the home, and an escalating appetite for enduring — and eclectic — pieces. I have always stepped outside the box, and I provide people with items that are made locally by my talented elves, and you can have it in any colour in the rainbow.
Looking into the living room
HGTV: While your home is very colourful, your living room is black. But with the hot pink dining nook and lime and pink accents, it doesn’t seem dark. How did you decide on your colour scheme?
Jane: I love the drama of black set off against a white. It’s a great foil to colour, pastels, saturated passionate colours or clear “flirt” colours. You can never go wrong with a colour scheme that starts with black and white. It’s timeless and yet totally modern at the same time.
I was also totally inspired by the fabric, which is often how it starts. The absolutely most exciting thing about fabric is it is all about colour, but it has the added dimension of pattern and texture. I have used a mix of cut velvets, printed silks, and the most incredible piece of Designers Guild heavy, ballroom gown weight embroidered silk and cotton mix on the antique settee, that makes me drool every time I touch it.
The antique settee
Jane: The living room black is a Sherwin Williams warm matte black called Black Magic, and the attached dining room and accent wall is Sherwin Williams Exuberant Pink. A colour never has to be dark, if it’s adequately light, and set off with right fabrics and accessories. I have six lamps in the room and no overhead lighting. I also use lots of sparkly crystal and mirrors for the light to reflect in.
HGTV: You design custom furniture, which pieces are yours?
Jane: Actually all the items in the rooms come from my store or from one of my favourite vintage stores where I source the pieces I restore or collect. The ottoman in the living room has been covered in canvas and hand painted. The side tables, display case and dining table are all vintage finds that have been hand painted.
The dining room chandeliers come from a supplier in Montreal who uses antique chandeliers and custom dyes the piece with the crystals to your specification. The candelabra is 1920’s Parisian, and the black and white carpets are part of a collection are designed by a Canadian designer Judith Gueth which are available at the store. The black lacquered furniture came out of an estate of a Canadian artist and was designed and made by a Canadian company in the 1950’s.
Lots of reflective surfaces keep the room bright
HGTV: Who are some of the designers you look up to? Were you inspired by anyone or any style in particular?
Jane: I have always been inspired by [British designer and founder of Designer Guild] Tricia Guild, who has the sense of colour and pattern as I do which is why I love her fabric so much. We have been in the design business for about the same amount of time and we both started out working with designing and making our own fabric.
I am also very inspired by the designers of the past have recently been doing a History of Interior Design on my blog, and somehow through osmosis I found out that my style has elements of all the early 20th century pioneers without knowing it.
The Coco-Chanel inspired bedroom
HGTV: The bedroom is also pink and black, but in a softer palette. And that rug looks so luxurious. What do you enjoy about this room the most?
Jane: I am often inspired by great visual movies and often design collections around them. With a trip to Paris last year and three films out about Coco Chanel, I was inspired by her signature black white and pink classic colour scheme, and her use of different scale and patterns in [those colours]. A mix of different stripes gingham checks, damasks, and polka dots are used on the drapes, settee, cushions, and lampshades.
I also found these fantastic large scale lamp bases with gilded gold leaves which brought in the touch of gold which is also a very Coco Chanel element that she used in her accessories. I made the lampshades out of pink gingham and plain black silk with gold and black pompom trim. I love the soft pink colour and the Parisian feel of the room, as I love Parisian style in general. Pink is calming, gentle, and the style is feminine, yet it’s got a sophisticated feel to it to. That I think was the essence of Coco Chanel.
The settee in the bedroom
HGTV: What advice would you share for people who may be afraid of using colour in their homes? Are there any hard and fast rules about mixing and matching?
Jane: I am always surprised why Canadians don’t use more colours in their interiors. We live in an environment that lacks colour seven months of the year. Think for a moment of how you feel on a grey cold November day and how you feel on the first day that spring firmly takes hold. That is what painting your rooms the right colour can do for your sense of well being. It can transform your sprit from the way you feel during those long days in February to how you feel during those first weeks in May.
If you look in your garden you can see how colours work. Did Mother Nature get it wrong? When you look in your garden in bloom, does it clash, is too much? Colour inspiration is everywhere you look, in fashion, at the beach, on the web. I personally love European design magazines for inspiration.
Because colour is like sound and it travels on waves, it therefore affects our subconscious in a very profound way. It helps clients take emotional possession of their homes, and infuses them with their own personalities. Not the latest trends in the magazines, or their neighbours or the previous owners. Many people move in with the boxes but not emotionally.
HGTV: What are some of your favourite colours?
Jane: It’s hard for me to dislike any colour, except for non-colours. Beige just doesn’t do it for me. I adore spring green as it represents the colour of renewal from a grey environment to one filled with life and growth. Green is really the “neutral” as it is the colour of nature. Green goes with everything. Shades of turquoises, reds, pinks, purples, browns and grays, the right shade of green can go with any colour as long as you have the right undertone and value.
HGTV: What is your favourite thing about your home?
Jane: I love that it’s totally personal and every item has a story, or is a manifestation of an idea. Every item has been collected and reinvented or inherited from my family — from the 60-year-old white and pure edged gold Minton china I inherited from my mother, to the cut crystal glasses I found at one of my favourite shops that I have discovered on my magical mystery tours of Toronto. I also love that it’s all made with the help of local artisans and workrooms, and that I am supporting other local businesses such as the amazing vintage stores I find my furniture at.
I also feel, that I am somewhere else, in another time, when it was more about form and beauty, and less about function and utility. Here I could be living in an apartment in St Germain des Pres or a flat in London in one of the brightly coloured flats in Chelsea.
Wow, let’s hear it for colour!