Who: Shaw Media’s very own SVP of Content, Barbara Williams, husband Chris Dossett, owner of a commercial construction company, and their three kids and two cats.
Where: Located in a family-friendly North Toronto neighbourhood.
Barbara Williams in her North Toronto kitchen.
What: We bought the house seven years ago, and embarked on a substantial year-long renovation, so we’ve only lived there for six years. We only saved the front wall – we wanted to preserve the integrity of the architecture (the original structure was built around 1910!) from the street view, so that the house still fit in perfectly with the neighbourhood. And then we gutted it completely.
When we bought the house it was a duplex, with one occupant living on the main floor and another family on the top two floors, so the space needed to be completely re-thought to suit a single family. We tried to design a floor plan that would suit the needs of a modern family and their lifestyle, but one that wasn’t incongruous with the original architecture, so we stuck with a fairly traditional three-storey layout. We were looking for a spacious main floor which would accommodate a big active family and lots of entertaining. On the upper floors, we were looking for large bedrooms, spacious hallways, lots of storage, and I wanted a home office.
Barbara Williams’s dining room
HGTV: Please tell us about your style.
Barbara Williams: We worked very closely with a designer, Alyce Drenth of Creative Avenues. She was with us from the beginning on this house, as we laid out floor plans for the renovation. She was involved in furniture choices, colours, flooring materials, the various stones used throughout the kitchens and bathrooms, lighting, hardware – really every single decision.
For many months it felt like we spent every Saturday with Alyce! Because the renovation took so long, and we got started on the design process so early, we had the luxury of time to custom order much of the furniture, window coverings, etc. Alyce sourced most of it for us from a variety of suppliers throughout Canada and the US. We chose a lot from pictures, which made for a very exciting few weeks when we finally moved in and everything that we had ordered over the past months started to arrive.
Barbara Williams’s backyard.
HGTV: Can you tell us a little bit about the art around the house?
BW: The art is one of our favourite elements of the house – my husband and I have chosen all the pieces together over the years. They are all just pieces we love. We don’t see ourselves as serious collectors in any way, but the art is what truly personalizes our home. I think we each may have favourites, though the real pleasure is how the art makes such a distinct statement in each room.
The large piece resting on the dresser in the master bedroom makes us both feel like we’re in Europe. I love the piece of the woman lying on her back in the hall on the main floor, and the playful piece in the second floor hallway is a personal favourite of Chris’s. But truthfully, we love them all, and we only wish we had more walls to add to the collection!
Barbara Williams’s upstairs hallway.
HGTV: What is your favourite room in your home and why?
BW: I guess I’d have to say that my favourite room in the house is my office – I love having a space that’s just mine. And given that I work in the TV business, I truly appreciate having my own TV and PVR that I can load up with all the shows I want to watch!
HGTV: How much have you changed (if any) since moving in?
BW: We haven’t been tempted to update anything in the six years we’ve lived there, though I suppose one day we may. The house has actually completely lived up to our expectations and we really enjoy living in it and sharing it. We entertain a lot – family, friends, business events – it’s a great space. We feel enormously lucky to have had the opportunity to create our dream home, in a neighbourhood that so perfectly suits our family and our lifestyle.