How do you transform a dark and dusty old Victorian townhouse into a fresh and elegant family home? If you’re Romina Tina Fontana and Jenny Dames, of Fontana & Dames Interior Design, you remodel the kitchen, custom design furniture to work in the narrow 1800-square-foot space and apply generous amounts of white paint.
After painting the space white, designers Romina Tina Fontana and Jenny Dames livened up the living room‘s linear elements with some beguiling curves. The Saarinen tulip table – a classic that the duo uses in many projects – is a fresh foil to the strong angles of the fireplace. Its oval silhouette is nicely referenced in the round mirror from West Elm. A pink blanket from Rainsford & Company furthers the soft effect.
Raising the Bar
A vintage bar cart was an essential for these homeowners. The designers loved the open silhouettes and reflective surfaces of both the cart and the champagne stand. The metallic finishes pack a glam punch that’s nicely countered with a serene abstract painting. Style tip to steal: add a tray to the cart to corral barware.
“This is a very narrow house, especially between the fireplace and front door, so we knew it had to be a loveseat here,” says Romina. “This gem from Elte was traditional enough for the client’s taste, but streamlined enough to refresh the space and fit!” The rug, a Nicole Miller design, layers in pattern and texture and gives the newly made-over space a vintage feel.
The designers loved that the classic shutters were in great shape and decided to forgo any secondary window treatments to better show them off. The shutters give the house an updated feel that doesn’t compete with its Victorian roots. The sweet side table and lamp that look like they were made for the space are both vintage finds from the designers’ studio inventory. “They keep the look open so this narrow space doesn’t feel crowded,” says Jenny.
Let There Be White
More proof that it’s OK to paint wood! The designers gave the once-dark crown moulding on the living room fireplace an inviting refresh with a coat of white paint. The result is crisp, breezy and elegant.
Every detail of every furnishing was thoughtfully considered, including the frame of this mirror. Its bone inlay finish is subtle and elegant, yet has a graphic edge. The mirror itself lends airiness to the space, reflecting the light that pours in the front windows. This simple mantel needs very little embellishment and looks complete with branches of lilac.
A cheery and colourful piece of art makes a welcoming first impression in the front hall. It belongs to the homeowners and the designers suggested they frame it. “It was certainly part of the inspiration for the living room, especially the rug – and it reminded us of a quiet moment in the South of France,” says Romina. The basket (also from their studio inventory) imparts texture as does the Chilewich floor mat from Ziggy’s.
The designers updated this existing table with new drawer pulls from Upper Canada Specialty Hardware. It’s a small upgrade, but matches the bases of the dining room chairs and the living room’s blue chair for clever continuity. Fresh blooms echo those in the artwork for a painterly effect.
This showstopper chair from Elte ticked many design boxes. “It connects with the blue dining chairs,” Jenny says. “It’s modern, simple lines balance other more traditional elements in the room and the dark colour anchors the mostly pale space.” We just love its plush velvet finish.
The loveseat’s cushions from Tonic Living have touch-me textures and gorgeous hues that quietly allude to the entryway‘s colourful artwork, the patterned rug and even the stain-glassed transom windows above the shutters. Torontophiles will like the framed art’s blue jay and CN Tower.
The designers had the white oak dining table custom-made specifically for the long narrow space and stained it grey. The table has leaves and can seat up to 14 – a must during the holidays. Beetle chairs from GUBI create a contemporary mood and the artwork from Jacaranda Tree feels fresh and bright.
All White Now
The kitchen’s all-white scheme speaks to the homeowners’ brief for a classic, clean and traditional look and is an uplifting change to the original design – think dreary, dark cupboards and a dated mirrored backsplash. The waterfall edge island is dressed with Silestone, a marble-look material that is durable enough for a young family. Simple white farmhouse stools from Structube don’t compete with the island’s custom wood panelling.
A Touch of Grey
It wouldn’t be entirely correct to say the kitchen is all-white. Look closely and you’ll see that the grout is a very pale grey that was chosen for a bit of contrast. It also reflects the faucet and hardware choices. A basket adds a natural, organic element.
The mirror above the bedside table could be called a Fontana & Dames signature. “We love using mirrors like this to open up master bedrooms and leave the walls above the headboard blank for a soothing effect,” says Romina. “They make the room feel bigger and bounce the soft lamp light around the room.” The table was custom-designed for the space and had to include book shelves (the owners are voracious readers); the elegant upholstered headboard was gifted to the owners by friends.
The homeowners are super busy professionals with a young son and they wanted a gentle space where they could decompress at the end of a hectic day. Blanketing the walls in off-white created a calm shell that the designers complemented with softly textured white bedding from Au Lit. Like the rest of the home, the master bedroom is fresh, organized and encourages unwinding.