Name: Courtney Wotherspoon and Trevor Byrne + Maude the cat
Location: Queen & Beaconsfield (Queen West) — Toronto, Canada
Size: 1,000 square feet (upper floor of their house)
Years lived in: 1 — owned
In need of some fresh inspiration on this first workday of the new year? Look no further than Courtney and Trevor, who bought an under-appreciated 145-year-old Victorian house and transformed it into three separate units, making the top floor into their very own stylish pad complete with a studio for Courtney, a beautiful kitchen and a killer living room — all in under a year.
With one eye toward future plans for converting it back into a single family home and the other aimed at preserving what they could of the original charm and century-old character of the place, these two had their work cut out for them. Luckily, they had a great set of resources to aid them in their project, including Courtney's knowledgeable and renovation-savvy interior designer mother, and Courtney's own artful design sensibilities (Courtney is a successful artist and illustrator).
Shortly after purchasing the house, Courtney oversaw the renovation of the two lower units and got them renter-ready, ensuring an income while they finished their living space on the top level. When it came to layout, materials, and finishes, she bounced her ideas off her mother, who proved invaluable in hiring the right crew to get the job done. The bones of the place are great; the original hardwoods, high ceilings and exposed brick add loads of character that could not be reproduced even with an unlimited budget. As a self-described hoarder with an eye for quirk, Courtney knew she needed to stick to a clean and neutral palette in order to keep it all in check. All the walls and trim are white, as is most of the furniture. The honey-toned hardwood floors and butcher block counters add a touch of warmth. This crisp background creates a unified look, punctuated with glimmery gold accents and black architectural hardware.
Altogether, it's the perfect backdrop for Courtney's many collections and treasured objects, including medical curiosities that her brother — a doctor who clearly has a sense of humor — gave her. In the living room, a massive wall of built-ins houses their many books as well as Courtney's cheerfully arranged vignettes, while the glass-topped coffee table allows for even more lighthearted arrangement space. Besides having a knack for imaginative displays, Courtney is also adept at repurposing furniture to suit her needs. Be sure to check out the House Tour Gallery to see the most cleverly disguised kitty-litter box ever seen!
Courtney and Trevor are newly engaged, and judging from their ability to create a beautiful and inviting home, together they will have a wonderful 2011 and many years ahead.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: It’s been called ‘disturbed traditionalism’, pretty/gritty, controlled chaos, lost and found…it’s really just me, making a space that works for us. Seamlessly mixing high-end design pieces with things that some consider ‘junk’ is always a proud moment.
Inspiration: Philippe Starck, my mother (a fantastic interior designer), our Canadian roots, the ACE Hotel in New York, crafty and creative friends galore, industry, Brooklyn (Courtney’s former stomping ground), beautiful trash, Stefan Sagmeister…
Favorite Element: The original molded archway in the entry makes me smile every time I come home. I’m so happy it’s survived multiple owners through the life of this house. I also love the open, airy quality of the living room, which extends up to our lofted bedroom. Trevor and I had both previously lived in apartments where we slept high up — a loft or a bunk, so we come by it naturally. I think our next home may be a treehouse in the woods.
Biggest Challenge: Because we have tenants in the basement and on the first floor, we have all our seasonal equipment (snowboards, garden tools and the like) shoved into a crawl-space under the stairs. The solution thus far has been to utilize every possible surface and space, and make it work for us. Folding chairs hanging in the hall as an installation, walls of open shelving in the kitchen, and a wall of bookshelves that holds just about everything. As long as we keep it organized and ‘curated’, we can get away with the lack of space — for now!
What Friends Say: That Courtney’s a little eccentric, that Trevor is a very patient man, and that our home is a visual playground. There’s no shortage of toys, creatures and knick-knacks to keep the eye -— and the imagination — roaming.
Biggest Embarrassment: My (Courtney’s) studio. It’s where things tend to go when they have no place to live. I usually try to rush guests past the door so they don’t discover my dirty little secret.
Proudest DIY: Like choosing a favorite child…I’m happy with the light fixtures I created out of raw materials in the entryway and bathroom. The coffee table made from a set of drawers has allowed for a lot of play in the living room, as we switch up the contents from season to season. And the cardboard headboard incites a lot of conversation…
Biggest Indulgence: Definitely the spiral staircase! That thing will live and die in this house.
Best Advice: Don’t try to replicate a look from a magazine if it’s not you…stiffness and unoriginality will only ensue. If you love your space, if it’s filled with things you love, people will feel it. Decorate from your life! A home with personality is a happy home. And a sense of humor never hurts.
Dream Sources: Ministry of the Interior, Klaus by Nienkamper, Elte, DWR, Commute Home, Queen West Antiques, SMASH
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
• Benjamin Moore: OC 118 Snowfall White — Ulti-Matte on walls, High Gloss on all trim (and bathroom walls)
• bookshelf: customized IKEA
• black roller shades: Blinds-To-Go
• wrought iron spiral staircase: Steptoe & Wife Antiques
• coffee table drawer pulls: Anthropologie
• Tord Boontje Garland Light
• stool: Philippe Starck for Kartell
• Gnome Attila stool-table, folding schoolchairs (hanging): Queen West Antique
• Iron table base: Post + Beam Reclamation
• Marble top: Caledonia Marble
• framed block print: (my uncle) Michael Wotherspoon, 1967
• Queen West bottle opener (our friend Angus Bennett makes them): Drake General Store
• Cauda Equina horse: artist, Keith Bentley
• Medicine cabinet: IKEA PS laptop desk
Thanks, Courtney & Trevor!
Images: Abby Cook
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