Clare & Mike's Newly-Expanded Family Home

Clare & Mike's Newly-Expanded Family Home

Justice Darragh
Jul 21, 2015
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Name: Clare & Mike
Location: Leaside, Toronto
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months; Owned

Anyone with experience in the advertising industry knows that if you need to get something accomplished at lightning speed, within budget, and executed flawlessly, give it to a producer. And anyone who has coordinated their own home renovations has probably learned that things take twice as long as expected and include plenty of unanticipated costs. So what happens when you’re an advertising broadcast producer (and mother of two), marrying an advertising creative director (and father of three), suddenly in need of a functional home for this newly-expanded family of seven? You purchase an old home, then re-design and renovate it to perfection in just 5 weeks. Nope, that’s not a typo- 5 weeks!

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

At first glance it would be easy to assume that they must have gutted the entire house, but Clare and Mike actually refreshed and re-purposed a lot of the original 1950s features, preserving kitchen cupboards, painting the hardwood floors, and keeping the gorgeous original Art Deco fireplace mantel. They got rid of the things that just weren’t working with their modern vision, like extra kitchen cupboards that made the kitchen feel too closed-in, rounded doorways that felt dated, and the double French doors leading into the master bedroom which were eating up too much wall space. Next they decorated with personally meaningful bits and pieces- the 5 mural in the stairwell beneath the skylight (a nod to their 5 kids), Clare’s heirloom teacups on the windowsill, their collection of vintage cameras in the den- beautifully balancing their modern taste with symbolism and intimate memories.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Our shoot was booked to fit between the events of seven busy schedules- homework, yard work, lessons, errands, cooking, sports, reading, and chores- and the house was buzzing with activity yet never felt crowded or chaotic. This unexpected calm in a house where five teenagers reside under one roof is partly due to the airy, open design. An all-white base and plenty of natural light allow their art and furniture to add spoonfuls of personality without overwhelming. A fresh take on an old space certainly looks like an ideal way to transition and blend seven people’s lives!

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Contemporary.

Inspiration: Modern design, minimalist, Scandinavian, salvage.

Favorite Element: The entryway- we took advantage of the large skylight to brighten the space and turned a plain, dead space into a contemporary welcoming area, adding a modern stainless steel bench and custom designed mural.

Biggest Challenge: Red oak floors and only having 5 weeks to renovate the house before moving day.

What Friends Say: “You made Leaside cool.” If you walk along the street, and look in the windows, every house is very similar and traditional. We turned tradition on its head. An unexpected twist on what you would consider to be a very traditional house in a very conservative neighborhood.

Biggest Embarrassment: None. We got rid of them!

Proudest DIY: Being our own designers. We designed the master bedroom built-ins with a hidden walk-in closet.

Biggest Indulgence: Running the tiles through the main floor, landing, and basement mudroom/laundry room.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to move furniture around. Move pieces into different rooms. Try different room layouts. Mix and match old with new. Have fun.

Dream Sources: DWELL, Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, Novogratz.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Benjamin Moore Oxford White
  • Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Round patina table: dumpster salvage
  • Clear coffee table: Pavillion
  • Photography: Mike’s personal collection by photographer friends
  • Wall Sconces: purchased at Restoration Hardware, then spray painted white
  • Sofa: Design Republic
  • Armchairs: Pavillion
  • Weathered baby chair: Cynthia Crawford Antiques, Muskoka
  • Fireplace: We kept the great Deco mantle, cleaned the limestone surround, and replaced the hearth to match the tiles in hallway/kitchen.
  • Teacups: family heirlooms, belonged to my (step) grandmother
  • White porcelain jars on windowsill: a gift
  • M & C letters: Blackbird Vintage, Distillery District
  • Throw pillows: Urban Barn
  • Throw blanket: bought in Ireland
  • White side table: West Elm
  • Weathered dresser: Cynthia Crawford Antiques, Muskoka
  • Mirror: antique store
  • Armoire: Rusteak
  • White jugs on top of armoire: IKEA
  • Jumbo floor lamp: Elte
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Lighting fixture: found on the side of the road and refurbished by Mike
  • Framed papier-mâché Barbie doll: by Tess, at age 6
  • Black and white globe: Mjolk, The Junction.
  • Blue chairs: rescued from an old downtown office- we thought they had a fun 70s vibe.
  • Dining table: purchased at IKEA, then hacked/painted white
  • Red candle lantern : antique fair
  • Bar stools: antique store on Queen Street
  • Mirror: Caban
  • British art: L.A. artist
  • Wood cutting board: Cynthia Findly Antiques
  • Little weathered footstool: Cynthia Crawford Antiques, Muskoka
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Cupboards: We had all old cabinet doors removed and resprayed off-site and updated the hardware with more contemporary pulls.
  • Island: We installed recessed lighting and took out the old island and upper cabinets to open up the room. We replaced it with white, clean, granite composite waterfall counter and slate tiles.


  • Cowhide rug: Perfect Leather Goods
  • Cowhide chairs: Style Garage
  • Couch: IKEA
  • Throw pillows: IKEA
  • Desk: IKEA
  • Desk chair: IKEA
  • Baby rocking chair: garage sale find
  • Leaning shelf: Crate & Barrel
  • Antique cameras and other shelf contents: collections from over the years
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Headboard: custom made by The Big Stuff
  • Bedding: Restoration Hardware
  • Throw pillows: Urban Barn
  • Clear lamp: Pavillion
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Murals: Amazon
  • Chandeliers: Home Depot
  • Exit sign: Urban Barn
  • Cardboard steer head: The Vancouver Art Gallery Store
  • Boy's room desk and chair: IKEA
  • Girls' rooms desks and chairs: IKEA
  • Lockers: IKEA


  • Bedding: custom made
  • Lockers: IKEA
  • Beds: IKEA
  • Round table: IKEA
  • Chairs: IKEA
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)


  • Locker cabinet: IKEA
  • Couch: IKEA
  • Throw pillows: Urban Barn
  • Tv stand/cabinet: IKEA

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Thanks, Clare & Mike!

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