Cynthia’s Sunny Accents

published Apr 16, 2014
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(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Name: Cynthia Zamaria of Recreational Decorator and Graham Loughton
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Size: 1,700 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, own

Are you naturally attracted to bright colors, yet somehow loose your nerve when it comes to decorating with anything bolder than neutrals? Design blogger Cynthia Zamaria’s home proves that a lustrous pop of color can accent classic décor without becoming obnoxiously loud or over-the-top. If her love of design wasn’t already apparent from her impeccably curated blog posts, it certainly has a chance to shine in her sunny Tudor English-style home!

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Front Entrance (Image credit: Justice Darragh)
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

PR Boss Lady by day/Recreational Decorator blogger by night, creating inspired interiors comes naturally to Cynthia and it shows. Each room in her ¾ of a century old home has been tailored to chic perfection, resulting in a mélange of traditional centerpieces and modern adornment, while avoiding feeling mishmash-y or predictable.

The ultimate merger of old & new here has to be her elegant “She Cave” – a converted garage-turned-home-office, which pays homage to the traditional “Man Cave” with vintage-style wallpaper, moose antlers, and the most covetable of modern cuckoo clocks.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: New Traditional – a mix of timeless, classic design pieces with modern touches to keep it fresh and unexpected. We blend treasured, antique pieces with modern, big-box furniture, curbside finds and garage-sale scores.

Traditional doesn’t have to be stuffy or boring. We contrast heavier wooden pieces with a backdrop of white and layer in waves of colour to make the look current, yet lived-in and comfortable.

There’s also some tension between pretty and handsome. Romantic, feminine touches of turquoise velvet, faux fur and abundant flowers soften the more masculine influences of burnished gold, wooden boxes and leather chairs.

Inspiration: The house inspired us. We wanted to be true to the character of the Tudor English-style cottage that was built three-quarters of a century before we arrived on the doorstep. We adore the charm – arched doorways, weathered silver door handles, thick trim and the layout which offers a large living room and the separation of a galley kitchen with a walkout to our lovely garden.

It was important for us to maintain the integrity of the home – we even kept the sofa that we found in living room and had its faded teal satin cover reupholstered with a soft grey canvas. It seemed fitting to keep this piece that had been part of the décor for about 50 years in the home.

While we wanted to respect the original features of the home, to add a brighter, more modern feel, we did paint most of the wainscoting and trim white (I know, sacrilege to some).

Favorite Element: We took an undersized, old garage and made it into a usable multipurpose room. We had our contractor build a bank of storage lockers that take up an entire wall to keep children’s stuff organized. We cut a walkout to the side patio, added metallic peacock wallpaper and now the room is also a lovely home office. It’s the She Cave, featuring majestic antlers and an always-stocked bar.

Biggest Challenge: Getting big pieces of furniture through the small passageways. With some clever movers who detached couch legs and doors, we got most of it in with the exception of two perfectly good leather sofas we gave away because there was no way they were going to fit.

What Friends Say: “Does your house always look like this?” Yes, it does. Even with three children (Ben, 14; Ruby, 12; Theo, 7), we manage to keep our home tidy. If you have a place for everything, it really is easy to maintain with a little bit of discipline. These are good life lessons for the kids, and besides, a glass of wine is more enjoyable without clutter on the coffee table

Biggest Embarrassment: We can’t think of any. While it always takes longer and costs more, we love renovating homes.

Proudest DIY: We found an old headboard left behind in one of the bedrooms. We spray painted the frame gold and added a fun fur cowhide print and now it anchors Ben’s bed. It took about 20 minutes and $20 to complete.

Biggest Indulgence: Lighting. With such a simple home and palette, we didn’t scrimp on the lighting. Investing in statement pieces really adds drama and quality to the space. It’s like faded jeans with diamond earrings.

Best Advice: Mix it up. High and low. New and old. Treasures and trash. Natural and plastic. Surround yourself with the things you love and it’s amazing how it will all go together.

Be patient. It takes time to curate the look with the right pieces. Hold off for what you really want. It’ll be worth the wait.

Don’t be seduced by the latest look. It gets dated soon and can seem contrived. Invest in signature pieces like sofas and chairs and then add inexpensive on-trend items with pillows and accessories to feed your of-the-moment design cravings.

Nurture a team of awesome partners. Good contractors, plumbers, tile suppliers are hard to find and even harder to keep. Be nice to them and they will be there when you need them.

Always have flowers. An easy, inexpensive way to lift a space, add colour and make everyday feel special.

Dream Sources:

• Mary McDonald for her easy elegance and feminine charm
• Darryl Carter for his modern take on classic
• India Hicks for her boho, horsey, chic
• Nate Burkus for his casual, organic style

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Resources of Note:

• General Contractor: Rick Baker, Woodfield Renovations
• Plumber: Peter Chandler, Balsam Plumbing
• Electrician: Matthew Swift, Swift Electric
• Kitchen: Foson Kitchen & Bath Studio
• Bath and Kitchen faucets: Beaches Bath City
• Paint: Benjamin Moore Steam (white)
• Upholstery: Scarboro Interiors


• Carpet: Pottery Barn
• Art over the fireplace: Ric Stanton, Parts Gallery
• Coffee table: Garage sale find
• Black leather arm chair: Goodwill Buffalo, bought on a family shopping vacation
• Couch and matching chair: Found in the home, recovered by Scarboro Interiors
• Built-ins: Woodfield Renovations
• Oversized standing lamps: UpCountry
• Accessories (globes, wooden boxes, books): Various salvage shops, garage sales, Value Village
• Hanging ceiling light: Rona


• Table, hutch and bench: Kimberley Jackson (note: The table is almost 3 inches thick and is made from old wharf wood from Toronto’s harbor. Because of its heft, it has warped, but a thinner solution was not an option once we fell in love with the table’s presence. If you come for dinner, just be careful your wine glass dos not tip over.)
• Tarnished gold lights: Elte
• Brushed gold candle holders on hutch: HomeSense


• Cabinets: Foson Kitchen & Bath Studio (shaker style white on top, mushroom on the bottom)
• Gas range: Bertazzoni from Caplan’s Appliances
• Lighting: Hudson Valley
• Farm sink: IKEA
• Faucet: Riobel from Beaches Bath City


• Peacock wallpaper: Special order fro Lowe’s
• White credenza: IKEA
• Blue coral lights: HomeSense
• Desk: Aberfoyle Antique Market
• Settee: Found on garbage day, reupholstered by Scarborough Interiors
• Carpet: HomeSense
• Cuckoo clock: Estate sale


• Enamel farm sink and faucets: Ginger’s
• Wall sconces: Barn Light Electric
• Built-in medicine cabinet: Kohler from Lowe’s


• Paint colour (accent wall): Yellow Lotus, Benjamin Moore
• Bedside tables: Green’s Antiques
• Headboard: P.S. Wilde Antiques
• Bedside lamps: HomeSense
• Writing desk: from an old office Graham and I worked at that was auctioned off
• Carpet: HomeSense
• Sitting chair: Consumers’ Distributing Furniture
• Chandelier: Home Depot
• Drapery: Trinity


• Paint colour: Metropolitan, Benjamin Moore
• Desk: Pottery Barn
• Black and white basket: HomeSense
• Side table: IKEA hack
• Art wall images: Sharon Montrose
• Chandelier: Home Depot
• Drapery: Trinity


• Paint colour (accent wall): Lucerne, Benjamin Moore
• Bed frame and wall sconces: Kingston Road Salvage
• Camouflage blanket: Made by Cynthia
• Carpet: Colin and Justin from HomeSense
• Wall art: Homemade
• Ceiling light: Rona (Theo calls it the Ginger-Ale Light)


• Accent wallpaper: Amy Butler
• Bed frame: Elte
• Art: Bruce Steinhoff
• Built-ins: Woodfield Renovations
• Lighting: Jonathan Adler
• Drapery: Trinity


• Sink/Console: IKEA
• Faucets, tub: Riobel from Bath City
• Lighting: Barn Light Electric

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Thanks, Cynthia!

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