Kirsten & Chris’ Timeless Style

published Jan 23, 2014
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(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Name: Kirsten Marshall (interior designer, Palmerston Design Consultants) and Chris Tabbitt (owner/custom travel planner, Travel Impresarios)
Location: The Annex, Toronto
Size: 3000 square feet
Years lived in: 9 years

Kirsten Marshall of Palmerston Design Consultants is an interior designer whose modern style is something we’ve actually seen before on Apartment Therapy – she and her team designed both Greg & Rob’s Sky Suite and Meg & Steve’s Urban Nest. She styled the 1890’s family home she shares with husband Chris Tabitt and their two children with a strong focus on art and simplicity, drawing skillfully from a combination of design periods.

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Entry, Dining Room (Image credit: Justice Darragh)
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

The couple purchased the residence from an architect. He was in the process of remodeling — preserving some of the original features, like the milk window in the living room and servants’ staircase off the kitchen, while modernizing the kitchen, fireplaces and bathrooms — when he decided to put the house up for sale. Kirsten’s elegant design style brought warmth to the home’s all white base, with colorful accents meticulously placed in every room as they finished what the previous owner had started.

The contemporary chalkboard wall in the kitchen, bright floor pillows in the den, and vibrant artwork breathe life into the rooms without overcrowding the space.
The size of the house allowed Kirsten and Chris to move their workspaces in. The lighting design in the Palmerston office is so skillful that clients might not even notice they’re in a basement.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic Modernism.

Inspiration: My father, Grant Marshall, was an interior designer and a professor of interior design at the University of Manitoba. While working full time as a professor of interior design, he ran his own design studio, Grant Marshall Interiors, a dress boutique, The Third Step, and owned several galleries and shops in Winnipeg. He passed away last year. Although he was a modernist at heart, his love of mixing design periods has been incredibly influential to my work.

Favorite Element: Our kitchen chalkboard. My friend, Robert Sangster, created our functional mural as a Christmas present for my husband.

Biggest Challenge: I’m a minimalist at heart. Minimalists need to be good editors or have lots of storage. I struggle with both!

What Friends Say: Everyone comments on the height of the ceilings (we are 11 feet on the main floor and 10 on the second and third floors.) It really gives the house an airy, contemporary feeling, considering that it was built in 1890.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our front foyer! We have two kids, a dog and lots of shoes. The small coat closet doesn’t service the needs of the family, so there is often a mess at our front door. We are still trying to come up with storage solutions that won’t clutter our entryway!

Proudest DIY: Our dining room table. At the time, I couldn’t find a table that we liked, so I designed it and had it built. We didn’t want a traditional wood top, so I asked the company to provide the plywood top unfinished. I matched a Ben Moore Paint colour and mixed it into the stain, creating a greeny/gray surface. The chairs, purchased months later at Studio B, luckily came in the perfect colour!!

Biggest Indulgence: The purchase of the house itself.

Best Advice: Respect the architecture of the house and layer, layer layer!

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Resources of Note:


Benjamin Moore: Chantilly Lace OC-65 (the entire house with the exception of my son’s old bedroom which is a pale periwinkle cut with Chantilly Lace.


  • Antique mirror – a gift from my father
  • Desk & stool – this was my maternal grandmother’s secretary


  • Coffee table – purchased at Design Manitoba in the 1980’s.
  • Saarinen Executive Arm Chair with Metal Legs – Ebay but available at DWR
  • Sofa – Gus Modern
  • Side Table – junk store find
  • Rug – Weavers Art
  • Arm Chair – Nienkamper
  • Victorian Screen – gift
  • Piano – gift
  • Lamp – Queen West Antiques
  • Drapery Fabric by Robert Allen made by Blinds Drapes and Bedding
  • Glass in milk window – made by artist Winston Leathers, an old family friend of my parents
  • Photograph of The Louvre – gift Watercolour of Sarlat, France – I painted it with my Dad while on holiday in France
  • Indian Watercolour – Grant Marshall
  • Watercolour over fireplace – Grant Marshall
  • Candlesticks – gift
  • Pillows – fabric by Christopher Farr
  • Oil Painting – Phyllis Field Cooper c.1908, my father’s art teacher
  • Black and White Print – gift
  • Small unframed pastel – gift


  • Dining Table: I designed this for our previous house. It has a simple plywood top that I stained myself.
  • Dining Chairs – Studio B
  • Thonet Chairs – these came from a client of my father’s in Winnipeg. I had them re-caned at Home Hardware on parliament and painted them black myself!
  • China Cabinet – This piece came from my father’s dress store (The Third Step) in Winnipeg. It held the costume jewelry pieces that I always wanted to play with as a kid! I love the colour of the wood.
  • Bonnet Chest – gift
  • Candelabra – My father bought this in Italy, 1960’s or 70’s.
  • Glass sculpture – by artist Irene Frolic
  • Watercolor Painting over Fireplace – by my father Grant Marshall.
  • The Oil Painting, over the Bonnet Chest, painted by a friend of my mother’s


  • chalk board mural – designed and executed by surface designer Robert Sangster
  • stools – Urban Mode
  • fridges – we loved the height but they were small – so we bought two LG




  • Sofas – were made by a wholesaler in Toronto
  • Carpet – Ikea
  • Artwork – everything in the room was drawn/painted/sculpted by our children, Quinn and Julian
  • Lamp – gift
  • Cushions – fabric from Designer’s Guild
  • Floor Cushions – fabric by Joanne


  • Photographs of our children – by Christine Peterson
  • Bust – by Natalie Gordon
  • Nude drawing – by Phyllis Field Cooper (father’s art teacher)




(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Thanks, Kirsten!

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