Meg & Steve’s Urban Nest

published Nov 11, 2013
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(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Name: Meg and Steve Gardner
Location: Toronto, Canada
Size: 1650 square feet + basement
Years lived in: 10.5 years; owned

Meg and Steve bought their first house in 2003. Ten years and three kids later, it was time to give the family home a facelift. Between Steve’s busy career as a copywriter and audio director and Meg’s active days chasing after their adventurous little ones and writing her blog, both agreed that a chic, uncomplicated space would best suit their no-nonsense lifestyle.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

In a perfectly timed twist of fate, Meg was introduced to designer Kirsten Marshall of Palmerston Design Consultants through a mutual friend, and the two clicked instantly. Soon after, they got to work transforming the house into an elegant urban nest.

Black hardwood floors and stairs provide a beautiful contrast to the simple white walls that run consistently throughout the house. Extra tall doors reach up to the high ceilings, tastefully punctuating each room‘s classic form with a touch of decadence. The light-filled open-concept basement playroom/TV room feels as sleek and streamlined as every other part of the house, reminding visitors that an underground retreat need not resemble the dark dungeons of the past. An early DIY project to uncover an old brick wall in the master bedroom inspired the couple to do the same thing to the entryway during the recent re-design, adding texture and history – a perfect complement to the modern sliding barn doors in this contemporary homestead.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern…said with hesitation because it also has to be warm, cozy, casual and kid-friendly to exist in our home. So…Modernozy?

Inspiration: My friend, Kirsten Marshall of Palmerston Design, whom we asked to design our space.

Favorite Element: Exposed brick. We exposed the brick ourselves in the master bedroom long before we renovated the house. It was a dirty, fun job. We loved the character and texture so much that we decided to expose the front entryway during the renovation.

Biggest Challenge: Due to lead times, we had to order the slider and transom in the kitchen based on the available ceiling height before the renovation. But after our contractor demolished the main floor, there was a 4-inch difference in ceiling height from the kitchen to the front of the house. So instead of reordering a new slider ($$), he suggested an open recessed area just in front of the glass transom. It not only saved the slider (and our pocketbook), it led to an attractive design element with a surprising nighttime lighting feature.

What Friends Say: : “You have 3 little boys and you chose all white walls??!!” To which we say: “Two words. Magic Eraser.”

Biggest Embarrassment: At one point, after exposing the brick in the entryway, we considered exposing it all the way up the main staircase. Our neighbor — whom we share that wall with — was in Europe during the demo phase. We have a key to his house when he is out of town, so we decided to test just how soundproof it would be. We had one of our sons run up and down his stairs, singing as he went. It was like he was in the same room! Hmmm, what exactly has he heard through the bedroom wall?

Proudest DIY: I built a banquette out of IKEA cabinets for our pre-renovation kitchen. I was worried it was all for nothing when we decided to take the big renovation plunge, but we found a spot for it in the basement playroom — phew!

Biggest Indulgence: The sectional. We were replacing a well-made, hand-me-down sofa that was getting dog-eared and lumpy. While searching for a comparable replacement, we immediately realized that to get the quality we were used to, we needed to invest more than we anticipated. We hemmed and hawed and went back and forth. But in the end we decided, for this TV loving family, it was worth the expense. We’ve dubbed it the “Forever Couch”.

Best Advice: Sleep on it. Then go with your gut. But make sure your gut listens to the experts first.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Resources of Note:

Designer: Kirsten Marshall, Palmerston Design

Contractor: Nuno Teixeira, Caliber Group


  • Basement bathroom is Benjamin Moore “American White”
  • Entire rest of house (walls and trim) is Benjamin Moore “Chantilly Lace”


  • Light Fixture: Mysterio from Diesel with Foscarini

• Ceramic Floor: Cercan Tile

• Door Handles: Barcres


• Sectional: Amadeo by Barrymore • Coffee Table: Pi Coffee Table from Shelter • Rug, Curtains & Lamp: West Elm

• Pillows: Milk & Cookies


• Flooring: Yorkdale Hardwood Flooring Centre • Table: Guff Furniture • Chairs: Morba • Built-In Cabinets: Ikea Akurum • Built-In Countertop: Caesarstone Pure White • Edge Pulls: Berenson

• Fig Leaf Plant: Ikea


• Appliances: Thermador • Cabinets: Ikea Akurum • Countertop: Caesarstone Pure White • Backsplash: The Tile Store • Island Marble: Olympia Tile & Stone, Slab Division • Drawer Pulls: Richelieu • Faucet: Aquabrass, Master Chef • Sink: Blanco Radius Maxi Sink • Chandelier: Designed by Palmerston, Supplied by Lampcage • Counter Stools: BLVD Interiors

• Barn Door Hardware: Real Sliding Hardware


• Light Fixture: Davey Lighting, Well Pendant • Countertop: Caesarstone Pure White • Faucet: LaTorre • Sink: Blanco Radius Bar Sink

• Backsplash: Stone Tile


• Ceramic Floor: Cercan Tile • Toilet: Toto Aquia II • Sink: Catalano Verso 25

• Faucet: Cabano Tech


• Closet: Ikea Pax Tonnes • Bedframe & Headboard: West Elm • Duvet: West Elm • Sconces: Lampcage • Nightstands & Vanity: Designed by Palmerston, Supplied by Downtown Tile • Faucet: Cabano Volero Wall Mount

• Chandelier: George Nelson Saucer Lamp


• Wall Tile: Stone Tile • Light Fixture: Artemide Talo 180 • Vanity: Designed by Palmerston, Supplied by Downtown Tile • Edge Pulls: Berenson • Bathtub: Azzura Adora Tub • Sink, Shower & Tub Faucets: Cabano • Toilet: Toto Ultramax II

• Accessories: Blu Bathworks


• Vanity & Cabinets: Ikea Godmorgon & Abstrakt • Countertop: Perfect Stainless • Floor & Shower Tile: Olympia Tile & Stone • Recessed Showerhead: Aquabrass • Shower Kit: Rubi • Toilet: Kohler Persuade • Light Fixture: Universal Lighting • Faucet: Vigo


• Media Console, Storage Bench & Shelving: Ikea • Floor: Olympia Tile • Rugs: West Elm • Artwork: Mr. City Printing • Coffee Table: Guff Furniture
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Thanks, Meg & Steve!

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