Newmarket-based designer Michelle Berwick is one of those people who can walk into a space and see its potential. Out-there paint choices, dated appliances and extra walls don’t get in the way of her vision. So when she, her husband and her two young children were on the hunt for a new family home just outside of Newmarket, she knew she’d found the right fit as soon as she toured this 1970s build on a quiet, tree-lined street.
At the time, the house featured a 40-year-old, lime-green kitchen, a chopped-up floor plan and a rickety, narrow staircase that emptied almost directly into the front door. Michelle, owner of design company The Mirror and the Drape, rolled up her sleeves and got to work, designing the entire space herself. She partnered with Foxglove Design Inc. to draft and complete the kitchen, and Rockwood Contracting for the rest of the home renovations. Now, the formerly tiny living room and awkward kitchen are one big, bright and open spot where the family spends most of their waking time together.
The room’s most striking feature, an oversize blue island – inspired by fabric chosen for the bay window – is topped with pure white Caesarstone and serves as snack station, dinner prep area and central hangout zone.
Michelle brought in The Royal Wood Shop Ltd. to add trim and crown throughout the house to make the space more cohesive. One of the biggest woodworking projects they tackled was a re-envisioned staircase that uses reclaimed-wood end posts for character.
Also brand new: The couple’s master bedroom and bathroom, built as a new addition over the garage. The couple’s idea was to have a whole wing of the house for themselves. The bedroom’s dramatic teal velvet sofa was a new addition, but most of what’s in the bedroom came with the family from their last home. Some items, like the end tables, got a fresh coat of paint to make them work in their new space.
“I think it’s great to be inspired by what you have. I like reusing things,” says Michelle. “If you have an old home or an old piece of furniture and you could make it look new again, why wouldn’t you?” The other thing, she points out, is the cost-savings in finding new uses for old treasures. “Just about anyone doing a renovation has a budget to think about (and God bless you if you don’t), and they can’t always buy an entire house full of new furniture on top of all the other expenses.” For that reason – and also because she loves change – Michelle’s built flexibility into her design. “That’s the fun of design. Use what you’ve got, have fun and make it work.”