Seahorses and Coral Trim the Tree in Coastal-Style Home


A Burlington renovation is dressed to reflect its cool, beachy style.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Holiday/Winter 2017/18 issue of  OUR HOMES Oakville Burlington Mississauga, p.72. Find local businesses in our Oakville directory. 

Following a trip to Maine, these homeowners went coastal on their Roseland reno in Burlington. “We wanted open spaces and a soothing coastal palette,” says the owner. As the reno neared completion, the home was added to the Junior League of Hamilton/Burlington Annual Holiday House Tour of Distinctive Homes. Naturally, holiday decorating had a beach feel.
Shell white baseboards, bright white moulding and panelling and a soft grey on the walls deliver the perfect backdrop for the home’s sea foam palette of turquoise, teal, beige, cream and shades of green. Fabric textures vary and patterns are playful: stripes, polka dots, florals and even a houndstooth. It all works beautifully with the modern geometrics on the living room’s wool rug and a modern take on anchors on the sunroom rug.
There’s no missing the underlying nautical drift throughout, brought to life through artwork and watery aqua shades in glass bowls, jugs and table lamps.
“It’s all about scale and proportion,” says Marnie Warman, owner and lead designer of Burlington’s Interior Design House and IDH Build Group, hired to help the owners on their journey from dated older home to revitalized modern space. “Geometrics can go with florals. You just do them in differing scales. One must always be larger in scale than the other,” she says.
The original eight-foot entrance is gone and height now soars to more than 18 feet, exposing the upstairs level. Six walls were removed to achieve an airy, spacious feel. Sightlines extend from the cosy sunroom to the streamlined white shaker kitchen. In between are a dining area, keeping room and living room. Cohesiveness in design was important, but so was delineating these spaces. Hand-scraped wide-plank maple floors ground the design for continuity. Separation is achieved with tall white supporting columns, thoughtful use of panelling and sensational coffered ceilings – Warman designed each one by hand with pen and paper. Not only do the coffers hide HVAC and plumbing, their staggered heights subtly alter ambience from room to room. Furniture placement also helps define boundaries.
One of the keys to successful open-concept design is to pull colours for continuity. “Don’t just repeat colour schemes from space to space, that’s boring,” says Warman. “Bring in elements from other rooms, perhaps a colour from a cushion, accessory or art.” Stripes, pulled from the ottoman in the living room reappear in a sunroom cushion. Gold polka dots on a pretty porcelain pitcher repeat on fabrics. There’s nothing jarring or overly jazzy here, it’s coastal, classy and calming while leaving room for the unexpected. Elegant crystal-drop and glass ball chandeliers – perhaps not typical in a traditional Maine beach house – are beautiful additions. The upstairs hallway is lined with square panelling, but surprise; behind the panels hide extra storage space.
In the dining area, exotic live-edge wood tops a built-in desk where the children do homework. Two small original windows flank the living room’s two-sided gas fireplace. Although they don’t open, they maintain the home’s original character, as do subtle touches, like the use of beadboard instead of stone on the kitchen backsplash and grille work on vent covers. Framed with the home’s reclaimed original striated brick, the fireplace can also be enjoyed on the porch.
When it came to decorating the house for the holiday tour, Warman had three words: “Less is more.” Already a lovely home with lots to look at, holiday decorating accentuated the newly renovated spaces and of course, put the scent of fresh greens into the air. Sue Bruin, manager at IDH and in-house floral designer, was the talent behind the florals. Twigs, twine, rope, wicker, wood, fresh cedar and pine were mainstays. Artificial branches were incorporated because “they won’t droop so you get more height,” says Warman. Branches sprayed in white, gold and turquoise were added for an aquatic plant-like effect.
Holiday trees dusted in white – there were 13 in total for the tour – are slim so as not to overwhelm interior spaces. Brown paper cards, burlap ribbons, string balls and even unique wooden fish hung on trees. Table centerpieces and the main Berwyn quartz kitchen island from Cambria’s Waterstone Collection were dressed with fresh greens, a family of reindeer, cranberries, battery-operated candles, large magnolia leaves and even scrolled paper. The requisite holiday star also puts in an appearance more than once.
“Every year, generous homeowners loan their houses to the Junior League of Hamilton-Burlington (JLHB) for our Annual Holiday House Tour of Distinctive Homes.” says past President and House Tour Co-Chair Dianne Brown. “Talented design professionals then transform them to showcase stunning holiday décor and entertainment ideas. We can’t thank the homeowners and decorators enough. Warman’s been part of the tour for 27 years! It is because of their generosity that the JLHB is able to continue this wonderful tradition that helps create positive change in our community. The tour generates funds to carry out the mission and purpose of the Junior League of Hamilton-Burlington: to develop the potential of women, improve the community and promote voluntarism.”