Joanne Doyle is a self-professed francophile. She speaks French, she reads French. She lives French, too.
The latter is undeniable upon crossing the threshold of her north St. Catharines townhome, custom built by Silvergate Homes. Every flourish, from the soft grey and white palette to the Louis XVI chairs, is a nod to Paris. More specifically, Doyle’s home honours the elegant design embellishments born of Baron George-Eugène Hausmann’s archetypal architecture that gives the City of Lights its distinctive 19th century feel.
“French design and architecture is the ultimate and something I wanted to emulate,” says Doyle, who studied interior design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. “Everything really came back to a Parisian apartment so the design choices are based on that. I don’t think you can ever go wrong using French design and interiors as your inspiration.”
Doyle and her husband, Kevin, were drawn to Niagara for its history and lifestyle, which they discovered during regular visits to the Shaw Festival. And there were, of course, all those vineyards reminiscent of France’s wine-growing regions.
Silvergate Homes, Doyle says, allowed her to customize the floor plan. She swapped the kitchen with the dining room, moving the former to the centre of the home instead of the front. Tweaking the location of the fireplace made for a fluid transition between the sitting area and the kitchen with its oversize island capped with an impervious porcelain slab that looks like Calacatta marble.
The couple decided to forgo upper cabinets, and appliances were integrated to “seem less like a kitchen and more a part of the living space,” says Doyle. Overhead, as in most rooms in the home, an ornate chandelier casts a decadent glow once the natural light pouring through large windows fades.
Elsewhere in the house, light from the north, south and west streams through large panes outfitted with plantation shutters, while a floor-to-ceiling window on a landing between the main and upper floors is outfitted with ready-made drapes lengthened with velvet by Simply White Interiors.
The couple protects it all with alarm technology from Dell Smart Home Solutions. But it’s touches like a Coco Chanel-worthy mirrored coffee table from The Furniture Gallery, Parisian images, black and white photography, and an enormous reproduction of a Claude-Marie Dubufe painting in the hall leading to the master bedroom that truly make for la vie en rose.