Love of Texture and Contrast on Display in Stately London Renovation


Stately 1919 home in London's Old North neighbourhood gets up-to-the-minute yet respectful update.

OUR HOMES London Summer 2018
A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of  OUR HOMES London and Middlesex County, p.12. Find local businesses in our London directory.

Collin Johnstone has been reading interior design magazines since he was 12 years old. So when his father, Ian Johnstone, purchased a stately home close to campus for Collin and his sister to live in while they attended Western University in London, Ontario, it was only a matter of time before he put his stamp on the space.
Built in 1919 for the Catholic Diocese of London, the 7,400 sq. ft. house retains the grandeur of years gone by with its expansive main floor living room and sun room, formal dining room and a sweeping staircase. Original wood flooring, leaded windows, tall baseboards and pocket doors add to the home’s understated elegance.
Like many home renovation projects, this one started with a single room – the kitchen – and grew from there. “Since we had to open up walls and change plumbing we decided to do the upstairs bathroom as well,” Collin explains. “I appreciate all styles of design,” he comments. “But I thought the renovations here needed to respect the home. I felt that going too modern would not work.”
DUO Building Ltd. was brought in to oversee the kitchen and bathroom renovations, while Collin worked with Sylvie Roth of Sylvie’s Interior Design on lighting and some wall colour choices.
Collin believes the home’s kitchen had not been touched for several decades. Relocating the refrigerator and removing the upper cabinetry from along the back wall facilitated the creation of a stylish bar area complete with an icemaker and beverage fridge and round copper sink by Native Trails from The Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom.
The kitchen’s large centre island, painted a surprising shade of navy blue (Old Navy by Benjamin Moore) and topped with an ice white leathered granite countertop, provides plenty of space for prep work, as well as a comfortable spot for casual dining. A cast-iron farmhouse Kohler sink (The Ensuite) and porcelain herringbone flooring (Alfred’s Carpet One Floor & Home) complete the room’s vintage vibe. “Some people thought the kitchen would have too many design elements, but when they see it now they are quite impressed,” Collin says.
Collin’s love of texture and contrast is on full display in the nearby powder room. The small space makes a big impact thanks to bold geometric wallpaper from Clancy’s Rainbow. Roth Design Inc. created a custom vanity using a clever mix of concrete, teak and galvanized steel. It provides the perfect pedestal for another Native Trails copper sink.
Upstairs, DUO expanded the existing bathroom by removing a closet from an adjoining room and stealing space from the large second-floor landing. This clever solution provides plenty of room for a double vanity, claw-foot tub and large walk-in shower.
Collin was so taken by the powder room wallpaper that he chose a slightly different version for the upstairs bathroom. “This bathroom has a masculine, mid-century modern feel that I really like,” he says. In combination with Calacatta marble flooring and dark granite countertops, it makes a dramatic statement. 
With the kitchen and bathroom renovations complete, Collin is turning his attention to the home’s third floor where DUO will oversee the transformation of the former servants’ quarters into a private master retreat. “We’re going to take down all the walls to completely open up the space,” he says.