Spending time in an interior that has been professionally curated and designed is always a treat, especially when the home happens to belong to the designer herself. Sylvie Roth of Sylvie’s Interior Design invited OUR HOMES to poke around her Victorian era cottage in London’s Old North. We spoke with Sylvie about her recent reno and the decidedly bohemian – aka boho – style she brought with her from Montreal. Carefree, vintage-loving, layered and art-centred, it’s a signature look that she’s added to many other London interiors over the past 12 years.
Let’s start with a little background on your home:
My husband, Andy Roth, bought it 20 years ago. He loved the location, in the core but at the end of a dead-end street so there’s not a lot of traffic. An added feature was the very large lot. Originally there were three apartments in the house, and we continue to have a tenant upstairs. When I moved in after we got married 11 years ago, the house was pretty beat up. We’ve been renovating ever since.
How did you get your place ready to live in… and decorate?
We started by turning the two main-floor apartments into one, giving us around 1,600 square feet of living space. We knocked down some walls and we stripped most of the original doors. I love the weathered look they have now. Since it is a Victorian home, we added crown mouldings in the rooms we gutted. They match original mouldings in the other rooms. New maple floors and new windows (Copp’s Buildall) made the place more liveable. Of course we also had to replace wiring and put in a new heating and cooling system.
For a while you lived in another old cottage, but came back here almost a year ago. What have you done since moving back in?
We made our front entryway more functional by adding a bench and built-in shelving by Roth Design Inc., and Andy has also put in two gorgeous bathroom vanities that look fantastic paired with fixtures from Aqualuxe Bath Showroom. We have repainted throughout with three of my favourite Benjamin Moore colours from Clancy’s Rainbow - Oxford White, Wrought Iron and Racoon Fur. They show art beautifully, and I do love original art! In fact, it’s hard for me not to buy it. I would rather have a blank wall than a reproduction. I love working with artists, especially Biljana Vujicic and Vanessa Zita Vanderider, both from London. I relate to their stories and their passion, and I enjoy promoting their work.
How would you describe your home now?
Very simple, but very eclectic. My house is filled with pieces that I’ve had for years. I don’t get rid of much and my style really hasn’t ever changed. I go for materials that are never going to date. I love mostly raw materials, like wood and concrete. Iron, too. Andy has framed all our mirrors using angle iron. I love their rusticity.
What are the chief elements of boho?
Mixing old and new is very important. We’ve got crown mouldings but we also have sliding metal doors. I have a chrome light fixture in my kitchen that works beautifully over the butcher block bar. I am drawn to distressed rugs, doors and furniture. I like to bring organic elements into my lighting, choosing fixtures made from paper, rope and metal. I’m all about textural accessories and I like layering with throws and cushions. I love to repurpose. Our kitchen butcher block bar was made from an old piece of timber that was originally a skid for transporting transformers. Andy’s friend had seen a few of these skids and told Andy, “You have to get one!”
What have you prioritized during your renovations?
Flow is very important in a home. There should be no forbidden areas. We knocked out walls to create easy movement and sight lines between our main living areas. Of course we also had to work within certain limitations. I need a big office and work room, but I also need a big room to store my clothes. There wasn’t enough space to have both so now I’ve got a combination dressing room/office, which works great! Another “limitation” is that our master bedroom provides the only access from the house to our outdoor living space. But that’s ok. It’s a big, airy room with french doors. I just treat it as another beautiful room to experience while on my way outside.
How have you taken your boho style outdoors?
Our outdoor living space is not all neat and tidy. It is rough and untended but in a planned kind of way. For pops of colour, we’ve used vintage chairs, the kind you could find outside motel rooms in the 1970s. You can still buy them from one or two suppliers. Our planters are old rusted metal boxes mixed with an assortment of pottery that we fill with hostas rather than flowers. We’ve got a fire pit surrounded by stumps to sit on. It’s a retreat, and a sanctuary. We like to call it “the simple life.”
Do you have any future plans for the house?
We plan to renovate the kitchen in the near future. In the meantime, we’ve got great new appliances (London Major Appliances) as well as a fabulous pantry just off the kitchen where I store my vintage platters. When we renovate we will build a Scandinavian-style glass-and-steel frame wall between the kitchen and pantry. We’ve done a lot here, and continue to do so, which is why we plan to stay forever.