Redesigning: From Dark To Dazzling

When homeowners in Kingsway, just west of  Toronto, Ontario, tired of the current look of their home’s main living areas, they desperately wanted a makeover without the hefty price tag of a renovation. Dark, wood paneling coupled with furniture and accents with heavy finishes, were no longer a reflection of the homeowners’ extroverted personalities and entertaining styles. So they enlisted Mississauga, Ontario-based interior designer Elizabeth Metcalfe to maintain the integrity of the building, and modernize the interiors on a budget.
To achieve this transformation from heavy and dark to bright and elegant, Metcalfe looked to a color palette of bold colors—deep teals and rich corals—with an ivory backdrop complemented by a handful of neutral accent pieces to keep the look balanced and refreshing.
Metcalfe started with the dining room, which had been unofficially designated the “forgotten room.” Although the homeowners are avid entertainers, the decor didn’t quite fit with their personalities, and they eventually lost interest in the space. “The dining room felt disconnected from the rest of the home,” says Metcalfe. “We wanted to take the warm coral color from the living room and use it in a much bolder way to really make it something special.” 

To breathe new life into the space, Metcalfe opted to forgo the traditional dark walnut finish on the table, for example, and instead applied an ivory lacquered finish, which immediately brightened the space. To keep the room light and airy, Metcalfe also added an antique mirrored buffet, which adds sparkle and, she says, a beautiful lift to the once dark room. Complementing the rich coral wall color are velvet diamond-tufted chairs in the same color palette, which look dramatic against the ivory trim and molding.

To create interest, the designer added a large-scale, neutral-tone wall covering with crystal detailing. Similarly, stunning custom-made dining room chairs by Metcalfe’s company, Elizabeth Metcalfe Interiors & Design, in a striking coral and two chairs featuring a large-scale cut velvet motif on the backs and a pale-taupe tufted front, bring in a subtle warmth to the vibrant room. The vintage chandelier—the homeowners’ sentimental keepsake—and the transitional crystal cube sconces shed a soft glow against the coral walls, making the room ideal for entertaining day or night.
Now complete, the dining room seamlessly transitions into the living room, yet another space that needed updating. “There wasn’t an exact inspiration for this room,” explains Metcalfe. “It was more about giving the home a complete transformation. . . . We had to find the perfect marriage between the strong accent colors and our design aesthetic of refined elegance.” Metcalfe struck this delicate balance by incorporating neutral tones and fabrics throughout both the living and dining rooms. “When you use a lot of strong bold colors it is just as important to use neutrals to balance the visual weight and impact.”

To achieve this seamless balance, each piece was strategically placed throughout the rooms to form a cohesive, well thought-out plan; a necessity when planning an interior, as every piece contributes to the design. “Beauty results when balance, form, shape, color, texture, contrast, scale, and proportion come together in a state of harmony,” says Metcalfe. “Every piece has a role to play.” The feather headdress above the fireplace that was sourced from Snob in Toronto, does just that as the round shape plays off the linear molding details and the feathery texture against the wool, silk, and velvet textures in the room. The custom area rug is yet another accessory carefully selected as a soft contrast to the bold colors. It works well because it has “a pattern strong enough to balance the weight of the room,” says Metcalfe.

In the end, the designer proved that the homeowners never needed to renovate their home after all. Some tweaking and an overhaul of the aesthetic invigorated the two entertaining spaces with new life sans knocking down walls and building up new ones. “The homeowners were very open to change,” says Metcalfe. And change—at its best—is exactly what they got. 

As featured in Home By Design

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All measurements are approximate.
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