A Forest Hill pied-à-terre designed by the principals of Design theory offers the ultimate five-star boutique experience.

By Silvana Longo

Photography by Valerie Wilcox


Creating beautiful, functional interiors for clients that speak to their lifestyle is the cornerstone of any successful design business. When this project came along, it was the ideal outlet for that pent-up reservoir of creative ideas and heightened inspiration waiting in the wings. And the results are exceptional.


This was precisely the case when a couple based outside of Toronto approached principal designers Leanne Tammaro and Adolphina Czyrsky, founders of award-winning design studio Designtheory, about renovating their midtown townhouse. Beyond the goal of having their own place when visiting their nearby daughters and granddaughter, the well-travelled couple wanted to combine the ultimate entertaining experience with their own private city refuge. “The main floor is about entertaining, and as you ascend to the other levels of the house, it becomes their unique personal space,” says Leanne. It was also important to the homeowners to create spaces that were specific to their design aesthetic: a type of modern elegance inspired by their stays in luxury hotels from their many trips abroad. The couple wanted their pied-à-terre to have an upscale hotel lounge vibe. It didn’t take long for them to realize that the duo at Design theory could masterfully translate that vision into bespoke design, delivering a quiet luxury that stands the test of time. “They gave us carte blanche early on,” says Adolphina, revealing that kind of trust yields the best design possible. In the end, the design duo renovated the entire three floors of the townhome — an exercise in contrast, luxury materials and layers upon layers of details that stimulate yet soothe.


The kitchen is the main-floor attraction and the goal for this space was strategic colour blocking with an explosion of finishes from custom-stained oak, multi-finish marbles and mixed metals. The initial sightline upon entering the foyer is a striated waterfall island which is two-thirds marble, separated by a satin brass inlay with the remaining one third fully clad in porcelain. The use of black on the countertop, matte-black fixtures and a Silgranit sink succeeds in creating a bar-like area allowing the showpiece island — which is heated — to shine. The unexpected warmth emanating from the island during cocktail hour is a welcome touch. All lighting is thoughtfully layered and dimmable, casting the perfect glow, while their favourite music plays in the background, thanks to concealed speakers hidden within the drywall. Design details thoughtfully delineate the entertaining area from the working space; the visual appeal is matched by the attention given to the interior workings and function of the kitchen.


“The duo at Designtheory masterfully translates vision into bespoke design, delivering a quiet luxury that stands the test of time.” 


Down the hall, the powder room is a tiny space with big personality. “We clad the wall behind the sink with a beautifully leathered rich green marble called Avocatus. To save space in such a tight room, we had the sink fabricated from the Avocatus slab so it wouldn’t protrude into the room and designed an integrated lowered ledge within the sink for soap storage,” says Adolphina. “If we had a dropped-in typical undermount sink, we would have lost the luxury appeal,” says Leanne. The wall-mounted faucets and bold geometric-patterned wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries in Commanding Charcoal further delights the eye. “It’s all wood veneer with a satin gold detail running through it,” Adolphina describes. Again, texture and layers play a big part in this small space. “We installed alabaster sconces on top of the wallpaper, layering yet another natural material next to the marble, just to really take it to the next level when it comes to luxe.”


While the main floor has darker, moodier finishes with accents of light, the reverse was done upstairs. “Marble jambs and double-integrated sinks and a custom vanity in high-contrast tones show the connection to the lower level and allows this to be a separate yet cohesive space,” says Leanne. Here, a private oasis reigns supreme. Reeded glass doors for the shower and water closet add a traditional element, and a haven of calm awaits with a separate bathtub room wrapped in an ethereal wall covering with a painterly water-colour effect. “Silvery, white and blue-grey tones give that spa-like feel and add a visual layer of softness to a room with mostly hard surfaces,” notes Adolphina.


On the third floor, the three-piece bathroom adjacent to the office has a masculine feel. “Deep, moody tones define this space as we combined shades of brown with black,” says Leanne. An off cut piece of marble set the tone for the selection of materials for this room, as well as the decision to forgo sconces and install a large custom backlit mirror. “The integrated marble sink perfectly showcased the unique gold veining of the marble beautifully, providing repetition in detail, but also by adding yet another elegant touch to a small space,” says Leanne. The vanity was custom designed using a saturated mink paint colour with bronzed mirror panels on the inset of the drawers. Walls were covered in an abstract Aztec design wallpaper meant to mimic fabric and create a feeling of softness.


Leanne and Adolphina say the couple were elated when they were presented with their home away from home following the renovation. The luxe hotel vibe fits perfectly with their love of entertaining, and their personal spaces evoke a truly romantic charm. “Leanne and I are big travellers, and we love to explore and experience beautiful hotels and destinations,” Adolphina says. “We had an opportunity to flex those creative muscles and pull from our bank of ideas and put them into action, and our clients loved the results.”