The Bold and the Beautiful

Colourful accents and opulent accessories were the key to ensuring this large home felt cozy and inviting for friends and family while making a definitive design statement.

By Lisa van de Geyn

Ensuring a 6,100-square-foot home feels warm is no small feat, and it’s a request that designer Alexandra Naranjo didn’t take lightly. When her clients approached her with their wish list for a custom-built home—complete with four bedrooms, five baths and two powder rooms—they told her the most important part of the project would be making sure the space felt very familiar and homey. The couple, who have four children and three grandchildren and two dogs, are all about hosting at their place. “They love getting together every week and wanted their home to feel very comfortable and inviting,” she says.

Warmth was the major must-have for this project, but there were other parameters Naranjo was given. They wanted the home architecturally designed and built by T. Gornik Build/Design Ltd. in Toronto’s affluent Kingsway neighbourhood, to really make a statement. “It was very important to the homeowners that their new home design complement the existing architecture and character of the area,” says Naranjo. “The owners’ utmost desire was to be creative and individual in all aspects of the design. Both Gornik and Naranjo were given three parameters—to be bold, daring and different.”

These parameters ultimately inspired Naranjo’s vision when it came to the overall finishes and interior design of the home. “I was also inspired by the homeowner—she is a strong and inspirational lady, and very fashionable.” The place is very unique and meticulously designed—the builder ensured that the architecture had a Georgian flair, and my focus was to make certain the interior was more classic and transitional with clean lines. That said, its opulence is definitely fitting for such an immense, unique space. “There’s a lot of wallpapers, textures, details. No wall is simply painted. We added lots of custom pieces, like rugs by Weaver’s and furniture by Christopher Guy. There are just so many things you won’t find anywhere else, such as exquisite chandeliers,” she says. “They really gave me free range when it came to choosing colours, textures and custom details. They let me take it to the next level and take risks.”

The first-floor parlour was one of the bigger risks Naranjo took in her design. “I knew they’d be open to pushing the envelope because they love colour and wanted that wow factor. They trusted me when I told them the room would pull together beautifully.” The room is a stunning rich, dark blue and gold—there’s a Phillip Jeffries gold-leaf ceiling, custom rug in matching colours, gold grasscloth on the walls and unique mohair velvet chairs. The cabinetry in the same hue complement the geometric pattern in the rug, and the drapes feature a large damask pattern in gold and navy. “When I asked the homeowner her favourite colour, she mentioned navy. That spoke to me. I love using blues in different tones. Every house I design has a bit of blue,” says Naranjo. “They wanted the parlour to equal the glamour of the rest of the home. The lacquered millwork and trims introduced a sophisticated punch to the room.”

This wasn’t the only room Naranjo turned into a statement space. The office is done in layered silvers—shimmering metallics from floor to ceiling. “We wanted to commit to colour and we did it in a classy way throughout the home,” she says. The third-floor guest room is a mauve-lavender and was designed with the homeowner’s granddaughter in mind. “It’s old Hollywood—it feels very 1940s and glamorous. We injected black and gold, too,” Naranjo says. The dining room also has that luxe feel—it’s upholstered in high-sheen metallic gold fabric, has high-gloss ceilings and the statement pieces in the room are definitely two Murano chandeliers with 24-karat gold crystal. “The timeless chandeliers not only give the perfect ambiance but also carry the beautiful gold elements in the room with their gold-infused Murano crystals,” she says.

Colour plays a big part in making this home so distinctive, but it’s the extravagant details that really make it unique to the homeowner. The kitchen’s island provides seats for four and is done in honed Calacatta counters, and the fridge is camouflaged under a hand-carved cabinet (which looks like an armoire) behind the island. There’s a custom skylight which has a dome-shaped light fixture positioned overtop to ensure natural light isn’t obstructed. Perhaps the biggest statement piece in the house is the 26-foot custom Murano chandelier that’s suspended through the staircase. It can be seen on every floor and glistens when the light hits it. “They didn’t want a traditional over the stairs so we chose this one that’s very sculptural and different. It took five days to put the chains of glass together.”

The one thing Naranjo says she loves most about the home is how cohesive the space is. “The glamour and uniqueness is carried from room to room—the whole house is elegant and distinct, but has that warm feeling that was so important to the family. It really does fit the homeowners perfectly.”

Design by Alexandra Naranjo
Photography by Stacey Brandford