HOUSE TOUR: The house goes from chubby to choppy

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Rarely is the boss’s relationship under control simple. But not in the case of Avril McNair and Olivia Pottery. “We met at a furniture store in Queen West 15 years ago,” says Pottery. “Avril was the manager. You are the new employee. And we became fast friends. We were a dream team.”

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Two months later, McNair left to pursue a degree in arts at OCAD and obtain a real estate license; Pottery is now a designer who heads up the Dart Studio.

Over the years, friends made fun of wine and went to concerts. And they put their shared love of design into many of the homes they renovated together. McNair has an impressive art collection and is drawn to interiors that blend ornate and elegant modern designs.

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The last place McNair herself lived was a wood-and-white hanger designed by Pottery; It was “pure perfection” as she described it.

Perfect for displaying art, like “Toast” by Erin Rothstein, Modern Banquettes connect to a pantry wall. Photo by Photo Courtesy of Angus Fergusson / Styling by Me & Mo

She sold it, albeit reluctantly, when circumstances changed and needed more space for some very annoying roommates: two red-bone dogs and a toddler.

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The half of the three-story Roncevalles she had snatched into place was too far from cosmetic touches. “There were three different types of flooring, wobbly metal railings, peeling wallpaper, and water issues,” Pottery says. “It was so bad downstairs that the side of the sink fell off when I touched it.”

Gut regeneration was in order. “The goal was to transform it from an old, dull home into a very welcoming family home,” Pottery says.

“Avryll has so much art, we wanted to make sure there were plenty of places to showcase her amazing collection — there are so many quirky details. I’m obsessed with banquets,” which are perfect, she points out, for gallery walls.

Far from the entrance, Botrie scrapped the typical straight Toronto staircase, replacing it with a C-shaped design on the side of the house to maximize space. “New balusters are rounded and textured to balance out the kitchen’s clean contemporary paneled cabinets,” she says.

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“This house originally had French doors for the living room,” McNair says. “I loved the formal action and the big, dramatic doors,” so the idea was to work on a similar element. In the entryway, salvaged nine-foot-high doors are both attractive and functional—they can hide a messy foyer. “The detail of the square panels and the color of the muddy paint add warmth,” says Pottery.

Warm oak cabinets by Olympic Kitchens;  This linear walnut light comes from the Matthew McCormick Studio.
Warm oak cabinets by Olympic Kitchens; This linear walnut light comes from the Matthew McCormick Studio. Photo by Photo Courtesy of Angus Fergusson / Styling by Me & Mo

More drama can be found in fireplaces: Pottery says the traditional limestone figure in the front living room has a “Brooklyn brownstone look.” The other, in the back lounge, is a contemporary slicker. However, the two act well together on the same floor.

Mixing things up seems casual and collected, says Puteri, also referring to the kitchen.

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They’re U-shaped, by Olympic Kitchens, and the warm oak cabinets play nicely against the linear walnut light fixtures. Hardwood floors transition from the front rooms to black chevron tiles for a doggie durability that accesses the back lounge.

There is a fireplace with a ledge built into the rear addition.  The TV retracts into the dark wall.
There is a fireplace with a ledge built into the rear addition. The TV retracts into the dark wall. Photo by Photo Courtesy of Angus Fergusson / Styling by Me & Mo

The combination of lighting also fills the house with its personality: Above the dining table, trio of Concord Lighting looks like golden jump ropes.

Botrie designed a three-story addition to the rear of the building. The second floor now contains a master suite with 20 feet of lockers and a spa-like en suite bathroom. The addition raised the house from 1,800 to 2,900 square feet. Children’s bedroom, office and bathroom on the third floor.

Nothing in the house is novelty, or seems to have been flown from a furniture showroom. After all, the house should reflect its owners. As Putri says, “My personal style is not necessarily what I will present to a client. I listen to my clients.”

Even if they are old friends.

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