here was a time in my life when all I desired was an entirely white home — white floors, white walls, white furniture, even books sheathed in sleeves of white paper. It was an aesthetic I’d seen successfully carried out in magazines by artistic homeowners often living in New York City lofts with soaring factory windows. When we bought our first house in Toronto, we decided to live in the space for a few months before taking on a major renovation. The walls were a deep burgundy and the floors were a dark-stained, cheap parquet. Prior to moving in, I persuaded my husband to give everything a coat of white paint — including the floors — so at least the house would feel bright and clean. Three coats later, the place gleamed and my design fantasy to live in an all-white home was starting to take shape. I bought a white sofa, plucked out my whitest bound books and invested in lots of affordable white vases. The look should have started to come together, but no matter how many white things I threw into the space, it wasn’t quite right. Then one day, while studying a photo of a pristine white loft, it dawned on me: the whole reason the space worked was because of the gritty, downtown Soho envelope that surrounded it. It was the tension between the austere architecture and the graceful white furnishings that made it sing. In this issue, we have four homes where talented designers have played against expectations to create stunning spaces with that perfectteeter-totter effect. In Palm Beach, we step inside a landmark 1920s Mediterranean Revival house belonging to Maxine Granovsky Gluskin and Ira Gluskin that has been updated by New York firm Haynes-Roberts with a gutsy mix of mid-century, disco-chic Italian furniture thatfeels entirely appropriate. Closer to home, retailers John Baker and Juli Daoust-Baker, inspired by Paul and Linda McCartney’s mid-life flee to a country estate in Scotland, renovated a centuryold stone house in the country and setto work doing whatthey do best — applying their distinct, paredback Scandinavian-Japanese aesthetic to their rural digs. In Caledonia, Ont., a Victorian-era farmhouse with gingerbread trim and peaked roofs belonging to Judy and Michael McPhee was given a modern treatment with coats of white paint and a mix of down-to-earth honest pieces (think Windsor chairs) and contemporary furniture. And finally, we tour a soaring, downtown condominium with a decidedly contemporary vibe that delights and surprises with antique furniture updated in playful prints and an enviable art collection. Each ofthese homes responds to the architecture ofthe space butin a way thatis slightly unexpected. Instead of filling rooms with furniture ofthe same vernacular or era,they’ve played againsttype and the resultis glorious. I hope you enjoy these homes as much as I do.
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