House Design

Design house: A Toronto family home gets a functional and long-awaited renovation

The owners have lived in this house near Toronto for almost two decades, but only now has it finally become the home their young family needs

A large kitchen with navy island, greige cabinets and marble wall tiles
(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

Having lived in their Ontario home for almost 20 years, its long-awaited renovation was an emotional experience for both the owners and Toronto-based Tiffany Leigh Design. 

‘We all shed a couple of tears on the big reveal day!’, said the team. ‘They purchased the home as newlyweds in 2002 and have been saving for this renovation for years.’

For a family with two school-aged children, function was just as important as aesthetics, with storage, space (the renovation included an extension to the kitchen) and the ability to entertain all high up on the clients’ ‘must-have’ list. ‘They made it clear early on that they live in their house hard, aren’t precious and weren’t interested in living in an all white house,’ explained Tiffany Leigh Design. 

The end product is an inviting family home that boosts the warmth of its neutrals with ochre-tinged natural browns, cools them delicately with smoky blues, and uses white sparingly to lighten the spaces. 

See: World's best homes – tour the globe’s most beautiful houses 

Foyer

A neutral-toned foyer with a white side table and large wall mirror

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

A warm welcome is just what you’d expect from a house like this. Its foyer provides just that, with an open format that uses a large, but subtly framed mirror to bounce light around the space and make it feel even bigger. Relaxed woven baskets and a rug suitable for both indoor and outdoor use make it known that this is a house for living in comfortably. 

Mudroom

A mudroom with a wall of navy blue cabinets, bench and large wall mirror

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

 ‘We wanted this mudroom to be a true workhorse’, said the team. Storage space is the name of the game here, with a closet taking up a full wall of the room in Benjamin Moore’s Van Deusen blue, and housing individual ‘lockers’ for each member of the household. A durable porcelain flooring has been employed to take on the elements, while a bench offers yet another practical touch to allow winter entrants to take off their boots with ease. 

Powder Room

A neutrally toned powder room with marble mosaic flooring

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

‘We love splurging a bit on materials in powder rooms because you need so little,’ said the team. There’s fun to be found in this petite powder room: as well as a gallery wall made to house family photos, mosaic marble floor tiles add a flourish of pattern, which is carried through more subtly in the vertical shiplap wall panelling. 

Kitchen

A large kitchen with navy blue island, greige cabinets and marble-tiles walls

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

Arguably the heart of this home (and at least the focal point of the renovation) is the sprawling kitchen, extended by Kingsgate Construction. Tiffany Leigh Design has made it a highly functional space, with extensive storage embedded across both the perimeter units and the central navy blue island, all tucked neatly behind closed doors, finished with modernizing black fittings. 

See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens 

A detail of a kitchen with greige cabinets and marble-tiled walls

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Designs/Lauren Miller)

The use of greige (grey-beige) for the cabinets offers a warmer alternative to white, while the calacatta marble subway tiles lend freshness and modernity. 

A breakfast bar area with grey leather-look vinyl bench and chairs

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

Alongside warm brown leather bar stools providing seating at the island, the kitchen also houses a relaxed breakfast ‘nook’, where the marble’s tones are reflected in a white-supported bench and powder grey upholstery, made with leather-look vinyl for easy cleaning.  

Dining room

A neutrally toned dining room with dark wooden table and sideboard

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

Things take a darker turn in the dining room — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A space for grown-up entertaining, this room is painted in a darker greige shade and punctuated by darker woods, particularly notable in the ‘barn’ door, made from black wood and glass. 

A dining room featuring a dark wooden tall sideboard

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

The use of black inflections across the kitchen is extended to a more dominant chandelier over the dining table, while the flatwoven rug is heavily patterned to perhaps hide any late-night drink spills. 

See: Dining room ideas – inspiration for decorating and furnishing your space

Living Room

A neutral-toned living room with blue patterned rug, grey sofa and brown leather recliner

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

 The living room is a lesson in how to make a smaller space feel cosy rather than compact. A light base palette is peppered with warm accents both big and small, from a brown leather recliner to woven footstools, which among the items in the house sourced from Tiffany Leigh Design’s vintage store TLD Curated. 

A neutrally toned living room with a large marbled fireplace and Samsung Frame TV

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

The large rug patterned with blue cools the palette but helps warm toes in front of the fireplace, while the Samsung Frame above the marble mantle doubles as both a TV and a space to display digital art. 

See: Living room ideas – clever ways to decorate living spaces

Master Bedroom

A neutrally toned bedroom with a navy bedhead designed to resemble an oversized pillow

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

 ‘This master bedroom feels like a little retreat,’ the team said. Dream-inducing smoky blues take precedent in the master bedroom, where a bespoke navy headboard has been designed to feel like an oversized pillow, ripe for sinking into. 

Detail of a neutrally toned bedroom, with a daybed positioned by the winder

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

Large bedside tables help minimise distracting clutter, while a daybed offers a bonus venue for rest and relaxation. 

See: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration for beautiful bedrooms

Master Ensuite

An ensuite bathroom with a large marble-backed shower

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

‘The bluestone marble used in the washroom feels so special, and a bit different from everything else we are seeing lately’, said Tiffany Leigh Design. The team reconfigured the ensuite to be able to encompass both a tub and a large shower, as well as a double vanity unit. 

A contemporary, neutral ensuite with both a shower and tub

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

A milking stool is among the wooden accents adding a natural touch, also reflected in the inclusion of a well-groomed tree and landscape artwork. 

See: Bathroom ideas – stylish decor ideas for all bathrooms

Family Bathroom

A neutral-toned family bathroom with chevron floor tiles and double sink

(Image credit: Tiffany Leigh Design/Lauren Miller)

This bathroom is all about the kids — or at least tackling the inevitable mess they leave behind in a playful, stylish way. The chevron tiles add graphic punch to the room, while the classic subway wall tiles have been used for ease of cleaning. Each child also has their own sink and storage spaces to minimise both clutter and squabbles. 

Interior design: Tiffany Leigh Design

Photography: Lauren Miller 

Construction: Kingsgate Construction

Ailis Brennan

I started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. I then spent three years at the Evening Standard on the GO London team, covering restaurants and bars, and getting to eat and drink a veritable smorgasbord of wonderful things around the city. I left the paper in 2020 and went freelance, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures. A little less than a year later, I started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing me to fully indulge my love of good interior design.