Facing an Entire Floor of Uneven Ceilings in This Tudor, the Designer Said, “This Needs Wallpaper”
The allover pattern matches the nearby trellis window.
Published May 17, 2023 1:35 AM
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Interior designers Hayley Bridget Cavagnolo and Michelle Smith shared the same thought the first time they saw their clients Jessica and Jordan’s third floor: “This needs wallpaper.” “I mean, all of those angles…” says Cavagnolo, who was acting as project manager under Smith’s company, Studio MRS, at the time (since then, she’s broken out on her own under Hayley Bridget Interiors and has continued to work on the couple’s upcoming renovations). After considering a small-scale floral and tiny polka dot print, they landed on a trellis pattern that not so subtly mimics some of the 1888-built Tudor-style home’s windows. The “busier the better,” they agreed. Meanwhile, Jessica saw it as a huge risk. “But I’m happy to say we don’t regret it,” she shares. “It’s now one of our favorite spots to be.”
Luckily, the funky ceiling angles were relegated to the top floor—the rest of the 3,400-square-foot house in Toronto’s charming Rosedale neighborhood was open and roomy, so they didn’t need to put money toward tearing down or moving walls.
Selecting fresh finishes and furnishings would be their main expense, given the only objects they brought with them were a pair of portraits from Jordan’s family. It was up to the pros to fill in the gaps—primarily with antiques from auctions, like the small green box under the entry console that Cavagnolo’s painter mom later lovingly restored. “Good deals are harder and harder to come by, so if we saw something that we liked, we bought it and felt confident they’d use it,” says Smith.
When it came to a more permanent decision, the designers, along with the contractor, Jamie McKindsey at Alair Construction, had to be a touch more persuasive. “Hayley and Michelle presented the kitchen lights to us and asked us to pick between two colors: blue or yellow. I chose blue and Michelle said, ‘We are going yellow.’ Now every time I look at them, I can’t imagine them being blue,” says Jessica.
The white fixtures that line the wall above the upper cabinets are one of Cavagnolo’s favorite picks (she had them converted from flush mounts to sconces). Meanwhile the dining table nestled against the island is what the designer calls a “Michelle Smith special.” The setup is a work-around to not having any built-in island seating, plus it brings you a smidge closer to the massive original fireplace, which the homeowners light on winter mornings. “Anytime anyone comes over, we hang out there,” says Jessica.
On a typical Sunday morning, the ground floor is the family’s HQ. While their 8-year-old daughter, Naomi, and 2-year-old son, Hugh, post up in the living room for cartoons, Mom and Dad take turns refilling their coffee from the Moccamaster in the pantry. But when everyone retreats to their rooms at night, calm isn’t hard to come by. In Hugh’s space, fabric-wrapped closet doors that match the upholstered bench envelop you like a warm hug. For the sunny window nook, Cavagnolo tasked her brother, a tattoo artist, with creating an illustration on paper that she could frame.
On evenings when Naomi has friends over, the fully wallpapered floor becomes their slumber party haven. “Two of them can sleep on the daybed, and then a couple more will bunk on the bed,” notes Cavagnolo. The headboard was no easy thing to get up there—when the movers realized it wouldn’t fit up the tiny staircase, they had to bring in a crane and transport the piece, along with the sofa, through the window. “There was no other way,” recalls Smith. “Otherwise you’d have to make all baby furniture.”
The headaches continued when the designers saw that a subcontractor had mistakenly cut two sink holes in the bathroom vanity instead of one—the entire thing had to be redone. “We intentionally drew the left side flat so they could have space for their things,” says Smith. “It’s one of the best little pieces, that vanity. I want to be a guest there.”