When Andrea Ting-Letts and Ray Letts bought this 1968 split-level rancher in the summer of 2015, this design-wise couple didn’t waste any time making this Rockheights dwelling their own. Content with the home’s solid build and quiet location backing onto a green space, the couple found the interior layout dysfunctional and the décor dated. Resisting the trend to gut their post-war home, the owners took the sensible route (think carbon footprint) and kept the best of what the home had to offer and got rid of the superfluous elements. Armed with her own design panache and a clear budget, Ting-Letts turned to creative collaborators Josée Lalonde and Melanie Henson at Josée Lalonde Design to transform their split-level.
As passionate cooks who love to entertain, the owners’ main cause for concern was the u-shaped kitchen’s inefficient use of space. Not to mention, the orange-toned oak cabinets coupled with the navy blue tile left the kitchen feeling drab and lifeless.
On the other side of a narrow pocket door, the dining room was cut-off from the kitchen and contributed to the home’s disconnect. “Our main design priorities were to update and brighten the kitchen, open the wall between the kitchen and dining room, remove the sunroom, brighten the living room, change the flooring and repaint,” says Ting-Letts.
As conscious consumers, the couple was aware of the amount of unnecessary waste generated by renovations and were keen to keep their debris to a minimum and avoid overconsumption in the process. With a budget of approximately $50,000, this reno is a lesson in locating that point of equilibrium between design and value where preservation, repurposing and a creative spirit rule.
However, as Lalonde adds, there is always the notorious “change of scope” in every project. She explains that it can be a two-fold occurrence with the first being the unexpected construction issues (those surprises you might find when opening up walls or lifting old flooring) that you can’t foresee when quoting on a project. Enter the ripple effect. And second, the client’s natural excitement and inclination to make additional changes that weren’t originally intended in the budget. In this particular project, there was a little of each and the couple spent closer to $65,000 in the end. A reasonable cost overrun considering a typical kitchen reno alone often exceeds their final number.
Creative strategizing on what could be salvaged and repurposed was at the centre of the homeowners’ design mandate. Fortunately, their kitchen cabinets were solidly built oak and as Ting-Letts says, “the craftsmanship was excellent and the cabinets were in great condition.” John Demedeiros from NuEdge Painting updated the cabinets with shoji white paint on the uppers and added new hardware to transform the look of the whole kitchen.
A lightly distressed vintage look on the upper cabinets paired with the sliding barn doors pulls the casual farmhouse vibe together. To add interest and avoid overplaying the antiqued feel, they chose a matte finished light grey hue for the bottom cabinets. The variegated Verona Blanc Herringbone backsplash in grey and cream adds a touch of iridescent modernity. “When it all came together, we were thrilled with the overall look,” states Lalonde.
Receptive to Ting-Lett’s request to incorporate unique pieces into her design, Lalonde adds that “mixing different styles is always my favourite challenge because it really pushes our creativity as a team.” She asserts that there really is no formula for how they pull separate elements together to create a harmonious design, but that each project is a reflection of the owners themselves and their lifestyle.
The trunk turned bookcase is from The Nest Collective at Whippletree Junction and conveniently came with the built-in shelves. “We always like to make the island a focal piece; it is such a substantial part of a kitchen so why not make it interesting,” adds Lalonde. Adding a Whitehall quartz countertop to the hardworking eat-in island maintains the simple elegance of the kitchen’s overall aesthetic.
With references to divergent schools of design in the furnishings and finishes, the couple define their style as “Baja Zen meets Old Growth Forest meets Steampunk Farmhouse.” Concerned that multiple inspiration sources could potentially compete with one other, the couple knew that one of Lalonde’s strengths is fusing conflicting design elements in a room to create harmony and cohesiveness.
As a yoga instructor with a penchant for natural light filled open spaces, Ting-Letts embraces a minimalist atmosphere where each element is deliberate and purposeful. To create an airy feel, they painted the brick wall that houses the fireplace and chimney bright white. Finding inspiration in their favourite vacation destinations: Ucluelet, Tofino, Bali and the Baja, the well-travelled couple wanted to embody global influences into their design including this one-of-a-kind, hand-carved cow skull with horns made in Ubud, Indonesia.
“One of our favourite elements is the embossed wood textured wallpaper,” says Ting-Letts. Allowing the Thibaut Eastwood wallpaper to be the high impact element in the design, the owners love that it was hung horizontally to offer the hint of a barnboard wall. Cameo laminate flooring in Brookfield Birch fit with the couple’s eco-conscious needs and is scuff and scratch resistant.
The eye-catching 8-light chandelier defines the space and adds a dash of industrial bling without overpowering the dining area. The rustic wood dining table with a polished stainless steel base and classic high back dining chairs are both from Muse & Merchant and pair beautifully with the modern white buffet from Scan Design.
- Interior Design: Josee Lalonde Design
- General Contractor: Price Perry Renovations and Construction
- Flooring: Hourigan’s Flooring
- Countertops: Colonial Countertops
- Backsplash: Design District Access
- Wallpaper: Design District Access
- Lighting: McLaren’s Lighting
- Painting: Mettes Painting and Decorating
- Kitchen Cabinets: NuEdge Painting
- Electrical: Gorge Electrical Services
- Fireplace Mantle and Kitchen Shelf: The Finishing Store