Old and New Blend Together in This Timeless Canadian Condo

A Toronto condo creates a dialogue between old and new, traditional and contemporary.

Less is more, the old saying goes. And its truth lives in a high-rise condo in Toronto, home to a couple who left their old life—and big house—in Montreal to be closer to their adult children.

"Although the homeowners are retired, she especially is a dynamo," designer Colette van den Thillart says. "She wanted to mix it up in ways she hadn't in the past. She was looking for a chic, slightly younger vibe."

designer Colette van den Thillart
Virginia MacDonald

While that meant leaving existing soft furnishings behind, it didn't translate into abandoning meaningful pieces of the past. "They had a house full of antiques," Van den Thillart says. "We did an inventory and kept things that were important."

The same strategy played out with art. "We mixed in contemporary pieces from a Toronto gallery with their very traditional existing art," the designer says. "It gives an evolved feeling. I didn't want to totally negate their backstory and lose the biographical feeling that a home should have."

traditional living room with vintage art and decorative vases
Virginia MacDonald

The old mixes with the new—classic silhouettes against bespoke soft upholstered furnishings and smaller, edgier pieces that create an eclectic yet timeless look suited to the refined interior architecture of the condo, located in a Robert A.M. Stern designed high-rise in the fashionable Yorkville neighborhood.

An old cabinet, its interior lined in pale silk moiré, holds a mélange of items both new and vintage, including a set of Fornasetti plates and faux coral specimens.

Like the condo's design, the color scheme took its lead from the homeowners and their now urban lifestyle. "The palette just sort of developed," Van den Thillart says. "I looked at lighting and the location with its panoramic skyline views. I also considered them. She looks wonderful in tobacco and cognac hues; he looks great in gray and powder blue. That was my springboard. Then I added burgundy and yellow to put some pop into the calm palette."

vintage cabinet with plates and decorative accents
Virginia MacDonald

Walls wear a coat of barely-there blush, a custom-color paint Van den Thillart loves for the warm candlelit glow it seems to give a room. That canvas complements the rooms' well-curated blend of furnishings and accessories.

Van den Thillart had both the sofa and the contemporary chair created especially for this space. The fire screen was originally a midcentury wall sculpture that she reimagined.

"My favorite thing in the living room is the Brutalist coffee table," Van den Thillart says. "Sometimes you suggest something and get puzzled looks. You have to convince your clients to trust you. It's unexpected to mix a Brutalist midcentury piece with fine Georgian things. But I love the conversation between disparate elements. They make each other more exciting."

Custom verre églomisé pieces on each side of the fireplace reflect light and add pleasing symmetry. Another wall contrasts modern art with an antique chinoiserie cabinet brought from the couple's Montreal home. "I mixed up the assemblage inside just as we mixed up the apartment," Van den Thillart says.

traditional living room with patterned chair and statues
Virginia MacDonald

Adjacent to the living space, a banded mahogany dining table invites guests to take a seat beneath the sparkle of a crystal chandelier. "I love that they let me gesso the dining chairs, so it doesn't look like an antique suite," Van den Thillart says. "It takes some bravery to gesso fine Chippendale chairs."

kitchen with purple breakfast table and chairs
Virginia MacDonald

As she made the most of the condo's small footprint, Van den Thillart designed the kitchen down to the last spice jar. "I wanted to make it as nonkitcheny as possible because it's open to the family room," she says. "It's quiet and glamorous, but it's über functional behind the façade."

kitchen with modern wooden cabinets and granite counters
Virginia MacDonald

Appliances tuck discreetly into a side wall covered in a Crezana Design paper. The stone-topped island and bottom cabinets offer storage and work surfaces while translucent front upper cabinets spotlight Christopher Spitzmiller plates and other pretty dishware. Verre églomisé backsplashes created from slabs of glass continue the subtle glimmer.

contemporary family room with geometric patterned pillows
Virginia MacDonald

A few steps away in the family room, comfortable furniture offers a perch to take in bird's-eye views of the sprawling city. A handsome gray palette sets a serene mood to entice daydreaming or time with a good book.

Another sanctuary, the airy primary suite gains warmth from sunny yellows and depth from rich tobacco hues in textiles and art. Natural wood rounds out the imaginative design fusion.

bathroom with mid century vanity and tile flooring
Virginia MacDonald

A midcentury piece was reimagined as a makeup vanity. The curtains are made of Greenbrier fabric in Haystack Yellow from the Random Harvest collection that Van den Thillart produces with Nicky Haslam

"It's an eclectic mix," Van den Thillart says. "I'm happy the homeowners wanted to mix things up. It makes for a home that's at once dynamic and timeless."

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