Come tour the home of Designer Lisa Kooistra
Every designer has their own signature style. But regardless of the specifics, this aesthetic has to resonate with each client in a very individual way. After all, “home” means something very different to everyone. To me, home is a cozy, functional and liveable environment, which were the prevailing themes when designing my own home.
Here’s the grand tour, and what I did to get this look.
At a glance, you might say I have a sweet spot for Scandinavian style, which is classified by a light, neutral colour palette, rich textural elements, and a strong foundation in simplicity. This characteristic style inspired the broader aesthetic of my home, with open and airy whites that are grounded with darker tones and accents, while also leaning into elements of mid-century modern and contemporary styles.
This century home was built in the 1870s, and boasts a contemporary flair that still preserves its historic details and charm. Interestingly, the home’s historic elements are where most of our challenges presented themselves.
But I’m always up for a challenge – just one characteristic of a designer that’s worth their salt.
The fireplace wall in the family room was destined to be the focal point of the space and the heart of the home, and thus, it became our focus. The main issue was that it was dark and it lacked symmetry. The second challenge is one I commonly encounter when redesigning older homes: moving HVAC and other structural elements just isn’t an option. The expense of making these changes can quickly eat into the renovation budget, often to the detriment of some of the “sexier” upgrades that my clients have their hearts set on. In this case, we had ducts running down the fireplace wall, which created a divide with a fireplace that was dated and out of place.
My main objective was to retain this fireplace, which was a critical character element and a key focal point in the room. Saving this feature involved a great deal of planning and creative solutions to make this wall cohesive, while balancing the original fireplace that was unfortunately un-centred and woefully out-of-place.
We remedied the situation by removing the wood-burning fireplace and replacing it with a new gas insert, and building out the surrounding wall to centre the insert. We ran the fireplace wall up to the ceiling, creating architectural interest, visual impact and adding height.
The original design had a small mantel and low bay windows that made everything appear smaller than it actually was. To further enhance the sense of height in the space, we installed custom tone-on-tone drapery at the top of the wall abutting the ceiling, which cover the existing walls and draw the eye upward, helping to show off the height of the ceilings.
One of my favourite features, aside from the fireplace itself, is the previously unused space to the left of the wall bump-out, which we outfitted with custom cabinetry and a beautiful arch to show off more character in the home. From a functional perspective, this area became great for storage and kids’ toys.
We balanced the fireplace with both millwork and a built-in log stack, so the wood tones were used in an even flow. And possibly the one thing I was most excited about was the lime-wash paint we used to finish the whole wall. This made this feature look like one cohesive custom wall that housed everything we needed, and added the old-world European feel.
While “home” can have a thousand different meanings, they all narrow down to a space that brings comfort and convenience to its residents. To me, it’s a space that delivers function and fashion, with a simplicity that encourages me to escape the world outside and the constant go. This is where I can rest, relax and breathe, surrounded by an airy aesthetic that brings me comfort on every level and at every turn.
By Lisa Kooistra
Lisa Kooistra is the Creative Director and Principal Designer for Lisa Kooistra Design. This multi-disciplinary sought after GTA design firm has become known for creating exceptional well curated interiors and custom builds. www.lkdesigns.ca