Suzanne Dimma’s bright, airy 700-square-foot master bedroom was, until recently, an unusable third floor divided into four tiny rooms.
When the Toronto interior designer and her husband, Arriz Hassam, bought the Victorian semi-detached house in the city’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood two years ago, they began a nine-month renovation. The aim was twofold: To restore some the home’s traditional charm and to make it more functional.
To that end, one of the first things to go were the interior walls on the top floor so that they could create a spacious master bedroom with a king-size bed, lots of closets and an ensuite bath. “I wanted it to be lofty and open, but cozy at the same time” says Dimma, who has her own interior design firm and is a former editor-in-chief of House & Home magazine.
“I love this space because the light is so beautiful, at all times of the day. From my desk I have a view of Riverdale Park and I can hear cows, horses and sheep pretty much year-round. Sometimes the smells as well, but that’s okay,” she says. “The back looks onto a private deck. Some days I feel like I’m in the country. Others, I feel like I’m in my own little Parisian pied-à-terre.”
As with most old homes, closets were negligible so one of the first things the couple did was hire a millworker, la Fabrika of Toronto, who added closets everywhere they would fit, a challenge given the sloped walls and roofline. To the right of the king-size bed, they built a dresser, and bedside tables were replaced by a 12-inch ledge behind the bed, which holds books, reading glasses and knickknacks.
Dimma describes her decorating style as “boho minimal,” a term that sounds contradictory but, she insists, is not. “I like layers, but I like them to be clean,” she says. “I like to see patterns mixed together, but I don’t want it to look cluttered. It can be a tricky mix.”
Mixed with vintage pieces collected over the years, including both chairs in the loft, the couple added many historical touches befitting a Victorian home, such as the tarnished brass sconces behind the bed, brass hardware, antique knobs and Forbes and Lomax switches – the old-fashioned toggle kind – to authenticate the space.
“Just that last little detail, alone, makes it feel like it’s been part of the house forever,” Dimma says.
To add texture to the walls she used V-groove panelling, Brenlo custom wood mouldings, painted Benjamin Moore CC-40 cloud white. It’s a trick she uses a lot in her design work for clients in order to break up boring drywall. “Mine is four inches wide, but Brenlo will make it to any spec. We did it throughout the house to give back some of its original integrity,” she says.
The ceiling height was another challenge. To make the room seem taller, Dimma put in a low-profile IKEA Malm bed with the light oak veneer. Then she covered the relatively inexpensive base with white linen, with a delicate cross-stitch, and part of her own capsule bedding collection with Au Lit Fine Linens. “I’m a big fan of linen,” she says. “I like that it’s relaxed and not fussy. You just have to embrace the wrinkles and accept them as an inherent part of the beauty of the fabric.”
Then there was the alcove to contend with, another awkward, but interesting part of the space. At first, Dimma considered a daybed, with lots of colourful cushions, but then she remembered she had a vintage desk she had bought years ago and couldn’t part with.
“It fits there perfectly and it’s where I do my writing and my billing,” says Dimma, who works from home. “It’s my favourite place. I look out onto green space and I feel like I’m sitting in the treetops.”
Get The Look
Navire sconce by Atelier De Troupe in brass: $945 at Hollace Cluny (hollacecluny.ca).
Lavato cross-stitch linen sheets from Suzanne Dimma capsule collection; $290 (queen duvet set) at Au Lit Fine Linens (aulitfinelinens.com).
Ochre knit storage basket; $14.99 at HomeSense (homesense.ca).