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Estee Design founder Svetlana Tryaskina was inspired by wallpaper with a black and white pastoral scene when she had her place renovated. (Photos by Robert Holowka)
Estee Design founder Svetlana Tryaskina was inspired by wallpaper with a black and white pastoral scene when she had her place renovated. (Photos by Robert Holowka)

Home of the Week: In this condo, wallpaper makes its mark Add to ...

15 MCMURRICH ST., UNIT 310, TORONTO

Asking price: $979,000

Taxes: $3,600.18 (2013)

Monthly maintenance: $903.29

Approximate unit size: 1,400 to 1,599 sq. ft.

Agents: Susan Froese McHardy and Don McHardy, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. Brokerage

All photos by Robert Holowka

Inspiration for interior design can come from so many places. And for Svetlana Tryaskina, it came from a wallpaper.

Yes, wallpaper. No longer the outdated, old maid of the design world, wallpaper has been making a steady comeback. But using it is still a skill best left to the deft eye of a professional.

Luckily, Ms. Tryaskina is a professional designer. She is the founder of Estee Design and has been renovating homes across the city for more than a decade. And while she has worked for a number of private clients, unit 310 was more than a flip job for her. It is her home.

“I had a vision of what I wanted the interior to be; I was inspired by that wallpaper,” Ms. Tryaskina said. “When I saw that wallpaper, I thought I would work around that black-and-white theme but something more organic.”

The wallpaper that started it all is a black and white pastoral scene that looks like it was sketched right onto the wall. Its various shades of grey also give it a nearly 3-D, texturized feel and because of the colour schemes, outlets and vents blend into the scenery.

“It’s almost like artwork,” agent Susan Froese McHardy said.

The back story

The wallpaper now covers a half-wall that acts as a divider between the dining room and living room on the first floor of the two-level unit. Adding it was one of many changes that took place during the six-month renovation. Basically the entire unit was brought down to its studs. Changes ranged from substantial structural improvements such as adding walls to minute decor details to dramatic layout redesigns, like what happened on the second floor.

The second floor originally had two long, narrow bedrooms. Ms. Tryaskina modified the two bedrooms, making four different spaces among the two rooms.

The secondary bedroom now has pocket sliding doors that help divvy up the space into a bedroom and a work area.

“I love the dividers in the second bedroom. It used to be such an awkward space. It was like a bowling alley. And now, at no point, do I ever feel that it is a long and narrow room,” Ms. Froese McHardy said. “It feels peaceful because you can divide the space into a work space and a personal space.”

But Ms. Tryaskina points out that room could also be a bedroom/den, kids room/study area, or even a nursery/nanny’s bedroom.

The master suite was also reconfigured. Ms. Tryaskina took away space from the bedroom proper in order to enlarge the walk-in closet, which is now big enough for a makeup nook, a full length-mirror and plenty of room to change.

“It’s basically a separate room,” she said. “Closets, like kitchens, are turning from being strictly utilitarian to being something more glamorous.”

And the kitchen in unit 310 did get a dose of glamour.

While there are still echoes of the original galley kitchen, Ms. Tryaskina rearranged all of the elements, giving it a much more practical flow.

“I couldn’t make the kitchen wider but I brought everything that requires more depth [like the oven and the fridge] out,” she said, adding that this allows the homeowner to use the appliances with room to move and no fears of smashing doors into walls.

By doing this, she also created two zones in the kitchen: one for prepping and one for cooking.

She also added a television on a rotating arm so you can watch it either while you cook or while you eat; a wall-mounted microgarden to grow herbs fresh in your kitchen without taking up counter space; and a big kitchen island to help transition in the dining room space.

Favourite details

“I love that kitchen. I love the feel, the look. I love the contradiction of the simplistic white of the cabinets to the warmth of the wood grain [along the shelves] to the stainless steel appliances,” said Ms. Froese McHardy.

And while Ms. Tryaskina is proud of her kitchen, her favourite room is actually the one that saw the biggest transformation: the first-floor powder room.

“It was disgusting, it was so dark. You’d open the door and you didn’t want to walk in,” she said. “But I bought the ceiling up, installed more lights and added wallpaper.”

“It’s a very different space now.”

And the wallpaper in that powder room fits into Ms. Tryaskina’s black-and-white theme, but it’s vastly different from the one in the living room. It’s also different from the graphic-print wallpaper that runs up a long vertical wall by the stairs. And it’s different from the greyer, subtler one in the master suite.

Even Ms. Tryaskina acknowledges so many wallpapers was a risk. But she believes it paid off.

“I debated with myself in terms of risks. How much of my own personality should I add to these rooms?” she said. “I decided to go for it, because I realized in the end that’s why people like my work.”

It’s also because the design was done as a coherent concept, not a haphazard renovation, and you can see that continuity throughout, Ms. Froese McHardy said.

And it’s the statement of the design that makes the unit so memorable, and so surprising given that it’s tucked away in a 34-year-old building.

“I think that older buildings are often overlooked for the new, high-glitz towers,” Ms. McHardy said. “You get new and old fused together in this unit.”

“Every square foot is a luxurious one.”

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