This apartment, owned by Frank and Sylvia Wylie, seems like the end point of a journey to the perfectly designed living space. It has everything: it's beautiful, warmly inviting, has great views of the lake and is within walking distance of the cafes and shops of downtown Oakville.
It helps that the suite is on the eighth floor of a handsome building designed by Brian Gluckstein. The principle public rooms in the building are as sumptuously decorated as a private home, including the “˜party room', a sophisticated space with fat couches, big cushions and gentle colours. The subdued monochromatic colours of the public rooms are a seamless blend with the interior of the Wylie apartment. It actually feels as if you have passed through a large foyer that is organically connected to the apartment itself.
Frank and Sylvia Wylie's apartment ““ or “˜suite' as Gluckstein prefers them to be called ““ is a compact two bedroom design, but feels like so much more. It seems large and light, and expansive.
It's partly the east-facing windows ““ with their long views of the river and the Lakeshore.Light streams in, picking up the sparkle from silver and crystal accents in the room.
It's also partly the soft colours used throughout the apartment ““ soft cream, linen, vanilla, mocha and white, with defining touches of brown and black.
“We wanted to achieve a look that was classic and elegant, with a contemporary edge, not too formal or stuffy, but still sophisticated,” explains Pia Hugglestone, the senior designer from Jacqueline Glass Associates, who spearheaded the project.
“Sometimes it feels like we are living in a five star hotel,” says Frank, who has completely embraced condo living. Both he and Sylvia have lived in the area for most of their lives and have moved from large houses to a smaller townhouse, and now to this suite. Frank is the president of the condominium board and both he and Sylvia have entered fully into the social life of the building.
“We play bridge, belong to a book club and have regular social get-togethers,” says Sylvia. “In fact, several of the tenants were our neighbours in the nearby townhouse development who moved in here at the same time. We brought our neighbourhood with us!”
It's no wonder the Wylie's are so happy with their new digs. This is apartment living at its refined best, a result of two years of work, planning and cooperation between the Wylie's, Jacqueline Glass Associates and Hugglestone.
“I had seen Jackie on City TV, and I knew her work,” explains Sylvia. “I loved her use of white and light colours and knew that she and I shared the same vision. She likes clean lines and uncluttered spaces, and so do I. I hate curlicues and so does she!”
At the beginning of the design work, a few structural changes helped to customize the space. A family room was eliminated to provide a laundry room and more space for the kitchen, because that is an important space for the Wylie's. The second bedroom was made smaller to allow for a larger master bedroom.
The kitchen is anchored by a large clean-lined island, topped by pale Caesar Stone. Most islands have a sink or perhaps a stovetop in them, but this one is uninterrupted space, and Sylvia loves it. “We talked about putting in a small bar sink, but we realized we didn't need it. Now we have the perfect space for dining together at the island, and it works beautifully for entertaining ““ the island becomes a buffet table.”
The cupboards lining the walls are topped with granite in antique brown, a good balance for the light colours. The built in Sub-Zero refrigerator blends into the cabinetry, and the stove, (Wolf) and dishwasher (Miele) are unobtrusive. Clean, uncluttered lines are dominant with light oversized subway tiles forming the backsplash. There are contemporary touches ““ like the Kohler faucets and the chrome kettle on the stove, that add interest. A large mirror over the sink expands the feel of the room, and the vanilla-toned cupboards and accents of silver and crystal add lightness. A slim chandelier of black wrought iron with crystals also adds to the airiness.
“The mixture of the curvilinear and the straight makes for a pleasing balance in the room,” says Jacqueline Glass. “And there's a nod to the modern here too.”
The kitchen opens to the dining area and living room. Here, Hugglestone suggested cove lighting that has softened and diffused the light source and is particularly good for showcasing the art on the walls. Two generous loveseats and two armless chairs provide seating, and built-ins that look like free standing furniture hide electronics and act as storage.
One of the large balconies parallels the living room, providing light and space, and looking out towards the lake. Electronic sheer weave blinds can shut out the light when it gets too warm.
The office area provides lots of workspace, with carefully designed custom built-ins, as well as good views, while a pull-out couch offers sleeping space for guests. The fireplace is a great design touch ““ the stone is flush with the wall, and the fireplace is two-sided, flowing through to the living room and providing more light. A unique table, supported by an antique station wagon, appropriate for Frank who worked in management at Ford for many years, adds whimsy to the room.
The bedroom also has its own very private balcony, and the built-in cupboards keep the room uncluttered and organized. The master bath continues the light and airy tone, with pale marble, a glass shower and white inlaid tile on a heated floor.
In contrast, the powder room has a masculine feel, with dark wood and marble tile.
There is dark wide plank hardwood flooring throughout, an important counterpoint and anchor to the light colours elsewhere.
Moving to a smaller space wasn't as hard as some would believe, according to Sylvia. “Shedding possessions was actually very liberating. I loved it. Life is much simpler and you keep what is important to you. The rest goes, and you never miss it.”
One of the reasons this design work was so successful was that the Glass Associates' design specialists began right at the start working with the Wylie's, putting in two years of planning.
“When you start right away with one design, you can make everything flow and you have time to make changes,” explains Glass. “Sylvia was very easy to work with.She knew what she wanted and it was easy to translate that into reality. We had a partnership ““ a professional friendship ““ and it worked beautifully. And that is what you have to have to make things work. A good designer has to take herself out of the equation to a certain extent. After all, the clients are the ones who will live here and your goal is to make them happy.”
“There's a fine line between “˜approachable' and “˜decorated'. It's important that people feel comfortable and welcome in a space,” she continues. “That has happened here. The soft cream and light colours are very soothing and the furniture is inviting as well as beautiful.”
“The design of the apartment flows so well, and the focus turns outward, toward the expansive views,” says Hugglestone. “By avoiding stark whites and using a pale but warmer palette, the apartment is softer, gentler and very inviting.”
This elegant Oakville address proves that apartment living can achieve everything you want in a home, without the trouble of running one.
Trim: Decorator White CC 20 by Benjamin Moore
Walls: Muslin OC 12 by Benjamin Moore