When buying a first home, people often talk about finding theone or instantly falling in love with a property. For Catherine Cachia and Lionel McDonald, this was decidedly not the case when they purchased a 900-square-foot semi-detached home in the East Danforth neighborhood of Toronto. The couple had viewed dozens of sales and lost out several bidding wars in the area’s competitive real estate market. They saw this century-old place in the rain late on a Sunday night, looked at each other, and said something like, “There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong or weird about this one!” They were actually very excited that it had an ugly, outdated kitchen because that meant they didn’t have to pay for someone else’s renovation, and they got to make all the selections themselves with the money saved.
The pair knocked out half the wall between the kitchen and living room to create a breakfast bar as soon as they moved in, and installed all new cabinetry, countertops, and flooring in the kitchen. They then painted the interior walls white throughout the house. Considering how much Catherine loves color, it was a surprising choice, even to her. But it created a sense of consistency, kept the small spaces as bright as possible, and allowed her to decorate with eclectic, vintage details. A year and a half later, she’s finding that turning a house into a home is an ongoing process that takes time and shouldn’t be rushed. To understand how it should function and feel, it needs to be lived in first.
Catherine gets bored of looking at the same things fairly quickly, so her rooms are constantly evolving. Changing or rearranging a few simple things can provide new inspiration in spots that previously felt tired. For her, trying out lots of different ideas is the only way to see what works. She has thrown countless DIY projects in the trash, and scrapped many furniture configurations. The homeowners tried every conceivable floorplan on the main floor because there isn’t an obvious dining or living room — just one open, continuous space. It is only now, on maybe the tenth try, that they suspect they’ve gotten it right.
Catherine wanted to create a colorful home that felt welcoming, above all else. As much as she loves vintage and usually leans towards mid-century modern pieces, she didn’t want any room to be entirely from one period, and instead opted for a mix of different eras and styles, including contemporary. After renting in big cities for many years before buying, Catherine and Lionel have learned to appreciate every single inch of space here. Having a second bedroom and backyard for the first time in their lives has been a dream. And because they are expecting their first little babe in September, there will be lots more experimenting to do. —Annie