interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: frank viva

by Grace Bonney

we’re on a bit of a sneak peek roll this week so i wanted to keep things rolling with this beautiful home tour from frank viva of whigby. i’ve been a big fan of his work for some time now, and it was such a treat to get a glimpse into his beautiful home in toronto. frank has provided detailed descriptions of his home below so i’ll let him do the talking. but i also wanted to add that as of today, whigby launched 60 new designs on their website, including some beautiful new posters, tags and cards (you can see samples of those after the jump below). click here to check them out and shop online (and here for the whigby blog!). [thanks to frank and his family for sharing!] click here for additional, full-sized images of frank’s home on flickr.

vivapeek2Agathom Co.) have helped us to restore and reinvent the house for our family. The garden is fairly new – most plants are native and easy to maintain. Since we’re up inside the ravine, there’s no lawn (or chemicals) on the property. The support pickets for the balcony rail were made with inexpensive off-the-shelf stock steel powder coated for durability. The wood is cedar. I purchased the frames for the butterfly chairs on eBay and ordered the canvas covers online from Circa50. [We get cheerful sunlight streaming into our living room during the winter months. In the summer – when the sun is much higher in the sky – the outdoor overhang (the continuation of an inverted butterfly roof) prevents the hot sun from coming in. This helps us to heat the house in the winter and cool it in the summer. The two posters behind the brown couch are by E. McKnight Kauffer and were designed in the late 1930s for the London Underground. We purchased them on a trip to England a few years back. On the mustard wall are three brand-new “curious quotes” posters (featuring George Orwell, Sigmund Freud and Frank Lloyd Wright) – all hand silkscreened by Whigby. I still have to frame them (sorry). Each poster is available in three unique color combinations at the Whigby store.]

[The chandelier in the dining room came with the house. The table, which I inherited when it wouldn’t fit into the studio boardroom my first employer was moving to, has a very heavy marble top. The large photographs are C-type prints and were made from old Ektachrome slides taken by my grandparents on a trip to Ottawa (Canada’s capital) back in the 1950s. We purchased the six Eames side chairs from Quasi Modo Modern Furniture here in Toronto. We later found two matching bucket chairs on eBay and purchased reproduction bases.]

[Here’s the pool (photographed last summer in the evening). We sandblasted, resurfaced and added the tiled black stripes. Spring is in the air and we can hardly wait to open it for another season.]

[The side entrance. The light was created by local artist and designer Stephen Stanish]

CLICK HERE for 6 more pictures of Frank’s house tour after the jump!

[image above: The kitchen area rug is from IKEA – and we love it. The drawer fronts have a silly story that Julia and I wrote embedded directly into the laminate. The story is about a cook who sneaks a sip of the soup he is making with the same spoon he is using to stir the pot — and hopes he hasn’t been noticed. I sent the typographic artwork to Wilsonart, which offers a custom laminate service. After a couple of weeks, the sheet of laminate arrived at our carpenter’s shop so it could be incorporated into the construction of the drawers.]

[image above: My Saturday morning ritual begins with me waking at 5 a.m. to work on one of my children’s picture books. These are two of my sketchbooks. I’m working on a book about biking for HarperCollins right now. What I love is that I get to do both pictures and words. I also enjoy writing the product blurbs for the Whigby store and a column for Applied Arts magazine called “Design Doctor.” I made an archive of the columns here.]

[We would need another five credenzas to display all of our wooden houses. This credenza was designed by Florence Knoll and dates back to the 1960s.]

[image above: Our coffee table is an old architectural plan file that we use to house my illustrations and all the paper we continue to collect for inspiration. It’s a great use of space and we really like the original battleship gray. Old books, new books, blue books, green books – after food and wine, they’re our favorite things to share.]

[images above: new work for sale at whigby.com]

[images above: new work for sale at whigby.com]

[images above: new work for sale at whigby.com]

More about Frank:

After graduating as a scholarship student from the Fine Arts department of the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, Frank realized he needed to make some money to pay the rent – quickly! So began an unplanned career as a commercial illustrator. He was soon working for publications such as Time, Esquire, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post. While Frank enjoyed doing editorial illustration (and still does), he didn’t necessarily like how his work was used. And so began a second career as a graphic designer. With more than 350 awards from Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, the British D&AD and many other organizations, Frank lectures when asked (and sometimes when not), judges competitions and writes a column in Applied Arts magazine. A past president of The Advertising & Design Club of Canada, he is the Creative Director at Viva & Co. He is also an equal partner with his friend Todd Temporale at Whigby. Frank is passionate about cooking and wine (all kinds), his daily bike ride to work (weather permitting), the ongoing (and maddening) restoration of his modernist house and the latest children’s book he’s working on.

Suggested For You


  • I’ve loved all of the wonderful sneak peeks this week. This one in particular really appeals to me – modern but warm with many personal touches. I would love to have a home this beautiful some day.

  • I really like the shape of the outdoor wire-frame chairs on your patio. Any idea where I might be able to find something similar?

  • In a past life, I worked in an office building in Miami that had Southeast Bank as one of its tenants. Southeast Bank’s chairman was Harry Hood Bassett, who was married to Florence Knoll. Knoll designed the bank’s furniture, and the credenza shown here looks very much like the ones that I used to see throughout the bank’s corporate offices. It was a sad day when Southeast Bank was bought out and the bank’s wares — furniture, artwork, et al. were sold off.

  • Are there more photos on Flickr? His Flickr site is set to private so I couldn’t check. I just don’t want to miss out on any of the gorgeousness :)

  • beautiful home! i love all the personal touches that make it feel homey. it also seems very canadian to me – in a good way! thanks, frank.

  • i don’t think i’ve loved a sneak peek this much! WONDERFUL! such a brilliant way to decorate a house with a brilliant modernist design! that’s really something! wish i had money for that… :)

  • I really love this house! You have a
    great pool. It kind of reminds me
    of David Hockney’s pool. Was that
    an inspiration for you?

    Thank you for showing your
    architectural plan file. Great idea.
    I really need one. Where did you get yours?

  • The house had beautiful bones to begin with but Frank has just clothed it in Gucci!!! I love the little houses and the obvious love for the place. Just wonderful.

  • ah this is my dream house. spare modern and just a little retro. love it. what a great sense of style and so calming and with such simplicity. send me one please!

  • Frank, your house is so wonderful. It is inspiring and discouraging at the same time- discouraging only because I wonder if I could ever create such a masterpiece myself? Thanks for posting.

  • I actually didn’t like the idea to add stripes to the bottom of the swimming pool. It kind of looks aggressive and “non-relaxing”.

  • Frank ,I love your house too.. soo,IrvingGrossman…..also called the Berman house,since it was designed for Joe and his family,by Irving..and.Agathom beautifully and sensitivly restored it.