Home as a Reflection of Your Life Story.

Home as a Reflection of Your Life Story.

I was recently reflecting about some of the design projects I have worked on over many years, and I found that my favorites were those where, whether it was just a single room or more, truly reflected the occupants life story. These kinds of spaces validates living authentically in mind, spirit and in ones own personal spaces. I recently came across two lovely homes, owned by the same family, that are wonderful examples of this design philosophy. Sophie Young is a young and quite talented fashion designer from Toronto. The two homes belong to her parents but are shared by Sophie and extended family and friends. Both of these homes spoke to me on a deep level because of what was created in these homes by using what they found to be important and meaningful. Vogue Magazine recently did an article about Sophie and this is where I found mention of the homes. The photo captions are Sophie’s own words. All photos by photographer Jeremy Allen.

“We were drawn to something with history, with roots,” says Young, of her parents’ circa 1910 home in the Rosewood section of Toronto. “Before we moved here in 2000, the house was abandoned. My parents, however, saw the potential of this neglected building: It had great bones and was situated in an established downtown neighborhood.”
Photographed by Jeremy Allen

“My mom picked out the colorful polka-dot rug at the Rug Company Boutique on Melrose in Los Angeles. Above it hangs The Prize, a 2002 print by Toronto-based artist Susan Collett. The French armoire and vintage chair were purchased from a local antiques dealer.”

French mirror was passed down from paternal grandmother, Nancy Young. The two wing chairs is fushia velvet by Fadini Borghi came from amternal great-grandmother. The schulpture is by Canadian Patrick Bermingham. Table by canadian designer Martha Sturdy. Ottomans by Mitchell Gold Bob Williams

“The dining room’s Queen Anne–style ‘board room’ side chairs were found in a dumpster in London by Nancy and have been reupholstered for various family homes. The red tulip fabric, a favorite motif and color, is from Designers’ Guild. In the left corner hangs Rouge de Venise (Self-Portrait Study), a 2006 work by Canadian painter Harold Klunder.”

“The table was originally designed and built for my grandma Nancy’s country home. Nancy was a designer, and her many interiors have graced the covers of magazines such as Interiors and British House & Garden. The table was painted by Graham Carr, her friend and collaborator, and reflects Nancy’s many interests. You can just make out in the upper-right-hand corner of the table a portrait of Nancy with her flaming red hair, surrounded by open Carr, her friend and collaborator, and reflects Nancy’s many interests. You can just make out in the upper-right-hand corner of the table a portrait of Nancy with her flaming red hair, surrounded by open reference books, reference books, fabrics, flowers, and French fleur de lis.”

“Hanging in the garden room is a fuchsia feather light fixture from France, found at Trianon in Toronto. The lead pane windows are original to the house. The Bertoia chair is from my mother’s collection. The lily-pad accent table is from L’Atelier.”

“The black-and-white wooden pig sculpture in the garden room (viewed here from the living room) is originally from Nancy’s country house. The chipped paint may or may not be intentional, but it somehow feels right at home among the neighboring sleek-lined pieces.”

“The NEFF kitchen was a later renovation, furnished with a Wolf stove, black-and-white hardwood floors, and Corian countertops. The photograph over the coffee machine was taken at Evergreen Brick Works, a former quarry and industrial site in one of Toronto’s many ravines that’s been reconfigured into a wildlife park, community center, farmer’s market, and outdoor skating rink.”

“We tease my dad that he let my mother paint their room baby pink. Over their fireplace is Toronto painter Angela Leach’s A.R. Wave #89 and A.R. Wave #90. The curtains are a cherry-blossom print from Pierre Frey, and the love seat is from my great-grandmother, reupholstered in pink check from Osborne & Little.”

“My parents’ walk-through bathroom with separate dressing rooms was originally three separate smaller rooms. I’m lucky that my mom and I are roughly the same size and that both grandmothers were pack rats who loved fashion. Fortunately for my mom, though, I can’t get into her shoes.”

“This is my bedroom. Beneath the 2004 Doll Mouth (pout) C-print on the fireplace mantel by Canadian artist artist Diana Thorneycroft sits my favorite childhood doll that, coincidentally, looks quite similar to it. On the other side of the mantle is my first birthday card from the Vogue office (my mom loved the witty tag lines on the faux magazine cover). Scattered on the ledge is a series of Art Deco mirrored cigarette boxes that were collected in flea markets in London in the seventies. It seems fashion was always an interest of mine: among the other works in my room is Waist Not Want Not, a dress collage by U.K. artist Peter Clark, as well as an original French Vogue cover from 1929, illustrated by Benito.”

“My mother’s love of colors and stripes is especially obvious on the library’s sofa, upholstered in Donghia’s Hamaca Rojo.”

When it’s time to escape the city on summer weekends, we take a floatplane from Toronto’s Island Airport. The ride provides some pretty amazing aerial views of the CN Tower and Toronto’s Financial District.”

“Canada holds 20 percent of the world’s freshwater, allowing many of us the chance to spend time near freshwater lakes. Georgian Bay, where my family has a home, is part of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes bordering the U.S. and Canada. In this picture, you can see our house and dock.”

“Our cottage was constructed (on stilts!) in 1990 by a local builder who lives on a nearby island year-round—even when the bay freezes over. We designed it to have as few walls as possible to take advantage of the 360-degree views of the bay. The wicker chairs are from Pier 1 and the table was custom-built for us as a Christmas present from my grandparents.”

“The Indian bird bells are not just for decoration: They start ringing when the winds pick up, signaling that a big storm is coming and reminding us to close all the sliding-glass doors.

“This table is collaged with an old map of the area that my mother’s grandfather, an avid sailor, used in the 1960s. We found it recently and realized he passed by our island years before. My mom collaged the dish’s surface with old photographs and scraps from magazines. The striped pillow is from Urban Outfitters.”

“I love the smell of lilies; the aroma elevates the mood of any room. The lemons are nestled on a red cake plate—a gift from a friend who knows my mom’s love of the color. Around it are our candleholders made from local rocks and birch-bark candles from Pottery Barn.”

Our Flintstones-style fireplace was made from rocks on the island. The floor is stained in three different colors to reflect the striped granite rock of the area. Next to the painting of the sunset I did one afternoon many summers ago is a jar of snakeskins that my brothers found on the island.

“The deck, which wraps around the entire cottage, is visible behind the antique pine chair from my maternal grandmother. On the table sits the most valuable item at the cottage: a family photo album. We have 20 of these leather-bound books from Noble Macmillan, which my mother started collecting when we were living in London, England. Above that is a piece of driftwood that my mom found and spray-painted fluorescent orange recently to add a little flair.”

“My mom, still in her tennis skirt (there is a tennis club on a nearby island) walking on our very own ‘boardwalk’: the path that connects our cottage to the home of my grandparents and our boathouse.”

“A couple summers ago, we started saving the label side of all our wooden wine cases with the idea to one day panel the interior of the boathouse. It makes our glass of wine at dinner seem somehow more productive! Here you can also see an old flag of Ontario, our province, that once flew on the back of my grandfather’s sailboat.”

“On a night when we’re entertaining island friends, all the boats must raft off each other to create a floating parking lot. We have to be careful, though, as the wind can pick up quickly!”

“The most impressive thing is definitely our sunsets, which are best when enjoyed over a glass of wine (or two)!”

The delightful 25 y.o. Sophie Young. She is wearing a balero that belonged to her Grandmother Nancy Young. This fall Sophie launched her fashion site InSepia Inc.

Their homes are welcoming, elegant and sophisticated without any hints of being pretentious. They speak of the families histories, of good memories and passing down of that history to the next generation. What better way to arrive home than to what matters in this families lives?

Thank you as always for stopping by. I hope you all have electricity, heat, and a good hot cup of coffee standing by. Laters,  charisse

Sophie Young-shop the look: here

source: Vogue Magazine


  1. Loved the post Charisse. A family with lots of memories living an elegant and enviable life in great style. A wonderful read. Thank you.

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