When Scott and Angela Helmer built their bungalow near Osgoode in 1998, the newlyweds had modest aspirations for their starter home. They definitely weren’t planning to stay long-term.
Priorities changed when the Helmers learned the oldest of two sons had autism. “One of the reasons we didn’t make many changes to the house over the years is because we ran an intensive therapy program here for Josh,” said Scott. Josh now attends a day program in the city, but having a place that’s comfortable for him and the whole family is essential.
“We finally decided to make this our forever home and do the things we couldn’t afford to back when we built the house,” offers Scott.
Stefanie Seguin and Twig and Timber Interiors came on the scene to help the Helmers achieve their goals. “They wanted a bright, airy refresh that combined rustic and refined elements,” Stefanie explains. “I call it Modern Farmhouse.” Stefanie incorporated herringbone brick floors in the entrance and laundry room to keep some rustic elements. On the fireplace, she installed stone with a timber mantel. The herringbone pattern is echoed in the kitchen’s marble backsplash.
The handrail was updated, and all the flooring and trim were changed out. Vertical shiplap was added to the entry and carried into the dining room.
Stefanie went with a natural, warm palette for the walls, choosing Benjamin Moore Biloba Mist for the main living areas.
“I’ve always been scared of white, but with the kitchen, she recommended Swiss Coffee from Benjamin Moore, a warm white that really works,” Angela states.
A subtle Schumacher Whitewash wallpaper adds an extra element of coziness and texture to the entrance. “Every time I bring up wallpaper to a new client, I’m not sure if they’re going to cringe or not,” Stefanie says.
“I was really opposed to the wallpaper,” Scott laughs, “but even I must admit it turned out great.”
Improving organization and storage were important objectives for the project. “They needed extra storage and counter space, but with a footprint of 1,100 square feet, I had to be creative,” said Stefanie. “I asked them how they used their space. They don’t use the front door much other than for guests, so hooks worked there rather than an intensive coat hanger solution.”
“Sometimes you need someone with an objective eye to see how it might function better,” Angela says. “We’ve lived here for almost 25 years, and I didn’t know how to see it differently.”
The Helmers like to cook and wanted an upgraded kitchen that was easier to work in. Angela likes low lighting, while Scott prefers things to be bright, so Stefanie took care of both with plenty of lights and dimmer switches. She used Rejuvenation Lighting for a sophisticated, neutral approach with a touch of farmhouse feel.
Additional counter space and cabinetry were made possible in the kitchen by repositioning appliances and moving a closet from the kitchen to the laundry room, where cabinetry was added above the washer and dryer.
The pantry storage was moved to a new cabinet in the dining room next to the table.
“By creating a bench and moving the table slightly closer to the wall, I gave them more wiggle room between their table and the peninsula and more seating for when their younger son is home from university or for entertaining,” says Stefanie.
Under the bench, she added three large drawers for extra storage. The bench and pillows are upholstered in a white performance fabric that looks luxurious but is also practical.
Stefanie devised a whimsical solution in place of the kitchen’s corner lazy Susan by making the freed space on the other side of the peninsula into a hidden cabinet. Pushing the right panel opens the door to Scott’s prized whisky collection.
Custom pillows were designed for the living room, and two leather loveseats were swapped out for a large sectional from Dala Decor, providing better space and additional seating.
“They really allowed me to do my thing — carte blanche. It’s super important to understand your clients' needs, and when they give you full faith, amazing things can happen,” said Stefanie.
“We’ll love this for a long time,” exclaims Angela. “I still walk through the house and can’t believe what she came up with or that it’s the same house. It used to be a cookie‑cutter bungalow. I just wanted somebody to come into the house and say ‘Wow,’ and literally, they say that every time now.”