The goal in designing the interior of this two-storey home in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood was to create contrast. So it is easy to understand how the owners were mesmerized with the result.



Black and white create a strong design statement in this Forest Hill home



The goal in designing the interior of this two-storey home in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood was to create contrast. So it is easy to understand how the owners were mesmerized with the result. The use of white and black is striking, and draws attention in each room, including the bathrooms and powder room.

“Black and white are both neutrals” that make the look timeless, while at the same time more contrasting than “beige on beige on beige, ” says interior designer Samantha Sannella.


Sannella, creative director with Urban Retreat Homes, used a black granite called “Titanium” in strategic locations to anchor the effect. The dark veined stone is found on the floor in the main entrance; as the backsplash and atop the kitchen’s island, where it also covers the sides in an impressive waterfall effect. The same granite is used in the surround of the fireplaces in both the living room and office.


“I think the house is very dramatic but also very relaxing,” Sannella says. “It’s relaxing because of the natural lighting in the space and the floor and open concept.”

The light floods in from a skylight above the stairs that is set in a tiered pyramid frame, which also holds recessed lighting. “It’s really easy imagining yourself living in this house,” Sannella says.


But it is the contrast that sets the tone. It is evident in every room – from the black railings that play off the white wainscotted walls along the stairs and the hall, to the black and white artwork in the living room set in white built-in shelving units, to the black-framed glass doors set in a white-framed wall of windows opening onto the backyard patio. “I try to choose little bits of things to make people say, ‘Oh,’ ” Sannella says. “All good design has an element of surprise.”


And that surprise keeps coming. Consider, for instance, the main-floor powder room. The black walls provide a powerful backdrop for the white marble floor and marble vanity, part of the Dancing Room Collection of GODI bathroom vanities from Dezign Market. The vessel sink is made of a single piece of Absolute White marble, as is the vanity countertop. The vanity provides practical storage space with push-to-open drawers, while the white oval mirror framed in solid ash wood, creates a monochromatic look that dazzles.

“I believe powder rooms should be dramatic,” says Sannella. “If there is anywhere you can be creative, it’s there.”

screen-shot-2017-08-17-at-2-48-25-pmAnd that approach can be seen in the ensuite bathroom off the master bedroom. “I love the master bathroom,” says Sannella. “Who wouldn’t love that bathroom? I think it’s timeless and it’s also like an oasis. It’s beautiful and romantic.”

The bathroom floor and walls are clad in marble. The double vanity, part of the Isabella Collection of the GODI bathroom line, is topped with Absolute White marble. The rounded base is made of white ash and coated with a multi-layered varnish to protect it from water, stain and mildew. The mirror is framed with a solid piece of ash wood carved to create a built-in bottom shelf. The tub is a free-standing modern Desarté Dahlia model from Dezign Market, part of its new line of mineral solid surface products.


Adding statement pieces to a bathroom, such as the Dahlia tub, are on trend, says Katerina Zherinova, owner of Dezign Market. They are more like furniture than a fixture but have the same function.

And the black and white theme, Zherinova says, offers a sophisticated, timeless look. The bathroom finishes, she adds, “are really a mix of traditional and modern. People are looking for really unique pieces.”

The master bedroom is also equipped with a narrow walk-in closet that maximizes the vertical space, with storage space reaching almost all the way to the ceiling.


The other upstairs bathroom offers a sleek look in keeping with the contrast theme. Its black floor, clad in geometric quartz tile holds court as the Jack and Jill modern floating vanities – also part of the Desarté line from Dezign Market – are made of a white mineral solid surface stone, with the countertops and sinks made of one seamless surface.

The owners of the house, Sannella says, love the overall look of their home. There was no ambiguity, you could say. Their reaction was clear – as clear as black on white.


Photo Cutlines:

_E8A8869: Black-veined “Titanium” granite was used in the surround of the gas fireplace in the main-floor office. It creates continuity with the materials used in other rooms. 

_E8A8906: The floors throughout the house are made of European smoked oak, an engineered wood that is also used in the basement.

_E8A8909: The skylight above the stairs is set in a white, tiered pyramid frame, allowing light to flood the house.

_E8A8930: The master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom is outfitted with a tub and vanity from Dezign Market.