From the first step through the front door into Rod Leonard and Kale Bandura’s artfully decorated home it’s obvious the reigning decor trend here is not minimalism.
In every room, carefully composed details call for the eye’s attention: the handcrafted La Cornue range in the kitchen, the reclaimed brass sink shaped like a puzzle piece in the powder room, the many dazzling chandeliers overhead, the variety of accessories and artwork lining the shelves and walls. In other hands, the profusion of finds, in addition to the mix of traditional and modern, might have overwhelmed the space. However, Leonard, who owns Leonard Development Group, and Bandura, a realtor and co-founder of Charles Real Estate, have been in the business of creating beautiful spaces for a combined total of 30 years and knew exactly what they were doing when they designed and furnished their home.
Built in 1911, the two-storey house in Elbow Park was originally a 1,900-square-foot warren of small rooms. It was definitely not love at first sight, especially for Bandura. “It was tired, and the ugliest house on the street,” he recalls. But Leonard saw potential in what he agrees was, at the time, a “diamond in the rough.”
A gut renovation and addition were the first steps in making this the dream home it is now. Starting from the ground up allowed the couple total freedom in the design. Leonard, who loves decorating and has a natural affinity for it, finally had a canvas of his own. “We took the house down to the studs, made the exterior walls thicker, thereby adding more insulation, changed the boiler, put in forced-air furnaces, increased the floor space to 3,000 square feet and then put the whole thing back together the way we wanted it,” he says. “The only thing left from the original house is the crown moulding in the dining room.”
When it came to decorating, the couple wanted to stay true to the look of an estate Elbow Park home. In order to achieve their desired style, they incorporated a blend of traditional elements, such as floral-patterned wallpaper with matching drapes and un-lacquered brass fixtures alongside modern touches such as Carrara marble counter tops and classic clean-lined seating.
The pair have a knack for discovering one-of-a-kind finds. They also like to pair big-ticket items, like the handcrafted La Cornue stove and Herms china, with more budget-conscious pieces such as the colourful rugs from HomeSense. A restrained palette of white walls throughout helps to unify the space, while allowing Bandura and Leonard to showcase their ever-expanding collection of art. The resulting rooms are elegant, yet warm and inviting. All is beautiful but nothing screams “precious” or “out of place,” as there is a nod to both practicality as well as durability in things such as the sturdy fabrics covering the sofas and the honed granite on the kitchen island, which has the look of soapstone without the troublesome porousness.
“The overall floor plan of the house is also super practical for everyday living, as it flows well,” says Leonard. “And the floor colour was chosen to hide the dog scratches. After all, we live in our house, we love to entertain and we have pets. Our home fits the stuff we’ve collected over the years, so it fits us well. I think we’ll stay put for a while.”
The couple’s dogs Carlos and Bella await their return. Both the oversized gold mirror and vintage chandelier were purchased online.
Tips for getting a traditional look in a modern build
Done right, the juxtaposition of traditional aesthetics with modern building practices results in a space that’s warm and inviting without looking cluttered.
1. Preserve architectural details. Elements such as coffered ceilings, wainscotting and crown mouldings can restore an older home’s original grandeur, while adding these elements can create grandeur in a new home.
2. Use heritage techniques with new materials. The herringbone pattern used for the kitchen backsplash lends a vintage feel to the contemporary tile, while the crisp white cabinets with black accents keep the overall look fresh.
3. Carry finishes and materials through different rooms. The hardware you choose for kitchen cabinets and cupboard doors should speak to the heritage of the house, says homeowner and designer Rod Leonard of Leonard Development Group. “We chose crystal knobs to match the crystals in the many chandeliers.”
4. Strike a balance by mixing modern furnishings with antique pieces. The antique dining-room table paired with new chairs preserves the character of the home without making it look too fussy.
5. Add bold colour and natural textures throughout the home to give it life. An unexpected hit of colour in either paint or upholstery can instantly modernize an antique piece.
The living room is defined by soothing neutral tones punctuated by hits of bright blue. A painting by homeowner Rod Leonard hangs over the custom-made marble mantel.
The dining room exemplifies homeowners Kale Bandura and Rod Leonard’s ability to effectively mix styles and price points. They’ve paired an antique table with chairs from Bondars and a rug from HomeSense. The Thibaut Isabelle floral-patterned wallpaper and matching drapery complete the traditional feel.
The handcrafted La Cornue range was brought over from the homeowners’ previous residence and inspired the honed black granite-topped island.
A closer look at the handcrafted La Cornue range.
The vivid Thai teal in the powder room was a custom colour that took several tries to get just right. Elegantly retro, it brings life to the brass accents and marble countertop. The unusually shaped sink was a takeaway from a client’s renovation.
A few of the chandeliers in Kale Bandura and Rod Leonard’s home. There’s a chandelier in almost every room, including the garage.
The upstairs home office.
The couple’s knack for combining just the right elements continues in the bedroom with an antique table and chairs, paired with a modern king-sized bed, crisp linens, and a painting by local artist Daniel Culcea purchased through ArtMatch. The bench is another HomeSense find.
Inside the main bathroom.