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Sunny style bridging the gap from formal to casual

Open-concept floor plans have been popular for the past decade. With the average modern home getting smaller in square footage, an open layout has become the trend of choice, highly sought-after by new homebuyers, and a top-requested upgrade among those with lofty renovation goals. Condo, single-detached, townhome – it’s safe to say that an open home is here to stay.

The owners of this older, single-detached home were of the renovation mind, with visions of a fresh, clean and contemporary esthetic.

formal to casual

The front door ushers residents and guests directly into the L-shaped abode’s living room, which opens to the kitchen. On the other side of the kitchen is the dining room, and a family room bringing up the rear. Notice the constant alternating between casual and formal living areas. Herein was our challenge: how do you achieve distinct living areas, while maintaining a harmonious look?


In more traditional floor plans, living and dining rooms typically have a “formal” tone, quietly tucked out of sight, away from the casual (and oftentimes messier!) living areas such as a kitchen.

formal to casual

In this design, we employed a variety of textures to “pare down” the formality of the living and dining rooms, which both opened onto the ultimate in informality: the kitchen. On the flip side, the kitchen took on a sleeker and simpler style, to bring some “calm” to an otherwise hectic space. It quickly became clear that, what this home really needed, was balance. Texture and mixed materials dulled the edge between formal and casual. The home was flooded with natural light streaming in through large windows. We amped up that natural attribute through the use of airy off-whites and a sunshine-yellow colour palette.

The living room is awash in a gentle white-grey and golden ochre, which carries through the adjoining kitchen and into the dining area and family room tucked at the back of the home.


As designers, we are often asked about our sources of inspiration. Time and again, we turn to fabrics as our colour muse. And while flipping through a book of fabric samples with the homeowners, so too came my inspiration for this home. The upholstered ottoman, yellow-patterned pillows and drapery brought pops of colour to the space and kick-started the dominant colour theme for the entire project.

formal to casual

Past the living room, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is large, bright and functional – the stuff dream kitchens are made of. The central island is as wide as the space allows, outfitted with a bar fridge facing the home’s adjacent lounging area.

White is the classic colour of choice for the kitchen’s big-ticket items: quartz countertops, Bianco Carrera marble backsplash and cabinetry (read: the expensive items). The stainless-steel appliances are sleek and chic. While this kitchen is largely neutral, yellow continues to be a subtle star. The yellow clear-acrylic chair tucked in at the custom desk nook, a yellow rug and gold accessories bring warmth to this otherwise cool colour palette.

The adjacent dining room features all the traditional “formal” elements: a table, chairs, drapery, a rug underfoot and a pendant light overhead. Our signature yellow hue appears in the drapery overlooking a rustic harvest table, which provides the function without the formality. The high-backed dining chairs upholstered in a cosy and durable fabric are a perfect pairing – elegant yet durable and easy to clean.


The family room was the last piece of the puzzle, tucked at the back of the home but also open and visible to other areas of the home.

“This room needed to be comfortable, functional, and echo the home’s prevailing theme without being repetitive.”

formal to casual

The family room got its “wow” factor in the artwork: the customized, super-imposed photographic images printed on a plexi canvas, made by a Montreal artist, Annabelle Malialin. The homeowners are very well travelled, having spent the better part of their pre-children years en voyage. Their London, England roots inspired this one-of-a-kind artwork. Since the art was made for the homeowners, we used this as another opportunity to incorporate our signature yellow into the home in an unexpected way.

formal to casual

The result is a thoughtfully curated home that is well balanced, achieving the easy flow that the homeowners wanted. Sometimes what we perceive as challenges can become the home’s greatest assets, giving it a character as unique as the homeowners themselves.

Catherine-Lucie HorberDesigner Catherine-Lucie Horber, owner of Royal Interior Design Ltd. is a one-stop shop Reno & Decor Centre where clients can choose all their home renovation and decoration finishes under one roof, backed by a phenomenal team of skilled contractors, kitchen & bath cabinetry, furniture, upholstery & drapery workrooms and in-house craftsmanship artisans for all their custom millwork.

Photography By Dylan Thompson

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