When it comes to our homes, it can be difficult to strike a balance between design and comfort, between creating a stylish space while retaining a sense of warmth.
But for Ashleigh Lund, it was a challenge she not only overcame, but one she relished.
“When we bought the house, we were a growing family, we needed space,” Ashleigh says of her home in Britannia, which she purchased with her husband Kim, a prominent real estate agent.
“Our initial vision was a family home that didn’t have crowding, where everyone could be unified.
“There were a lot of weird things about the house that were just wrong,” she concedes. “But we thought, why not reinvent the space?”
Reinvent is exactly what the couple did, transforming that “mishap of a space” into a home that encompassed the needs of a family while maintaining a sense of elegance and luxury.
Lofty ceilings immediately draw the eyes upward, lending the house a spacious feel. Light slate blue walls in every room create continuity while complementing the myriad accessories and accents. Subtle archways divide the areas of the open-plan home, ensuring a calming flow, with a white spiral staircase leading to the opulent second floor. In every pocket of the house, distinct pieces, such as chunks of coral, a striking flower-inspired chandelier, a stunning circular metallic mirror, and unique vases from the four corners of the world, express the Lunds’ many passions. Overall, the space is a delicate combination of comfort and style, function and design, elegance and warmth.
However, Ashleigh, executive director of IDG, says the home’s “casual elegance” is a marked departure from its original look and feel. It took countless hours of work from IDG’s experienced design team, headed by Ashleigh’s sister, Cara Saladino, as well as a lot of creative thinking, to transform the house into a space that the couple and their two children were happy with.
“For example, in the kitchen, we had this curved wall and we didn’t know what to do with it. I tried all manner of things to cover it up. But in the end, we put up a simple stainless steel treatment on it and it transformed the wall,” Ashleigh explains, referring to a now eye-catching feature that beautifully captures the light of the high-end kitchen.
“It was the same with the guest bathroom. We had this awkward wall, but using a tile treatment, we transformed it. We made an interesting wall out of a problematic structure. It makes me feel good, it makes the place feel good and it makes guests feel good.”
Ashleigh says one of the main challenges was creating a home suitable for adults and growing children. To this end, the home is a divided into a number of spaces designed specifically for either Ashleigh and Kim or the children, as well as areas designed to accommodate all members of the family, including the cat and dog. The Great Room, as it is called, is a spectacular exercise in aesthetics, clearly an area for grown-ups; white sofas, with rectangular pillows placed in their folds, hug a two-tiered marble and dark wood cocktail table, adorned with golden oriental bowls. Tall windows flood the room with light, casting an ethereal glow over the intricate coral pieces and colourful artworks. Upstairs, the master bedroom is another sanctuary for the couple, with a private balcony, an opulent chandelier above the sumptuous bed and a large Jacuzzi in the adjoining bathroom.
Conversely, the kids-only space is pure delight; a double-car garage that has been converted into a children’s playroom complete with a slide, soft-foam tiles and a dress-up wardrobe. In some rooms, Ashleigh chose to use materials that appear high-end, but can withstand the demands of young children and pets.
“There needs to be an understanding between your space, the couple’s space and the kids’ space,” says Ashleigh, who gives all the credit for the house to her design team. “For example, in the dining room, we wanted to create a place that was formal, but where the kids could eat too. So we made a breakfast nook for them, because we needed a place for them to have their macaroni and cheese,” she laughs.
“With the Great Room, it has a lot of nice things, so we chose to say to the kids, ‘You’re allowed to go in there but you can’t mistreat it’. They have their own playroom in the garage that is theirs to do whatever they want with, as long as they keep it tidy.”
The design of the Lunds’ home is not dictated by any one theme; however, there are a few influences that thread throughout the house, reflecting the couple’s passions and interests. Within the living room, a large wall adorned from floor to ceiling with photographs is a testament to the family’s love of travel. There are images from all over the world, from Europe to South America, South-East Asia to Australia.
Another key design theme is the sea, evident in the abundance of coral and shell pieces and the coastal-inspired accents, from a striking glass octopus to a light modelled on a sea-urchin.
“It is about creating a space around what you enjoy,” Ashleigh says. “I take lots of photos and collect things when we travel and we wanted to feature these things. When we go somewhere in the world and we find something we like, like a piece of reclaimed coral or an interesting vase, we want to show that off. We asked our design team to find a way to celebrate these things.”
Ashleigh’s favourite spaces in the house are the Solarium, an enclosed outdoor area with sumptuous wicker furniture upholstered in crisp white linens and evergreen cushions; the Great Room, as it’s “so soft”; and the Family Room for its lived-in feel. Although she says her house has the “tender love and care of a designer,” she believes the key to creating a space that you truly enjoy coming home to is to capture your own passions and tastes.
“We wanted people to get a sense of style, but also feel comfortable. We don’t want to give the impression that we’re stuffy people, but we want to celebrate our nice things,” she says.
“We’ve injected our own style into the house. It’s constantly evolving as we pick up pieces from around the world. It takes time to put yourself into a space.”