Inside the dream home: Bold design layers black on black

It was all there for Yves St-Cyr, in black and white. The brand new Toronto house he purchased five years ago was painted stark white, top to bottom.

“I had a flash: ‘Yeah, I see it in black’,” St-Cyr recalls of his design plans for the three-storey home on Walmer Rd. That meant everything — ceilings, walls, doors, mouldings — was transformed. Except the kitchen, which he kept in traditional white.

The dramatic shade “gives ‘Wow’,” says St-Cyr. “I love it. I wanted a real punch.”

The punch hit the mark during showings in June when the four-bedroom, seven-bathroom home sold for just over $5.5 million in 12 hours, according to listing agent Rizwan Malik of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

A beaded chandelier lends glamour to the black dining room while the kitchen was kept white ? except for the ceiling, which is black throughout the main floor.

“Very rarely do we find clients who take such liberties with the design as this,” he says with awe in his voice, adding that St-Cyr’s “commitment to black” extended even to the light switches. “He definitely has an incredible eye for design.”

St-Cyr was confident the look would work after giving his previous home, a downtown penthouse, the same glamorous treatment. (The Toronto tax lawyer thinks he might have pursued a career in design if he hadn’t picked law.)

It’s the right mix of contrasting hues and carefully curated furnishings and accessories that’s the key to success, he explains.

Wide-stripe, black-and-white wallpaper is accented with gilt decorative pieces and colourful artwork in the upstairs hallway.

White was integrated into the décor with wide-striped wallpaper, drapes and accessories, while metallic accents and bright splashes of colour in artwork, fixtures and ornaments punctuate the walls and spaces.

The owner’s older son Lambert St-Cyr, who’s an artist and landscape designer, created a large gilt-framed painting with multi-hued handprints — described as “spirits in the mirror trying to get out” — that hangs opposite St-Cyr’s bed.

Lambert also painted a stylized portrait in shades of black, white and grey that St-Cyr hung above the fireplace in the living room.

“I was, ‘Omigod, wow, man! I’m gonna be scared!’” he jokes about his initial reaction to the character’s penetrating eyes.

The primary suite with an adjoining home office, which takes up the third floor of the house, continue the black and metallic design theme.

The black-and-white theme continues outside where terraces off the second and third levels, and the multi-tiered backyard, sport striped umbrellas and awning, a gazebo and outdoor furniture set off with tangerine accents.

Lambert, now 28, created the landscape design and backyard architecture as his first project after graduating from the Ontario College of Art and Design. St-Cyr’s younger son, Jules, is a chef.

Among the highlights outside are an eight-by-eight-foot waterfall, white marble tiles, fireplace and swim spa. In the tree-enclosed backyard, the gazebo is “peaceful and quiet like the middle of a forest,” notes the owner, who’s downsizing to a smaller home.

While he dislikes clothes shopping, he loves looking for furniture and artwork, and spent four years finding just the right pieces for the house which is just up the road from Casa Loma. Big items of furniture came from Suite 22 Interiors, a Toronto showroom of modern Italian furniture while antiques and smaller pieces were sourced from boutiques.

One of the owner's favourite spots is the "peaceful and quiet" gazebo that's surrounded by trees and sits on a raised deck overlooking the swim spa.

St-Cyr counts the living room with its black velvet couch and fireplace among his favourite spaces. And the cocoon-like dark bedroom is great for relaxing and sleeping, he adds.

According to Malik, the home’s black interior doesn’t feel confining, thanks to high ceilings and numerous big windows. “You get this sense of openness and airiness.”

The house illustrates how “taking chances with design or décor can pay off,” says Malik. “It’s like full immersion and realizing, ‘Hey, this actually works.’ It’s resonated with people so well.”

A white marble fireplace and tangerine accents lend visual and ambient warmth to the deep backyard, which was designed with several levels.

The numbers

Selling price: $5,550,000

Size: approx. 3,600 square feet of living space

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 7

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