When searching for the perfect house, born-and-bred Torontonians Paola and Alan Fullerton weren’t averse to leaving their downtown postal code behind. The couple — she’s the founder of fashion website The Shows, and he’s a CEO — knew casting their net beyond the city limits would afford them a different way of life. “It was 2003, and I wanted a place where our growing family [daughter Spencer, now 12, and son Beckett, now 8] could run around outside and get dirty,” says Paola, “but I wanted real dirt, not city dirt.”
They headed north to the village of Schomberg in King Township, where they fell in love with an “ideal version of a country house.” The three-bedroom, 2,900-square-foot space, an 1860s farmhouse augmented by a 1980s extension, is situated on two acres and surrounded by a 120-acre horse farm. While the setting was idyllic, the interior hadn’t been touched in over 30 years. To liberate it from its tired past, the couple turned to Toronto-based designer Trish Johnston.
“A friend recommended Trish,” says Paola, “and she immediately understood our vision.” Formed in part by the family’s love for pink-sanded Harbour Island in the Bahamas, that vision channelled open space and “neutral interiors that let the outdoors provide the colour.” However, the reality — a chopped-up floor plan and contractor-issued finishes — presented a different picture.
“Originally the house was really cluttered,” says Trish. “I wanted it to be open and clean-lined, yet still warm: a country house that was cozy, but not too rustic.” Renovations, from new bathrooms and refinished floors to an extended open-plan kitchen, transitioned the space into the 21st century. Trish’s artful mix of design elements, both rustic (pine boards, wooden beams) and refined (linen drapes, tailored sofas), created a beautifully layered effect that’s warm and welcoming. “The kids love that the house is super casual and fun,” says Paola. “I love that it feels contemporary without losing its country charm.”