RENWALD: Small space makes huge statement

 In small space

Hundreds of Hamilton homes have the same rap sheet: narrow, no bathroom, no closets, no storage. And that’s just the ground floor.

They were built roughly from 1870 to the turn of the century. Some call them Victorian, others say they’re vicious to decorate and many still love them.

When Krista Salter ( received an SOS about a 1901 house in Kirkendall North, she swept in with her cheery enthusiasm.

“My clients wanted to keep some of the charm of the old house, but they wanted to make it comfortable for everyday life,” said Salter.

The 500 square foot ground floor was a maze of small rooms, dark halls and gloomy stairways. The clients moved in with mismatched furnishings and the trappings of student life, but they were ready to “grow up.” They needed a clean slate.

Contractor Fergus MacLaren, from TV’s “Love It or List It,” was called in to take the house down to the bones, and Salter was hired to put it back together.

“It needed to be functional, too, because it’s not very big,” says Salter, an interior decorator.

The wish list had to be tightly edited because the space is just 16 feet wide and 30 feet long. The bathroom came off the list.

“We tried really hard to integrate a coat closet, but it just didn’t work.”

Salter chose a classic colour scheme of cream, black and grey, and used soft pieces and accessories to provide brighter colour.

The living room is defined by a custom sectional in warm grey fabric by Brentwood Classics. It faces the original fireplace that was given a new mantel and surround.

Salter, who works from a floor plan to avoid surprises, built a mockup of the fireplace to make sure the scale was correct.

For emphasis, the fireplace wall was painted Benjamin Moore Chelsea Grey, and other walls are a lighter grey called Revere Pewter.

To ease the storage crunch, the coffee table in the living room is a secret stasher from West Elm that holds remotes, blankets, magazines and books.

A half wall separates the living room from the entrance, which now has hooks for coats, and a clever Ikea shoe cabinet that is just narrow enough for the space.

The living room is defined by an area rug from Hellenic Canada that sits on maple flooring running through to the kitchen.

Salter’s clients don’t entertain often enough to warrant a big table, so a multi-purpose island was added that seats four for meals, and can be used as workspace.

The island’s candelabra style lights from Home Lighting in Hamilton double as task lights.

Countertops are quartz, the backsplash is subway tile, and the classic cabinets were made by Salter’s husband Nicholas Holmes, who also designs furniture (

During the four month renovation, Salter used the experts at The Decorating Centre in Burlington, a trade-only service. She chose rugs, fabric and upholstered furniture there, and searched on her own for accessories.

“My clients are very easy going, and they’re happy with the design. It’s bright, functional and comfortable.”

The bad rap turned in to something good.

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