09/20/2012 12:16 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST

Turning a Fire-Damaged House Back into a Home


Six years ago, Rudi (one of my favourite contractors) and his wife Sue moved to their dream home outside of the city. Surrounded by farmland, the couple thrived on the tranquility of the country, but was still close enough to the city for Rudi to commute to work.

They had lovingly completed the renovations on their home when disaster struck. While they were away one weekend, there was a fire in their home. It completely destroyed their basement, and the smoke damage in the rest of the house was so severe that nothing could be salvaged.

Left without any furniture, clothing or mementos, the couple moved into a hotel room. But after months of being displaced, they were desperate to get settled back into their house. Since Rudi works so hard on my show, I decided to get my crew together to give he and his wife a beautiful space to come home to -- a casual, contemporary (and slightly rustic) open-concept living/dining room.


Luckily, the structure of the house was still intact, but everything else -- walls, electrical, flooring -- had to be replaced. Once the basic construction was done, I moved in and started by painting the walls in a creamy shade and then contrasting the light colour with some beautiful dark wood flooring.

I then divided the area up into four zones: a dining room, a living room, a sitting area and a foyer.

In the dining room, I put in a round pedestal table with chairs that are fronted in bark-like, creamy chenille and backed in oversized lace. Above the table I put up a modern, six-armed chandelier in gold and crystal. On the windows, I installed silk drapery panels with a leafy motif in bronze, cream and caramel, in addition to some rustic wooden blinds.

Next to the dining room, I created a comfortable living room. The focal point of this area is the fireplace, which is clad in cream and putty tumbled marble. To contrast this, I installed a dark, luxurious, raised wooden hearth with cabinets below. Beside the fireplace, I put up media storage with a big area for a television. For optimal fireplace and TV viewing, I set up a large sectional sofa in creamy chenille and an ottoman in espresso brown.

On the other side of the living room I created a small seating area beside the front window. Here, I installed two caramel-coloured lounge chairs, a wooden table, and a four-armed version of the chandelier that hangs in the dining room.

I also set up a small foyer area by the door that includes a caramel-coloured seating bench that is flanked with two dark wood cabinets and two lamps. In this area, I created a feature wall in a dark taupe-coloured paint and added four light panels of artwork to make the wall pop.

As a high-tech touch, I installed a wireless lighting system into the space. With this system, Rudi can turn on lights in the house from the car on his way home from work.

After adding some final finishes and accessories -- an area rug, some throw pillows and some artwork -- this space was complete.

By mixing airy and luxurious colours, modern and traditional finishes, and elegant and comfortable furniture, I created a living room/dining room that is the perfect blend of contemporary and rustic. Now, Rudi and Sue can happily move back in and rediscover that there's no place like home.


Renovation Post-Fire