Soul & Story | Celebrating Original Charm with Care
Your Home & Lifestyle Magazine
In her old Victorian in Toronto, Jacquelyn Clark, interior designer and founder of residential firm Lark & Linen, basks in the details of its 1898 construction. “I love the imperfections,” says Clark. “I like the character that’s accumulated over time. It feels like it has a soul and a story.”
The home was well-maintained throughout its many years. When she and her husband moved in, the biggest projects they had to do were painting the walls and redoing the floors. They’re still, in her words, “wonky and uneven,” but she knows exactly how to appreciate them. “Same with the baseboards,” scuffed with over a century’s worth of typical wear and tear, adds Clark. “If we were to try to replicate the baseboards that we have currently, it would cost an arm and a leg, but it was just how they did it back in the day; they’d use solid wood, ten-inch-high baseboards with beautiful millwork and details.”
Clark engaged with the traditional elements by adding crown molding and some other finishing touches throughout, but, she says, “there was more decorating than design.” That’s why, when challenged, the designer agreed to a six-week deadline to update the living room of her century-and-a-quarter-old home.
Without a family room, the designer wanted the living room to feel comfortable and inviting while doubling as a more formal sitting room. Clark likes to experiment with duality. She describes her style as “transitional, or traditional with a twist.” It exists where traditional meets modern. “You’re seeing a lot more interest by playing with the contrast between the modern and the traditional.”
Here, Clark kept the elements that make up the base of her design—the sectional, rug, curtains, and media cabinet—traditional and classic. “I tend to design spaces where that first layer is largely neutral, so the larger items, like your rug, sofa, wall colors, and things of that nature, are quiet and soft,” she says. The neutral palette is one way she made her space feel peaceful and serene, tending to her sensitive side.
With her base layer set, she introduced more modern elements: the streamlined, sleek coffee table counteracts the sweetness of the plush sectional, and its black metal base works with the media cabinet to ground the space and offer a place for the eyes to rest. Then, she hung an eye-catching oversize print, scaled to cover two-thirds of the available wall space, along the side of the couch.
Clark topped the room with a glass-and-iron chandelier from Crystorama, which gives a hint of sparkling femininity to the space. “I would design one hundred spaces around that exact light fixture,” she says. “It’s rooted in traditional elements but it’s done in a very clean way, so it works perfectly with both a modern space or a traditional space.”
Finally, to complete the room, she turned to the details. That, she says, is how to make a space feel like a home. Clark always adds throw pillows and blankets, along with a basket to store them in. “It makes the space feel lived in and loved,” she says. Then, she awakens a neutral color palette by bringing in varied elements and textures, such as carved wood, beads, and branches.
Over time, Clark will tweak the tone of the room by adding new pillows, displaying artifacts from travels, and framing family photos. She may change it up seasonally or whenever the mood strikes. “Design is such a passion of mine, so to have a space that can evolve as I do is really nice,” says Clark. “It’s like a canvas—my own form of art.”