Janet and Mark have been in my life for a very long time. We’ve shared more than most friendships, not least because we were business partners back in the early 2000s when we founded here newspaper together.
Photo: Mark, Janet, Judith, with the here newspaper team.
That was a labour of love, passion, and a lot of hard work from an awesome team (an undertaking that survived four years before making the most difficult decision to sell). Janet and I lost our fathers in the same year. I was the emcee at their wedding. So yes, we’ve ‘gone through some shit,’ as they say. In sum, Mark and Janet were (and remain) mentors, heroes and dear friends.
When they asked me to help them take their existing home – which for years had been two separate apartments; them living on the main floor with their two children, Jack and Ella (and any number of cats at any given time), and their long-term friend and tenant living on the top floor – and convert it into a single family dwelling, I was at once excited and petrified. There is something entirely nerve-wracking about working for folks with whom you’ve had such a long and meaningful relationship.
Mark & Janet with their children Jack and Ella
I needn’t have worried: the experience was more joyful and rewarding than I could ever have hoped for.
The best parts? Rummaging through Mark’s library, their accumulated local art collection (including the nicest pieces of pottery, relegated to and all but lost in the back of their kitchen cupboards overrun with Tupperware), and the discovery of some here newspaper relics! On a main floor already blessed with abundant natural light, I took the foregoing hallmarks of my friends’ established life and blended it in with new furnishings, lighting and decor to create a space that better serves their family’s particular needs and passions.
Finally, their home reminded me yet again of that thing Saint John possesses in such abundance: historic properties distinguished by solid construction, fascinating touches, well-rubbed surfaces and, in general, irresistible charm.
Before we get into the photos, there are a few people we’d like to recognize and thank for their help with this makeover!
Paint & Wallpaper: Dynamic Painters
New Hardwood Flooring: Supplied by Ritchie’s, installed by Gary Stewart
Electrical: Duncan’s Electrical
Interiors & Styling: Judith Mackin & Tuck Interiors
Furniture, lighting, decor, area carpets, and wallpaper: Tuck
Photography: Kelly Lawson
Entry & Front Hall
This hallway was always closed off, basically because it was a shared entrance to the apartment upstairs. It was dark and needed some TLC to better serve as access to the family bedrooms, which are now upstairs. This involved rearranging the artwork, lighting up the wall colour and replacing the worn hardwood floors.
With the introduction of Benjamin Moore Oxford White paint on all the ceilings, trim and walls, a new light fixture, a new runner, and rearrangement of artwork, this space now shines! We also painted the inside of the front entrance a bit darker to pick up on the original mosaic tiles!
This alcove served as a catch-all for extra books, sofas, and whatever else didn’t have an actual home! By editing, we made it into an open airy space where Jack and Ella play their musical instruments. The piano was moved out of the living room and into this nook.
With the addition of new lighting — with all of Mark and Janet’s own decorative items and plants repurposed on the piano — this space has its own artistic personality.
While decorating Mark & Janet’s home, we stumbled upon the four year’s worth of here newspaper issues that they had bound into these glorious volumes. We immediately brought these sources of wonderful nostalgia out from a bottom bookshelf in a different room, blew the dust off them, and moved them to the top of the piano.
The hallway wall was well-intentioned but a bit busy! We edited out the furnishings and family photos and replaced it with a strong, large piece of artwork by our mutual friend Alexandra (Flood) Darbyshire. A larger carpet to match the runner in the front hallway unifies the two halls together.
The fireplace is such a beautiful shrine to history with all of its original appointments still intact. Many years ago, Janet built the bookshelves herself to house her and Mark’s ever-expanding book collection. We had a great wall/fireplace to work with and by adding another large piece of artwork (Amber Young) to the wall, and editing the ornaments, this living room now has a strong focal point.
Featured: These custom shelves were lovingly built by Janet! Left: Pebble vases, EQ3, Right: artwork Sarah Jones, Darren Emenau.
Jack & Ella’s shared bedroom turns into Guest Room & Study!
Because this family of four was living only on the main floor only, there were restricted to two bedrooms. Jack & Ella shared this bright, but small space! It boasts beautiful views of the Saint John Harbour. But because they are growing older, they needed their own bedrooms, which have since been moved upstairs!
Remember the cluttered alcove just outside Jack and Ella’s bedroom? This daybed was also in that cramped space! By moving it into this bright room it now allows another lounge area for the family to use. It also serves as a guest bed for visitors.
Artwork: Chris Lloyd
MARK AND JANET’S BEDROOM BECOMES BEAUTIFUL LIVING SPACE AGAIN.
As a result of living in a two-bedroom flat for so many years, Mark and Janet’s bedroom was overflowing with personal belongings that needed space to breathe. When they took over the upstairs flat, they, like Jack and Ella, got a larger bedroom. We had such a wonderful time turning this bedroom into a gorgeous living room. As Mark and Janet entertain a lot with family and friends, it seemed like a natural progression for all the rooms on the main floor to return to what they were in times past: large parlors meant for entertaining.
This parlor boasts incredible molding, high ceilings, and original wood doors and trim. Painting everything out the same Oxford White accentuates the height of this room and gives the wood new life. You’ll note to the left a closet that was always closed. We removed the closet from the equation which now allows people to flow directly into the dining room; a full circle. (See more detail on this in the dining room section.)
This bedroom wall had beautiful detailing on it that appeared to have been painted over many times. We wanted to add one more layer, only a darker, more dramatic shade to accentuate their bright and colourful artwork on this wall!
Artwork left: Hilary MacLeod, three pieces on the right, Chris Lloyd.
The dining room appeared to be the room in the house with the highest traffic! It had some really great pieces of art and another fabulous original fireplace, but it had become a location where things got ‘parked’ and over time the dining room lost its way! Our thoughts were to make it less cluttered, rearrange the beautiful artwork, add some design elements such as wallpaper and new lighting, and throw in some new dining chairs!
Oh, and remember that bedroom closet we turned into a pass-through passage? You can see it on the right hand side of the fireplace. We continued the wallpaper through and added a sconce so that now when family and friends are moving through the main floor they can cut through from the dining room into the new living room without having to go all the way around into the main hallway.
Main Floor Washroom
This washroom, although functional, required some attention!
We began our changes by painting the entire room Oxford White, and placed a new gorgeous soapstone countertop on the cabinets. By adding new decorative items such as wallpaper, a new mirror, gold sconce, faucets and hardware, this bathroom now reads ’boutique’!