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The house that teamwork built; dad wanted a sunken family room, mom and kids didn’t


It was five against one when David Zeppieri floated the idea of a sunken family room in the Zeppieris’ new house. His wife, three teenagers and interior designer said no.

“They all fought me. But I did win,” he said, ascribing his conviction to childhood memories of a sunken living room.

“And it looks lovely,” conceded his wife, Fiorella.

With its cosy ambience, fireplace and “most comfortable couch in the world,” it’s become one of their favourite spaces, she added.

Elsewhere, the family and their designer, Jane Lockhart, pretty much saw eye-to-eye in the creation of their home in King Township. With close to 10,000 square feet of living space, including six bedrooms and seven bathrooms on two floors and a finished basement, choosing everything from flooring to light fixtures was no small feat.

Homeowners David and Fiorella Zeppieri take a moment to relax in their bar adjacent to the dining room. Fiorella describes their new home's design style as "modern, but not too modern."

But, according to David, Lockhart told them “we were one of her easiest clients,” because they were engaged and decisive during the months-long project, completed in February 2021.

In a nutshell — or a house shell, more accurately — they wanted an open feel, natural elements of wood and stone, neutral colours and a “modern, but not too modern” look, as Fiorella described it.

With Lockhart’s guidance, their home’s design merged traditional and modern features.

“Walking in, it’s like you’re stepping into a world that unites history with the present,” said Lockhart, of Jane Lockhart Design in Toronto. “It’s a very comfortable home, but it has all sorts of great details. There’s always something to look at.”

Like the rest of the home, the kitchen and eating area is designed with custom millwork and built-ins, white oak flooring and dark accents.

Old-world features, such as European white oak flooring with cross-grain saw marks, live in harmony with contemporary materials like charcoal-coloured porcelain slabs in the rotunda and glass staircase railings. To meet the busy family’s needs, the kitchen is strictly 21st century, with its custom millwork, dark accents and double islands.

Fiorella calls their home “a little showstopper (with) flair and beautiful features that will never go out of style.” Everyone goes, “Wow!”

“We wanted it to be beautiful, but also to be practical,” said Fiorella, who is a frequent host and mother to Giorgia, 15, Giuseppe, 16, Natalie, 18, and dog-mother to Ollie.

One end of the family room features built-ins for display and storage, a gas fireplace and charcoal-coloured porcelain to mount the big screen.

An abundance of storage and good use of space with built-ins and cabinetry in every room were priorities.

“Jane was wonderful; she tailored it to what we needed,” Fiorella noted. The list of items the designer orchestrated included trim, woodwork, lighting, flooring, tile, fixtures and even the best type of paint for each space.

The homeowners’ friend, cabinet maker Frank Manno of Estate Interiors, also helped bring innovative solutions to keep functional items out of sight. A staircase to the loft above the garage, for example, is concealed by the hidden pantry’s millwork door.

“You don’t see anything … except the really pretty things,” said Fiorella.

The front hall rotunda is one of the more traditional features, according to interior designer Jane Lockhart. Dark porcelain flooring contrasts with the white walls, ceiling and contemporary chandelier.

As someone who loves to cook and entertain, she asked for a kitchen with two islands, one of which houses a small sink and large, tucked-away recycling as well as garbage bins that take time to fill up. The second island has a bench of light grey pleather and it is everyone’s favourite seat.

The couple says little things brought from their old place — there’s a vase in the kitchen and a picture frame on the nightstand, for example — helped turn their new house into a family home.

But real proof is found in the inviting space two steps down that David fought for. That’s where the family hangs out, watching their big screen from the comfy wraparound sectional.


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