For lawyers Bridget O’Leary and Stephen Gleave, living on a 40-hectare property in bucolic Ancaster, Ontario, gives them the best of two worlds. Bustling Toronto and the couples demanding jobs are close enough to commute to a couple of days a week, but they’re also far enough away to feel like they’re getting away from it all when at home. Their 135-year-old Italianate house offers plenty of modern amenities, and the property has enough countryside for the dogs, cats, birds and livestock that live here, too. But in 2014, one thing continued to drive them mad: the home’s dated interior.
The couple’s overall design goal was a seamless dovetailing of old and new. “One of the things that was really important to me was to honor and respect the home,” says Bridget. “It’s been here since 1885 and will hopefully remain for many years after we’re gone.” With only Bridget, Stephen and their 20-year-old daughter, Alexandra, in the house, the new layout would more than accommodate the family.
Bridget hired designer Susan Burns to help get through what would end up being a two-year-long process. “We both agreed we couldn’t do glitzy if you made the house too glamorous it wouldn’t suit the country environment. It had to be calm and classic,” says Bridget. “After all, this is still a farm.”