Kelley Heyes and Les Voros love to entertain, especially during the holidays—and their Island Park Drive home is holiday party central.
“When we were kids—for my mom and for Les’ mom, too—the holidays were important,” Kelley explains. “They encouraged you to slow it down and be together, and that’s probably one of the reasons I like dragging out the Christmas decorations.”
It’s a feeling and tradition they hope to pass onto their two kids, 11-year-old Olivia and eight-year-old Liam, which shouldn’t be too difficult considering it’s already their favourite holiday. Whether it’s enjoying conventional sit-down dinners or hosting more casual get-togethers, the Heyes family can’t help but embrace the holiday spirit when decorating their home.
But don’t expect your typical tinsel explosion; this family likes to keep it “earthy” with the use of natural tones and materials, like boughs of holly, pine cones and wreaths made by Kelley herself. “The decorations are hand-picked over the years,” Kelley says. “Nothing flashy or fancy—just understated.”
That’s not to say that some of the familiar traditional Christmas fixtures don’t find their way in. “Santas—lots of Santas,” Kelley laughs. “But they’re nice, classic and tasteful Santas. They’re everywhere. I like to add one to my collection every year.”
Touches of red and green are also added into the mix. Neutral-toned throw pillows dotted with the colour combo are placed on the couch, and other bits scattered among the dining room table adornments. A greenery-heavy centrepiece with red berries sprinkled throughout also makes for the perfect statement piece.
As for the tree, the family is toying with the idea of situating it near the staircase instead of the living room this year—that way it’s the first thing anyone sees walking through the front entrance. The colour scheme is in keeping with the natural theme, but accents of blue add that bit of sparkle.
When it comes to decorating, Kelley and Les make sure the kids are part of the process. Their mother adds that they can’t wait to get the Christmas decorations out—it’s something they look forward to doing every year.
Built sometime in the 1960s, the modern Hampton Park home sticks out today among the classic character homes that line the street. Not just because of the contrast of its architectural style, states the couple, but for the status it holds as being one of the Homes of the Year in Chatelaine Magazine.
It was that precise contrast of the flat roof and clean lines, however, that almost deterred the couple from buying the home five years ago. But after noticing the home hadn’t sold a year later, curiosity got the better of them, and they checked it out.
“We were walking in the door and we squeezed each other and thought, ‘We could do something with this,’” says Kelley. “We felt the home had really amazing bones,” Les recalls. “There were things (we felt we) could do to this home that would make it our own.”
Despite the closed-off and outdated interior, the duo saw the home for what it could be: their dream home with a spectacular entertaining space. So they undertook some renovations, most of which included cosmetic updates and making the space more open concept.
As with any major changes, it was important for the couple to embody their entertaining lifestyle into the new design plans of the home. For example, removing the hallway walls created a nearly unobstructed view of the entire main floor. Visitors can now see directly into the backyard, a feat also made possible thanks to wall-to-wall windows that span from the dining room into the adjacent living area.
The couple also took down the wall between the dining room and living area. This alteration alone encouraged guests to move freely between the two rooms and improved socializing. Even the galley kitchen, which is longer than it is wide, covers a large area that challenges the image of a typical galley kitchen. It comes complete with a wine fridge and a circular eating nook with a bench—two features that often attract guests.
But when deciding what to do with a home and how it’s decorated, Kelley and Les believe it all comes down to sentiment.
“Keep it simple and just go with your own style,” Kelley advises. “Enjoy it, and don’t be afraid to bring things out that are special to you at Christmas—it’s the one time of the year you can add some joy and sparkle to your home.”