Thu. May 23rd, 2024

In the bustling kitchen, there’s a detail that adds gravitas to every gathering; on a recent trip to Greece, the family brought back a bust of Socrates. It occupies pride of place there.

The sculpture is one of the many artifacts from a lifetime of world travel on show in the Burlington home of Natalie Batthish-Nardone and Rob Nardone, both dentists, and their daughters, Mya, 19, and Hannah, 18, both McMaster University students, and 6-year-old Frenchton Bailey.

On every adventure, from Japan to Morocco to Thailand to Tanzania, the family carefully selects a piece of art, book or other memento that reminds them of the special time they spent in each country.

“We want to remember our trips and have those memories and experiences live with us every day,” said Batthish-Nardone.

There’s a collection of books from Paris in the powder room, African sculptures in the living room, a Buddha head from Thailand in the dining room … and several carefully selected curios throughout the house.

“We like to entertain a lot and they’re great conversation-starters. It’s very stimulating to be able to talk about other cultures, what we’ve learned and how it’s affected us,” Batthish-Nardone. “It’s nice to have it out and not tucked away in a photo album somewhere.”

The couple had the 6,000-sq.-ft. home built for them in 2000. Since then, their family has evolved, and they wanted to refresh the main floor to reflect the way they live today. In 2021, they brought in Eva Healy, owner and principal designer of Avenue Design to help. She imagined a modern, curated museum design. She installed shelves sized for their mementos, applied artistic wallpaper and added punches of colour, to create a gallery in every room.

Masai statutes, collected when the family was in east Africa as part of a dental outreach.

For a family that likes to host, the kitchen is critical. They wanted to keep the cabinetry and appliances, but create more space and freshen up the look. “We needed more storage, more seating and places to display some of the cookware we brought back from trips,” said Batthish-Nardone.

Healy married the old and the new. She extended the height of the cabinetry to the ceiling, added striking black shelving against a marble backsplash to create a beverage station and a small bar with an under-counter fridge, and refurbished the island to make it deeper, wider and bursting with storage.

Mask from Tahiti.

A seating area on a long window in the adjacent great room was refurbished to include upholstered cushions that serve as seating and provide a gallery effect.

The great room, itself, retained the original layout and furniture, but was given a facelift with the addition of a new linear gas fireplace. This was of dramatic black stone, which winds all the way up to the ceiling, 19 feet above. Healy designed custom millwork on either side to accommodate specific travel mementos, including sculptures and statues. Drawers underneath, of a warm wood tone, anchor the open shelves and provide storage.

“We took special care in measuring every single shelf, to ensure all the pieces would fit back in exactly where Natalie and Rob wanted them,” said Healy.

Natalie and Rob Nardone are dentists who love to travel the world with their daughters, and they bring back treasures from their adventures.

The enormous chandelier over the seating area adds drama, to finish the room. “We really wanted to accentuate the ceiling-height by creating this floating circle moment, with soft, indirect lighting,” she said.

“When the sun goes down, there’s a gentle glow that is distributed across the entire main floor.”

The light fixture is a conversation piece. Said Batthish-Nardone: “Everyone who walks into our home stops to look at it. We appreciate how much light it provides, but also the art of it.”

Nearby, the dining room has its own unique design. To help showcase some of the travel keepsakes, Healy removed the upper half of their buffet and installed LED-lit shelving on a marble background. She created original art by applying wallpaper on the ceiling and finished it off with a sculptural light fixture.

This head was bought in Cambodia.

“We thought we’d do something different from a typical accent wall,” said Healy.

Since the renovation was completed in January 2022, the family has enjoyed their home more than ever.

“It reflects who we are now, as individuals and (as) a family, our personalities, our interests,” says Batthish-Nardone. “There’s nostalgia, but also a modern feeling, with a nice balance of old memories and new goals.

“There’s a real feeling of communal experience when we’re all together.”

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