Every Tuesday night, designer Anne Hepfer’s family holds a jam session, complete with drums, guitar, piano, and saxophone—in their living room. Granted, it’s an exuberant space, home to a fuchsia club chair and rainbow disc sculptures by German artist Ulrich Panzer that seem to oscillate when you stare at them. “The living room is our celebration room,” says Hepfer, a native New Yorker who decamped to Toronto with her Canadian husband and their twins (two sets, now ages nine and 13) back in 2004. “It’s important for kids to be surrounded by color, and not to take things so seriously. They know they don’t have to tiptoe around here.”
Once the residence of former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, the family’s 1933 brick Georgian house is now a prismatic wonderland. Hepfer, who founded her interior-design firm in 2003, sees the home’s vibrant colors as an antidote to busy work schedules and school calendars, and the gray days of long Toronto winters: “This is our playground. It’s a place to take a breath and have fun.”
A go-big decorating attitude is nothing new for Hepfer. As a child, she was obsessed with crayons—“I loved the way they smelled, and I loved the selection of juicy colors”—and went on to study color theory as a high school student at Miss Porter’s School (not many teenagers can say that). From there, she got an art history degree at Vanderbilt University and was hired right out of the interior architecture and design program at Parsons School of Design by architect Daniel Romualdez. “Playing with different color combinations comes naturally to me,” she explains. “I very much connect color with mood and emotions.”
That’s perhaps most clearly on display in the dining room, where a whimsical backdrop of swirling clouds—courtesy of an iconic Fornasetti wallpaper—sets the tone for family dinners and discussions about the day’s events. The dining room is dressed in jewel hues: Vintage cane-back chairs are slipcovered in an amethyst linen that plays off the indigo of a malachite-patterned fabric used as the tablecloth.
As for the dinner-table conversation topic? Hepfer says her kids frequently weigh in on design decisions and even spend time discussing their own visual preferences. “I’ll re-cover things and ask for their opinions, to get them involved in the process and stimulate their imaginations,” she explains. That has translated into a corkboard wall in one son’s room and a watermelon Quadrille crosshatch wallcovering in the daughter’s room. But the whole house has a childlike spirit: “The scale, textures, fabrics, colors, artwork—it all evokes the feeling of playfulness that I want to communicate,” she explains. “I like wild. To create one’s own world takes courage.”
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