How to transform a stuffy Forest Hill mansion into an art-filled party pad

How to transform a stuffy Forest Hill mansion into an art-filled party pad

Catriona Smart, the 38-year-old co-owner of Halo, a public-relations agency

Five years ago, Catriona Smart bought a gigantic, 9,000-square-foot 1920s mansion near Forest Hill with her husband, condo king Brad Lamb. They’re not together anymore, but she still lives in the home with their six-year-old daughter, Harlowe. It took a year to tear out everything on the first and second floors. What was once a typical old-money estate with an interconnected maze of dark rooms is now an impossibly clean and modern paradise. 

Catriona worked with Palmerston Design on the renovation. She wanted the space to feel comfortable enough for informal dinner parties and relaxed evenings with Harlowe, so she mixed lush fabrics with industrial metals to create a pleasing contrast. Flashes of pink and grey counterbalance all the sleek marble. Catriona travels frequently for work (mostly to Hong Kong at the moment, where she’s planning an event series for the Four Seasons), and her favourite part about returning home is knowing that everything is designed exactly to her taste.

The house functions not only as Catriona’s home, but also as an occasional second office for her staff, a gallery for her art collection and a venue where she regularly hosts 200-person parties. She finds that guests tend to linger—ogling the pet jellyfish, snapping Instagram photos in a plush hanging chair or getting into the bottles of Clase Azul tequila stashed away in the bar. “They’ll come for a drink, and then more people will come over, and everybody just ends up staying,” she says.

The banana plants in the living room are fake. Catriona got them from Restoration Hardware. “I kill plants,” she says. The floors are white oak. She loves that they’re already covered with tiny band saw cuts. “I don’t have to worry about people wearing heels or spilling red wine,” she says. The pattern on the statement-making marble fireplace reminds her of ballet slippers:


Catriona loves pineapples because they bring to mind her Jamaican heritage. “They’re everywhere,” she says. “Whenever anyone comes over they give me a pineapple.”


The dining room chairs are by designer Jonathan Adler:


The velvet Ralph Lauren sectional is from Elte. It was a floor model, so Catriona got it for 70 per cent off:


Catriona got the Donald Robertson painting of five women in red 10 years ago, before anyone knew who he was. “I love that it’s basically a doodle but has so much movement and style,” she says:


The hanging chair is from Elte. It was designed by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, and it’s one of the more Instagrammable things in the home. “People love to sit in it,” Catriona says:


The David Drebin sculpture, called Falling in Love, is one of Catriona’s favourite pieces. “It reminds me of living your life and giving yourself the chance to try again,” she says:


The candy buffet is always a hit when Harlowe has friends over to play:


The live jellyfish tank is by Belgian duo Florence Samain and Dave Monfort (a.k.a. the Darwin Sect), whom Catriona met at Art Basel. There’s a system hidden in the base that shoots brine shrimp through a tube for the jellyfish to eat:


Here’s the master bedroom:


And this is the master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom: