An armchair and ottoman make this a comfortable corner for pets and their humans alike.

A new home is like a blank canvas, waiting for the new inhabitants to put their mark on it. When the Gavaris family moved into their home in Ontario, Canada, about five years ago, they wanted to repaint and redesign each room to show their style.

The couple runs the home design blog, A Burst of Beautiful. Alicia, the editor and designer, draws up her ideas, while her husband, Nick, builds much of the DIY furniture and creates the architectural details. Working as a team, they explain how they personalized every room in their home.

Modern Farmhouse

While the 1,700-square-foot home was a standard builder home, they added character and interest with new wainscoting, board and batten, and built-in storage. “We’ve been moving through room to room and putting our own touch on it,” says Alicia. “It’s a modern farmhouse with lots of light, natural wood, fibers and textures. I love blue, so it’s in almost every room in our house, from rugs and cushions to throws and art.”

Repainting the entire house from the former taupey-beige to soft grays and whites was the couple’s solution to merging their two styles together. (Nick prefers a masculine look, while Alicia likes light and bright.)

“I keep the big pieces, like our walls, all very neutral and classic so we don’t have to change them out all the time,” Alicia says. “I’ll add throws, pillows and decorative accents like bowls and vases. It’s relaxed, and nothing is too fussy, formal or matchy-matchy. Most items are hand-me-down pieces that we put a fresh coat of paint on.”

Family-Friendly Details

While the layout of the house wasn’t changed much, the couple incorporated many space-saving ideas to accommodate the hustle and bustle of family life, which includes daughter, Zoe, two dogs and a cat.

“The biggest change was the kitchen. We rejigged that space, repainted the oak cabinets ourselves, redid the lighting, added an island, and Nick put in cabinets and floating shelves,” Alicia says.

At the entry of the home, a closet off the garage was converted into a mini mudroom area with a shelf above and wall hooks below. “We had coats and everything jammed in there, so we took the bifold doors off, and it’s nice and bright now,” Nick says. “People ask us if it really looks like this every day. It stays pretty neat because when it’s open like that, it forces you to keep it clean.”

With a small child and pets at home, you would think white sofas might be off-limits, but they work for this family. “I wanted a white sofa, but I went with a slipcover because I know there are going to be spills and sticky fingers. You can always have them dry-cleaned and looking good as new,” Alicia says.

While white looks crisp and clean, the overall effect is a comforting, casual vibe. “We want our guests to feel comfortable when they’re here,” says Alicia.