The Norrie House in North River, just outside of Truro, sits on land that has been in the family since the 1830s and was once a working jersey farm. The classic exterior of the home with the inviting front door in a pop of bright red lets us in on some of the history of the home. The Honorable Mrs. Margaret McCain may not reside here year round but this is where her roots are firmly planted, where her story finds a beginning.

Any local home with a strong history almost becomes the community’s home, too. Thus, when the 2010 renovations were completed, the family opened the house up to the community members so they could see the changes, relive bits of their history in the telling of old tales and take a walk down memory lane. At the time, McCain said, “It wasn’t so much structural (work) … and I did it for no good reason other than out of love and nostalgia,” she said. “The house is a landmark and to see it revitalized lifts people’s spirits.”

A simple palette of soft blues and greens throughout the home speaks of a gentle and relaxed atmosphere but the bright pops of artwork add a certain level of fun and whimsy. One of the home’s designers, Robyn Cox, said it best when she said, “Every room makes you smile!” And it’s true, whether it’s a colourful piece of folkart, a lively painting or an unexpected pop of colour, this is a happy home.


All too often, people stick to ‘safe’ colours, using neutrals as an easy choice and avoid white furniture all together. In this living room, it certainly is not the case. Colour on the walls, colour in the pillows and white furniture makes it an easy room to be in. McCain knew she wanted white furniture and she has a strong love of the colour blue, so this colour palette was an obvious choice with the addition of a fun accent colour. There’s also the great juxaposition of clean lines in such a traditional room that speaks volumes of the homeowner.

As the dining room and living room are so open from one to the other, the same wall colours keeps the space unified. But where the furniture is so clean lined in the living room, the dining room is the opposite, with heirloom pieces taking up residence. Some of the same fabric is repeated between the rooms, again, tying the two spaces together. More colour is introduced through the draperies, bringing in more of the chartreuse accents. The dining room speaks of history and formality without being pretentious.


In the kitchen pale walls and light cabinetry make the rich wood of the island and cool countertops pop. The bright colours of the fruit-themed art compliment the colours in the drapery panels on the French doors that lead to the sunny back deck. An original pine table set was refinished during the most recent renovation and lends itself to the homey-ness of the welcoming kitchen.

It is easy to add bright pops of colour in a room where you can feel limited by amount of cabinetry.  Some fun art work, bright canisters and a little fabric can go a long way in introducing some colour and can all be easily changed out if you tire of that combination, without breaking the bank on new cabinetry or countertops.


The spare bedroom, with its matching twin beds, and pretty, little chair, calls for afternoon naps and getting lost in a good book. The palette stays the same as the main level with the fresh blue and crisp white, keeping the continuity of the house flowing. But without a pop of colour, it feels restful and relaxing, just as any guest room should feel.

Back down stairs a little space not to be missed is the laundry room It would not be a chore to do laundry in a room with grasshoppers on the wallpaper and dandelions on the valance! This little space personifies what a laundry room should be – clean, bright and cheerful. The open shelving keeps the room from being too closed in and makes everything easily accessible. This fresh space is a delight to walk into, even if you have to do the ironing while you’re there.


Well-played colour choices, fine fabrics and a real sense of whimsy make this historic house feel fresh and up-to-date. Using colour and steering clear of neutrals makes for an inviting home, there’s no fear here where the colours are concerned.



Source Guide:

Laundry room:
Wallpaper- Stroheim
Valance-Made by Costandi Designs, fabric by Duralee

Dining room:
Drapes: Made by Costandi designs, fabric by Robert Allen
Dining chairs- Originally made in Ontario, Reproduced by Jonathan Otter
Dining chair fabric- Highland Court
Chandelier- original to the home
Paint Colour – Pratt & Lambert Blue Fox

Living room:
Drapes made by Costandi designs, fabric is Robert Allen
Sofas- Montauk
Toss cushions- Various suppliers via Costandi Designs
Crystal lamp- Costandi Designs
Accent chairs- Reupholstered by Costandi Designs, fabric by Robert Allen
Sofa table- Custom
Paint Colour – Pratt & Lambert Blue Fox

Guest bedroom:
Roman shade made by Costandi designs, fabric is Ralph Lauren Home
Chair reupholstered by Costandi Designs, fabric is Robert Allen
Window seat cushions by Costandi designs, fabrics are Robert Allen
Bedding by Pottery Barn kids
Paint Colour – Para Oriental Blue