When friends of Noura Sakkijha and Majed Massad entering the couple’s Toronto home for the first time clicked. The space is clean, sophisticated and accessible, as is their company’s fine jewelry, Mejuri, became known for. “They make fun of us saying that everything looks the same,” says Sakkijha. Gold hoop earrings, domed rings and link necklaces (to name a few must-haves) from Mejuri are designed to be lived and the interior of the circa 1875 Jordanian co-founders’ Victorian townhouse is no different. Shortly after buying the place three years ago, just before the arrival of their twin daughters, Joud and Julia, the couple called on the designer Sarah Birnie to help them close the loop on their on-trend style.
Maximizing the third floor of the house (formerly just an ordinary attic) was one of Birnie’s biggest tasks. Sakkijha and Masad needed the corner to function as a guest bedroom, home office, training area (with a platoon) and “maybe in the end throw a kitchen up there,” Masad says in laughing. Okay, there’s no kitchen yet, but it certainly serves the first purpose (the sofa turns into a bed), as well as the second. “When I’m working from home I’m usually there, and then in the evening it turns into Noura’s zen space,” adds Masad. Birnie emphasized white paint and Zoom meeting-approved neutral furniture to ensure the room was versatile and distraction-free. This is also where Sakkijha dresses most of the time (the flowing drapery hides a bonus dressing room). “This is where I go and decompress,” she explains.
Back downstairs, Birnie looked to brighten things up and ditched the old dark green wallpaper for more white paint, light fixtures with dynamic shapes and textures, and cozy bouclé fabric. “With Toronto townhouses, there’s a lot of space in the center that doesn’t get natural light, so we’ve highlighted lighter tones throughout to make everything feel less cluttered,” says the designer. The large arched mirror in the entryway also helps bounce the rays coming in from the street around the space.
The curved silhouette is also a nod to the couple’s Middle Eastern heritage, which they took a step further by turning one of the doors leading into the kitchen into an arched opening. “It’s something that reminds me of home,” notes Sakkijha (the third-generation jeweler moved to Canada in 2008 to complete her MBA; Masad moved permanently to Toronto in 2002).
Stocking the new shelves in the living room was an opportunity to get a lived-in look, but finding all those books was no joke. “We like to have people over all the time, so it was important to us that the space was welcoming and warm and not overdone,” says Sakkijha. So they made it personal: most titles have to do with business, leadership, architecture or jewelry design. “There are also crystals mixed in there because I always imagined myself to be this zen, mediating person, so it reminds me of wanting to be that,” Sakkijha says with a laugh. “I’m still working on it.”
The large painting leaning over the fireplace is the work of Justine Lançon’s mother, Mejuri’s creative director (she is also one of the couple’s closest friends), while on the gallery wall neighbor, Sakkijha surprised Masad by framing a picture he took on his phone of an art gallery in Jordan. “It’s really near and dear to my heart,” says Sakkijha. For Joud and Julia, it is a work by Lançon made for the family which reads “Les Champs-Elysées”. “For some reason they think we used to live there,” says Sakkijha. “I can’t tell them we live in Toronto.”
Contrary to popular belief, the best accommodation tip isn’t a well-arranged cheese board, it’s a super fancy powder room. Masad and Sakkijha are located in the hallway that leads to the backyard, so it was crucial to make the narrow place extra special, as it is constantly in use. Birnie whitewashed the walls for stunning effect and had a custom vanity and marble sink designed to fit in tight spaces. “I think I texted Sarah every day about the sink,” Sakkijha recalled. “I couldn’t wait for it.”
The couple’s two toddlers played a very important role in decorating, especially in the kitchen. The dining bench is upholstered in performance leather, which means any Cheerios or soup spills can be easily wiped up. The seat itself is the perfect height so they can get on and off without mom or dad’s help, and the hidden spot doesn’t stop them from running or even “cycling through the house” “, as Massad points out. When the warm weather hits, the family can be surprised at their local bagel shop or sunbathing (and playing water table) on their top-floor patio. “It’s my sanctuary in the summer,” says Sakkijha.