An active Roncesvalles family enlists illustrator Sophie Williams to invigorate a humdrum dining room with images from their life
Picking out familiar Roncy motifs from a mural hand painted by local artist Sophie Williams is a treat — one that greets homeowners Naomi Kriss and her husband Alan every day. “The mural was the icing on the cake of a renovation,” she says. Rather than take down an adjoining kitchen wall, she asked Williams, a former babysitter to Kriss’ three boys, to decorate it with references to the neighbourhood. Cherry blossoms, storefronts and a burst fire hydrant take the eye on a meandering journey around the room, crossing and re-crossing the home’s original dark wood panelling.
For an old house with enclosed rooms, like those championed by architect Vanessa Fong in her Edwardian house, the mural is a breath of fresh air. “I wanted it to be a space of joy and calm,” says Williams, who left white space between illustrations as “breathing room.” She also used latex acrylic paint with a glaze overlay to mimic the lightness and fluidity of watercolour. The finished work counteracts the heavy period sideboards, fabricating an open-concept feel in a close space.
It helped that Williams had such an active family as muse. “There was constant movement and energy of everyone running in and out of the house,” she recalls. Some of the imagery harks back to her adventures in High Park with the kids. In one whimsical panel, a boy in patchwork shorts serenades a pair of dogs.
Although she’s currently at work developing a custom wallpaper series, there’s nothing static about her process. “I love the experience of allowing the painting medium to build up with accidental markings. All of those mistakes feel true to the materials used and that in itself feels special to me.”
For homeowners Naomi and Alan, immortalized in the mural riding their bikes, these four walls will always be special.