Monthly Archives: July 2010

hello! neighbor – geoffrey & lisa


Hello everyone! For the last post of July, I’m leaving you with this month’s edition of Hello! Neighbor. I have to admit that this is one of my favorite parts about doing this blog. I love getting a glimpse into how other people live. I find it totally fascinating.

Apparently, I’m not the only one. At the beginning of this week Apartment Therapy picked up the Hello! Neighbor post I did of Per and Elana’s house. I was certianly happy to share their beautiful home with a wider audience.

This month we are visiting Geoff and Lisa who live just east of us. Their house is obviously a labour of love. These two have poured their heart and soul into this place. At one point in their renovation, they hauled away twelve dumpsters of plaster and lath leaving just the brick shell of the house remaining.

Enjoy the tour!


Lisa & Geoffrey


Lisa: photographer, Geoffrey: cafe owner.

How long have you lived in your home?

We purchased the house in late 2004; demolished the interior because the electrical was knob and tube and there was no insulation.

Basically we bought the house, got married, got pregnant, and moved in by October for Sophia’s birth in November 2005 – luckily she was born on her due date.

We added a twenty foot, second floor addition to the back (master bedroom & family room), dug the basement down four feet and put in radiant floor heating (discovering in the process a hidden room – so now we have a spot for a second bathroom in the house), put in a laundry shoot, a large walk in closet, and rearranged and rebuilt walls.

We used Architect Sharon McKenzie to help us with the addition we put on the back of the house. Since we stripped the inside down to the brick and took out most of the interior walls she was able to give the house a good flow. She made the layout of the main floor kid friendly, creating a “running path” from the front to the back door; which also gives the house an awesome sense of depth when you walk in the front door. It looks like a small house from the outside but it has a long lot. We were able to take advantage of that, building the house out to take up fifty per cent of the land.

Sharon recommended G. Colucci & Sons to us for the addition on the back of the house.

George was straightforward and smart, he said he wouldn’t come until he could do the whole job at once. Then he showed up with this great crew and built it in like 3 days, (after which we insulated, drywalled, had the roofing & siding done). We were so impressed with his professionalism and approach.

George also recommended a handful of great reliable trades people to carry out the small jobs that needed to be done, like closing up windows while matching the brick perfectly; building the front porch & walkways.

The house (built in 1914 – detached double brick) was originally a dairy that served up fresh milk to the area. We found the ruins of a barn out back when we dug down for the addition. It is rumoured there is an old milk cart buried down deep in the backyard next door, which was part of the original property. It was called Maple Grove Dairy Ltd – the vintage milk bottles on the table above are from the dairy.

In the backyard, we built a seven foot white cedar fence with trellis and super gate door with ironwork. We have cedar trees growing out of the deck. In the back area, the brick floor and small wall were built using bricks from the back of the house that was torn down.

All of the plants were bought from Sheridan Nursery who also helped with landscape drawings.

Geoffrey found a service berry plant on a film set he was working on that was almost dead. We planted it in the backyard and it has prospered, giving us eye-catching white flowers each spring!

Any animals, kids?

Our daughter Sophia Rose and our tuxedo cat Pizza (named by Sophia after her favourite book about a cat that lives at a pizzeria and only eats pizza).

Oh yeah, the laundry shoot, which is positioned outside the upstairs bedrooms and runs through the kitchen (with chalkboard) was Geoffrey’s idea. He had one in the house he grew up in. I cut the hole with the sawzall at 8 months pregnant, our friend Paul Dakin constructed the aluminum venting down to the basement laundry room.

What is your favorite room?

Geoffrey: The front living room.

Lisa: My office and the back garden.

What is your favorite object/thing/moment in your home?

Geoffrey: historical Toronto books, teak dining room table set.

Lisa: I love the large poster of my father with a fish he caught in the Bahamas. He had it stuffed and it hung on his office wall for as long as I could remember. The poster was hidden away in a closet for 30 years and was only found when my mom sold her home. I had it digitally copied and sent a framed edition to my sister in BC as we have few pictures of him.

I also love the framed poster of the fire girl collected from a trip I took through Finland & Scandinavia while on tour with Peaches.

Also my parents teak cutlery set from when I was a kid.

Sitting in the back garden on a hot day watching Sophia running through the garden hose, making mud pies, chasing the cat.

I love the front garden with the hydrangeas. They start off white and change to purple by autumn.

What are your future plans for the home?

Add a third floor with a deck.

Anything you would change?

The next door neighbours.

Best thing about living in Parkdale?

Geoffrey: being close to the cafe, have long connection to the past.

Lisa: the community, Sophia’s little friends and their parents.

What original feature(s) of your home will you never get rid of?

floors, doors, baseboards, bricks, stairwell to 2nd floor.

Links, acknowledgments?

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book except photo of Sophia (Lisa Kannakko)

Furniture: Sophia’s blue desk, front marble table, dining room tables & chairs, family room table & orange chairs: Queen West Antiques.

Kitchen & black leather couches: Ikea

We used Steve Moschenross, owner of Straightline Construction to build our white cedar privacy fence, garden gate with wrought iron peep door, trellis, deck, shed, and the back bench seating.

We used Dupont Heating to put in our high efficiency furnace, radiant floor heating and redid all our existing rads.

We purchased two used and one vintage rad from Addisons Inc at 41 Wabash Avenue, as well as new taps for the original clawfoot tub that came with the house.

We reused the original baseboards, door & window frames wherever possible.

Filed under hello! neighbor

window shopping


Every morning on my way to work, I bike past a modern furniture store called One Twenty Modern. I always look forward to catching a little glimpse of what they have in their window as I whiz by. There’s nothing like starting your day with a little window shopping.

Their latest display has me positively swooning. I am absolutely in love with this line of furniture by Italian designer Paola Navone.

The line is called Gray and it is composed of pieces that are made of natural American walnut or white or grey stained oak.

Navone’s skilled hand can be seen in the way she balances line and proportion in these simple but elegant chairs. Personally, I am drawn to the warm, soft tones of the American Walnut. How stunning would a grouping of these chairs and table be on a white or concrete floor?

And while I’m showing you this I might as well show you another furniture piece that I am loving at the moment. It is a shelving unit and desk by the Belgian company Flamant.

Wouldn’t this be a great addition to your living space? It has the perfect combination of open and closed storage with the added bonus of a small desk space and that undeniably charming ladder. Can you imagine it in your home?

Filed under beautiful objects

a succulent collaboration


I’d have to say that succulents are right up there as one of my favorite things. There is something very enchanting about them. Whenever I’m flipping through gardening books or magazines I’m always drawn to the arid, desert like gardens that are full of cacti, bougainvillea, and yuccas. Maybe, it’s because it is a garden I would never be able to have in Canada.

Luckily, I can have a small version of my dream garden.

Look at this lovely planter filled with locally grown succulents from the Niagara region.

It is a collaboration between Toronto industrial artist Katherine Morley and innovative, organic gardener Sarah Nixon. When Sarah sourced these beautiful succulents from growers just South of Toronto she wanted to find planters for them that were also locally made. You see, everything Sarah does starts in her own backyard (and many others). She plants, weeds, and tends to intensively planted residential gardens throughout the neighbourhood of Parkdale in exchange for the organically grown flowers.

The flowers are then turned into stunning bouquets for brides, offices, yoga studios and private homes which she sells through her business, My Luscious Backyard. Each bouquet is unique to the growing season and is absolutely the freshest it can be often handpicked only hours before it is delivered. As a bride, you can even walk the gardens with Sarah a few days before your wedding and chose your own bouquet. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your wedding flowers were grown using organic farming principles and didn’t travel for miles and miles on a jet plane to get to you? Look at this stunning bouquet Sarah made….

As you can see, Sarah believes strongly in keeping things local which is why she turned to artist, Katherine Morley for unique planters for her succulents. Katherine is a very talented industrial designer whose work has been featured in Canadian House and Home and Moco Loco. Her work ranges from ceramics to textiles to graphics to writing and performing music. She’s one talented lady!

I think these three legged planters she designed for the succulents are absolutely perfect. I love the small grooves in each of the feet and the slightly irregular shape of the bowl; such a pleasure to look at!

And the best thing is, I can take this little garden inside with me when the weather starts to turn colder.

Filed under beautiful objects

the office – happily ever after


The first thing I’m going to admit this Monday morning is that it is hard to do house projects in the middle of summer! It seems fundamentally wrong to be inside on a warm, sunny day painting walls and hanging lights but that’s what I was doing. (I kept hearing my mother’s voice in the back of my head saying, “go outside and play, it’s beautiful outside.”)

But the truth of the matter is that I couldn’t live with the chaos that was our half finished office. I needed to find a place for everything and get organized. I’m one of those people that can’t concentrate or think straight until everything is in order. So I made it my task this weekend to get the office up and running.

The main change was wallpapering and painting the wall, changing the light fixture, getting better storage boxes, and redecorating (for lack of a better word).

Just so we all remember what it use to look like, here is the before:

And the after:

I’m so happy with the way the painted anaglypta wallpaper turned out. Not only did it hide all the cracks in the old plaster wall but it gave the room some personality and depth. You’ll see that one of my recently purchased chairs also found a new home. I thought it worked well with the Leran pendant light and Flata basket from Ikea. I also added a simple twine line to which I can add clothespins for inspiration images and ideas.

And remember this balancing act:

It is now better organized and less liable to collapse under its own weight!

I received so many helpful and wonderful suggestions about what I could do with my office. At some point (maybe in the middle of winter) I’d like to tackle some of them (a new blind, some pin up boards for the wall, and maybe even some new shelving) but for now this will have to do. Oh, and my dream to have a room of my own…well let’s just say I got to call the shots on how the room looks. For now, it’s still an office for two.

What do you think? Was it worth spending a warm, sunny day inside for?

Filed under house projects