Monthly Archives: November 2010



Wow, it’s the last day of November so I’m sneaking in this month’s Hello! Neighbour post just under the wire!

When Hasnain and Mahshad bought their hundred year old house just over a year ago it had been completely overhauled by a conscientious but sales oriented contractor. Hoping to attract as many buyers as possible, the house was washed in a sea of beige blandness. However, Hasnain and Mahshad knew that they could breathe life into this space. Having lived in a open-concept downtown condo prior to this, they brought with them their large, over scale modern furniture and impressive light fixtures. With the addition of some of Hasnain’s photographs and objects from Mahshad’s native Iran the home has become a colourful and exuberant blend of traditional and contemporary styles.

Enjoy the tour!

Hasnain and Mahshad


Photographer, therapist in training

How long have you lived in your home?

Just over a year.

Any animals, kids?
1 kid

What is your favorite room?
The living-dining-kitchen room, it’s the hub of activities, yet so comfortable. My (Mahshad’s) studio.

What is your favorite object/thing/moment in your home?
The afternoon light in the dining room. The Dresser in our bedroom, the master bathroom, and the chalkboard wall Hasnain made.

What are your future plans for the home?
Landscaping the backyard.

Anything you would change?
The dark brown stain on the floors.

Best thing about living in Parkdale/High Park?
The people, Roncesvalles Ave, and High Park.

What original feature(s) of your home will you never get rid of?
This hundred-year-old house was completely gutted before we bought it, a perfect contractor’s beige/brown. We’re slowly breathing a little life and colour to the space and making it our own. However, we won’t be touching what was left of the original features (fireplace, staircase and pocket doors between living and dining rooms).

Thanks Mahshad and Hasnain!

All post photographs by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.

Wall photographs in house: Hasnain Dattu
Bedroom dresser: The Carroll Street Woodworkers

Filed under hello! neighbor

homework – evaluation time


To bring you up to speed, a couple of weeks ago I read this amazing blog post which got me thinking about all the little things in my house that don’t work. I agree that sticking to a style demands focus and discipline and that if you waiver the whole vision can fall apart. I thought it was time to do a little homework on my house to evaluate what it is I like and what needs changing. I started off last week, by putting into words exactly what my personal style is. I came up with this description: a laid-back and neutral space with organic and historical elements and a touch of bohemian yet spare and modern. It’s a bit of a mouthful but it’s me. With this thought in mind, I turned the camera on my own house and started evaluating. By the way, have you ever done this – taken out your camera and photographed your own house? I think it is one of the most useful tools when it comes to judging your own home. There is something about seeing a room in a photograph that makes everything much clearer.

Below are my notes room by room.

I feel like I have a roadmap now of what to tackle next and where to direct my money and energy. Obviously, many of these things I won’t do for a very long time. Still, I think it is good to have a plan. Doing an exercise like this also really helps focus your mind. The next time I’m out shopping I can rifle through these images in my head and ask, “will this work – does it fit with my style?” Hopefully, I’ll come home with less mistakes and more winners!

Filed under house projects

one of a kind show -top three picks


As promised earlier today, below are my top three picks for what to look out for at The One of a Kind Show in Toronto this year.
Top Pick #1 - Ceramik B.

Basma Osama’s porcelain ceramics made under the name Ceramik B. are absolute perfection. This minimalist collection of bowls, plates, cups, and platters produced in a limited colour palette just begs to be touched and held. I think part of the beauty of these forms is seeing how the organic shapes work together in stacks and layers. These are the kinds of housewares you want to buy in multiples and have displayed on an open shelf in your kitchen. They are too beautiful and sensuous to be hidden away behind cabinet doors. I think I might start with the cups and grow my collection from there. A definite must-see at The One of a Kind Show.
Top Pick #2 - Felt Factory

Felt Factory has one of the smaller booths at The One of a Kind Show but that doesn’t stop them from delivering a powerful punch. As part of the Rising Star’s portion of the show, Sabine Alpers, the woman behind these Faux Fauna, is a first time presenter. Her whimsical, felted trophy heads mounted on logs are a playful poke at traditional taxidermy. All vegetarian friendly! Her menagerie includes everything from bison to sheep to unicorns. It’s worth taking a look at her beautifully designed website to see the names she gives to each of these creatures!

Top Pick #3 - Patouche

My final pick for this year’s One of a Kind Show is the children’s clothing line Patouche. Kessa Laxton, the woman behind these imaginative coats, hats, capes, and booties started this company in her kitchen sewing clothes for her own children. She now sells in retailers across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Her clothes have an old world elegance and recall the stories and fables we all grew up with. There are little red riding capes, pirate hats, tweed coats, bonnets and booties for your little ones. Clothes that both parents and children can delight in. I’m definitely heading back to pick up a pirate hat for Henry.

Again, if you can’t make it to The One of a Kind Show in Toronto be sure to check out the websites of each of these artisans. Almost all have an online store where you can purchase their products. As the holiday season approaches, it’s great to keep these independent retailers in mind. Wouldn’t you like to receive something that has been crafted out of love and dreams?

Filed under beautiful objects

one of a kind show


Today, I’m taking a little break from The Friday Files to blog about The One of a Kind Show happening in Toronto at the Direct Energy Centre from now until December 5th. I was lucky enough to attend the press preview yesterday morning and was treated to a delicious breakfast by the students of The George Brown Culinary School. Walking around the cavernous exhibition hall filled with thousands upon thousands of works made by dedicated artisans and crafters you can’t help but feel energized and inspired. These are people who clearly love what they do and pour their heart and soul into everything they make. Below is a little overview of the booths and products that caught my eye during my morning visit. There was so much to see and report that I will be back this afternoon with a second post highlighting my top three picks at the show this year. And if you can’t make it to the show be sure to check out the links to each artisan’s website. Almost all have their own online store. Enjoy!

Hilary Cosgrove’s Alphabet pillows and stuffed birds are undeniably sweet. The perfect touch in a kid’s room or nursery. Being the mother of a boy, I love how she uses more masculine fabrics like tweeds and plaids that could easily translate to a boy’s room. She has some lovely owl pillows as well.

How ingenious is this idea for our cold Canadian winters? Sarah of Sartoria will custom make you a pair of long johns while you wait! You get to choose the top, bottom and underwear portions from a huge selection of materials and she sews them together on the spot. Amazing! I was also really taken with Sarah’s booth design which her family helped pull together using reclaimed wood and hand made signs. She mentioned that she wasn’t convinced that long johns was the best name for her product and I have to agree. (Plus, she said a guy named John once broke her heart!) I thought she should call them long sarahs….what do you think? Oh, and did I mention she also makes cashmere underwear! Seriously.

tulip+i creates beautiful, simple, wonderfully tactile baby blankets, pillows, scarves, and bibs. All of the items are made using natural fibres such as washed linen and cotton and handprinted with water based inks. I was captivated by their limited colour palette and white washed walls.

I have to admit that the first thing that caught my eye at the jack & marjorie booth was the rustic door with its perfectly peeling paint and the stack of superb vintage suitcases. When I looked a little closer I realized I was also absolutely smitten with the bags and satchels. They use old military materials like tents, wool blankets, parachutes, and ammunition pouches in combination with leather to fashion their products. All of the items are made in Toronto by the talented duo of Meghan Parsons and Manuel Opp. I honestly could have taken one of each bag and may go back in the coming days to purchase some.

Jennifer the designer behind Crumb Designs juxtaposes sweet and playful fabrics to create one of a kind baking and gardening aprons. When I saw this pattern with the frolicking horses and subtle polka dots I had to ask her to hold it up. Such a great combination! She also makes children’s aprons for the little helpers in your life.

Finally, a wall of white pottery always stops me in my tracks. I love the absolute simplicity and organic shapes. Hugo Didier throws each of these items by hand and sells them under the name, not made in china. I asked him about the mugs with Haiti written on the side. He told me that each year he does one set of limited edition pieces that are topical. Last year, he did H1N1 mugs and this year he has focused on Haiti. I’m not sure if you can see it in the photos but each mug has a slight crack on the rim. Portions of the money raised from these mugs go to relief efforts in Haiti. And how about those stacking bowls? Wouldn’t they be a lovely addition to your baking routine?

I’ll be back this afternoon with my top three picks for favorite booths at The One of a Kind Show.

Filed under beautiful objects