hello! neighbor - sayf and shruti

I first met Shruti online. She started leaving comments on my blog and I went over to her site to have a visit. Lo and behold I found someone with a very similar aesthetic to my own and a Victorian rowhouse. As I watched her progress through her renovation I knew I wanted to one day have her over here for a house tour. Once the tile backsplash went up in her kitchen I gave her a call and set up a shoot date. Take a look at the first image of this post. Although it may look like wallpaper this is actually a stencil that Shruti applied herself. The pattern is borrowed from a Mexican Otomi print. I think it's absolutely amazing, don't you?

Enjoy the tour!

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Names: Shruti and Sayf

Occupations:Policy Advisor Ontario Government -Shruti & VP, Symmetry Developments -Sayf

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Kids, pets:  Our 2 year old son, Kaiyaan, and 8 year old mainecoon cat, Max

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Year Home was Built:  Haven’t determined that yet – likely a 100 years old.

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How long have you lived in your home? Just over three years

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How did you end up living in South Riverdale?

Sayf: We were moving from our loft in King West and were looking for a character home in a walkable neighborhood.   We wanted a home with a history and patina, and were drawn to the volume and layouts of Victorians.

After losing numerous bidding wars in the west end, we decided to expand our search radius to include Leslieville and Riverdale.  The day I saw our house listed on the mls,  I did a quick drive-by in the morning, peeked in and called Shruti right away to tell her that I just saw THE house.   From the small park across the street – we were planning a family – to the fact that it was one of a group of four Victorians that punctuated the south end of the street, the house just felt perfect.  Even from a quick drive-by.  To secure the house, we even wrote a personal letter to the seller as part of the offer!

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Where do you get your inspiration from?

Shruti: We both love modern, minimalist design (think Scandinavian) but are also drawn to South Asian art and architecture.  For me, my mom serves as inspiration with her collection of Indian art and furniture, some of which has found its way to our house!

I am also inspired by real homes that people live in – marriages of personalized, organic, meaningful spaces and objects.  So countless blogs and internet resources, as well as shelter magazines (Living Etc. and Covet Garden  in particular) serve has ongoing sources of inspiration.  I also love watching the UK based realty series Location, Location, Location to get a peek into London terraced flats!

Sayf: My mother used to own a custom furniture fabrication business in Karachi, Pakistan.  Although the style of the pieces – traditional South Asian design that is heavily ornate – wasn’t my cup of tea, I did get to observe and appreciate the level of craftsmanship, detail and diligence that went into creating objects that were intended to endure.  I find this strength and dexterity in mid-century modern design, along with a warm and calming elegance.  Shruti’s mother’s South-Asian art and furniture has slotted in nicely with our mid-century aesthetic, adding weight, texture and nostalgia in equal measure.

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What did your home look like when you first saw it? What work have you done on it to make it your own?

Our home was in fairly good shape structurally speaking but we needed to make some changes to fit our family.  Our first changes were fairly practical in that we had to replace the windows and our front door, and fix our dilapidated front porch.

On the ground floor, we replaced the old wood floors that were completely worn with exposed nails everywhere, with dark, wire brushed hardwood floors.  We also added a large built-in bookcase with hidden storage in the living room.

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The biggest renovation we undertook was the kitchen.  It was old and the original U-shaped layout was not functional. By creating a galley kitchen, we were able to accommodate a long counter for food preparation, a bank of pantries and a seating space. We also got additional light from the sunroom and of course, extra running space for a toddler!  We splurged on the marble hex backsplash but went low on the open shelving – 100 year old barn-board with metal brackets that we sprayed matte black.

We are particularly proud of the kitchen renovation as Shruti served as the “general contractor” during her maternity leave, scheduling and overseeing the individual trades.

Upstairs, we painted and also removed the carpet in the bedrooms replacing it with click floating engineered floor that Sayf had left over from one of his model suites.  Down the line we may replace it with solid hardwood but for now, it works great.

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What’s your favorite room and why? 

Shruti: Our sunroom is a bonus space in the house and offers us streams of light on cold/gloomy days. It works marvelously as a playroom and movie room combination, as well as a gathering space when we are entertaining, regardless of the season.

Sayf: Kaiyaan’s room.  Shruti’s done a wonderful job with such a small room.  The palette is warm and cozy and the wall stenciling brings an element of fantasy and art into the room.  It feels safe and tinged with magic.

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What would your dream house look like?

Shruti: Our current house plus an extra full bathroom, and a covered garage!

Sayf:  This is our dream home in progress.  A backyard sprucing and an attic reno to yield additional space and a 2nd full bath would seal the deal.

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What was the last thing you purchased for your home?

We purchased a few things recently for our kitchen area.  For one, we got a few more metal brackets and some black spray paint to install a second set of open shelving in our kitchen.

We also bought a new basement door. Our old door had a massive hole that served as a cat-door, but was fast becoming a toddler hazard!

Thank you Shruti and Sayf for inviting us into your home!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.