hello! neighbor - shannon & wil

Hello! Neighbor is back after a little hiatus last month and this first home of 2012 has something special going for it - it's on the market. That's right as of this weekend (or soon thereafter) this home could be yours! We can't say that very often. This home is the loving result of the owners, Wil and Shannon. If you live in the neighbourhood you might know Shannon from her charming market store, The Mercantile. Wil  is a talented home remodeller and spends his time lovingly restoring old homes that have seen better days. Since Wil knows renovations first hand, I took the time to ask him a few questions about what he thinks makes a home renovation successful. I think it is very telling that his favorite tools in any home remodelling project are rubber gloves, abrasive pads and paint stripper. Enjoy the tour!


Wil Crothers and Shannon Doyle


Home remodeller and owner of The Mercantile gourmet food shop.

Shannon in her store The Mercantile on Roncesvalles Avenue.

How long have you lived in your home?

We have lived here for 6 months.

When was your home built?

It was built in approximately 1910.

Which room do you spend the most time in? Why?

Shannon: Our favourite room would be the kitchen.  We both love to cook and entertain.

What do you think are the easiest or most cost effective ways to update a home?

Wil: In my opinion the least expensive way to update a home is to embrace some of the elements that you believe make it outdated and juxtapose them with clean modern accents. To use a simple analogy, if the doors in your home are tired and abused, take off the hardware, give them a quick sand and a fresh coat of cloud white paint. If the hardware is more than 50 years old strip off all of the generations of paint and replace them bare. If not buy some ultra modern brushed nickel or chrome hardware. Suddenly the beaten up old door becomes the back drop for the fixture. On a grander scale, the same can be said for every aspect of the home. If the tile in your bathroom is lime green or purple from 1962 find a modern complementary colour or a very cold neutral colour and paint your bathroom to match. Throw in a sleek mirror, high style bath fixtures and an piece of art. Pow! Those nasty old tiles and vanity are ultra cool retro. My best friends in any renovation are rubber gloves, S.O.S. pads, and paint stripper. A home, in my opinion, is sort of like a classic suit.  Don't throw out the suit change the shirt and tie.

What were the major changes you  made to the house?

Shannon: When we first looked at 77 Campbell Ave. we knew the home had great potential. Unfortunately, it had suffered many decades of neglect. Split into apartments it was essentially in rooming house condition. The house has been completely gutted, re-wired, remolded and put back together.

How did you end up living in the Junction?

Shannon: When we purchased out first home in the Junction Triangle in 2007 it was the one of the few neighbourhoods we could afford. We have since fallen in the love with the community. The area is wildly diverse, our neighbours range from the original Polish and Portuguese blue collar to members of a vibrant film and arts scene.

Are there certain elements of a home you always try to keep in tact when renovating?

Wil: People love older homes for many reasons but for me it is the craftsmanship. The trims, window casings, banisters, doors and accent pieces are so beyond anything that is available today. Add to that the bumps and bruises of time and it is impossible to reproduce. Generally when renovating I try to remove all of the existing wood work as carefully as possible. Once all of the new drywall, flooring and cabinetry has been installed the contrast of the old ornate mouldings and their patina really pops.

Could you tell me a little bit about the chandelier in your dining room? I understand you made it.

Wil: The craft projects in every renovation are always my favourite part and I try to build unique pieces into each project. Lighting in my opinion is one of the most integral components when setting a mood within a space. Our homes are always open concept so the dining room fixture, in relation to the space, is always the focal point of the main floor. Generally the light fixtures in my dining rooms cost between $50 and $150 to build but their unusualness creates all of the drama. I had seen many variations of bottles, jars and glass containers used in chandeliers and love both the whimsical look and the prismatic light they cast. For this light fixture I used 34 clear wine bottles hung from small gauge aircraft cable. I wanted to use a great many bottles strung closely together to give the feeling of a bouquet and soften the look. I then cut the bottom off each bottle in a somewhat haphazard fashion so that the chipped and cracked ends would both increase the prism effect and break up the monotony of 34 same objects. I then enclosed three cylindrical light bulbs within the most central wine bottles so that the light would have to travel through all of the surrounding bottles to escape. Finally I wrapped the supporting chain in white cotton rope in the fashion of a hangman's noose.

What would your dream house look like?

Shannon: We have always dreamed of creating our own dream home rather than looking for a property that fit our criteria. Our dream home is an industrial cinder block box with a decent amount of property in the vicinity of the Junction Triangle.

What was the last thing you purchased for your home?

Shannon:  Our latest purchase was two grey wool easy chairs from Julien Armand on Sterling Ave.

Thanks Shannon and Wil for inviting us into your home and good luck with the sale!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.