hello!neighbor - sarah and jesse

We first got a taste of designer Sarah Keenelyside's style when I introduced you to the child friendly cafe, Smock, she helped design back in May. You might also remember the DIY Tom Dixon like lamps she made out of a $20 Ikea bowl that I highlighted on the HGTV blog. Sarah and her partner Jesse have an amazing home in the neighborhood that they have lovingly restored and made their own. The home has a charming blend of original details like the stained glass windows and original doors and updated features like a new kitchen and bathroom. Enjoy the tour!


Sarah Keenleyside + Jesse Boyer


Interior Designer + Entrepreneur

Kids, pets?

Soda, our 8 year old Chocolate Lab

Year Home was Built


How long have you lived in your home?

2 1/2 years

 What’s your favorite room and why?

Sarah- I would have to say the Kitchen/Dining Room. We opened up the wall between the two rooms because we knew that we would never use the formal dining room enough. I love that we were able to alter the room functions of the home to suit our lifestyle but still keep the original character. It is the space where friends and family all gather and I get to eat breakfast every morning with my "soulmate" chandelier hanging over head. So fancy!

Jesse- I have always been attracted to third floors and this house has a great one. It was originally 3 rooms but previous owners knocked down walls and made it one with a bathroom and kitchen . We kept the bathroom and updated it with a new floor, toilet and sink. We also used original cedar tongue and groove planks that were used as partition walls in the basement as a wall treatment on one wall. This looks very cool. We got rid of the kitchen entirely. We use the space as a TV watching area, an office and a small exercising area.

How did you find your home? Had you been looking for a long time?

We had been looking for 6 months in a large pocket of the West end. We had offered on a couple of houses but lost out in bidding wars. When we found this listing, referred to as "The Grand Dame of Callender St.", we both loved that the house had roughly 15 coats of paint and wallpaper but had never been altered (except for the third floor). The layout was very unique and we instantly realized that this was why we didn't get those other houses. I (Sarah) am an Interior Designer and love to get my hands dirty and Jesse has renovated several investment properties over the years and really knows his way around these old brick houses. We fought for it and the only condition we put on the offer was, please include all the old doors that are covered in cobwebs in the basement.   (See bathroom door)

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Sarah - The bad answer is everywhere and anything but it's true. I think I can credit a lot of my design aesthetic to my Grandma Keenleyside. Bernice was straight out of Mad Men and my grandparents home was this incredible mix of mid-century modern, West Coast Native artwork (Grandpa was from Vancouver), Indonesian and Chinese carved wood pieces, Persian rugs and travel kitsch. I kind of live by the rule that anything goes if it feels good, has a story and/or makes you smile. I try not to follow trends but fashion is a constant inspiration for fabric mixing and jewellery design is a constant inspiration for lighting.

Jesse - I'm not so specific about where my design ideas come from. Probably from touring renovations and other houses. I have definitely learned what I like through trial and error. Sarah, of course is a big influence.

How did you end up living in Parkdale?

Sarah - We were looking in the West but I was open to many neighbourhoods. I'm from Ottawa originally so I had been searching for "my neighbourhood" here in Toronto over the past 10 years. The beautiful thing about Toronto is that everyone has one and it just takes time to find the right fit. The right fit for me was Roncesvalles Ave. which reminds me of the Glebe in Ottawa and the grittier artsy side of the Queen West strip at the bottom of our street. Also, the adjacency to my Mecca aka- Queen West Antiques Centre.

Jesse - I was open to anywhere in the west end. I grew up in Kensington Market and around Ossington and College and knew I wanted to be in the west end of town. I had never heard of Callender street but when we walked through the place and saw its amazing potential I looked further into the area to see what it would be like to live there.  Proximity to the highway, lake,High Park, Queen Street and Roncesvalles made the choice very easy so we were quite aggressive with our offer and beat out 7 other bidders.

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

Sarah - Jesse and I combined have touched every single inch of this home. Jesse worked on the house full time for 8 months straight! Nothing had been updated so we had to replace all the electrical and plumbing in the home.One of the biggest things we did was to knock off the back mud room extension which allowed more light into the dining and kitchen areas and really enhanced the view of the backyard. We fully renovated the kitchen (Ikea) and opened up the wall between the kitchen and dining room. The second floor bathroom was a tiny toilet only room with a tub and vanity in the room beside. We combined the two rooms to create a more functional washroom and reused the original back door of the house as the washroom door. All new windows which felt like a crime but they were not efficient and converted the unfinished basement into a cool 1 bedroom rental unit. We did a polished concrete floor down there and I know that Jesse is jealous that our tenants get to enjoy it and we don't.

What would your dream house look like?

Sarah - A lot like this! Maybe with a finished exterior though...we haven't really had time to get around to that yet. Sorry neighbours.

Jesse - I agree with Sarah but maybe a little more modern. As much as I like the original plaster walls they arent very efficient. So my dream house would be better insulated (not very sexy I know) and maybe with in floor heating and hot water on demand.

What was the last thing your purchased for your home?

Sarah - This great brass candelabra set from the 60's. (In the dining room) I found them on Craigslist through the most amazing tumblr site- (The Listings List, "A curatorial peek at Toronto's online classifieds.") A friend introduced me to this site and I can not thank her enough. All of a sudden there are more hours in my day because I am not cruising Craigslist and Kijiji.

Jesse - Cedar decking boards for the front porch, which we are finally starting to work on.

Thanks Sarah & Jesse for inviting us into your home!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.