hello!neighbor - tara & michael

This month Hello! Neighbor is going on a bit of a road trip to Stratford, Ontario. It's a picturesque Victorian town alive with arts and culture located on the Avon River about 150 km away from Toronto. As you can imagine it is full of good housing stock and interesting home owners. In fact, we found so much to shoot we stayed there awhile and shot a few places for you to see. First up are Tara and Michael! Enjoy the tour!

Names: Tara Ott & Michael Walton


Tara - Personal Chef and Holistic Nutritionist. Also part of the Slow Food market in Stratford and Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario. Owner/Operator of feed your body.

Michael - Lighting Designer - Theatre.

Kids, pets? Murphy - Boston Terrier, Oscar - Wheaten Terrier

Year Home was Built - 1921

How long have you lived in your home? 1.5 years

What’s your favorite room and why?

Tara - Kitchen. When we moved in it was what I imagined my dream kitchen would look like. Beautiful stainless steel counter tops, gas cook top, and morning sunlight. It also leads out to the large deck.

Michael - Living Room. I love the proximity to the kitchen and dining room and the open and comfortable feel. We tend to spend most of our time here. Great light out to the front porch.

How did you find your home?

Tara - Michael was away working on a show and I found the place and knew right away it was ours. We did everything through virtual communications and he trusted my judgement without even seeing the place. Mumford and Sons first album was our soundtrack during this time, it still reminds us of this stressful time. I really knew he would love it as much as I did but there was a small thread of doubt that I had made the wrong choice. I was thrilled when he loved it as much as I did.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

We're inspired by each others personal style and how it's fused together to make something neither of us could have created separately. It really opened our eyes to thinking outside the box and broadening our design choices. Tara's style leaned towards reclaimed antiques and Wabi Sabi and Michael leaned toward clean lines and character. The mesh has been very interesting and we're discovering new things everyday. There have been minor amounts of blood drawn along the way.

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

The previous owners thankfully had tastes that we loved and we haven't even painted a wall. We've made it our own by switching the dining room and living rooms and have changed lighting fixtures and blinds. We also tackled a few walls with some new bold wall paper. Our reno plans for the future include adding a wall of windows and antique doors that open from the dining room to the deck and we'd also love to take out the load bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room and replace it with a reclaimed wood beam. We'd add a kitchen island and more cupboards.

What would your dream house look like?

We're working on it!

What was the last thing your purchased for your home?

We just bought a modern glossy white tv stand. It replaced the only thing we hated about our living room and we love it. It makes for a better use of the space and mixes modern with rustic, merging our 2 individual styles.

Thanks Tara & Michael for inviting us to Stratford and into your home!

All images by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.