behind the scenes

I'm going to be honest here and say that I always hoped one day my house would appear in a magazine. Month after month I would flip through different shelter magazines and think to myself, "my house is as nice as that one" what do I have to do to get my own house published! Well, apparently starting a blog and posting countless photos of your house is a pretty good way to go about it. Then one day last year, I received a comment on my blog from none other than House & Home editor Suzanne Dimma. I almost fell off my chair. Suzanne Dimma was reading my blog!

Not long after that, we began a conversation about photographing my house for the magazine. What you may not know about publications like House & Home is that they shoot houses months and sometimes years in advance. Most of the Christmas and holiday houses you see are shot the year before they appear in the magazine the same goes for many of the summer and cottage issues which are shot the summer previous to the ones you see them in. We ran through about three different possible scenarios including shooting my house at Christmas time before we settled on a spring shoot for the Makeovers issue. The entire process took about nine months to figure out!

Of course, during that nine months I had plenty of time to think about all the changes I wanted to make to the house. At one point, we even thought of blowing out the back wall of our kitchen and putting in new floor-to-ceiling wood doors but then common sense took over! Our bedroom makeover, finishing off the hallway and installing the open shelf in the kitchen are all projects that may have taken longer to do if it weren't for the looming deadline of the photoshoot. At one point, I was going so crazy with the stress of it all that I called up an acquaintance of mine and possibly the best stylist in Toronto, Sasha Seymour (you can see her home in the September issue of House & Home magazine). I really needed someone with fresh eyes to see the place and I knew she would have great suggestions. She was the one who prompted me to replace the kitchen shelves and to find an old, crusty chandelier for the bedroom.

Days before the photoshoot, my to-do list was ridiculous. It included things like picking up Turkish towels for the bathroom, buying new clothes for myself and Henry (Myles was on his own!), picking up plants and flowers, booking a house cleaner, touching up paint (this never happened but I had the best intentions), getting my haircut, ironing sheets and pillowcases, moving toys and clutter to the basement, finding a mirror for above our fireplace, changing Henry's bed from a crib to a toddler bed and buying him new sheets. I was a mad woman!

In the end, the shoot took all day. I think Sally Armstrong one of the design editors from House & Home and Per Kristiansen along with one of his assistants showed up around 8:30 am and they didn't leave until about 5:00 pm. Per and I had a good laugh over the fact that he was chosen to be the photographer. You see I first met his wife Elana Safronsky when she contacted me about featuring our house on the HGTV blog. My husband Myles (also a photographer) ended up taking those photographs. During that session, I found out that Elana lived in our neighbourhood and I asked her if we could shoot her house for a Hello! Neighbor post which of course she said yes to. That photo shoot resulted in Style at Home magazine article about Per and Elana's house. It only seemed fitting than that Per should then be chosen to shoot our house. What a crazy, small world!

Of course, I'm overjoyed by the way the article turned out. My dream of having our house in a magazine has finally come true. In a way, I'm happy to have that goal behind me so I can move on to other challenges.

One more thing...if you look really closely at the magazine spread you might notice a few small details I have failed to talk about yet. Yes, that's right we retiled our fireplaces but I will save that post for another day!

hello! neighbor - per & elana

This month's edition of Hello! Neighbour takes us to the home of Per and Elana and their daughter, Sophie. I met Elana for the first time a few weeks ago when she showed up at the door of The Marion House to interview me for the HGTV home tour. Elana is one of the bloggers behind HGTV Canada's Style Sheet and she came by to see the house and to ask me and Myles some questions.

Well, we got talking and wouldn't you know she happens to live in the neighbourhood! It also turns out that her husband and my husband know each other (both photographers) and that the very talented woman who took these photographs for me, Kristin Sjaarda, also knows Per. Small world!

I could tell just from looking at Elana that day that her home was going to be something interesting and beautiful. So, sight unseen I asked her to be a part of this series.

Imagine my delight when I saw these photographs. This home is original and utterly charming. It is also completely achievable. Almost all of the furniture in this home was either salvaged, repurposed or found. Elana definitely has a talent for seeing the beauty in discarded objects and pulling them all together. I hope you are as inspired by this home as I am.

And just for fun, let me know what is your best salvaged find.

Enjoy the tour!


Elana Safronsky & Per Kristiansen


Elana - writer/blogger; Per - photographer

How long have you lived in your home?

4 years.

Any animals, kids?

Sophie, three-year old girl.

What is your favorite object/thing/moment in your home?

Hard to choose, it would have to be all my salvaged furniture…the sofa, the dining room sideboard, the living room chairs, the kitchen chairs, our bedframe…I don’t know! Maybe the writing desk? Crazy steal…

What is your favorite room?

Sophie’s room and the living room.

What are your future plans for the home?

Ginormous overhaul. Gut the place. (Never gonna happen.)

Immediate plans? The basement. Basement of horrors. We’d like to dig it out and finish it. Also the 2ndfloor bathroom. Stupidly small, only bathroom in the house, needs to be expanded.

Anything you would change?

A lot. Would gut the house. But leave the décor. Layout/configuration not functional at all. Blow out the wall between the living room and kitchen, put in a island, reconfigure the entire 2nd floor; expand the bathroom into the fourth smallest-bedroom-in-the-world which is now a storage room for boxes we haven’t touched in four years, put in built-in closets in the two main bedrooms on 2nd floor; open up the dormers in attic master bedroom, put in master bath and closets.

Best thing about living in our neighbourhood?

The trees/park/ cherry bomb coffee/our neighbours.

What original feature(s) of your home will you never get rid of?

Not many left, but I’d try to keep the door and window mouldings, though I’d love to change the windows in the house because they’re from the early 90s and are ugly. That may affect the mouldings.

Links, acknowledgments?!