hello!neighbor - jana and john

Today, I'm happy to invite you into the home of Jana and John. I first met Jana years ago when she was one of my professors at Interior Design school. I worked for her one summer as an intern and I credit her with getting me started as an exhibition designer. I spent a lot of that summer reading texts about exhibition design but I also remember we spent a good amount of time talking about real estate in Parkdale and home renovations! Jana and John had just bought this house and we're starting the process of turning it from a series of apartments into a generous two family home. What I love most about this house is their unabashed love for colour something you don't always see when two architects are involved! Enjoy...


Jana & John


Professor & Architect

How long have you lived in your home?

5 years

Any kids or pets?

Tomas (6 yr) and Livi (7mth)

2 Mini Schnauzers

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

John: The living room. The evening light through the trees out front creates a pretty magical room. Spending time in there with family just takes it over the top.

Jana: The living room. Just as John says. The light coming in all afternoon makes this a magical room. I love spending time there. Now, just to get a bigger sectional to fit everyone in!

Is there anything you would change about your house? Future plans?

John: I would close out most of the third floor terrace with a fully glazed pop-up. This could become bigger master bedroom with ensuite. The current room is ambiguous and doesn’t work well with the large terrace from a bedroom (it previously had been a living room for the third floor 1 bedroom suite. Immediate future plans we have is finishing off the back yard enclosure.

Jana: I want to redo both the bathrooms as they haven’t been touched since we moved in. And we need to figure out where Livi will be sleeping as she outgrows our room.

How did you end up living in Parkdale?

John: When we first started looking for something as a “group” purchase, larger commercial structures weren’t too readily available. When larger housing stock came into the picture, naturally Parkdale with its numerous detached multi-unit century homes came into the picture.

Jana: We wanted to live in a neighbourhood with great houses, that had access to the waterfront, parks and easy escapes out of the city. And with John riding his bicycle year round, we also wanted to be close enough for him to get to work quickly.

What is your favorite moment/object in your home?

John: I like the connected flow from the bedroom to the living room. It centres around the kitchen as an island. It feels open yet has moments of visual privacy.

Jana: As much I love the living room, I get the most joy going into Tomas’s room. It’s jam packed with all of his toys, books and is so awkward in its layout that it has always been the perfect kids’ room. It’s the only room I don’t mind tidying. In terms of an object, I love the dining room table. It was bought as a lab table from UBC Swap, then John had it as a work bench in BC, before we moved it here to be in our office and now with a douglas fir plywood top, it seats 10 and has been our dining table for 10 years. We thought of replacing it with a Saarinen table, but I can’t part with it.

Where did you come up with the name for your company?

Jana: We used to have a design company, but now it’s an avenue for creative and artistic projects, like last year’s Come Up To My Room.

John: Aether came from Jana’s focus at the time in exhibit design where the substance of the exhibit had to be communicated well through tight integration of movement and graphics. I related it to an antiquated physics concept a substance called Aether was assumed to permeate all space. It was the substance of space. The poetics of it felt right.

What influences you? Where do you get your inspiration from?

John: In my own work, I like to let the design “problems” present their solutions through rigorous analysis, all the while keeping an eye to pragmatism and aesthetics. Our home is a mix of Jana and me, and all that we collect.

Jana: My love of typography and graphic design influences me the most. My father was an architect and an academic. My time travelling and living in Europe as a child have resonated with me to this day. It’s also influenced the way I approach my design work. My design research is to extend the realm of spatial experiences to be a link to one’s identity and to be expressed to others as an extension of their relationships with the building and the spaces and people within. That means it’s not always pretty, but it tells a story. So does our home.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

John: My memories of growing up on Vancouver Island are pretty vivid, with rainforests and vast stormy beaches. It’s those kind of places, and weather conditions I take solace in. Something about being on the edge of control and chaos, this kind of works well for architecture!

Jana: Paris and the Nova Scotia shores. Growing up in Halifax, I could quickly drive out of the city and be ‘lost’ with the ocean. I miss that feeling.

What are you reading at the moment?

John: I don’t get a lot of time to read these days but I currently have Organising Genius (Warren Bennis) on the go, and I’m looking forward to starting The Information by James Gleick.

Jana: NY Times. I’m a computer geek and have a 7 month old. Who has time to read!

Any links, acknowledgments?


Living room art: Hydrological Map - Joy Carbonneau

Bedroom art (not shown): Christopher Griffin

We want to thank Glenn “Uncle Glenn” MacMullin for putting up with the thumping footsteps above his head everyday and being part of the family.


Thanks Jana and John for welcoming is into your home!

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book