hello!neighbor - hayley and greg

When I first started this feature on my blog I had no idea how many houses I would be able to run. I had a small list in my head of friends and friends of friends that I knew I could approach and hoped that maybe I would get 10-12 houses. Luckily for me (and you!) I now get people contacting me about featuring their home. That's what happened this month with Hayley and Greg. One of their friends who works for the Canada-wide online magazine Vitamin Daily emailed me about this great home she knew in the Parkdale neighbourhood. After seeing a few photos, I knew it was a house I had to feature. I love how airy and bright it is. Of course, the benefit to me, beyond having another great house to feature, is that I get to know more and more people in my neighbourhood. I should also mention that since we shot this story Hayley and Greg have welcomed son Cy to the world. Congratulations!

Enjoy the tour!

Names: Hayley and Greg

Occupation: Journalists

How long have you lived in your home?

Two and a half years.

Any kids or pets?

Our first baby will be joining us any day now. {Note: Cy Thomas was born on May 6th!}

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

Hayley: Right now it’s the kids’ room. It’s a pretty sweet spot for sewing and imagining good times to come.

Greg: The kitchen. Hayley takes care of making the house feel homey. My main contributions are dishes and dinner.

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

Hayley: Our house hadn’t been touched since the former owners bought it 35 years go, and it had the orange carpet and Astro Turf to prove it. We tackled a bunch of projects in the first couple years, and there’s a lot more we’ll focus on eventually, but I’m so weary of reno-dirt at the moment that I can’t really think about any of it.

Greg: I can’t believe she wrote that. Trust me – she’s concocting all sorts of plans that we can’t afford.

How did you end up living in Parkdale?

Hayley: If you live in Toronto it seems like your allegiance is either on the west or east side of the Don Valley Parkway, and since our first apartment was in the Annex, our western bias is pretty well set. Our best friends are also Parkdalians so that’s where we targeted our house search. More pals have moved into the neighbourhood since we bought our house, and I love that we can wander over for a porch-visit or to watch a basketball game and be home in less than five minutes.

Greg: Our best friends live around the corner from us so we just naturally gravitated toward the neighbourhood. I was skeptical at first, but really love it now. If we’re going out to grab something to eat, I love having the dual options of Roncesvalles and Queen West. I can run and/or bike to work.

What is your favorite moment/object in your home?

Hayley: It’s a tie between mornings and early evenings, especially in the spring when winter finally takes off. The natural light we get in here just makes you feel good.

Greg: In the summer, on the porch with coffee and the paper. Hayley also had the foresight to push for a functional, but also comfortable, office. I’m surprised how much time I spend in there, but it’s a great place to get lost in a book, or in deep thought.

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

Hayley: My mom has filled my parents’ home with old photos and objects that embody our family’s history and the people she loves. My style is a more streamlined, pared down version of her eclectic mix, but it’s in the same spirit.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

Hayley: Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles for coffee and people watching, then a slow cruise home through the antique shops on Queen West.

Greg: Inter Steer, Loons, Mother India, Sorauren Park for a game of Frisbee in the summer or shinny in the winter.

What are you reading at the moment?

Hayley: Anything that might help me and my little buddy-to-be to survive the first three months of motherhood. After that, Perez Hilton.

Greg: I just finished Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and moved on to the Mayo Clinic’s guide to the first-year of parenthood.

Any links, acknowledgements?

Hayley: Hmm… a big shout-out to the army of friends and relatives we bribed with beer and pizza to help us demolish walls and spruce up this big ol’ semi after we moved in. Every single room needed fresh paint. The vinyl wallpaper in the stairwells designed to look like (fake) fake-wood paneling was especially amazing. We owe them big time.

Greg: I’m really impressed with the level of volunteerism – especially the people behind the Wabash Building Society. It’s really heartening to see so many people care so much about their neighbours.

Thanks Hayley and Greg.

I'll be back here later on today with the winner of the Abstract Expressionist tickets to The Art Gallery of Ontario.

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book

design curveball

What do you do when life throws you a design curveball? Usually, when we put Henry down for his nap he chatters away to himself for about 5 to 10 minutes before he falls asleep on his own. The other day however I could tell that he really was not tired. He was singing, talking, bouncing up and down, kicking his legs and doing pretty much everything but falling asleep. I went in and checked on him and told him it was time for his nap and left again. Everything seemed fine until I heard the sound of paper ripping. My mind quickly raced through all the possible things that might make that noise when I thought - oh no, it's his wallpaper tree.

Sure enough, I was right.

Henry had ripped the wallpaper right off the wall in three different places. Calmly, I collected the scraps of wallpaper from his crib and left the room. Luckily, for me and him he fall asleep a few minutes later.

The first thing we did after he woke up was move his crib to the other side of the room far away from the wallpaper tree. As you can see, he has another tree here (this one inhabited by cats eating hot dogs, I kid you not!)

Then, I got to work trying to come up with a solution for fixing his tree. Luckily, most of the scraps I rescued from his crib were intact and could be re-wallpapered back on but there was one patch that was missing. Then I remembered that Inke Heiland made small wallpaper birds. I had used them before in his room and thought they would be the perfect fix.

Each packet comes with two birds and a little bag of adhesive. Putting these up couldn't be any easier. You literally paint on some adhesive and apply it to the wall. It doesn't set up right away so you have a bit of time to get the placement just right. After I re-glued the ripped tree parts, I added one bird to the part that was missing some bark and the other above the hooks on the wall.

I thought the one on the tree looked a bit funny just floating there in space so I went outside and got him a little branch to sit on.

I'm actually pretty happy with the way it turned out. When it happened I thought his tree was ruined for good but I actually think it looks better now. I'm sure this won't be the last design curveball Henry throws my way! Let's hope the others are as fixable.

first word!

The other morning I was sitting in my living room enjoying my morning coffee when Harry became very excited. He was bouncing up and down and jabbing the air with his little finger. "Bir, bir"

"Bir, bir", he kept saying over and over again.

"Yes", I said. (I say yes alot, it's better than no, right?) and went back to my coffee not thinking too much about it.

"Bir, bir". This time with more finger pointing and the sign we use for bird.

Wait a second....is Harry trying to tell me something. Sure enough, I turn around and look out the window and there is a pigeon on the roof of the house across the street.

"YES", I say, "BIRD! BIRD!" "You're right, so smart!"

And that was it, his first word....bird. A pretty good choice in my opinion. I thought it might be snow or maybe ball but bird it was.

So, in celebration I added some wallpaper birds from Inke Heiland to his room. I've had them for awhile but didn't know where to put them. In the end, I decided that they would look really cute sitting on top of something. Considering our lack of closet space, I bought some hook racks from the bathroom department of Ikea and placed them on top. Now, Harry has somewhere to hang his plaid shirts and some birds to call by name!

I installed two Molker hook racks side by side. A steal at $4.99 each!

The birds are a nice compliment to his tree.