hello!neighbor - avryll

Today I have an beautiful, colourful loft for you to feast your eyes on! I was going to say it was a first for the Hello! Neighbor series when I remembered that I have in fact ran one other loft space. There are actually quite a few original raw industrial spaces in the neighbourhood of Parkdale. Many of these have now been made into converted living spaces. And you can see why! With their soaring ceilings, expansive windows and original brick walls they make pretty  impressive homes. Enjoy the tour!

Name - Avryll McNair

Occupation - Realtor


Kids, pets?

Coltrane (amazing hound dog – 4yrs), Blue (cat – 10yrs), Martha (cat 21 yrs)

Year Place was Built

Registered as a condo corporation in fall 2007


How long have you lived in your home?

I moved in January 2008 after some initial renovation.


What’s your favorite room and why?

Only 3 rooms and it’s a tie! The bedroom because, I love the brick, the incredible closet space & that it’s cozy like a fox den.  The living/dining/kitchen, because there’s a strong sense of the industrial heritage of the building, and it’s a spectacular showcase for the artwork I’ve collected over the years.


How did you find your home?

It was a spontaneous purchase.  I had a great space previously where I lived for 11 years, I was willing to move only if/when I found an authentic loft with parking, a separate office & outdoor space.  I wasn’t really looking for myself but I stumbled across the plans for this while researching for a client (who was not interested in this space).  I think this unit had been sold then came available when someone backed out due to construction delays on the building..... the plans resonated with me, I knew this would be the right next step for me.


Where do you get your inspiration from?

I studied industrial design at OCAD and I’ve always drawn inspiration from various places:  travel, fashion (not necessarily trends), design magazines, products, homes I visit while working, my friends & their homes.  I’m passionate about highly functional small spaces and in my mind, I constantly redesign places I visit for optimal efficiency.  My clients can attest to how passionate I am about clever storage solutions!


How did you end up living in Parkdale?

I consider myself a Parkdale pioneer!  I moved to this neighbourhood in 1992 when I came to Toronto for school, it was very different them but still had a wonderful sense of community.  I was 1 of 3 girls planning to live together who must have looked lost while heading to view an apartment in the east end (now a very desirable neighbourhood).  2 bicycle police stopped us to offer directions, when we told them we were looking for an apartment they grabbed our map and circled a few neighbourhoods where they “would let their sisters live”...... one of them lived in Roncesvalles and gave it a great review so we concentrated our search in this area.  2 years ago the house we rented came up for sale and our old apartment looked almost exactly the same 19 years later!


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

It’s been an evolution, although it was a new condo when I bought, I treated it as raw space knowing I would want to upgrade the builder’s finishes and change things to improve function for the way I live (read a minimalist in denial of hoarding tendencies + pet enthusiast).  Over the years I have chipped away at various projects: I polished the concrete floors which are now smooth as silk and so easy to keep clean with all these animals!  I renovated the kitchen to improve scale, function & aesthetic, added storage in the bedroom, the custom built-in that doubles as closet + office in the den, renovated everything but the tub & shower in the bathroom.


 What would your dream house look like?

Which dream house?  The farm house, the cottage, the industrial conversion or the classic downtown Victorian..... with an art background, I’m always dreaming!  I’m working on the next house now, it has some Scandinavian influence with great light, open concept, durable & natural finishes, a bit softer overall.


What was the last thing you purchased for your home?

Linen bedding

Thanks Avryll!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.


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

hello!neighbor - breanna & viator

I'm so happy to kick off a new season of Hello! Neighbor posts with this house tour. I profiled Bre of Scout & Catalogue fame last month when she offered up one of her navajo pouches as a giveaway. When we went by to see her studio I knew immediately that we should also shoot her house for a Hello! Neighbor feature. She and her boyfriend, V, have kindly answered all my questions (some of which are new) and have also agreed to show their faces. The idea of including a photograph of the homeowners was something I was toying with last year and I think it's a nice touch. It brings another dimension to the house tours. So thank you Bre & V for being the first! Oh and if you haven't done so already stop by the Scout & Catalogue store and see the new Spring 2011 Collection. I'm definitely going to pick up one of these and probably one of these. So hard to choose - I like it all! Enjoy the tour!


Breanna and Viator


Bre: I run the accessories label Scout & Catalogue.

V: Translator, S&C intern, server.

How long have you lived in your home?

4 months.

Any kids or pets?

Bre: One cat named Mouse.

V: She is our recently adopted cat from the Humane Society. She is a slender cat, other than her Garfield sized pot belly that she shows off when she naps on her back.

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

Bre: I work from home so I send most of my time in the studio (aka. the second bedroom).

V: Probably Bre's studio. That''s where I've managed to carve out a little work space for my laptop, amongst her pyramids of leather, textiles and tumble weeds of thread.

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

Bre: Yes, we would own it instead of renting. We live in a great character apartment that could use some serious TLC but it doesn't make sense to really get in there and change things when it's not your own place.

V: We do love our old Georgian home very much, but there were a few late 80's renovations done that we wish were restorations instead. In the near future we would love to purchase a place where we could really warrant going in and making the changes we want.

How did you end up living in Parkdale?

V: It really came about by looking for a large 2 bedroom online. Although we were both familiar with the city before moving here last summer, neither of us had a real feel for the neighbourhood. We found a place online that sounded great, and looked good in pictures, and when we came to see it, we both fell in love with the house, and with the beautiful Parkdale street on which it sits.

Bre: We noticed that in Parkdale we ended up getting way more for less. The neighborhood is a little rough around the edges but it has a heart of gold and has been really good to us.

What is your favorite moment/object in your home?

V: My favourite "moment" was the first week we moved in. Although the experience of moving can be daunting, I always find it rejuvenating. That initial week was my favourite because this is Bre's and my first Canadian home together - a wonderful new beginning.

Bre: I love our giant picnic table that V found for free online and then fixed up for us. It holds a ton of people and many a good dinner has been eaten on it.

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

Bre: I am originally from Vancouver but moved to Toronto from Mexico where V and I lived for a little over a year. While I was there I noticed that I was constantly writing the same things about my new surroundings to friends and family and decided it would be easier to have a blog where I could write something once and everyone could access it. I called my blog Scout & Catalogue because I felt as though I was observing a new culture (scouting) and recording my findings (cataloguing). When I began to work with fabrics and dyes I talked about the process on my blog and the name stuck.

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

Bre: I think I am mainly inspired by my surroundings. My line Scout & Catalogue changed drastically when I moved from Mexico back to Canada and I believe that it has evolved differently in Toronto than it would have in Vancouver. I am, always, inspired by the west coast but am also enjoying novelties like snow and gorgeous old architecture. I am also pretty much constantly online reading blogs which clearly affects my aesthetic.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

Bre: Vancouver - going home is always the best.

V: The ocean. Although I prefer when it is a tropical one, any time I am near the waterfront, I feel a true sense of belonging.

If you had to choose one object that best described you what would it be?

V: A set of assembly instructions; I really love knowing exactly how something should be done, yet I opt for my own opinion and decision of how it should actually be done.

Bre: One object seems almost impossible to define! I would say that the objects I treasure most are ones that have been given to me by family and have a sense of history to them. If that leads you to believe that I have a tendency to be over sentimental you would be very very right. It must be the Pisces in me...

What are you reading at the moment?

Bre: This is going to make me sound like such a Scout & Catalogue keener - I'm reading 'Colour' by Victoria Finaly. It takes you through the history of all the colours in the paintbox one at a time. I've recently begun incorporating natural dyes into my line and have just discovered that one of my favorite dyes was once harvested by out-of-work pirates in South America. The book is definitely adding a whole new romanticism to my weekly dye sessions...

V: Other than online literature, I read the occasional Globe and Mail.

All photographs with the exception of couple portrait by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.

Couple portrait by Bre.
Photograph in image 9 by Debbie Carlos.