hello! neighbor - pauline and hiep

For this month's Hello! Neighbor tour we are back over in Riverdale which is a neighbourhood in the East End of Toronto. We actually shot this property a long time ago - so long ago that I was still pregnant when I met Pauline and Hiep! It almost seems another lifetime ago. Pauline and Hiep are consummate collectors as their home shows. From the Jadeite plates, mugs and bowls in the kitchen, to the vintage maps and biology charts scattered around the home to the alarm clocks kept in display case to the motorcycle in the front hall these two know what they love and aren't afraid to display it! Enjoy the tour!


Pauline & Hiep


Pauline - Full-time Mom Hiep - Motion Design for Film & TV, Restore & Customize Vintage Motorcycles

_MG_0890_FINAL Kids, pets

Ethan - 8, Isabell - 4 Pooter (cat) - 3.5

Year Home was Built 



How long have you lived in your home?

Moved in March 2005

What’s your favorite room and why?

Pauline – Kitchen.  It’s the centre of the action, where the coffee is, planning meals and has a sightline to people arriving at the front door.

Hiep – The kitchen it's where all the action is.


How did you find your home?

Pauline - We knew the previous owners – Myra & Danny - and were big fans of the renovation, which we had observed over time while at social gatherings. Their home was the meeting place of all of their friends, with a lush backyard and sense of neglected grandeur (pre-reno) to all of the rooms.

I used to ride my bike up and down the streets of Riverdale to admire the grand old houses. Hiep & I started to look for a new house in 2004. We were living in the west end in a 2-bedroom house. The birth of our 1st child kicked Hiep out of his perfectly designed office to work on the main floor, essentially in a hallway.  We saw many houses, considered doing our own reno of a house down the street on Delaware Avenue but were afraid of the untold costs, and would have had to buy it at 350K for the plan to make sense. We were looking for a 4-bedroom Victorian, but compared every house we saw to Danny & Myra's. After failing in a bidding war on a house nearby, we called Danny & Myra up (they had told their friends some time back that they planned to move in the next 2 years) and offered them the most we'd ever seriously considered paying for a house. We bought our dream house, and Danny & Myra moved to BC to compete in "iron man" competitions!


Where do you get your inspiration from?

Pauline - We frequented Commute a great deal and became friends with owners Hamid and Sara. Our first big purchase for our Riverdale home was a 7 foot long marble table and 6 Eames chairs for our dining room. Commute also designed our bed frame, couches and chairs, a large armoire and various other pieces.


I love antiques, my parents are collectors, so I have the same interest as Hiep in frequenting junk shops to search out interesting finds, or grabbing an item off the curb as we did with our small red-&-black armoire in the dining room (covered in school girl doodles and scribbles when we carried it home)... and the white glass display unit in our front room.  I wasn't particularly surprised at Hiep's excitement to recently discover a bleached white animal skull (raccoon? snake? mole?) and various bones while out walking with his work mates along the railway tracks. The wooden skull display case he erected to house it was really inspiring.

Hiep - Magazines, film sets,friends homes,but mostly from the objects I've collected, they determine how they'll be displayed.


How did you end up living in Riverdale?

We never thought we would live in Riverdale. Awesome trees, school, parks, neighbours, houses. We just lucked out.


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

The house had a lovely new kitchen with 4 sets of lights on dimmer switches and was renovated throughout. We had 3 floors of new hardwood installed and - with the help of kind friends and family - painted every wall. The house facade was originally angel stone and siding with a metal railing. These we removed and replaced with brick and wooden railings (Brian Zahra). We replaced all old windows, added a built-in closet and floating dresser on the 3rd floor plus a hutch in the kitchen (Brian Zahra). We recently reupholstered our couch and chair.


What would your dream house look like?

Pauline - Stone coach house at back, 3rd floor glassed-in en suite, great views, trees, space but still urban.

Hiep -  Lots of light, green space outside,tall ceilings,something with history for sure, just like what we have now maybe bigger.

_MG_0944_FINAL What was the last thing your purchased for your home?

Pauline - Hiep purchased 3 raccoon skulls from Ebay to add to a mysterious skull he discovered at work, while on a walk by the railway tracks. I prefer the original sun-bleached skull.

Hiep -  Vintage work lamp from ebay.

All photographs by Natasha Nicholson.


hello!neighbor-emily and norman

When I started this Hello! Neighbor series a couple of years ago I thought I would document a couple of homes in my neighborhood of Parkdale. I made a short list of friends and friends of friends and thought that would be it. I had no idea that 30 homes later I would still be doing this. Of course, the reason I continue to press on is primarily because I'm nosy! I love to see how people decorate their homes and I get a real pleasure out of meeting the homeowners and listening to their stories. Today, we're visiting another "dale" in Toronto. We're heading over to Riverdale which is on the East side of the city. (Parkdale the neighbourhood I generally cover is in the West End. There is one more "dale" in Toronto which is Rosedale located in the centre of the city.)

Emily Griffin a fellow interior designer has graciously invited us into her eclectic house.

Enjoy the tour!


Emily Griffin and Norman Howe


Emily - Interior Designer and Mother of Three!

Norman - President and CEO of Butterfield & Robinson (luxury biking and walking company)

Kids, pets?  3 kids:  Grace, Max and Oscar

Year Home was Built

I think it was built in the early 1900s -perhaps 1915ish

How long have you lived in your home?

Emily: Just over 6 years

What's your favorite room and why?

Our African front room.  I love the coziness of the room, all the interesting things to look at and the wall colour by Farrow and Ball is delicious.  The light in that room is also the best in the house so it is a treat to curl up and read the paper in the morning or in the afternoon.

How did you find your home?

When I got pregnant unexpectantly  with Oscar we knew we had to move out of our tall thin row house in Cabbagetown. We looked for about 3 months and lost a few other houses thanks to bidding wars which we thank our lucky stars we didn't get now that we are in this house. We absolutely love it and will be here for as long as the house will keep us.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The house is a real mixture of Norman and my styles.  We both love colour, books and art but Norman would have way more art up on the walls if I wasn't around and every room in the house would be painted a crazy colour - he still longs for a dining room in "Burnt Carrot" a colour he saw in London when he lived there.  There are a lot of family items in the house - the dining room is filled with a lot of Norman's late father's Haida art and a number of antiques from both sets of grandparents on my mom and dad's side.  I would probably describe our house as eclectic if I had to use one adjective.

How did you end up living in Riverdale?

After Cabbagetown, which didn't have a ton of families, I wanted to live in a neighborhood with artistic people like Cabbagetown but one that had lots of kids on the streets - we got it in spades here.

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 maintained the house beautifully but it hadn't been touched since the 70's. We gutted the kitchen and put on an addition off the back of the house; painted everything, re-did the floors and gutted the third floor to make it into our master bedroom/bathroom retreat.

What would your dream house look like?


What was the last thing your purchased for your home?

Two Indian block print duvet covers in Jaipur over Christmas for the boys rooms.

Thanks Emily for having us over.

And don't forget to enter the Brave giveaway for a cork clutch on Monday's post!

Pillows in living room and bedroom from Constantine.

All photos by Natasha Nicholson for The Marion House Book.