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 - 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 on the ipad

As I alluded to on Friday, I have some exciting news to reveal! A little while ago, I was approached by a great magazine called 2 for Couples about my Hello! Neighbor posts. They were looking for some design content for their new ipad app and thought my house tours of Toronto homes would be a great fit.

Well, hello! Yes, I would be interested! I've always been absolutely fascinated (some might say obsessed) with the magazine industry and to finally be a part of it was in essence a dream come true. The thought of having my own monthly column (so to speak) is beyond exciting for me. You know that saying, "if you build it, they will come" well it's true. I think so many of us have a hidden talent or dream and for whatever reason we drag our feet or make excuses and don't do it but I think if you just do it and absolutely pour your heart and soul into it the results will follow. (Sorry, that's a bit sappy but it's true!)

If you happen to own an ipad (sadly, I don't but that might have to change!) you can download the first issue of the app here for free!  You'll notice that we've added a few extra touches; a photo of the couple, an extended interview, and a "how to get the look" page. I'm really happy with the way it has turned out. Of course, none of this would have happened if Kristin hadn't been aboard. Her photos are what make these Hello! Neighbor stories so great. She has a knack for bringing rooms to life. Thank you, Kristin!

Each month, 2 for Couples will run a new Hello! Neighbor story on the ipad with the same extended content. Thanks to everyone over at 2 for Couples but especially Diane and Kelly for getting this thing off the ground. And hey, if you're getting married sometime soon (101 bridal gowns app - need I say more!) or you're planning on doing some entertaining check out some of 2's other ipad apps. So much great content!

So, that's a little taste of it ....what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!