Category Archives: hello! neighbor

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.

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hello! neighbor – brad & jude


Almost two years ago to the day I profiled the country home of Paul and Rachel in the small Ontario town of Orono. It has proven to be one of my most popular posts of all time. Today we are returning to the same rural community for a tour of Brad and Jude’s house, friends of Rachel and Paul’s. The design sensibility is surprisingly similar – an eclectic, flea market aesthetic mixed with historical Victorian architecture. The result is a whimsical almost fairy tale like home that is bursting with colour and little discoveries at every turn.

Enjoy the tour!


Names: Bradley Mac Arthur & Jude Allison




Brad: Iron worker, wood worker, Singer songwriter, musician

Jude: Interior decorator




Kids, pets : Empty nesters –  7 grown children, 2 Grand babes


Year Home was Built- 1854



How long have you lived in the home- 11 years


What is your favorite rooms and why?

Brad: The Red Room. Its where I create, record and play music

Jude: Our Bedroom, I love to open my eyes and watch the way the morning light gently plays in the space.





How did you find your home?

Brad: Jude was living in Orono at the time and told me about the house, I’ve always believed the house found me.

Jude:  It’s a super long story but a really good one. As Brad mentioned I moved to Orono first and strangely THIS house played a huge role in my decision to move here. When we chose to blend our families and sell my previous house I felt like I was moving home.



How did you end up living in Orono?

Brad: The minute I walked into the house I knew this was somewhere I could truly live.

Jude: I had no desire to “live in the country” and was actually quite terrified of rural sensibilities. I stumbled upon this wee village in pursuit of an affordable century home that I could restore. What I found was so much more including an incredible place to raise kids, a community of like minded people and a Mecca of all things creative.


What did your home look like when you first saw it?

The previous owners were purists in primitive colours and antiques. Fortunately they had completed most of the bull work and brought it back to the original floor plan. We have incorporated our own signature throughout by changing out paint colours, light fixtures kitchen and baths. We always try to inject a current aesthetic while maintaining respect for the architectural integrity.


What would your dream house look like?

We have been planning a lifestyle shift and have been looking for a country property for over two years. When we find that “sweet spot”  its our intention to build an open concept, timbre framed barn and infuse it with vintage architectural salvage.


What was the last thing you purchased for your home?

Brad recently reworked the tin ceiling in the Grand room and incorporated some decorative timber framing. We are now shopping for gold toned sputnik light for that room.


Thanks Jude and Brad.

And before we go, the winner by random draw of the 8 x 10 gouache by Sarah Lazarovic is Jen from Rambling Renovators. Congratulations Jen! I’ll be in touch shortly.

All photos by Sian Richards for The Marion House Book.

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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

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.

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.


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hello!neighbor – jeremy&carrie


For this month’s Hello! Neighbor which I’m getting in just under the wire we’re heading back to Stratford, Ontario and visiting Jeremy and Carrie. I discovered while reading through their answers to my questionnaire that Jeremy attended the same interior design school as I did. His touch is definitely evident throughout the home – there is something decidedly masculine about the space. In fact, he describes it rather aptly as mid-century gothic and admits that he definitely knows what he likes and tries not to be too controlling. It seems Carrie has come to love and appreciate his style while fighting for a bit of colour!

Enjoy the tour!

Names: Jeremy & Carrie Wreford


Occupations –  Retail store owners: Bradshaws and Small-Mart General Mercantile, Stratford. Formerly Graphic Designer (Carrie) and Production Designer (Jeremy) in Toronto.  Bradshaws was established in 1895 and has been run by 6 generations of Stratford families, and I am the third generation of mine.  I never conceived of running the business until a certain point when my parents were thinking of selling it and I reconsidered.  Its something that Carrie and I can do together and we both really enjoy it.  We opened Small-Mart in 2010, basically as a place where we could sell all of the cool things that we found while we were buying that wouldn’t work at Bradshaws.


Kids, pets? Two gorgeous kids – Ezra, almost 4 years old and Gigi, 13 months and two adorable (but yappy) miniature daschunds named Iain and Glen (named after Jeremy’s two longtime best friends who also live in Stratford!)


Year Home was Built –  circa 1900

What’s your favorite room and why?

Jeremy –  We are into cooking and coffee so we use the kitchen a lot- we like the layout, but when we can we’d like to update the cabinetry. We always semi-joked that we bought the house for the Wolf stove the last owners had installed.  We have a little front room that I like, although its probably the room we spend the least amount of time in.  Its just a little sitting room with a fireplace, a wingback loveseat from James Design UK and our Richard Attila Lukacs print.


Carrie – My kitchen. The minute we first walked into our house, I was sold when we saw the Wolf range! I love to cook and spend a lot of time in this room. Whenever we have guests over, the party always ends up congregating in the kitchen! There’s a lot of natural light in this room, and because of the open concept, I can see into the dining and living rooms, as well as see straight to our front door (and out into the backyard where our kids play in the summer) I guess you could call this room my command central!


How long have you lived in your home?

Jeremy - We moved into our home in 2006, shortly after buying Bradshaws and moving to Stratford from Toronto.


How did you find your home?

Jeremy – We were initially looking for a run down house that we could gut and renovate  to our own specifications- then we came across this one through an agent. It was more money than we wanted to spend and big for the 2 of us at the time, but a solid house that we could grow into and there wasn’t too much design wise that we couldn’t live with.  It had been renovated and updated by the previous owners so we are able to pick away at the things as we can to make it ours. In retrospect it was a good decision to stretch for it financially as our lives with the businesses and the children have been busy enough without taking on major renovations.  There are still a lot of things that we want to do, and we will as we have the time and money.


Where do you get your inspiration from?

Jeremy – I might cynically describe my style as mid-century gothic. I have been into mid-century design since I was a teenager and have collected a lot of pieces over the years.  It was a time of reinterpretation for design and I love all that came out of that from not only the US, but from Europe, Scandinavia, and Canada as well.  Two of my favourite pieces are my lamps by Serge Mouille, and dining set from Toronto designer Russell Spanner.  I have always gravitated towards the same colour palette which is basically black, white, olive drab and everything in between. Probably a hangover from my punk/new wave days as a teenager, and a little dark for some people’s taste.  Poor Carrie- she’s had to fight for every bit of colour that exists in our house, but gradually she has come over to the dark side.  I have a strong idea about what I like and try not to be too controlling about it but I am.  Luckily she appreciates a lot of these same things. I like contemporary design and especially designers like Tom Dixon and others whose design may reference the past or traditional methods and materials but who have created something new. I am also inspired by things military in both clothing and design for its rugged functionality.  That’s probably where the olive drab comes from.


Carrie – Magazines (food, fashion, design and otherwise), Pinterest,  art, food, music, my talented friends, family and the many intriguing people I have met since we came to Stratford, our children, and by trying to see the beauty in the little things that surround me.


How did you end up living in Stratford?

Jeremy –  I grew up in Stratford, then moved to Toronto in 1991 to attend the Ryerson School of Interior Design.  I graduated in 1995 and went to work in the film industry designing for commercials and music videos which I did for the next 12 years.  That’s where I met Carrie who was working as a wardrobe stylist. Late in 2005 the opportunity to purchase Bradshaws came up, and we moved to Stratford 2 months later.  It was all very sudden, but we were looking for a change and to start a family.  We never pictured ourselves moving to Stratford- we enjoyed living in Toronto and if anything had considered another large city like New York, but when the opportunity presented itself it just made sense in so many ways.  Our Toronto friends and family were mostly skeptical, but when they have come to visit us in Stratford they get it.  Its a small city that has so much going for it and we’re very busy but its a relatively serene existence- we still spend quite a bit of time in Toronto and other large cities, so its sort of the best of all worlds.


Carrie -  I never thought I would move to a small city, but I did fall in love with a boy from Stratford almost 13 years ago in Toronto, and we had an opportunity to move here 7 years ago to get involved with his family’s business that is now 118 years old. We both decided to leave our design jobs in Toronto and make a complete 180, change gears and change the direction of our lives. We took a huge risk, but wanted to enjoy a better quality of life, improve our health, and start our family. We have not looked back, not even for a second. We love the life we have created here!


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

Jeremy – The changes we have made are largely cosmetic- painting, etc.  I pulled out some mouldings, etc. that weren’t original to the house.  The house is a simple Edwardian era design with clean, straight lines, so goes well with our mid century and more contemporary belongings.  I built the garage myself (with the help of Iain and Glen- the friends, not the dachshunds) to house an old Mercedes, Vespa and a couple of motorcycles.  It is more contemporary, but still works with the simple architecture of the house.


Carrie – The exterior or our home was beautiful, but painted in two shades of green which we quickly changed to black and grey. The interior had been renovated, and all the original wood trim in the house had been refinished (lucky for us). Mainly, all we had to do was repaint and carpet our finished attic. The attic has become a great hang-out room for the kids and doubles as a guest bedroom when we have visitors from Toronto. The biggest change we made to our house was that Jeremy built our modern garage with his own 2 hands. This was an incredible addition to our house (he is SO talented, and modest!). He added a modern element to a traditional house, and it has given us lots of storage space for gardening tools, our 1978 Mercedes and Jeremy’s motorcycles and scooter.


What would your dream house look like?

Jeremy –  I have always enjoyed a minimal aesthetic, but we enjoy collecting objects books, records, etc. too much to maintain that sort of discipline.  I like interiors that reflect the personality of the homeowners, rather than the stark and generic variety of interior that seems to be featured in so many design magazines.  I like contemporary architecture, simple and boxy but using quality natural materials that age well. And black- lots of black.



Carrie – Where we live is my dream house. It sounds corny, but each day when I pull up to the house in the car with both kids strapped in the back seat, I always feel happy to be home. I know how lucky we are to have these luxuries. We have traveled to places like India and Africa and have seen what a vast contrast our existence is from others in those countries.


What was the last thing your purchased for your home?

Jeremy –  The last two things we bought were a Tom Dixon Spin candelabra and a step ladder (in black) designed by Danish architects Benedicte and Poul Erik Find.

Carrie – FOOD! I am a compulsive food shopper. I love to visit various grocery stores, butchers, gourmet food shops, coffee houses,  farmers’ markets and health food stores weekly! I have come to meet many wonderful people here who are intensely passionate about good food, and I am always trying to learn about new foods, healthy recipes and new ways to cook food and where things come from.

Thanks Jeremy and Carrie for inviting us into your home!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book. To see more photos from this shoot including some photos of their store Small-Mart check out Kristin’s tumblr – With You Still in the coming days!

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