hello! neighbor – jenny and rob

This month we’re back in Toronto and back to my neighbourhood of Parkdale. I first met Jenny when she invited me over to help her choose some paint colours for her home. However it was clear to me when I walked in that she didn’t really need my advice! Her home already looked fantastic. I wasn’t surprised when I heard that Jenny has an innovative renovation consulting company called Dwell Contracting. They provide unique services such as advising homeowners on whether they should fix up their current home or buy something new. If you’re in the market for a home they will also accompany you to viewings and give you their unbiased opinion on the home’s possible future issues or more importantly its design potential. It seems to me like they are filling an important gap in the home renovation market that is not serviced by either designers or contractors.

Enjoy the tour!


Jenny Macdonald & Rob Harrison


Jenny: Renovation consultant.  Principal and owner of Dwell contracting.

Rob: Director of Marketing at Alliance Films

Kids, pets?

3 boys: Wesley (nearly 5), and twins Emmett & Gillon (both 1-1/2)

Year Home was Built


How long have you lived in your home?

7 years

What’s your favorite room and why?

Jenny:  I’d have to say our kids rooms.  They have so many nice memories attached to them.

Rob: Our new master bedroom because it’s nice and airy- great for reading.

How did you find your home?

Jenny: I had been actively looking for a house in this neighbourhood for a few months.  I saw it first during an Open House.  I really liked that it had a slightly different layout than the standard Victorian.  We’d already lost several in bidding wars and I was determined to get this one.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Jenny: I’ve always loved everything to do with design and architecture, so I’m constantly reading blogs, books, magazines, poking around shops, walking the neighbourhood….I’m drawn to textiles, graphic prints, anything vintage, or hand-made, and, mid-century modern design in general.

 How did you end up living in Parkdale?

Jenny: At the time it was one of the only affordable neighbourhood’s in the west-end.  That, and the proximity to High Park and family.  We were looking for somewhere that we could feel at home raising a family.  Now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  I feel so lucky to live here!

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

Jenny: It looked very staged and not entirely lived-in, but it was still warm, and had something special about it.  The previous owner had done a lot of work himself and was a complete perfectionist.  Being in the renovation industry myself, this definitely appealed to me!  We’ve done work in every room of the house, but the big things were finishing the basement, putting in a 2nd bathroom, and re-working the upstairs.  It had 4 small bedrooms- 2 of which were really too small to be very useful, so we made one big master bedroom and extended the bathroom a little bit.  A linen closet was a welcome addition too.

What would your dream house look like?

Jenny:  Modern, open concept, floor to ceiling windows, south facing so it would be flooded with light, extensive use of natural materials.  On a huge tree filled lot within walking distance of Roncesvalles.  I know- keep dreaming!

Rob:  I love ranch style bungalows.  70′s look with a modern feel.  Big yard, big trees.

What was the last thing your purchased for your home?

Jenny: The mirror in the front hallway from Mrs. Huizenga’s on Roncesvalles.

Thanks Jenny and Rob for inviting us into your home. Please feel free to ask Jenny any questions you might have about the work they did on their place!

All photos by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.

Filed under hello! neighbor


  1. Posted June 25, 2012 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    Looks great!

  2. Posted June 25, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    Lovely home. I particularly love the kitchen – would you mind sharing a few more details about it? Is that a copper backsplash? I’ve never seen anything quite like it, it’s beautiful. I also love that work table and would love to know where it came from!

  3. Posted June 25, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    that is a fantastic service they offer!!!!
    what a gem of a home! so comfortable!
    i share her dream home idea! there aren’t enough contemporary homes in Toronto!

  4. Posted June 25, 2012 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Christine and Shannon! That is indeed a copper backsplash. One of the amazing things done by the previous owner. Can you believe at first I wanted to cover it up with marble?! Now I’m so glad I didn’t follow through on that hair brained idea! The island was also made by the last homeowner, so he made it the perfect size for the space. It’s a bit higher than standard counter height, so it’s really comfortable to work at.

  5. Posted June 25, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    that is a beautiful bathroom vanity, lovely home!

  6. Posted June 25, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    what an amazing home. so lived in and so happy. and so achievable. definitely one of my favourite home tours.

  7. Joan
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    A very nice home! In the photo of the dining room, the pendant light looks to be attached to the ceiling with a pulley system fixture. Is it indeed a pulley that that you can use to adjust the height at which the pendant light hangs? What is it called and where would I be able to buy one? thanks.

  8. Posted June 25, 2012 at 4:19 PM | Permalink

    So beautiful and lived in! I particularly love the kids’ rooms and the master bedroom. May I ask if that upholstered headboard is attached to the bed? And is it covered in linen?

  9. Posted June 25, 2012 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    What a beautiful peaceful house!!

  10. Posted June 25, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    Joan, the pulley light is from Lamp Cage, on Parliament St., in Toronto. The owner, Dean, can customize any of the lights that he makes. http://www.lampcage.com. And yes, it’s a real pulley system, so the light can be pushed right up if we want to push the table against the wall during a party or something. Kiana, the headboard is just attached to the bed frame, and it’s covered in a very fine corduroy. Thanks for your nice comments!

  11. Stephanie
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Lovely. and ooh — do you know what brand/shade is the dark grey paint?

  12. Posted June 26, 2012 at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    Stephanie- the dark grey on the wall, (and on the lower cabinets in the kitchen too,) is Farrow & Ball’s “Downpipe.” It’s one of those dynamic colours that changes with the light throughout the day. Thanks to Emma for the push to finally paint that wall!

  13. how2home
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    Jenny, your home is gorgeous! I think the charocal wall is one of my favorite features in your house. Nursery room is super adorable. My other favorite room in your home is definitely the bathroom….did you do all the reno yourself or it was a hired project. I’d love to live in High Park one day!

  14. Laura
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

    Such a lovely home. loved all the rooms and the use of textiles. May I ask where the dark furniture in the boys room is from?

  15. Posted June 27, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    How2home, thank you! I managed the renovations, and we did a lot of the finishing work ourselves. But most of the work was contracted out. Laura, the bed frame in my son’s room is an antique that I picked up in the basement of “Arcadia Antiques” on Queen at Roncesvalles, and the dresser is from Pottery Barn.

  16. Liz
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    Your home is gorgeous! What is the beautiful creamy colour you’ve used in your main foyer?

  17. Posted June 27, 2012 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

    What a beautiful home! I love the floors in the kitchen and the bathroom vanity.

  18. Jill
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

    Beautiful! Are the curtains in the bedroom custom? I LOVE them! Do you know where I could get the fabric?

  19. carrie
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 1:39 AM | Permalink

    what are the paint colors in the master bedroom and the kitchen? Beautiful and serene. Thanks

  20. how2home
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    Jenny, where do you usually find your contractors? We have a great source of contractors on (www.eieihome.com) you can find any contractors for anything in your area. Hope this could be useful for you in the future!

  21. Posted June 28, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

    Liz, the paint colour in the front foyer is CIL “Meeting house.” I’ve used it throughout most of the house and the basement- it’s creamy, yet has grey undertones which I love. Thanks, Keira- those floors are just the pine subfloor! Loads of “character”, cracks, dents and all!

  22. Posted June 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    Jill, the curtains were from the sale section in West Elm- $9 per panel! So I don’t think they have them any more :(

    Carrie, the master bedroom is BM “Stonington Grey” . Changes between quite grey to very blue when it’s really sunny. The kitchen is a homemade colour! I mixed up a bunch of leftover paint so not sure I could ever recreate it. But it’s pretty similar to BM “Edgecomb grey” (Which I used in my son’s room.)

    Thanks so much everyone for your kind comments!

  23. Posted June 29, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

    I enjoyed how simple and uncluttered the design was great job!

  24. Posted June 29, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    I enjoyed how simple and uncluttered the design was great job!
    Thanks for the post on this home.

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