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?
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!