Lucky Elana is in Mexico this week, so I’m happy to announce a new feature here on Style Sheet that I hope will get you readers excited! Take a peek inside real homes of real people, with our new editorial feature, the HGTV.ca Original Home Tour. And we hope you’ll be a key part of it!
We’re looking for homes across Canada to photograph professionally and homeowners who are proud of their decorating or renovating talent with stories to share. And yes, we can send a photographer to you; this isn’t limited to the Toronto area. Here’s how:
- Send two photographs and a 100-200 word explanation about why your house deserves to be featured on HGTV to stylesheet(@)hgtv.ca with Original Home Tour in the subject. (Don’t forget to remove the () around @.)
- Send your "finished" projects only, please. If you want an example of what we’re looking for, then please keep reading because our first Original Home Tour is the gorgeous Toronto home of Alix and Fiona.
Who: Teachers Alix, 32, and Fiona, 32, married, and their son Thomas, 10 months
What: Renovated Victorian, approximately 128 years old and 1250 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, unfinished basement workshop, upstairs laundry
Where: Toronto, ON
Why: It’s a top to toe DIY reno project with a welcoming mix of vintage and mid-century modern touches. When Alix and Fiona bought their Victorian-era home in January 2005, they knew straightaway that it was in dire need of renovation. "I think the reno began the day we got the keys," says Alix.
The major renovation project took over four years, with Alix working on it at night after a full day (summers off also helped). Two gut jobs, four torn-down walls, three walls built, a brand new kitchen and a first floor powder room later, Fiona furnished the home keeping its Victorian roots in mind, melding vintage charm and original, unearthed features with a Scandinavian-influenced modern sensibility.
HGTV: The foyer to your home is so charming (above), are these the original doors?
Fiona: My parents discovered the doors at Post and Beam [in Toronto]. My dad added trim to make them more period appropriate. I love the doors. I’m particularly fond of the Victorian doorbell that adorns the door.
Alix: Aside from a bit of planing and trimming it was a simple fit.
HGTV: A four year reno project sounds a little insane! What was the hardest part?
Fiona: The rewire was tough. It was dusty and once it was done we were left with a house riddled with holes. The kitchen renovation tested our endurance to live in chaos. Alix started it during March break and it was finished during our summer vacation. At one point we washed dishes in the bathtub.
Alix: Showering at work for two months was pretty rough. Putting in six hours of reno work after eight hours of regular work for four months was tough. The kitchen design was a challenge. It took over a year to complete, there were many dimension problems to solve to make sure everything fit.
HGTV: Now that it’s over, what are some of your favourite parts?
Fiona: This is a tricky question. Truthfully, I love this house. I love each room for different reasons. The living room (above) is my favourite part of the house. I doubt we will ever have a house with such a grand room again. The Victorians really knew how to create wonderful living spaces. The arch, rosettes and the fireplace give the room character. No matter the time of day the living room is always bright.
Alix: I’m most proud of the bathroom and kitchen because I built them, but my favourite part of the house is [also] the living room. The dimensions are perfect, the lighting is amazing and the use of vertical space makes it feel larger than it is.
HGTV: That arch is amazing, what was the room like when you moved in? I like how you’ve kept a lot of the original features intact.
Fiona: There was a wall dividing the living room into two rooms and both rooms were small and dark. We had a demo party with friends and family and my dad had a hunch that there was an arch beneath the wall — luckily he was right. Sadly, the previous owners did not cherish the Victorian finishes of this home and the arch was in terrible shape. Both Alix and my dad have worked to restore the arch. It’s an ongoing project. It’s very important to both of us to keep the Victorian features of the house. We made a conscious decision not to make the house open concept or remove the arches, rosettes that grace this house.
HGTV: I love the light fixtures in this room, and throughout the whole house. Did you accumulate them over time?
Fiona: I love shopping for light fixtures. I have been known to pack very small cars with very big light fixtures. The fixtures were purchased at various times. The living room drum lights from Universal Lighting [are the newest additions]. I had to save for those but it was totally worth it. With 14 foot ceilings you need to go big.
HGTV: Why did you choose a white kitchen over wood? Do you find it hard to keep clean? And where did you find your farmhouse sink?
Fiona: I was inspired by a friend’s kitchen. Our kitchen does not have a lot of natural light so we need to keep the space feeling open and bright. I don’t find the white hard to keep clean. In fact, I think the white helps to keep the space looking fresh and clean. The sink is an IKEA find. I have always loved the look of farmhouse sinks.
HGTV: I love all the teak furniture in the dining room, and the hits of colour in the artwork and the sideboard lamp.
Fiona: The table, mirror and sideboard are from Bungalow in Kensington Market. They were purchased shortly after we bought the house. The stereo [which still works] was a gift from my aunt. I am a lover of teak but I am quickly discovering that teak and babies are not necessarily a good pair. The lamp was purchased from Universal Lighting. The artwork was by me.
HGTV: Thomas’ room isn’t too babyish, was that your intention? The striped fabric on the window is boyish without being cutesy.
Fiona: It’s easy to go overboard in a baby’s room. Other than the crib, all of the furniture in Thomas’ room is adult furniture. It will grow with him. The curtains are from Pottery Barn Kids. The crib was a gift purchased from Mother Hubbard’s and was made 100% in Canada. The curtains and the crib were splurges, but worth it.
HGTV: Great palette in the master with the grey and yellow. I love how you haven’t brought anything too overtly brash or modern to the home.
Fiona: The bedding is a mix of Home Sense and Pottery Barn. We like to mix modern with vintage and I’ve decorated with this in mind. We like the Scandinavian style and this influences our choices. I also really like Sarah Richardson.
HGTV: The upstairs bathroom is so bright and airy. I can only imagine how it looked when you moved in.
Fiona: The upstairs bathroom renovation was truly a labour of love. We had no other shower and thus we were forced to shower at friend’s houses or work. We learned a great deal during this reno. Firstly, it’s always best to gut the entire room rather than saving this wall or that ceiling. In the end we did everything from replace the floors, ceiling and walls, there was new plumbing, restoration of the bathtub, and new fixtures. My dad also built the built-ins.
Flowers by Jaiden’s Petals