Yesterday morn I visited one of Toronto’s fastest growing urban nabes, Liberty Village, where an old Victorian carriage house is now home to Jim Caruk‘s BiY Learning Centre. It’s his way of "…giving back", as he said during our chat.
The builder, master contractor and host of HGTV’s long-running favourite, Real Renos, has realized a concept that’s been in the works for the past five years. This 5,000 sq ft facility, one of two Toronto centres that are the first of their kind in Canada (a second 10,000 sq ft facility is situated in Toronto’s north end) will be offering homeowners instructional seminars on countless home improvement projects. At this morning’s launch the media previewed some of what the BiY Centre’s team of industry professionals will be offering; basement 101; indoor finishing and trim; upcycling, refurbishing and design; women in the workshop; hanging picture frames; power tools and safety; carpentry and more; more than 35 courses.
The loft-like open space can accommodate 25-30 participants for a real hands-on session, or up to 50 for a more seminar-type presentation. Sitting around the modern butcher-block work tables, surrounded by exposed brick and wooden beams, the vibe was decidedly different (in a good way) from your average big box store seminar.
The turnout was great, as some of the biz’s most recognizable faces came out in support. Among editors from Style at Home and Canadian House and Home, Scott McGillivray was there (we chatted), and Mag Ruffman too! Susan Hay of Global Television introduced Jim, whom I caught up with after the presentation. And I must say, Jim and I had quite the interesting, somewhat bashful (on his end) interview session, the video of which I will post for you in the coming weeks. We talked DIY, Real Reno’s, his take on flooring, countertops, and other reno topics, as well as — and how can I not? — the ladies…all those ladies — you know who you are! Jim handled himself quite endearingly through my needling, so much so that I almost lost my taste for antics. Almost.