Tattoo artist Chris McDonald and furniture designer Meg Tilston knew they’d found the perfect home when they first saw this tiny cottage in Toronto. Although their style leans more towards artsy California vintage with an indie-rock twist than granny chic, the couple decided to keep the adorably old-fashioned kitchen as-is when they began fixing up the house.
Varying shades of green and yellow, hardwood floors, and natural light flow from room to room in the charming old home. Meg’s gorgeous wood furniture and lighting designs combine mid-century modern and vintage sensibilities, while Chris’s artwork makes bold, contrasting statements on the walls. Meg and Chris are both musicians in several bands, and the vinyl collection and instruments scattered about are yet another unmistakable extension of their creative lives.
The tree-lined backyard and deck make an ideal gathering spot for bbq’s and dinner parties in the warmer months, extending their usable space significantly. Learning to keep it simple has been key to making this small space work, and the couple’s on-going effort to pare down and avoid wastefulness has kept the house from feeling cluttered or overcrowded.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Beach house casual, with modern and vintage elements.
Inspiration: We fell in love with the float homes on Lake Union, Seattle, and we love the smaller houses along the North Shore of Oahu. And we’re inspired by Big Sur and the central coast of California. Our dream house would be in Big Sur!
Favorite Element: Megan - I love the original wooden kitchen, with the wooden wall and ceiling. It’s very cosy and really makes it feel like we’re in a cottage. We used to have a beautiful enamel stove with pale green metallic detailing and chrome trim. The Kelvinator! It really made the kitchen, and it was a sad day when we had to have it replaced.
Chris - The bathroom, definitely. It was the worst space in the house before we had it gutted. We replaced everything but kept the original layout, and we’re so happy with the way it turned out.
Biggest Challenge: Storage space… there isn’t any. We’re constantly editing and paring down our belongings and making donations. The ceiling height upstairs is a challenge as well, but it also makes it feel like we’re in a tree house.
What Friends Say: It feels cozy and relaxed.
Biggest Embarrassment: The closets, definitely. They’re off limits!
Proudest DIY: The carpeting on the stairs and the flooring throughout the bedrooms. We are quite happy with the results because neither of us had done anything like that in the past. It's the little victories!
Biggest Indulgence: We’re not very indulgent. Although when we redid the bathroom we hired a contractor, and that was a huge expense for us but it was completely worth it. He was honest and his workmanship was excellent.
Best Advice: Don't take it to seriously. If you don't like something or a decision you've made, it can always be changed later on. Don't be afraid to try something a little different, and enjoy it.
Dream Sources: Wallpaper by Fornasetti and lighting by Tom Dixon and Lindsey Adelman.
Resources of Note:
- Watercolour Paintings: Untitled by Celia Kainz
- Marbled print of tree: Autumn Maple by Robert Wu
- Brass Tree Sculpture: Vintage, estate sale
- Ceiling lights: Ikea
- All lamps: Aberfoyle Antique Market
- Sofa: Gus Modern
- Pillows: various, including Crate and Barrel, Ikea, Virginia Johnson
- Rug: CB2
- Laptop console: custom, Megan Tilston
- Coffee table: custom, Megan Tilston
- TV Bench: Spalted Ellipse, Merganzer Furniture
- Triangle Mirror in stairwell: Merganzer Furniture
- Artwork on wall above record collection: black and white “Duluoz” original, titled Kerouac by Chris MacDonald; Amsterdam linocut by Eddy Varekamp ; Giant Squid woodblock print by Graham Blair ; Sumacs watercolour by Jean Wood
- Artwork: black and white “Chinaski” original, titled Bukowski by Chris MacDonald; small watercolour by Jean Wood, large mixed media portrait by Jean Wood
- Lighting: cord kit from Morba; Garland shade by Tord Boontje purchased at Caban
- Table and chairs, inherited antiques
- Plant stand: Burl Stand, Merganzer Furniture
- Mirror: Cutaway Mirror, Merganzer Furniture
- Tiles: White subway tile, Pollocks Flooring ; glass mosaic tile, Saltillo Imports; porcelain floor tile, Ciot
- Vanity: Ginger’s
- Lighting: Sconce, Ginger’s; ceiling light, Ikea
- Bathtub and faucet, Rona
- All other accessories: Ikea
- Walls: Seal in Flat, Martha Stewart, Home Depot
- Ceiling: wallpaper, Debbie Travis, Canadian Tire
- Dressers: Malm series, Ikea
- Side table: Wave Series Side Table, Merganzer Furniture
- Bed: custom, Megan Tilston
- Artwork on wall: print by Aaron Bell
- Oaxacan carving on dresser: Deer by Jimenez, Milagros
Thanks, Meg & Chris!
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