Name: Tim and D'Arcy
Location: The Junction — Toronto, Canada
Size: 1000 square feet; 3 bedrooms
Years lived in: 7 — owned
Tim and D'Arcy bought this Junction home with the intention of quickly renovating it and moving on. Seven years later, they're still here, and it's easy to see why.
When the couple bought this modest 3 bedroom home, it had certainly seen better days. Luckily, neither Tim nor D'Arcy shy away from big, dirty tasks. Using their own skills and a good dose of elbow grease, they managed to make both the interior and exterior shine. Tim is a talented furniture designer and built many of the pieces, and D'Arcy lent his fashion designer eye to balance out color and texture throughout the space.
Since most of their important design decisions were made with pleasing buyers in mind, the two have had a hard time deciding if the place was right for them. After analyzing the real estate market, and falling in love with the neighborhood, they've finally decided to stay for good and truly call it home. It would be hard to argue, though, that it doesn't already feel like one, since many of their furnishings and decor were either crafted by themselves or obtained through bartering with artist friends. The couple enjoy entertaining, and friends and family love to gather throughout the house and in the beautifully landscaped backyard. Even when loved ones are not physically in the house, Tim and D'Arcy are reminded of their presence in their lives via the amazing photo wall.
They are now planning more renovations to make the space somewhere they can stay for the long run. I, for one, can't wait to see the end result, and hope we can check back with them when everything is complete.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Modern eclectic
Inspiration: The spirit of the house and the neighbourhood, organic design (letting the space tell you what it wants), and the Gladstone Hotel (local artisans heavily influence the look and feel of the hotel, plus we also designed a hotel room there).
Favorite Element: The furniture throughout the house that Tim built adds to the hand-crafted notion that we love (living room side tables, television credenza, living room wall shelves, barcart, bedroom side tables, bedroom bench, office aquarium stand), and the pieces we collaborated on (bedroom storage wall, dining room cable-tie lamp, the men's suiting fabric patch work cushions in the master bedroom).
Biggest Challenge: We only intended on staying in this house for three years, then moving on. We had the idea that we'd become 'house flippers,' which we quickly realized was very time consuming when you do the renovations yourself and not very realistic. When we first bought the house, we lovingly termed it a 'Grandma house.' It hadn't been updated in 60 years, and had a lot of ugly stained carpet and outdated finishes. We saw it as a blank canvas and stripped it down to the basics. Since we thought we'd fix it up and sell it, we compromised a lot on design decisions. We decided to bring back the period flavour of the house by reusing and recreating a lot of the original door and window trims, wall finishes (like the bead board in the kitchen), baseboards and crown moulding. Our logic was that if we ever moved out, the new owners would have good 'bones' to work with. Meaning they wouldn't necessarily have to have modern furnishings like we do to make this house a home.
Of course, we have since fallen in love with the house and the neighbourhood and have recently decided to stay for the long-term. We jokingly refer to the look of our house now as the 'before' image, since we intend on doing some major renovations, including opening up the kitchen to the rest of the main floor and adding on a two story addition to the back of the house.
Although we love the look and feel of our house right now, the lesson here is, design your home for yourself, not for someone else. Just wait until we renovate for the 'after' look!
What Friends Say: Our friends love our place. We host a lot of dinner parties and seasonal parties, and we always get a good turn out. Somehow, we always get 'voluntold' to host an event. So I guess people feel comfortable here. Our house feels like a home.
We also get a lot of comments like, "Can you come and design my place?" which we find funny because we're quite humble about our design taste. We couldn't understand why Abby kept bugging us to photograph our place for Apartment Therapy. There is so much better design out there.
Biggest Embarrassment: When we first bought the place there was a toilet right in the middle of the dining room (now our living room). No walls around it, nothing. The previous owner was bed-ridden and couldn't climb the stairs to the second floor washroom, so we think the old dining room became some kind of sick-room. Needless to say, that was one of the first things removed in the first renovation.
Also, our window blinds throughout the house are awful. They were Ikea blinds meant to be used temporarily. Seven years later, there they are in all their yellowed and stained glory. We can't wait to change those out in the new renovation...
Proudest DIY: We're very proud of how the kitchen turned out. We painted all the old cupboards (which the original owner handmade!), installed new counter tops, tiled the backsplash, put beadboard all around the room on the lower walls and decorative trim on the upper wall areas. It always turns into a 'kitchen' party at our place.
We're also proud of the photo wall on the second floor. We originally wanted to have framed photographs, but had so many we love, we just started to tape photographs to the wall that created the huge installation.
Biggest Indulgence: We actually hired someone to tile and install new fixtures in the bathroom on the second floor. We can do it ourselves, but we were so busy in our work lives, that we didn't want to spend 3 months doing it on weekends. We wanted it done immediately. We think the bathroom reno ended up taking 3 weeks.
Our other indulgence is our artwork: we were steadfast in our decision not to hang any mass-produced art....there is amazing art produced in this city daily. With the right resources (our friends!), procuring original art can be surprisingly affordable.
Best Advice: Don't be afraid to experiment and use your space how you live. We've painted the master bedroom 5 times and still don't like the colour. We've also switched out rooms. The living room has become the dining room, a bedroom has become an office, and vice-versa. We're not keen on unused space in the house, so we try to maximize the use of the spaces. We would also encourage people not to be afraid of DIY projects. Though sometimes frustrating, there is truth to the saying that mistakes often create opportunity.
Dream Sources: Our friends. We're very lucky to have a lot of talented friends who specialize in different mediums. We do a lot of trades. For example, D'Arcy is currently making cushions for a window seat in a friend's house, who is a furniture designer/maker. We've bartered our friend to make us a bench for our front entrance in return. We feel we're getting the better bargain in the deal. The end result is a very personal environment which reminds us of all our dear friends.
Resources of Note:
• Wood veneer for the various furniture pieces Tim built - A & M Wood Specialty, Cambridge, Ontario.
• Olympia Tile and Stone Clearance Centre We're frugal with our design choices. We found amazing modern tiles for super cheap!
• We're known by our first names at the local Home Depot. They thought we were crazy when we bought thousands of cable ties to make the lamp in the dining room (which was used in a Jessica Alba movie by the way).
Thanks, Tim and D'Arcy!
Images: Abby Cook
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