Name: Aleks and Clay
Location: Montreal, Canada
Size: 1000 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 1 year
Over the years, Aleks and Clay have acquired a lot of treasures from their travels. They moved into their apartment last February, and already, the space is decorated with objects and souvenirs from all over the world. For them, setting up their home is all about surrounding themselves with meaningful things. It is what contributes to their happiness. Together, they also curate a website that features photos from their various trips around the world.
Aleks was born in Sarajevo but grew up in Toronto and Clay was born and raised in Ottawa. They have an eclectic style, but with all the unique spaces in their apartment, they are able to show that side off while still maintaining a composed aesthetic.
Almost everything they have is either brought home from a trip or was given to them by friends or family. The dining room table was made of 100-year-old barn wood sourced by a friend and made by Clay's uncle. Most of the pottery was handmade by Aleks with a few pieces by Clay. The macramé hanging above their bed was custom made by their friend Madi and almost all the original art in the house was painted by their friend George Grant and Aleks' aunt Snjezana Kostic.
The best advice they give to anyone building a comfortable nest is to choose three aspects that you absolutely cannot live without and stick to them. Everything else you can compromise on. "For us, that meant an outdoor space, a second bedroom to use as an office and a big kitchen," says Aleks.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Eclectic yet comfortable and organized
Inspiration: Japan, mid-century modern, markets, nature
Favorite Element: The kitchen is a dream to have, especially for Clay who is a cook and lit up when he saw it when we visited the apartment. It is, without a doubt, the area of the house that we use the most. Our kitchen leads to the back patio, which is our favourite hang out spot in the city in the summer as it is ideal for reading, relaxing, cooking and entertaining. The surrounding trees, vines and gardens make it a peaceful slice of nature smack in the middle of the city.
Biggest Challenge: Finding a healthy balance between old and new. We tend to decorate with things that are antique or vintage but still feel modern. The building is a hundred years old but has had modern renovations in the last eight years and we try to reflect that juxtaposition in our style.
What Friends Say: "Your place is so spacious and beautifully put together. It feels like a real home." They usually can't believe we've only been here one year.
Biggest Embarrassment: Spending four hours putting up one shelf on a concrete wall, going to the hardware store three times in one morning. Definitely worth it though.
Proudest DIY: Our first garden on the back patio this past summer. We had tomatoes, chili peppers, endless basil, an array of herbs, a lemon tree and many, many flowers.
Biggest Indulgence: Plants, we have way more plants than we even have space for, especially during the winter when we bring in some of our favourites from the garden.
Best Advice: Tackle one thing at a time, don't overwhelm yourself. It takes time to make a place your own but enjoy the process of it coming together as much as possible! We are always looking for ways to improve our space.
Dream Sources: Markets in Istanbul and India, nature from around the world, Japanese minimalism and simplicity, a perfectly crafted ceramic.
Coffee Table, Antique from Zofia Antiquité in Montreal
Blanket, Hudson's Bay
TV Bench, Handmade by Clay's uncle from 100 year old barnwood
Lamp and Lighting Fixture, Ikea
Araks Poster, vintage with an Ikea frame
Dining Room Table, Handmade by Clay's uncle from 100 year old barnwood
Chairs, 1950s Formica from a friend
Artwork, all done by our friend George Grant
Credenza, 1950s vintage found on Craigslist
Bar trays and accessories, various vintage
Rocking Chair, 1920s antique from Clay's great-grandmother
Vase, West Elm
Macrame, our good friend @knottsmacrame on Instagram
Lamp, vintage teak from a Toronto consignment shop
Chair used as side table, garage sale find
Closet Curtains, custom made by our friend Hannah using Japanese cotton fabric
Rug, Indian market find
Artwork, various from our last trip to Asia
Desk, handmade by a friend's dad
Chair, 1920s antique from Clay's great-grandmother
Blanket, Donegal Woollen Mill bought in Dublin
Map, National Geographic received as a gift
Shelves, Ikea and craigslist
Wicker magazine stand, vintage
Coffee Table, antique
Artwork, local artists
Wicker bull decoration, handmade in Valencia, Spain
Wooden Chest, made by Clay's grandfather