A Modern, Eclectic Reno in Toronto on a Modest Budget

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Modern, Eclectic Reno in Toronto on a Modest Budget

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Stacey Lipstein
Location: Leslieville — Toronto, Canada
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

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Stacey knew that sizing up a 950-square-foot house for a growing family was going to be a challenge, but from the beginning she saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Fast forward a few years and the home is nearly complete (until Stacey’s next design vision), and it couldn’t be more charming! Stacey and her partner managed to transform a small, outdated dark bungalow into a stylish and functional family home.

When they first started playing around with the idea of renovating the house the initial plan was to add an addition. They enlisted the help of an architect to draw up plans, but after realizing that wasn’t in the budget, they decided to do a smaller scale renovation. In the end, they ended up doing the majority of the design work themselves, from the kitchen and bathroom layout to organizing all the decor. Stacey has always loved sourcing materials (even with the challenge of a modest budget) and with a little time and patience everything came together.

Stacey remembers moving around furniture and trying to reinvent spaces in her teen years. Skilled at design even from a young age, her friends would always ask her to redecorate their rooms! Even if she found herself living in a place for only a few months, she would still at least paint; it’s important for her to have a space feel like her own.

Though Stacey thought about pursuing a career in design after finishing university, she became a hairstylist. But after taking on their own home renovations (this is the couple’s second house they’ve redone), Stacey has completely caught the interior design itch again! You can keep up to date with Stacey’s design journey via Tinyhousemama on Instagram.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern, boho and eclectic

Inspiration: I have always loved Jessica Helgerson’s Tiny Home, which I have fawned over for years. It is located in Sauvie Island, Oregon and it is white and full of colour and life.

Favorite Element: I love all the old details about the house, the house was built in 1880 so tons and tons of high baseboards, plate rails, tin ceilings and the original wood floor. And I would have to say my mint green retro fridge that I got cheap second hand. It has become quite popular on Instagram. It makes me irrationally happy and giddy every morning when I see it.

Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge with this house is making it work for a family of three and a big dog in a small one level bungalow. We took on a pretty big reno in the winter time, opening up the living and kitchen area and combining the kitchen and dining space to make an eat-in kitchen. We wanted to create an open, family friendly, bright space. We also want to make the only bathroom in our home work for our family. I love natural light and we really wanted to create a more energy efficient home so we brought in three new windows and a skylight in the bathroom. We also knew making the house bigger wasn’t in our budget. So to create the illusion of space we vaulted all the ceilings in the back of the house: kitchen, bathroom, and kid’s room. This was a challenge in the house before we renovated. Now we almost never have to turn a light on. It is amazing for our bills.

What Friends Say: When we first moved into our home our friends were surprised that we chose an even smaller home than our previous one. We had literally hunted for a larger home than our previous 1200 square foot home for about two years, and after a few bidding wars we found this cottage in the city. We clearly were charmed and realized that we actually really love small spaces. Our friends love the house and see how we have made it work for us and our family. The backyard is also like a forest and escape from city life; we can have fires and just pretend we are in cottage country so I think they like that a lot, too.

Biggest Embarrassment: One of our biggest embarrassments would have to be our bedroom and dressing room that are off the living room and front hallway…and not everyone always wants to make their bed. This is also a house of two women so our clothes are sometimes all around our dressing room. If anyone drops by unexpected it is hard to just tuck it away. At least we can shut the doors, but then that makes the house feel half the size!

Proudest DIY: I would say my proudest DIY would be my wood-ball pendant light in our mudroom. It was a basic glass light on an electrical cord; I sprayed the metal white and got beautiful large natural wood beads to go on the electrical cord. They literally were hanging the light an hour before Apartment Therapy came to photograph!

Biggest Indulgence: Our kitchen sink! I had ordered it from a company that makes vintage reproduction sinks out of really durable material out of the states. When I had originally ordered it, the size I thought I was getting was only the inset; it was actually 6″ wider, which is a big deal. I don’t think I really realized the price until my credit card bill arrived and realized with the exchange rate and shipping it probably cost double. And then the faucet I got with it didn’t end up working so I had to get a new one…so a very big indulgence.

Best Advice: My best advice would be to buy things you love, not just because they are economical. Having a small home means you can’t just have endless space to fill it with things and pieces. I love looking around and loving everything that I am surrounded by. Memories, stories, gifts and of course indulgences. Also I love incorporating my little one’s toys and art in our home and not just hiding it it away, but embracing the fun bright colourful mess that a family home can be.


Whole house is painted in white — Benjamin Moore

Pendent — Canadian Tire
Art — Jennifer Sanchez

Sofa — Pavilion
Pendent — Robert Abbey
Blanket — Cambie Design
Plant and pot — Quince Flowers
Poufs — IKEA
Coffee table — Article
Rocking chair — vintage find
Sheepskin — Sheepskin Stuff
Large girl painting — Judith Geher
Plant and pot — Coriander Girl
Side marble table —Love the Design table
Lamps: vintage with shades — Lamp Cage vintage
Eames rocking chair — eBay
Mantel plants — Black Rooster Decor
Mantel picture frames — Pottery Barn
Big wicker plant basket — Quince Flowers
Pillows — peaksandrafters.com; Cambie Design; vdev.com; Snob Stuff

Bed — IKEA
Hanging pendent — Old Faithful Shop
Bedding — eq3
Bather painting — Ric Santon
Suzani quilt — Melon Patch
Dresser plants — Evergreen Brickworks
Small ceramic bowl — Souvenir Studios
Pom poms — Cambie Design
Large yellow armoires — IKEA

Chairs — Structube
Sink — NBI Drain Boards
Fridge — Elmire Stoveworks
Pendents — Snob Stuff
Kitchen table — vintage
Kitchen runners — This Old Home; Southern Loom
Back hallway pendents — Canadian Tire

Dresser and bookcase — IKEA
Quilt — Little Peeps
Rug — Urban Outfitters
Little wooden houses — kids at home
W on wall — Douglas and Sons
Metal cleaning storage bin — Ago Shop
Paper flags — The Paper Place
Light — Elte Market
Pouf — CB2

Sink — Rejuvention
Medicine cabinet — IKEA
Lights flamingo pendent — Onefortythree
Brass pendent — Lamp Cage vintage
Textiles — holycow.com
Plants — Black Rooster Decor; Quince Flowers
Faucet — wayfair.com
White storage bins — IKEA
Wicker basket — Elte Market
Green print — Helen Dealtry
Skin oils — Sundays Company

Small pink pots — Dynasty Toronto
Kitchen and mudroom doors — Royal Doors
Windows — Eco Choice Windows

Thanks, Stacey!

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