It Starts With a Swing in The Living Room: Details from a Funky Family Home

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Vintage couch, wood/jute swing, 9′ birch tree, bookstand made from rail tie clamp and vintage Christmas tree stand. (Image credit: Antonia Giroux )

Name: Julien, her husband and three daughters
Location: Milton —Ontario, Canada
The basics: 12 years, owned | 2,000 square feet

Julien’s home is full of fascinating, functional and visually interesting art yet it doesn’t have a “hands off” feel. It is designed with her family in mind, encouraging exploration and celebrating everyone’s personalities.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I believe that a home is not just a playground for living, but also a composition of all who live there. I love walking into a space that has a story in the design; preferably a personal story. We have definitely authored every square foot of this cookie-cutter we currently call home. People tell us how much you can feel the family love in our house, which I believe is due to its sense of playfulness. It’s a world of exploration that says a lot about who we are, where we have been and what’s important to us.

We are a crazy bunch of five with one super hero Weimaraner dog (Madden) at the helm of our pack. I love impressing our kids with unique design (i.e. the swing in our living room) more than following any specific design style. But if a design style were to describe me, I suppose fusion would have to be it. My only constant is the constant of flux.

My design demonstrates how differences can be the architecture of what is interesting and beautiful. For me, the marriage of “unlikelies” together ARE the refreshing detail. I love pushing the boundaries past what’s expected and beyond what the rules say. Whether it’s different design styles, or different materials interwoven, different textures infused, different cultures united or even embodying different generations, I love it all, and often in the same room!

We encourage our three little girls (Glacier-10, Kibale-8 and Salem-7) to use the house as a tool for building experiences and my design helps bring that element to life. They share a room in our five bedroom house because the late night whispers in their floating loft beds are where the fibres are weaved in their relationship making this homes’ design priceless.

With a swing and a birch tree in our living room, snowboards and family made art on the walls, triple peepholes, shoe lasts and airplane lavatory locks as ways to experience doorways, our home pulls you down the rabbit hole of our wonderland. This wonderland is our canvas that captures any given time in our lives…always changing….always fashioned from exploring uncharted territories.

I also love the element of surprise, always causing the people who come here to slow down and look around and explore. Guests get giddy delving around each corner and discovering what each little nook reveals about the people who live here. And tomorrow, well, it might just be different.

What is your favorite room and why? Hmmm tough one. I think it’s my living room, as it displays the characteristics of us as a family. It’s the very wrapping around our most valued home treasure….the experience of each other. There are pieces that create playfulness, and pieces that reflect who we are and what’s important to us but collectively they wrap together into a little family nest. Our living room is the place where we have all made contributions and inspired the design and it’s the place that is most shared. For me, design isn’t worth nearly as much if it’s not experienced.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home?

I bought four things on my last little adventure. You can see them all on my Instagram.

  • A thick rod iron metal table top mirror that has a beautiful yellow patina and is architecturally fabulous.
  • A spool with a green patina. Used as a door knob to a bathroom.
  • The door I made from metal and installed an Air Canada Vacant/Occupied lavatory lock on.
  • A gnarly 4′ rail clamp that was used to repair rail cars. and a vintage metal clamp xmas tree stand. I combined the two to make a vertical book stand.

Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? This house definitely would be a fictional family not a single character…. so The Mad Hatter with Lara Croft and Calvin and Hobbes.

Julien’s words of wisdom: If you had no fear, no worry of judgement, and it all was possible…what would your house look like? Hint: it’s the very secret to creating the home you love. It’s YOU….your home should reflect you. Don’t design for your friends or for trends, not your ego or your insecurities. Tap into a design that is authentically you and the people that live there.

For me the greatest value of an inspired design is how it is experienced by the people immersed in it and how it reflects their story. Every part of your life is your greatest resource of inspiration and true meaning. And with all the design platforms available with social media alone, you can definitely explore the creativity of how your life can be visually materialized into your home. It’s endless with possibilities. Have fun with exposing the details of who you authentically are. Be courageous. Every stage of your life can be artfully displayed, in fact, even every fantasy. Pour moi, this is the design life. Author your version, it will be your most loved home.

Thanks, Julien !

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