Lisa’s Pint-Size Storybook Nook in Toronto

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Name: Lisa Vanin
Location: Parkdale; Toronto, Canada
Size: 390 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, Rented

Take away the laptop and tattoos and it would be easy to mistake twenty-something illustrator Lisa Vanin’s tiny, old-fashioned apartment for a knitting granny’s cozy den. Her homey digs are reminiscent of a previous generation’s warmth and slow pace, thanks to her nostalgic collection of old-soul treasures. If you haven’t visited your grandma in a while, this tour will surely remind you to make that call — all that’s missing here is the fireplace and rocking chair.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Feathers, dried flowers, birds nests and vintage knickknacks are carefully placed amongst her sleepy kitties and beloved plants in true granny chic fashion. With a penchant for earth tones & animal bones, her décor choices and ability to curate cozy nooks in every corner of the snug flat are indicative of her captivating visual storytelling abilities. Lisa’s tiny, haunting illustrations hang on the walls like feral fairytale characters hiding between stockpiles of teapots, needlepoint & vintage lace.

A former tattoo artist, Lisa has been working as a nature-focused illustrator creating commercial and editorial artwork since she graduated art school and moved into the apartment in 2009. Forgoing a designated off-site design studio space, she prefers to settle into her quiet nest, transforming her sweet kitchen alcove into the perfect workstation. Here she can draw inspiration for her growing stationery line and commissions from the colors, textures, and creatures that she loves the most.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy cottage vintage.

Inspiration: Neutral palettes and natural objects.

Favorite Element: The combination of textures layered around the space.

Biggest Challenge: Rental-sized bathrooms and kitchen cabinets!

What Friends Say: That it has a warm and comfortable atmosphere.

Biggest Embarrassment: My cozy couch has been used as a scratching post by my cats.

Proudest DIY: My paintings.

Biggest Indulgence: Kitchen wares.

Best Advice: If you live in a bachelor apartment, make your bed every day. It makes a huge difference!

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Resources of Note:



  • Couch: Vintage
  • Pillows: Green – handmade by my Mom, Grey suede – Homesense
  • Coffee Table: 2nd hand Ikea (I think)
  • Table Cloth: Handmade Vintage
  • Floor Lamp: Ikea
  • Bookshelf Used for Shoe Storage: 2nd hand
  • Cast Iron Cat Doorstop: Gift
  • Black Hats: ASOS
  • Red Stool: Vintage
  • Japanese Planter: Vintage
  • Drift Wood: Found
  • Wall Cubes: Walmart
  • Animal Skulls: Found and Gifts
  • Owl Figures: Vintage
  • Ceramic Tile Art: Xenia Taler
  • Dried Floral Arrangement: Vintage
  • Metal Panther Heads: Vintage Lamps
  • Wool Dreamcatcher: DIY
  • Peach Cabinet: 2nd Hand
  • Silver Tray: Found
  • Pitcher: Ikea
  • Plant Mister: Lee Valley
  • Sectioned Wall Shelf: 2nd hand
  • Bird Nest, Rocks: Found
  • Sea Fan, Barnacles: Etsy
  • Tattoo Machines: Micky Sharpz
  • Gemstones: Geologic Gallery
  • Carved Horn Owl: Gift
  • Horse Shoes: Gifts
  • Harmonicas: Steve’s Music Store
  • Fox Drawing: Alex Davey
  • Wooden Entertainment Cabinet: Ikea
  • Chinese Newspaper Print: Chinatown Toronto
  • Dog Print: Vintage
  • Cotton Branches: Poppies Florist
  • Embroidered Handbag: Vintage
  • Duvet Set: Ikea
  • Crochet Blanket: Handmade vintage
  • Embroidered Dog Pillow: Handmade
  • Wood Tray: Homesense
  • Cherrywood End tables: Vintage
  • Copper candle holders: CB2
  • Books: Vintage
  • Gemstones: Geologic Gallery
  • Silver Trays: Vintage
  • Tiny Glass Display Case: Vintage
  • Table lamp: Vintage
  • Newspaper Print: Found
  • Feather: Found
  • Shelves: Walmart
  • Copper Planters: Vintage
  • Glass Terrariums: Homesense
  • Air plants: Poppies Florist
  • Tiny Cat Pillow: Vintage
  • Copper Praying Mantis: Vintage
  • Embroidered Flower Art: Handmade, Gifts
  • Curtains: Ikea
  • Sheepskin Rug: Ikea


  • Dresser: 2nd Hand
  • Antelope Statue: Homesense
  • Metal Containers and Objects: Vintage
  • Curtains: Vintage
  • Fish Painting: Graham Robinson
  • Log Painting: Lisa Vanin “Cheshire Smile” (available for purchase)
  • Fur Vest: Vintage
  • Laundry Basket: Ikea
  • Wool Blankets: Handmade and Caban
  • Guitar: Gift


  • Toaster: Cusineart
  • Cutting Board: Larch Wood
  • White and Blue Platters: Vintage
  • Cream and Sugar Set: Vintage
  • Wooden Spoons: Handmade, Toronto
  • Ceramic Cats: Vintage
  • Oven Mitt and Pot holder: Marimekko
  • Tea Towel: Marimekko
  • Dish Rack: Simple Human
  • Cup Rail and Wine Glass Hanger: Ikea
  • Wine Glasses: Vintage
  • Copper, Brass and Glass Mugs: Vintage Etsy
  • Blue Shelf: Ikea
  • Assorted Metal Teapots and Kettles: Vintage
  • Copper Pans: Vintage
  • Ceramic and Cork Cups: West Elm
  • Ceramic Serving Pot and Tea Pot: Marimekko
  • Milk Glass Vases: Vintage
  • Wooden Crate: Homesense
  • Rabbit Pitcher: Gift
  • Wine Rack: Vintage
  • Test Tube Spice Rack: Gift
  • Marble Motar and Pestel: Gift
  • Wood Self: 2nd Hand
  • Glass Shot Glasses: Gift
  • Japanese Swan Tea Set: Gift
  • Ceramic Dishes: Gift
  • Animal Figures: Gifts
  • Condiment Set: Alessi
  • Espresso Maker: Bialetti
  • Cast Iron Pans: Lodge
  • Utensil Holder: Ikea vase


  • Stainless Steel bathroom set: CB2
  • Ceramic Tiles: Xenia Taler
  • Nesting Shells: Etsy
  • Metal Basket: Vintage
  • Ceramic Jars: Handmade, Toronto
  • Shower Curtain: Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Fish Prints: Etsy
  • Wood Spice Shelf: Found
  • Driftwood Shelves/Wall Art: Found
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

Thanks, Lisa!

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