A Professional Organizer’s Renovated Home Is Bright and Colorful

updated Feb 7, 2020

A Professional Organizer’s Renovated Home Is Bright and Colorful

updated Feb 7, 2020
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Name: Tinka Markham Piper, husband Andrew, son Eliot, daughter Echo, puppy Syd, and rabbit Boca.
Location: Plateau, Montreal
Size: 2,200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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Tinka’s work and her home are intertwined. She’s the founder of Solve My Space and calls herself a “chaos counselor, part-organizer, part-designer, part-life coach.” She loves improving people’s lives by finding creative solutions for their living spaces. As the daughter of a journalist, she lived in seven countries in 14 years, and moving so often instilled a number of qualities like adventure and adaptability, but also wanting to have roots. She now lives in Montreal with her husband Andrew, her son Eliot, her daughter Echo, their puppy Syd, and rabbit Boca.

A mobile childhood meant Tinka learned to turn any space into an immediate home. Her previous career was in health and mental health: suicide prevention, emergency management, urban epidemiology, and she has master’s degrees in both social work and public health. But six years ago she had that light bulb moment—her real passion is transforming lives by transforming homes! So she combined the counseling elements of social work and the project management tools from public health to create Solve My Space. To date, she’s worked in over 250 homes and she loves her job and the people she meets.

As for why Tinka and her family love their home—renovated by an incredibly talented contractor, David Tiedje from Point Carré—it’s bright, open, and welcoming. Living in Montreal, winters are long and they are grateful for so many windows and a skylight that stretches across the width of their entire home. They have a large garden, which feels like an extension of the home. Her husband Andrew is the gardener and takes on a new planting project each year. She’s the color-pop person in the home, infusing textures, patterns, and lots of color (and driving everyone crazy with her need for micro-changes!). Their daughter is the clutter collector and their son lives in front of the fireplace all winter. They each have their own spaces, but because of the open nature of the home, they’re also always connected. That balance works well for the dynamics in their family.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Minimalism meets vibrant colors meets effervescent design. Also, “I’ve-never-met-a flea-market-I-didn’t-like!”

Inspiration: My inspiration is first and foremost color. I love vibrant and fun colors. I like to use white as a way to profile color, like a canvas. It leaps out at you and reminds you to focus on the joy in your life. I also am inspired by small elements—like an old pink wooden house on a fireplace mantel or a row of plants in mismatched white ceramics. I love the personal stories behind each piece that make every home unique.

Favorite Element: The light and the overall space. I am so thankful for the abundance of light here, especially during long Montreal winters. But I also love the way there is a space for everyone—being comfortable and separate but together. When I was growing up, my family and I lived in many different countries, so I like having little homes within the home, each with a distinct personality. Each space has a different kind of style along with personal family items. We mix rugs that my parents found in Syria in the 1970s, an old reading chair from my grandparent’s home, mid-century modern items, and lots of vintage baskets from all over the world.

Biggest Challenge: Resisting my urge to change things all the time! I love art and objects so I have to be careful not to cram too much in because I’m not the only one who lives here. I’m a big fan of “micro-changes” to perk up any space but sometimes I can go overboard. Luckily, my work is about space-solving and redesigning homes so I can transfer this energy to my clients!

What Friends Say: People always remark on the light, but also how our home feels warm and cozy, too. The flow between inside and outside creates a warmth to the home that’s magnified by the color and roominess. People also say this house is “so your family.” It’s not a museum or design studio, but quirky with a lot of different parts.

Biggest Embarrassment: When we let our rabbit run wild in the house and she chewed all the brand new sideboards. Literally all of them. Oops.

Proudest DIY: My husband is the DIY-er. He created the whole garden. It’s his happy space and very him: think wild plants, zen pebble garden, and ancient fruit trees.

Biggest Indulgence: I love felt, fabric, and textiles so much. The large, color-popping wall weaving (hanging in our kitchen) by Judit Just was our biggest indulgence.

Best Advice: Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really love is ever out of style.

Dream Sources: Rachel Castle, Tina Frey Designs, Donna Wilson, vtwonen.nl, vintage Marimekko, Babasouk, and Boutique Spoutnik. Scandinavia! Local Montreal artists including Ara Osterweil, Veronique Buist, Marie-Helene Bellavance, Atelier Make, and Nova Mercury. And of course yard sales and quirky antique stores on the side of the road.

An enormous thank you to David Tiedje, Veronique Genot, and the team from Point Carré who had the concept for this home and built it beautifully. They also collaborated with EmArchitecture.


Entire Home — White Dove, Benjamin Moore
Office Upstairs — Juniper Green, Benjamin Moore
Daughter’s Bedroom — Marilyn’s Dress, Benjamin Moore
Son’s Bedroom —Cabbage White, Farrow + Ball

Eames “Hang It All” Coat Rack — MOMA store
Tote Bag — Rachel Castle
Tea Towel Wall Art — Rachel Castle
Market Basket and Hanging Plant Basket — Coeur d’Artichaut
Closets — Point Carré
PS 2014 Shelving Unit — IKEA (no longer in stock)
Tosca Yamazaki Baskets — Container Store
Bold Wall Clock, Petrol — Normann Copenhagen
White Accessories — Tina Frey Designs and Atelier Make

Atwood Sofa in Muskoka Surf — Gus Modern
Red and Pink Wool Chairs — Vintage Florence Knoll purchased in 2004 in NYC
White Chair and Ottoman — Vintage from my grandparents
One Step Up Bookcase — Normann Copenhagen
Painting — Ara Osterweil
Print Above Fireplace — Natalie L’ete
Vintage Giraffe and Ladybug Pillows — Boutique Spoutnik
Mushroom Pillow — Donna Wilson
Horizontal Coral Pillow — Anthropologie
Colorful Quilt — Handmade by my mom when we lived in Vietnam in the 1970s
Bello Shag Wool Rug — West Elm
Copper Fairy Lights — Restoration Hardware
Vintage Small Bookcase, Wicker Basket, and Teak Apple Ice Bucket — Vintage store Porte Ouverte in Stanstead, Quebec
Standing Vintage Teak Lamp — Boutique Spoutnik
Resin Accessories — Tina Frey Designs
Side Table with Metal Basket —Ferm Living via Design Public

Vintage Oval Teak Dining Table — Montreal Moderne
Dining Chairs — Tate dining chair from EQ3 and others found on the street and repainted
Vintage Rugs — Purchased by my parents in Damascus in the 1970s
Wood/Orange Chest — Vintage Paul McCobb from Chelsea Flea Market (1997)
Lotte Vintage Lamp — Boutique Spoutnik
Wood and White Vertical Storage — Bloomingville
STOCKHOLM 2017 Rattan Coffee Table (with plants next to window) — IKEA
Tray and Candlesticks on Table — Tina Frey Designs
Pendant Lamp — Couleurs (a vintage store in Montreal that is no longer open)
Plant Holders — Tina Frey Designs and Flipop
“All the Love” Print — by Rachel Castle
Vintage Metal Flower Stand — Flea market in Maine

Array Pendant Lamp in White — Bend Goods
Pink Chair — Anthropologie
Vintage Indigo Blue Loveseat — Boutique Spoutnik
Pink and White Wool Pouf — Babasouk
Cushions on Indigo Blue Loveseat — Field Day cushion in Dusk Reverse by Donna Wilson
Botanical Garden 2 Print — Rachel Castle
Pompom Topper — Shopleokids
Tea Towel Art with Neon Pink Dot — Rachel Castle
MICKE Desk, White — IKEA
Desk Chair, White — IKEA
Light Green Lamp — Home/Work
Resin Accessories and Plant Holder — Tina Frey Designs
Bamboo Stool — Coeur d’Artichaut
SNIDAD Basket in Rattan — IKEA
Penny Pillows — Rachel Castle
Rainbow Shag Wall Hanging — ShopLeoKids

Kitchen created by woodworker Olivier Rioux at Modulart Design
Form Barstools in Oak/White — Normann Copenhagen
Colorful Wall Weaving — Ju Just
On Wooden Shelves: Pink House — Lisa Congdon
White Accessories — Tina Frey Designs + Atelier Make
“Love is Love” Embroidery Print — Rachel Castle
Circular Colorful Embroidery — Nova Mercury
Colorful Tray — Galerie Co (Montreal boutique no longer opened)
Tea Towel — Donna Wilson
“Coffee” and “Onions” Tins — Bloomingville
On counter: Nesting Blue Bowls and Large White Pedestal — Tina Frey Designs
Painting on Wall — via Quebec artist, Marie Helene Bellevance (Her website is under construction but view the link for a description of her and her work)

Reclaimed Teak Bed — EQ3
Multi Spot Quilt Cover — Rachel Castle
Jumbo Velvet Floor Cushion — Rachel Castle
Moroccan Vintage Rug — Babasouk
Neon Rug — Wayfair
Mini Library Bookcase in Walnut/White — Oeuf
Tea Towel Artwork — Rachel Castle
Embroidery Print — Veronique Buist
Resin Accessory with Gray Pom Pom — Tina Frey Designs
Pendant Lamp — Couleurs (a vintage store in Montreal that is no longer open)

Vintage Teak Desk and Chair — Montreal Moderne
Teak Lamp on Wall — Boutique Spoutnik
Caden Wool Rug — EQ3
BILLY Bookcases in Birch Veneer — IKEA
Orange and Yellow Vintage Lamp — Boutique Spoutnik
Vertical Filing Cabinet — IKEA

Thanks, Tinka and family!