Friday, October 26, 2007

House Voyeur: Banking on it in Ontario

I think I want Barb McMahon’s life.

Two years ago, Barb and her husband Alan moved into a 100-year-old former bank in Sebringville, Ontario, a small town outside of Toronto. Barb runs a little vintage shop called May December Home out of the front (and, in her spare time, writes an entertaining and inspiring blog of the same name). Alan, a professional baker and cookbook author, has a bakery in the back. The couple's apartment is upstairs.

Here, Barb gives us a quick peek at their unusual live/work space:

"This is my shop, May December Home, where I sell secondhand furnishings, fixed-up junk, and handmade home accessories.

This is Alan's bake room, home of the giant Baker's Pride ovens -- which serve the secondary function of helping to heat the building in winter. (They also, of course, heat the building in summer, but that's not so much help ... )

Here's the door of the safe. It's the reason we bought the building -- who could resist?

Alan and I have been fixing up houses for over 20 years now. In that time we've done plumbing, deconstruction, tiling, reconstruction, and lots and lots of painting. The biggest challenge with this place has been (and continues to be) undoing all the ugly things put in by previous owners: bad paint colours, too many extra walls, nasty flooring, and so on.

In the entryway to our apartment, for instance, the floor was ugly but solid, so instead of replacing it I just painted a black and white checkerboard pattern over it.

My style is simple, yet elegant, with an emphasis on secondhand, environmentally friendly finds. There's a great auction barn nearby, and I also find stuff at Goodwill, Habitat ReStore, Value Village, etc.

Despite my love of vintage and salvage, I try to keep things light, airy, and uncluttered. And aside from the safe, my favourite thing about my home is the light that comes into it.

Over the years, I've learned to design a home that suits us -- not our in-laws or the neighbours or 'the taste police.' I get the best responses from others when I decorate to suit me. Somehow that sense of comfort shines through. Even if people wouldn't choose to do the same thing in their own house, it makes them want to come and spend time in mine, which is pretty cool."

Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse of your truly unique abode, Barb!

3 comments:

margaret atkinson said...

I am proud to be Barb's friend. She is one of the most creative people i know, and can make beautiful out of ugly any day! In short, she is stylin'!

Freshly Found said...

I enjoyed this article and can identify with Barb's love of vintage and salvage - yet keeping things light, airy, and uncluttered at the same time!

vineeta said...

Oh I love the snaps from barbs home! especially the simplicity and elegance of the wooden rack shown last! awesome.

 

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