Today we are visiting the cozy and creative home of Danielle, who I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last several months, through her plush animal shop Stitchface. Danielle is currently an intern for a nonprofit organization, where she helps pair professional writers up with students and schools. In her free time, she creates the most adorable, eco-friendly toys that are sure to capture the hearts of the young and the young at heart. Hope you enjoy the tour…
1. You live in Toronto, Ontario. In what kind of home do you live and with whom?
I live in a flat in the upper level of an old two-story century home in downtown Toronto. I share my home with my fabulous partner Mike and we've lived here for around 6 months. We live in an older neighborhood in the city called the Annex that has lots of great places to eat, shop and explore.
2. You use vintage fabrics to create your plush animals and I see that you have many vintage pieces in your home as well. How does your work for Stitchface inspire the way you decorate your home and vice versa?
I think I've always been attracted to vintage and thrift store finds. I love things that have had a story long before I got to them. I also enjoy making unloved items and materials useful again. We have many items in our apartment that have been salvaged from the curbside and with a little TLC they have become really cool pieces in our home. It's the same with the fabrics I rescue from thrift stores and make into new Stitchface creatures. The recycler in me gets super excited when the hidden potential in these discarded items is revealed.
3. The gray blue wall color that runs through much of your home provides a neutral backdrop for pops of color. I have to ask you about this couch. Where did you find it and what drew you to it initially?
The orange couch is definitely one of my favorite pieces. It was actually given to me by my mother and it has been passed down from my great grandmother. The chair was never really used by my mom but I was always drawn to how ornate and grand it looked. It sat in my mother's basement for years and I begged her to keep it for me until I had a place I could put it in. As a university student, I moved all the time (I figured out that in the past 6 years I've had over 10 addresses) so it wasn't until I moved to Toronto after finishing a second degree that I finally felt I was ready to settle into a place for a while and take the chair. It definitely needed some help so Mike and I learned how to reupholster from books taken from the library and covered it in the orange fabric on it now. It's loud and proud but makes a fun addition to our little home. The neutral painted walls are essential to accommodating the loud and colorful pieces like the chair. If the walls were as colorful as some of the things in my home it would be completely overwhelming.
4. I love how you have chosen to display a cluster of small treasures and artwork in these empty frames. What is you favorite thing to collect? Any particular item that you are obsessed with?
I am really into collecting vintage doilies, needlecraft and hand finished textiles at the moment. It's definitely an addiction. Some of the fabrics I collect make their way into Stitchface creations, but most of the hand stitched fabrics I find I love too much to alter. As someone who sews, I really appreciate the amount of work and detail that goes into handmade needlecraft and I buy vintage hand sewn pieces it whenever I find it. I have a few on display in my home but I have many more tucked away waiting for the day when I can devote the time to creating a great display for them.
5. The airplane wall mural over your bed is an unexpected addition to an adult bedroom. How did you come up with such a playful solution for this large wall?
I think that the decor in our home is anything but serious so when choosing how to decorate the bedroom I wanted something fun. The two of us are really just big kids- I mean I spend my free time making toys. The planes are vinyl wall decals which are amazing for people who live in rented spaces because they are removable and leave no marks when you leave. They are also are a nice affordable option for a big wall until we can make the investment in a large art piece.
6.You sew all of your Stitchface pieces from your sewing machine at home. When do you find the time to make these friendly critters and what part of the house do you typically work in?
I work best in the mornings- I put on some music, drink my coffee and sew away. My kitchen table works overtime as my work station but often I'll sit in my living room to cut out bodies and hand sew details while watching movies with my sweetie (which drives him crazy because then I have a million questions about what's going on- I love you Mike!). In my last apartment I had a workroom and I desperately miss it. Now I have to be much more diligent in keeping the mess to a minimum which means constant cleanup. Less space is the compromise you make to live in a nifty urban neighborhood- sigh.
7. In various places around your house, there are small animal figurines. And your plush line is comprised completely of animals as well (foxes, bears, cats, bunnies, and beavers). Would your describe yourself as an animal lover? And what is your favorite animal to make for Stitchface?
My home decor and Stitchface are definitely influenced by my love of animals. I grew up in a rural area and we always had pets ranging from rats to cats to dogs so I was always surrounded with animals. I try to not let my home get completely overrun by cute animal memorabilia though- I do live with a man and he keeps our house from turning into a shrine to all things cute. I really, really want to get a dog but Stitchface trumps pet ownership for the time being. A space like ours is just not big enough for both my sewing operation and a furry friend. I do have my surly red betta fish named Lincoln to tie me over. I just wish it was easier to give him hugs though.
8. You have lots of spices lined up in your kitchen, which is usually a sign that somebody likes to cook. Who is the cook in your household and what is your favorite thing to make on a cold winter evening?
My boyfriend and I swap cooking duties but will often cook together. We've perfected the dance of two people working in a tiny kitchen after many years of living in apartments without a large cooking workspace. I think that our favorite thing to make in the cold Canadian winters are definitely soups and stews- they are wonderfully easy to prepare and always end up tasting fabulous. Top that meal off with some homemade scones and you forget the frigid, snowy outdoors. Yum!
9. Having an outdoor space is great for entertaining guests, in the summer time especially. When you throw a party, what room do your guests tend to gravitate toward?
This summer our little deck has been amazing for entertaining and we use it all the time. In a small space like ours having an outdoor room is such a luxury. We live in a fairly busy part of Toronto so people love the green outdoor space- it's really quiet and sheltered from the noise street we live on which is the biggest bonus. In the winter, my living room gets the most use for entertaining because it definitely feels cozy and comfortable- just what you want on a cold winter evening.
10. Everything has its place in your home, which keeps the clutter to a minimum, but living in a small space can be challenging at times. What advice or space-saving tips do you have for those that are living in tight quarters?
Saving space in my home is definitely an ongoing pursuit for me. Because my home is limited on closet space, most of my storage spaces are out in the open. In my house I wear my crafty badge with pride and have lots of my supplies out on display- this requires lots of organization and creativity but is necessary if you're like me and have a home bursting with craft paraphernalia. Antique suitcases, baskets and an old radio are a few of the things I have in my house that look cool and provide places to hide functional and not so pretty items.
I don't think our home really follows a lot of small space rules. We have lots of color and confusion but it ends up working anyway. It's full of things I love and despite everything going on in it, guests always feel at home here. Small space living isn't for everyone but if you're flexible, creative and a little quirky you'll be just fine.