“Wait for the right thing. Don’t be hurried to fill a spot, wait to find something you really love,” says Jill Davies-Shaw, sitting on a Restoration Hardware deconstructed sofa surrounded by a porcelain cockatoo lamp, antique smoked glass mirrors and Dana Holst artwork.
Jill and her family (her husband Darren and their daughter Violet) have been living in their Glenora character home built in the late 1920’s for a little over two years. A home that the family purchased when Jill saw the listing online and promptly began having dreams about it. Uprooting from their 900 square ft bungalow was an easy adjustment joked Jill, claiming that the biggest change was getting used to all of her clothes being in one room.
The house itself (like most of the neighbourhood) has been passed from one family to another for nearly a century. The land was originally owned by J.A. McClory, purchased in 1927 for $6000 and although the home has had a handful of owners it’s been perfectly preserved through the years. Research into the history of the home unearthed previous owners, weddings that were held in the large living room and tales of the families that once called these hallways and creaky floors their own.
The house feels warm, intentional and wonderfully eclectic. “I think comfortable, unfussy but engaging,” answers Jill when pressed for what her intended mood for the house was. “I like to have things in my space that are engaging and interesting. Things that I feel connected to — I don’t approach how I want to live in my space with a theme or colours. It’s merely what I’m drawn to and truly intuitive. Sometimes I have an emotional response to an object and then I’m moved to find a home for it. I want it to feel like I have treasures that are of significance. That remind me of who I am: family, places and experiences.”
Each room is speckled with collections of antique one-of-a-kind objects - porcelain dolls, brass picture frames, glass jewelry boxes to name just a few - that seem to blend seamlessly into the room with glimmers of intrigue. The rooms feel spacious in spite of their age and are full of light which Jill attributes to the old glass windows. "The windows are the soul of the house. If I try and imagine the house with all new windows, I can’t. There are so many and regardless of whether they are practical or functional (I will always choose charm over perfect comfort) they are what make the house what it is." Also from another time are the 40's style kitchen cupboards, the narrow well-kept hardwood floors and main floor powder room (which is affectionately called 'The Disco Bathroom' for it's pastel rainbow tiles) -- all perfectly in place alongside the juxtaposing collections to give the home an era-less antique feel.
Whose Design Influences You
"One of my biggest design inspirations was visiting two of Pablo Neruda's homes in Chile. He was totally eccentric and had all of these collections: glass bottles, and this massive metal horse; he had made a room and threw a party for the horse. The way that he saw the world and chose to live was so whimsical and beautiful. There are things I love and letting myself collect and give into them was influenced by seeing those homes. I felt like I was in some sort of magical land. He was crazy in the most inspiring way."
What Item Do You Treasure Most
“Old photo albums that are irreplaceable and some of the artwork in the home. I love love love these little found objects but I could probably go treasure hunting and replace them. But artwork is gone when it’s gone.”
Favourite Room in Your Home
"I would have to say the living room. It’s where I spend most of my time relaxing, with the runner up being the kitchen. I like to be in there working -- it’s so nice to have that functional space especially after working in a small kitchen. We love to entertain and it’s so much more comfortable to do so in this house."
Big Box Store Recommendations
“I think Restoration hardware makes some really beautiful things, and as lovely of an idea it is to find everything vintage it’s not always feasible. The majority of the non-vintage bits in our house are from RH and few more modern pieces from Crate and Barrel. Finally all of the lighting is from Rejuvenation apart from the one antique chandelier."
Design Rules You Follow
"I have no rules, my guidelines are no rules. I think it’s important to really curate your home and choose things that make you really happy and that you really love. I don’t worry too much about where they go. Choose pieces that speak to you and they will find places to live in your home. I like to have my space evolve and to change things up in that way and it’s part of my creative process. Oh and my other rule is always invest in artwork. Artwork is something that makes a home a home. It’s beyond decor. On trips I really like to go on a hunt to find one thing from that holiday because it reminds me of those moments in time."
On Decorating and Motherhood
“My philosophy is I can either move everything and not have her learn that you need to be respectful of your space or teach her that she needs to be gentle with things and not to touch certain pieces. My aunt has a similar aesthetic and she moved nothing so I followed suit.”
On Interior Design and Your Significant Other
"It’s an absolute dictatorship in this house (she said laughing), we agree on most things in decor, he voices his opinion on things he doesn’t like and I’ll find something that accommodates both of us. In terms of artwork we make those decisions together, but as we’ve been together since we were 18 we don’t have a lot of disagreements regarding decor. He’s just as keen on things with a feminine perspective as he is with the masculine elements and he trusts me for the most part to make the big design decisions with occasional input."
Advice Worth Sharing
" 'More is more’ to a point. My style is eclectic with intention. Take the time to find what you love and make it work. That’s how I approach things but I’m not a person who would ever hire a decorator. I would try not to worry too much about making everything match. I like the idea of the opposite- to find things that counterbalance to add some surprise and subconsciously when you put things together that don’t make perfect sense it’s more interesting. "
The Resource List
Fabric for custom bedding and Curtains from Chintz & Company
Wallpaper in the cloakroom by William Morris from Charles Rupert Designs & in the master bedroom Lotus by Farrow and Ball (paint available at Carbon Boutique in Edmonton)
Fireplace tile by Ann Sacks (Empire Kitchen and Bath in Calgary)
Dining room table and fireplace mantle paint by Annie Sloan
Vintage rugs from Etsy
Living Room and sunroom sofas from Restoration Hardware
Artwork by Dana Holst, Amy-Claire Huestis, Travis McEwen, Megan Stein, Tony Baker, Jeff Sylvester, Brenda Draney, Gillian Willans, Sarah Burwash, Julie Morstad, Raymond Biesinger, Marysol Foucault, Rhianne Boa
Framing by Mill Creek Picture Framing
Antique Pieces are from Artworks || Maven & Grace || Bakers Dozen (Vancouver) , Etsy
Dining room drapes from Anthropologie
White subway tile in kitchen from Subway Ceramics: A Heritage Tile Collection (Chicago)
Kitchen Flooring by Armstrong Vinyl Tile
Bathroom vanity & fixtures from Restoration Hardware
Paint by Benjamin Moore
Toys from Education Station
Range by Bertazzoni