In the summer of 2007, Anna Zalewski quit her job as a Bay Street lawyer, sold her house in Riverdale and moved to Barcelona. Her plan was to decompress, soak up the sun, and maybe learn some Spanish. A year into her stay, she met another ex-lawyer, a Colombian-born man named Felipe Gil, who was studying human rights at the University of Barcelona. They fell in love. A year later, Zalewski was getting homesick, and Gil was eager to settle in Canada. Neither had a steady job in Spain, so they decided to plant roots in
For their first eight months in the city, they lived in a cheap Parkdale rental. They house hunted vigorously, but came up short against the cold, hard Toronto market. Eventually they found this 2,500-square-foot house south of Queen in Parkdale. It needed a lot of work: they replastered the walls, renovated the kitchen, gutted the bathrooms and re-landscaped the back garden. They then filled the rooms with furniture and art from the many vintage stores in the area. The couple’s new life has since fallen effortlessly into place, with one minor complaint: Toronto winters are much, much colder than those in Barcelona.
The beach scene photograph, entitled “Still Looking,” is by local artist Joshua Jensen-Nagle. It was the first piece of art Zalewski and Gil bought as a couple.
It was Gil’s idea to reupholster these modern Danish chairs, which they purchased from Philz on Queen East, in two different colours. Zalewski was skeptical at first, but she came around when she saw the result.
The Noguchi-style glass coffee table is on loan for a few years from friends who have young kids.
These two photographs are from the Montreal Metro archives and depict the system’s inaugural trip in 1966. Zalewski bought them at INabstracto on Queen West.
The vinyl day bed is from Cool and Unusual Antiques on the Danforth. It’s one of the few pieces from Zalewski’s old house in Riverdale and her pre-Barcelona life.
The couple picked up the eight-foot-long table and some of the bell jars at Commute Home when the store was still on Queen West.
The graffiti-like wallpaper by Barcelona design firm Tres Tintas is a nod to the city where the
Zalewski and Gil picked up this piece of vintage stained glass at The Door Store. They chose it because it matched (mostly) the original pieces in the house.