Great Spaces: a designer’s Brooklyn sensibility finds a home in Parkdale
Courtney Wotherspoon never intended to settle in Toronto. The 31-year-old illustrator and designer studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and always figured she’d start her professional career in New York. But U.S. visa issues got in the way, and she was forced to return, begrudgingly, to her hometown. She moved to Parkdale, which reminded her most of Williamsburg, and as she immersed herself in the city’s arts and culture scene over the next few years, she slowly fell in love with Toronto again—so much so that when, in 2010, she saw a 140-year-old Victorian semi for sale a few blocks away from her apartment, she decided to buy it.
The place was a mess, but it had character: a double-height living room with exposed brick walls, ornate crown mouldings and creaky wooden floors. Wotherspoon spent two months renovating, turning the basement and main floor of the house into rental units to maximize her investment. She kept the top two floors for herself, converting one room into her work studio and another into a kitchen, and installed a one-tonne cast iron spiral staircase to her loft bedroom. Wotherspoon’s boyfriend, Trevor Byrne, an account director at the ad agency Taxi, moved in soon after. Now that they’re married, life in Toronto feels delightfully permanent. They’re even thinking of knocking some walls down and taking over the rest of
The cast iron spiral staircase is by Steptoe and Wife. Wotherspoon, her mother and a contractor assembled it piece by piece over five hours.
Wotherspoon made the coffee table out of a set of drawers she found discarded on the street. She changes the display under the glass seasonally—right now it’s shredded paper for a white-wintery vibe.
The gnome stool is by Philippe Starck.
The supersized “Deer” painting is Wotherspoon’s cheeky response to the popular taxidermy trend.
She made the cardboard headboard out of the box the bed frame was delivered in.
The Harry Allen piggy bank was a gift from Wotherspoon’s mother.
The Gladys Goose lamp is from her mother’s childhood home. There are two in the set—the other one is at the family cottage in Muskoka.
The Cycloc bike mount at the front entrance is from Design Within Reach.
Wotherspoon makes these faux fur tails and sells them at Smock Café and Wonder Workshop, a place she helped design.
Wotherspoon’s mother, an interior designer, found the giant jack at a store near the family cottage.