A Scandinavian farmhouse comes to Dundas West

A Scandinavian farmhouse comes to Dundas West

Joel Barkin, a 36-year old cabinetmaker and contractor, and Sarah Phillips, a 33-year-old brand strategist at the Garden Collective

In 2016, Sarah Phillips and Joel Barkin decided they’d been in their Bohemian Embassy condo long enough. They wanted to give their energetic dog, Rusty, a miniature Australian shepherd, more space. Despite a real estate market Joel describes as “terrifying,” they figured it was time to move on.

They were looking for something different from the standard Toronto three-up-three-down Vicwardian rectangle. When they walked into this 1,500-square-foot house on the outer edges of the ever-expanding Dundas West strip, the first thing they noticed was that it was square. They had been dreaming of a Scandinavian farmhouse, and the building seemed perfect—except for the fact that it was separated into three apartments with three kitchens, and that the ground-floor living area was mostly key-lime green.

Their architect friend Jennifer Kudlats was in the process of setting up StudioAC with Andrew Hill, and the couple thought it would be fun, and potentially financially prudent, for their home to be among their friend’s company’s first gigs. They were right.

The house is a model of what might be called gentle gentrification, relying on inexpensive materials, IKEA hacks and good ideas to update and personalize it without—and this was very important to Sarah in particular—being “douchey.” Using Joel’s skills and connections as a contractor and the couple’s cozy vision, StudioAC turned what was a hodgepodge place into a cohesive home for about $85 a square foot.

An 18-foot quartz counter runs almost the entire length of the house, creating a ribbon-like continuity that weaves through the vestibule, the living room, Rusty’s special area and the kitchen:


Rusty’s built-in doghouse in the living room is the design’s most Instagrammable feature:


Bought at the Aberfoyle Antique Market in Guelph, this beaver pelt stretched in a frame of bent willow injects a little Canadiana into the Scandi-chic decor:


The couple’s favourite design hack is this vanity in the upstairs bathroom, made from an IKEA desk:


While most of their lighting is from Universal Lamp, the store where Sarah’s grandmother works, the piece above the dining table is from Lambert and Fils:


A plant-filled bay window:


The master bedroom is bright and elegant, as is Rusty: