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455 parliament street
toronto, on


Curated home accessories, vintage gems, and fine in the heart of Cabbagetown.  Located on Parliament Street, Spruce focuses on carrying hand-made decorative items, glassware, textiles and restored vintage pieces.

Spruce, Spruce Home Decor Inc., Parliament Street, Cabbagetown, Spruce on Parliament, Spruce Toronto, vintage, home decor, home accessories, photography


Summer Lavender Gin Sour Recipe

kim alke


Patio season has arrived and so has Spruce Toronto’s Cocktail Recipe Series! These cocktails are perfect for warm sunny days paired with great conversation with even better friends.

The first Spruce Toronto cocktail highlights the freshness of spring and all things floral. Mix one up for yourself and stop into Spruce Toronto and let them know what you think.

The Lavender Gin Sour
2oz Gin
1oz Cahoots Lavender Syrup
1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Egg White (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake hard without ice. Add ice and shake again to chill. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lavender sprig.


Uuni How To

kim alke

Outdoor Cooking Season is Back!

We are so excited that Spring is here and it's time to break out the Uuni again!
Here is a quick set of videos and instructions to help you enjoy your Uuni Wood Fired Oven.

Uuni 3

Introduction to Uuni 3

Uuni 3 is the definitive tool for your garden or outdoor kitchen. It's designed specifically to take the cost, bulk and hassle out of using a wood-fired oven. An evolution of the highly acclaimed Uuni 2S, Uuni 3 reaches 932°F in just 10 minutes and can cook an authentic wood-fired pizza in an incredible 60 seconds.

Uuni 3 Assembly, Lighting, & Cooking

In this video Uuni Founder, Kristian, demonstrates how to setup, light and cook with Uuni 3 for perfect results each time. Subscribe to the Uuni channel for plenty of Uuni tips and tricks!

Uuni 3 Assembly (only)

Uuni 3 is the definitive tool for your garden or outdoor kitchen. It's designed specifically to take the cost, bulk and hassle out of using a real wood-fired oven. An evolution of the highly acclaimed Uuni 2S, Uuni 3 reaches 500°C/932°F in just 10 minutes and can cook an authentic wood-fired pizza in an incredible 60 seconds.

Uuni Pro

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Introduction to Uuni Pro

Uuni Pro - The world's first quad fuelled outdoor oven. In this video, we'll show you how Uuni Pro can be fuelled by charcoal and wood, including how to load, light and cook with Uuni Pro.

Uuni Pro Assembly

Uuni Pro - The world's first quad fuelled outdoor oven. Available online via, the new Uuni Pro is a must-have for all outdoor cooks and pizza fans. Uuni Pro makes the ideal companion for picnics, entertaining friends, heading on holiday and camping trips.

Give Back Gift Wrap: What It Means

kim alke

We are so grateful to you, our friends and clients, who help so much by simply by wrapping gifts each year. 
Read on to find out just how much your support means. 

Our Annual Give Back Gift Wrap Program

In 2015 we started a small fundraiser. During the holiday season, we sell rolls of gift wrap and donate 100% of the proceeds to Daily Bread Food Bank. We cover the full cost of the wrap and match total sales which means every dollar x 2 goes directly to Daily Bread Food Bank.

Today, we received a video message thanking us for our donations. We are sharing it with you because it's you who makes this possible. 

Our most sincere thanks for partnering with us each year to benefit those in our community who can use our help.

We love teaming up with you!


How a goofy-looking cap makes airplanes more bearable

kim alke

The Nite Hood, designed by a Canadian graphic designer, has been a godsend for lousy sleepers


I'm now into my third decade of spending much of my life on the road, and, as most frequent travellers, I take what small steps I can to make hotel rooms, airports and long flights in steerage class more bearable. I have tried most things; I have honed my strategies. And when someone tells me they have found a great new thing, I am skeptical. Travel accessories is not a field with a rich scope for innovation – or so I thought. A year ago, when a sister-in-law who travels even more than I do gave me a Nite Hood and swore it would change my life, I was, frankly, dubious.

The feeling did not diminish when I put on the hood: a blue cap straight out of Dickens, complete with tassel, but with a wide bottom that was meant to pull all the way down over my eyes and block out that glaring airplane cabin light. I felt ridiculous; I was fairly certain I also looked ridiculous, but I couldn't check, because the cap was covering the whole upper half of my face. The guffaws from my children were a reliable indicator.

But then, dear reader, I actually used the hat on a plane – and since that first flight, it is the first thing I pack for every destination. The hood is of particular value for lousy sleepers, of whom I am one: I use it in hotel rooms where dawn light leaks in through ill-fitting curtains, in tents and in the back seat of cars on long road trips. It's so soothing, so cozy, so dream-inducing, that I now use it at home, most nights. My partner no longer snickers when I flick off the light and pull down my hat; the hat, it is clear to everyone, makes me a better sleeper and thus a nicer awake person.

The hood is the invention of a Toronto graphic designer named Chris Parsons, 52, who is also a lousy sleeper. After trying and discarding dozens of conventional sleep masks over the years – the ones shaped to cover your eyes, with a notch for your nose and an elastic strap – he started sleeping with a black T-shirt flipped back over his eyes at the neckline. One day in 2012 he found himself in a fabric store, fingering a bolt of organic bamboo weave that reminded him of his much-used T-shirt. Although he had never sewn a stitch in his life, he resolved to try to make something functional that would work like the shirt did.

After a great many iterations, the perfected hood now comes in three sizes or an adjustable version. Parsons ships the Nite Hood to lousy sleepers around the world, relying on word of mouth – since no advertisement he can devise gets people past the "you want me to wear a hat over my face?" block.

They simply need to try it. The bamboo fabric is just stretchy enough to feel cozy without being smothering or sweaty. It blocks out the light if you pull it down to just above your nostrils and helps holds earplugs in place. The packaging contains bafflegab about pressure points on your head to induce sleep – Parsons admits there is no science behind this, just an idea he's borrowed from the shavasana pose in yoga – but there is something about the cap's snug feeling that is soothing. He added the tassel simply because it looks right, he says – "It's pure whimsy. Otherwise it's just a bag on your face."

The hood is washable – and mine hasn't lost its stretch after a year of constant use. They're made in Canada, cost $28 ($30 for the adjustable version), are available online at and everyone to whom I have given a hood has fallen in love with it once they were finished giggling.

Alyssa Schwartz, Special to The Globe and Mail

Published December 6, 2017

Fun, Funky, and USEFUL Stocking Stuffers Under $20

kim alke

I think my favourite part of holiday shopping is stocking stuffers! Most of us do try to stay with a bit of a budget, so here are some treasures under $20 to fill stockings (and hearts) with delight on Christmas morning.

Anto Yukon Soaps - $12
Handmade in the Yukon, we love these natural and beautiful soaps made by Kym Remple.


Vancouver Island Salt - $6-$12
Harvested on the coast of Vancouver Island, this salt is perfect for everything from salad dressings to finishing steaks to sprinkling on popcorn.


The Preservatory Jams - $15
Lee Murphy is a master when it comes to jams and preserves. whether you prefer sweet or savery, you can't go wrong with any of her winning combinations (think gin + lavender or heirloom tomato + chili)


DRØM Pepper - $14-$16
Thanks to Louise + Nigel Biggar, we now that THIS is what pepper should taste like. Organic Kampot peppercorns sourced from Fair Trade producers in Cambodia these really are game changers.


Library Candle Tins - $14
A favourite year after year, these may be small but they pack an amazing, fragrant punch!


Laura Slack CHOCOLATE - $7-$20
Laura takes care of the truffles for Nota Bene, McEwan Foods, and Holt Renfrew. Need we say more? Our collection of her incredible work includes: chocolate bars, peppermint patties, chocolate ginger, salted caramel truffles, and her ultimate drinking chocolate.


Red Sky Candles - $20
Handmade in Toronto by Kerry Butt, our favourites include Bergamot + Black Pepper, French Lavender, and Deep Woods.


Hand+Foot Lotion by Graydon Skincare - $19
The perfect natural solution for winter hands & feet! Lightly fragranced and all natural made in Toronto.


Natural Bath Salts by Anto Yukon - $18
Sourced from natural ingredients and fragrances native to our very own Canadian Yukon.


Mitchell's Soup Co. Soups - $12
Another gem from Vancouver Island, these ready-to-go soup mixes are the best we've tried. Thanks to mom for putting them in my stocking for years, these are a staple here at Spruce.

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Super Swedish Soaps - $12-$14
These soaps are absolute staples in our house. Sea Salt and Volcanic Ash for the shower, Cedarwood and Seaweed for the sink!


Alveole Honey - $14
Sourced from neighbourhoods within Toronto, you'll notice an incredibly delicsious difference between neighbourhoods.


Jack Rudy Aromatic Bitters - $20
This really is the absolute best all-around bitters. More aromatic and floral than traditional Angostura, use this easily in more delicate cocktails or in sparkling water alone.


Road Spill Red Wine Stain Remover - $2
Stash these in your purse, your pocket, your kitchen drawers and save the day!


Bicycle Barware - $16
Perfect for your spin instructor! Made in the US, these bright pints and rocks glasses are a favourite every year.


The Spread - $14
Toronto made spicy sesame spread. It's addictive!


Star Trek Magnetic Bookmarks - $4
We had to.


Natural Geode Pairs - $15
Lovely for the naturalist - perfect sets of geode crystal pairs.


Paralellogram Hook - $15
High style for they design lover's stocking. Made by Toronto's Umbra Shift.

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Seed Shelf - $18
Drop your keys, your phone, your mail, or light a small candle on these adorable shelves.


Cocktail Rimmer Salts + Sugars - $14
For the cocktail lover. Dress your cocktails with a great looking and even better tasting rim. Toronto's Amanda Chen has produced some impressive flavours including raw cacao and grapefruit.


How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High - $20
Written by David Bienenstock, the former West Coast editor of High Times Magazine, this is the definitive guide for the newbie and the professional. Tips, tricks, etiquette, and recipes.

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Andy Warhol Soup Can Crayon Set - $15
With such an awesome storage tin and names like "Grape Marylin", "Hot Dog Bean Soup", and "Invisible Sculpture" you really can't go wrong.


Tangram Puzzle Race - $18
Race to build images with Tangram puzzle pieces! Tangram is a geometric puzzle that originated in China over 1,000 years ago, and consists of 7 shapes.


Perfect Gift Giving for $60 or Less

kim alke

The ultimate guide for finding creative gift ideas for everyone on your list.

Alvéole Honey Gift Box - $42
A tasting box of Toronto's neighbourhood honey. Sourced from hives in gardens and rooftops throughout Toronto, the difference in flavour is amazing.


Frank Tray - $38
These lacquered steel trays make the perfect gift for the design conscious friend with everything. It's a catch-all for keys, a candle tray, or use for it's namesake and dish up a frank!


Faceted Crystal Wine Glasses - $45
For the design + wine lover! This set of two (lead-free) crystal wine glasses make a lovely addition to the table.

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Platform Bowl - $50
Give the gift of a design-savvy fruit bowl. Stack them for impact or leave them alone for minimalist display.


Maple Cube - $28
100% Ontario Maple Sugar, in cube form. Perfect for grating into coffee for a rich maple flavour or slicing thinly to pair with a sharp cheese. Possibilities are endless with these to-die-for cubes.


Tokyo Milk Dark Handcream - $35
Renowned perfumer, Margot Elena, created the Tokyo Milk Dark line as the perfect antithesis to fruity & flowery fragrance. This unisex line uses ambers, woods, exotic chile, and over-ripe fruit to create interesting and unforgettable fragrances at affordable prices.


P.F. Candle Co. Soy Wax Candle - $28
Made in California, the fragrances chosen will make you feel the calm of nature with scents including Amber + Moss, Spruce, Teakwood + Tobacco, and Golden Coast

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Wild Ginger + Agave Body Butter - $48
Oprah is never wrong. And she LOVES this body butter.


Umbra Shift Spice Grinder - $50
Change someone's kitchen game with this stylish spice grinder. Built with ceramic Crush Grind technology, grounds catch tray, and no tiny pins to fuss with!


Vancouver Island Salt Co. Gift Box - $45
Created in celebration of Canada's landscapes, this special edition wood gift box houses salt flavours that bring you from the west coast, the prairies, the mountains, and the ocean.

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Faceted Crystal Champagne Flutes - $45
For a fancy festive cocktail or a toast on New Year's Eve! We love this set of two (lead-free) crystal champagne flutes.

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Balsam Fir Candle - $32
Give the gift of festive fragrance with everyone's favourite winter candle.


Amber + Smoke Candle - $30
Our top-selling candle year round. Warm amber fragrance with notes of smoke in a vintage-style apothecary jar.


Back Pocket Pasta - $37
Easy and delicious dinners solved thanks to this definitive guide of pasta dishes to keep in your recipe arsenal.


Rosewood Nut Bowl - $34
Classic and stylish for the host with the most.


Sneakers: The Complete Limited Editions Guide - $34.95
Total porn for the sneaker-lover. This guide showcases limited edition and collaborative sneakers that have been released over the last ten years.


Farm to Chef by Lynn Crawford - $40
Great for the beginner to intermediate home-cook. Big on favour and easy on technique Toronto's own Lynn Crawford has created this fantastic selection of recipes to cook through the seasons using ingredients at their very best.


Hand-woven Turkish Towel - $60
Great for the traveler or yoga-buff. These towels pack an incredible punch in terms of pack-ability (folding small and coming with a travel bag), durability (washer/dryer friendly), and absorbancy (you really won't believe how well they absorb). And they're a gorgeous addition to the bathroom.


Hoop Magazine / LP Rack - $60
Designed in Toronto by a team within Umbra Shift, this modern magazine rack is sure to impress anyone looking to store their monthly subscriptions to their vintage LPs.


Custom Gift Boxes - $TBD
Let us create a custom gift box for you to fit your budget. We have a selection of ready-to-go gift boxes in store or can create one to suit your budget and needs.


Perfect Pizza Dough

kim alke

Thanks to our Uuni 2S and now our Uuni 3 Pizza Ovens life has been much more pizza-focused over the past year.  (More pizza in one's life is never a bad thing.)  Part of the fun has been searching for the perfect pizza dough recipe.  We've tried overnight dough, sour dough, yeast-free dough, gluten-free dough and more! 

Here is the recipe we find to be the most user-friendly.  It's super easy to throw together and can be made the same day you want to use it or stored in the fridge or freezer.  We have Uuni to thank for this recipe - it was posted originally here.  Their "Uuniversity" is a gem for tips and recipes for your Uuni oven!

Pizza Dough

Makes 5 x 12″ pizzas.  We usually double the recipe and freeze a few or keep them in the fridge for the next day.


  • Water 300g | 1⅓ cups
  • Dry yeast 7g
  • OR fresh yeast 20g | ⅔ oz
  • Olive oil 20g | 1 tbsp
  • Type ’00’ flour 500g | 2½ cups [we have used regular old AP unbleached as well]
  • Salt 10g | 1tsp


  1. Bring 1/3 of the water to boil and mix with the rest of the cold water. This brings it to the correct temperature
  2. Whisk in the yeast and then oil
  3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with salt
  4. Mixing by hand: Pour water on top of the flour and being mixing with a wooden spoon. Once the dough is starting to form, continue mixing with your hands. Turn the dough onto a slightly floured surface and knead using both hands. Continue kneading for around 10 minutes until the dough is firm and stretchy. Cover the dough with cling wrap and a tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours.
    Using a mixer: Turn the machine on low and start gradually adding water. Once mixed, time 5-10 minutes on the same setting. Cover the dough with cling wrap and a tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours.
  5. Once the dough is proofed, divide it into 165g dough balls for the perfect traditional Neapolitan pizza base that cooks in as little as 60 seconds in your Uuni wood-fired oven. Let them rise for a further 20 minutes before stretching.  (If you want to do cold proofing, use half the amount of yeast and leave to proof in a fridge for 24-48 hours before dividing into dough balls. Cold proofing helps to develop a deep flavour to the dough as it allows the yeast to work with the sugars in the flour for longer. Let the dough return to room temperature before stretching and cooking.)
  6. Once proved it’s time to stretch your dough into pizzas.

Top tips for stretching dough: Always start with a perfectly rounded dough ball as this helps to keep the shape round when stretching out. On a lightly floured surface, pressing down with floured fingertips, shape the dough into a small, flat disk. Working from the centre, push the dough outward while spreading your fingers, making the disk larger. Pick up the dough. Move your hands along the edges, allowing gravity to pull the dough into a 14-inch circle, oval, or rectangle.

Cooking the pizza: Flour the pizza peel generously using semolina or cornmeal (or other course flour) as it will slide much easier into the oven.  Slide the pie off the floured pizza peel and close the Uuni door.  Wait 25 seconds, use the peel (or tongs) to turn the pizza 180 degrees, close the door and check again in 25-30 seconds. 


Pizza Lovers Unite!

kim alke

Last spring, we made a life-changing discovery: the Uuni Wood-fired Pizza Oven.

The Uuni is the definitive tool for your garden or outdoor kitchen. It’s designed specifically to take the cost, bulk and hassle out of using a wood-fired oven. 

Reaching 930F within ten minutes, the oven is perfect for high-heat cooking in the backyard or on the the cottage, or the beach...if you can carry it there you can cook there.  Think:
Flat Bread
Just about anything that can be cooked or smoked at high heat.

We are in LOVE.

Currently, we live in a small apartment but storing the fuel and the unit is easy.  The pellets can be stored in anything dry and air-tight (we use a lovely vintage canister). The oven's cover doubles as a carrying bag so we can leave it covered on the patio, pack it up and store it, or take it to friends' yards or cottages.

The wood pellets are available here at Spruce or at any local BBQ or hardware store.


The cover doubles as a pizza-party-ready carrying bag.

...Here's the BFF's set up at the cabin!

How much?
We are offering the Uuni 3 for $399.  Covers are sold separately for $75.
We have the pellets available as well in 28lb bags for $28 (this will last you all summer).
For more details or to purchase, click here.

Looking for a good how-to video? 
Check out the videos below for the Uuni S2 and Uuni 3 Models...

Uuni S2 Instructional Video:

Uuni 3 Instructional Video:


Stay-tuned for the pizza party invite!


Gratitude is Not a Strong Enough Word

kim alke

On February 14th we closed our doors for a little week-long refresh.  We emptied the store to paint the floors, walls and ceilings while we did some restoration to fixtures and (in truth) had a little RnR. 

We were here...

We were here...

While this was going on...

While this was happening...

We re-opened on February 24th looking and feeling refreshed.  Then, sadly, woke up the morning of February 25th to smoke billowing into the building. 

We are so thankful that no one was hurt (pets or people).  But numerous apartments, ours included, were rendered unlivable as were three businesses: Spruce, Pipler Accessories and the 2-4-1 Pizza where the fire originated.  All three of us were forced to shut down until... we weren't sure when.

The generosity from all of you was, and is, overwhelming.  We have been so touched by the support of our neighbours and friends everywhere - but within our little neighbourhood especially.  We had offers for places to stay, we had dinners cooked for us, wine delivered, cards and notes constantly flowing into our virtual and irl inboxes.

We learned more about smoke and soot damage than we ever wanted to know.  We lost 100% of our inventory and struggled to save our large vintage pieces. 

It took four (very long & emotional) months to restore the building.  But, in the end, drywall was replaced, inventory repurchased, vintage fixtures restored and walls painted.

From this... 

To this...

And eventually to this...

We re-opened on Saturday, June 18th.  The morning after an incredibly love-filled party with family, friends & neighbours.  We sipped smoked negronis, ate burnt-marshmallow ice-cream, nibbled BBQ brisket and a few other "smoke-themed" treats to celebrate the end of a few incredible months. 

Incredibly tough, incredibly inspiring, incredibly emotional, and incredibly full of gratitude. 

I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me through this journey.  My partner Faust, my family (Byron, Carol, Kelly & Scotty), my village of friends (Jake, Trevor, Tracy, Claudine, Steve, Ryan, Aefa, Adrian, Jenn, Paula, Zack, Karmen, James, Ryan, Sam, MaryAnn, Gaby, Tanya, Heather, Mia, Shawn, Allan, Patty, Carol, Stephen, Meg, Courtney, Regina, Arshad, Trevor, Tanya (+ the crew) and the many more I've missed.

Thank you so incredibly sincerely from the bottom of my heart.

"The wound is the place where light enters you"

Lavender-Peach Sangria Popsicles by Cahoots Bar & Kitchen

kim alke

Vancouver's Cahoots Bar & Kitchen provides endless inspiration!

Vancouver's Cahoots Bar & Kitchen provides endless inspiration!


  • 2 Ripe Peaches (or Nectarines)
  • 1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2oz Cahoots Lavender
  • Half Bottle Dry White Wine


    Peel Peaches or Nectarines and set aside half of one peach. Chop remaining fruit into large pieces and place in a food processor along with the lemon juice. Add Cahoots Lavender and half bottle of dry white wine and continue mixing until smooth. Cut remaining half peach into thin slices. Place two slides into each popsicle mold. Strain and divide purée into 6 popsicle molds. Place filled popsicles in the freezer until frozen.


    View the original post on Cahoot's website here

    All Things Copper

    kim alke

    We have been following the copper trend for a few years now.  It's classic, versatile and makes an amazing statement - both over-the-top and understated. Copper barware is something we have been searching for...and we finally found it.

    Meet Sertodo Copper.

    Jonathan Beall has been handcrafting hammered copper since 1997.  He operates a small family-style studio high in the Sierra Madres Occidental of Southwestern Mexico and with an international cooperative of master copper artisans, with workshops in Austin, Texas.  All pieces are made from 100% recycled copper and offer a lifetime of beautiful service.

    Working in small teams, these master craftsmen honour the traditions of copper production that date back over 1000 years.  Many have found copper to have special Ayurvedic properties.

    Did we mention these Moscow Mule mugs are some of The Great Oprah's Favourite Things?
    "Not like I need an excuse to enjoy a Moscow mule, but this tray and six-mug set, handmade in Mexico with hammered recycled copper, makes cocktail hour extra special." — Oprah

    We are thrilled to have met Jonathan and some of his team.  Their work stands high above the rest and proves the importance of master crafstmanship in a traditional and ancient trade.

    Living a Double Life...

    kim alke

    Some of you don't know I live a double life...

    I am a shop owner by day (and night and weekend) but I'm also a realtor.  I'm super lucky to work with THE most amazing team at and sometimes I write a little blog for them!  Check out the latest here about giving your space a refresher course in colour!

    Image courtesy of

    Image courtesy of

    Happy Thursday!


    For My Best Friend

    kim alke

    Let's hit the park while the weather is still fine!  With our best friend of course...our pup.

    Another product I've been stalking for a few years is a line of pet leashes by Found My Animal of Brooklyn.  The founders met while walking their two rescue pups, both of whom were named Walter. The Walters were sizing each other up, and their people started a conversation that quickly revealed their passion for animal welfare. They decided to become partners after discovering they had more in common than two rescue dogs with the same name. They had both attended great design schools—Cooper Union and Rhode Island School of Design—and were passionate about animals, animal welfare and a love of the principles of good design.

    They support animal welfare by asking pets and their owners to help deliver our simple, important message: rescue over purchase.  They have supported over 50 rescue societies since inception in 2006.

    Nothing ages more beautifully than marine-grade rope and hardware. The individually-numbered, stamped tags on each FOUND leash remind us of the uniqueness of our animal, and allow the company to keep track of the number of animals they have helped so far.

    Did we mention they are damn attractive leashes!??  WOW.

    Bend it like...Bend

    kim alke

    I'd like you to meet my new crush: Bend Goods.

    I've been lusting over their stylish pieces of iron-styled art for quite some time and finally had some prime wall space to devote to their enchanting, modern, unique and colourful sculptures.

    Hot-dip galvanized iron to prevent rust, with a powder coated finish these are great for indoors or outdoors. 
    Water Buffalo

    I love them all.  Each are available in white, black or orange.  The longhorn is also available in copper.  Yes.  Copper.

    Imperfect Perfection: Vintage Furniture as a Fun Style-Injection

    kim alke

    Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.20.16 PM.png

    I love vintage.  I share this obsession with urbaneer's Steve Fudge, who recently revamped the kitchen in his Tennis Crescent property using mid-century pieces as the base and inspiration for the redesign. You can follow his journey as he takes a 1960's duplex from demo to dazzling, in Tales of Tennis Crescent.

    Whether you are inspired to begin mixing large vintage finds into your décor, or start small, we've gathered a few tips to help get you started! These are the 'Vintage Basics'. When hunting for the perfect piece to complement your space, keep a few key characteristics in mind:

    Construction:  Quality materials and construction are key. Was the piece constructed using quality methods and materials?  This can effect not only the life of the piece itself, but how long it will last in your collection.  Be sure to look at what it is made of - is it solid wood?  This term can be used loosely, so be sure to determine whether you are looking at solid-wood construction versus particle board or plywood with a veneer.  Check the inside and back of the piece to help determine its quality and materials.  For example, if the joints of a dresser are dovetailed, you've found a higher quality piece than one with nailed or stapled drawers. If the piece uses veneer instead of solid wood, keep a few things in mind: veneer gets a bad rap because of the cheap Formica-covered furniture from the mid-twentieth century. Don't be too quick to write it off; for centuries wood veneer was a perfectly acceptable way to finish a piece. However, when inspecting a veneer piece, look for chips or peeling as this is a sure sign of age/mistreatment that could end up looking worse for wear over time.

    Style/Silhouette:  Shape and size matters. Will the overall shape fit in with the space in mind? For example, an industrial cabinet’s sharp lines and steel construction will fit very differently than the rounded teak edges of a mid-century piece.  Pay attention to other aspects of design like hardware - is it original?  Does it fit with the timeline of the piece or was it added/changed?  Real vintage hardware usually has some weight to it, so be sure to open and close drawers to get a feel for the hardware. One key for mixing styles is: contrast.  Be clear about the overall look you want to achieve in the space; are you looking for a large impact vintage piece or subtle vintage touches via accessories?  Pair a large vintage dresser with modern vases. Place pillows with modern fabrics on a vintage sofa, or use an antique lamp on a lacquer side table. Tip: pick the focal piece and identify its style; use contrast for accessory items.

    The clean lines of this mid-century sideboard fit with other pieces and angular arrangement of this living room from  Domain Home

    The clean lines of this mid-century sideboard fit with other pieces and angular arrangement of this living room from Domain Home

    Eclectic is key in this mix-and-matched dining room from  Houzz

    Eclectic is key in this mix-and-matched dining room from Houzz

    Finish & Fabric: When refinishing, reupholstering, rethinking, an important thing to remember is these elements can be changed. Once you have chosen a piece that is well constructed, and fits your space, a coat of paint or new fabric can transform the piece in order to blend in with your room or act as a focal-point.  Tip:  take a photo of it in its place in the room before making changes as this can help you step back and see exactly what needs to be done.  Always sample paint and fabric; small paint testers and fabric swatches are available for a reason - use them!  Bring them home, try them out, invite opinions, look at them in the space where the piece will ultimately live to get a real sense of the colour and tone of the paint and/or fabric. Your upholsterer can be an invaluable resource here.

    Cabbagetown's  Ghislaine Beckers  kept things light and clean using neutral fabrics and paint colours when re-doing this room. Photo courtesy of  Covet Garden Magazine

    Cabbagetown's Ghislaine Beckers kept things light and clean using neutral fabrics and paint colours when re-doing this room. Photo courtesy of Covet Garden Magazine

    Quirk Factor: A key question to ask is: do you want a conversation piece or a functional element that blends in with the room. I generally choose to go in the direction of a conversation piece by choosing something with an interesting story behind it!  This can work for both small and large pieces, so depending on your comfort level go with your gut and try something different - even if it's a small set of vintage trophies on the sideboard versus an ornate floor-to-ceiling gilded mirror.  Have fun! And if you feel you've gone a little too far on the side of quirk, pull back by mixing in some modern/contemporary pieces to help re-gain balance in the room.

    Size Doesn't Matter: Afraid to use a large piece?  Dip your toes in the water by starting a vintage collection!  A grouping of vintage tins on the sideboard, used as herb planters lined up on the window ledge, or even as kitchen utensil holders add a fun twist that can easily be changed.  How about a stack of vintage board games in the living room console or a collection of felt pennants mixed in with your art collection? 

    Get collection-inspired at local antique and flea markets

    Get collection-inspired at local antique and flea markets

    Show off your newly curated collection like this herb garden arrangement by  Apartment Therapy

    Show off your newly curated collection like this herb garden arrangement by Apartment Therapy

    Using vintage in your space is fun, so enjoy the process!  Mix hard with soft, square with round, blocky with leggy.  Contrasting modern and vintage can create fun and interesting stories in each room.  Want to read a few interesting stories and see vintage touches that have been curated in a fun and fantastic way?  Check out The Black House, a vacation rental in Charlottetown renovated and operated by urbaneer's own Steven & James! The best part: you can stay there and enjoy it yourself!  

    Sexy Snow Shovels?

    kim alke

    Many of us are digging out our front doors today what with all that snowfall last night.

    And amidst all that grunting and groaning we bet you never thought you’d hear “sexy” and “snow shovel” in the same sentence, right? But then, you probably haven’t met Firn Canada’s newest winter tool!

    Winter is hard enough without being tormented by bad design. And while many might consider a winter tools to be constructed for necessity alone, this snow shovel by Firn is definitely display worthy. The brain child of two local industrial designers, this eye-popping shovel is locally crafted with high-quality responsibly-sourced materials.

    Yup, this Firn shovel stands apart as our 'icon of our season'.

    The Firn Shovel cleared the way to take top honours at the 2014 Sustainable Design Awards. Taking last year’s Interior Design Show by storm – and selling out on the first day - the dynamic design duo tweaked the construction by using Ash for the handle - ensuring greater strength and flexibility - while incorporating a stronger gauge of surgical-grade steel for the shovel’s blade. Even more brilliant is that every component of the shovel is manufactured within 125 kilometres of Toronto. 

    Not just a pretty piece – this shovel is resolutely “magic”.  The strong flexible blade allows you to cut into the snow or ice unlike weaker plastic models that tend to skim over the top. This shovel is also light and comfortable and did we mention how attractive you look when you’re using it?  Could you be labeled your 'Neighbourhood Style Guru'? We think so but regardless, be assured you’ll have the cleanest sidewalk.

    Available in gloriously glowing red or super-chic stainless, hang it in your front hall. It says "pragmatic and high-style" in the same breath!


    Getting In The Holiday Spirit...With Spirits!

    kim alke

    Say "cheers" this season with some fun and practical bar-ware - that's pretty to boot!

    The guys at W&P Designs in Brooklyn have put together a fab kit of their full line of bar tools including The Mason Shaker, muddler, stainless jigger and their hit cocktail book "Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails".  (I've tried many of the recipes and they're always a hit!)

    The Team at Vital Industries in Denver have wowed us again with these luxe "cheers" glasses.  The glassware is made in the US and hand-screened with 20K gold.  How's that for New Year's Eve luxury!

    No matter how you're celebrating the season we wish you and your family all the very best for a happy holiday and a healthy and prosperous 2015!

    Shout Out To My Homeland!

    kim alke

    Sweet Sweet Vancouver Island.

    Home of unforgettable forests, beaches and ... granola ;)

    My homeland is a pretty incredible hub for artisans and craftsmen.  Including Andrew Shepherd - creator of Vancouver Island Salt Co.  After years of travel and a fateful night on the beach boiling down cups of the Pacific Ocean over the fire, Canada had it's very own harvested sea salt.

    It recently won top prize in Telus' Small Business Challenge competition to help it expand.

    And it's delicious.

    Unrefined sea salt is the result of what is naturally harvested from the ocean.  It does not contain chemical additives that are regularly added to salt products to prevent clumping. Natural sea salt retains several valuable natural trace minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, potassium) that are removed during the processing of every day table salts. Because of this, the taste of sea salt reflects the characteristics of the waters from which it is harvested.  No two sea salts taste the same!

    We carry the full line of Vancouver Island Salts including the regular Sea Salt, Smoked Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel and 6 flavour-infused finishing salts: Danish Blue Cheese, Chef Bounty's Jerk, Spanish Paprika, Balsamic, Roasted Garlic and Orange & Lime.

    We love the Blue Cheese on apples or popcorn and the Orange & Lime around the rim of our coupe glass for an evening cocktail!

    Totally Terrific Tuck Shop Toques

    kim alke

    We (heart) the Tuck Shop Trading Co.

    We (heart) their style.
    We (heart) their comfort.
    We (heart) their designer.  Yay Lyndsay!

    About this time last year we received our first [tiny] order of Cabbagetown neighbourhood toques thinking "let's give them a go".  Within weeks we were receiving calls daily for neighbourhoods as far from our little spot in paradise as Parkdale, Mississauga and Scarborough.  These are definitely the little toques that could!

    Set for yet another incredible year (and I'm not talking about the incredible winter we had last year) we've received our toques and are ready to go! 

    We've expanded our line to include up to 15 neighbourhoods and are working with the Tuck Shop and Daniels Corp. on a *new* and very special addition to the #cityofneighbourhoods family:  Regent Park.  Look for them in store November 29th!

    Nicole Tarasick Continues to Amaze

    kim alke

    I met Nicole about five years ago at a local craft fair.  Being from Vancouver, I purchased one of her mod and amazing "YVR" printed pillows for family - plus another "YVR" & "YYZ" for myself :)

    As soon as things started coming together for Spruce's birth, I contacted Nicole in hopes she would be interested in working with us.  Since opening our doors in June of 2013, Nicole's work has been one of our best sellers.  Her designs are clean, contemporary and fit well in any space.  She expertly crafts each item using high quality materials and takes great care in screening each piece perfectly. 

    We have worked with her on some custom pieces for our lovely little Cabbagetown 'hood including custom pillows, totes and onesies **coming soon**.

    So here's a big hug and shout out to Nicole.  We sincerely thank you for the dedication to your craft and all the support you have given us over the past year and a half!

    Much more success to come!