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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


Imperfect Perfection: Vintage Furniture as a Fun Style-Injection

kim alke

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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!

HBC Coziness

kim alke

Super exciting news!  HBC is in the house!

We are now stocking the iconic Caribou Throw in cream/multi-stripe and charcoal - made in England from 100% wool.  Also in stock are merino wool baby blankets, children's caribou sweaters and a few adorable little knit toys that even adults will love!

Stay cozy and stylish!

Don't Forget to Play

kim alke

We have swings!

That's right!

For the kid in all of us...but also the design junkie.  They are gorgeous.  Handmade.  Weather-proofed wood.  Made in Montreal. 

What's not to love?

Earth Day Essentials

kim alke

We are thrilled to welcome ULAT Dryer Balls to the Spruce collection!

Handmade in Vancouver from 100% Canadian Merino Wool, these little babies work magic on reducing your dryer use and your energy bills! 

So what, exactly, does a dryer ball do?  Here are a few benefits that might encourage you to make the switch:
- Decrease your drying time by 30-50%
- Decrease wrinkles and static in clothes (think less ironing!)
- Natural alternative to toxic dryer sheets with artificial scents
- Perfume your laundry with a few drops of essential oils

To find out more check out the video here

Hand-Stamped Perfection

kim alke

We were delighted to discover the incredible work of Aly Nickerson shortly after opening last summer.  Thanks to her discovery of a vintage letter punch, she paired this with an incredible selection of vintage silverware and her fantastic works were born.

Vintage. Hand-stamped. Silverware. Lovely.

Adorable messages are letter-by-letter stamped onto spoons, forks and other unique vintage pieces.  Think about waking up and looking down to see you're holding a spoon that reads "Good Morning Beautiful" or sharing your first bite of wedding cake with your new life-partner using a fork that says "Mr." or "Mrs." - it doesn't get much cuter than that!

Words don't do them justice so have a look!

Library of Flowers

kim alke

We are so excited to add a new line of lovely fragances made by small-batch perfumer Margot Elena.  Library of Flowers is an absolutely delicious line that includes bath products, creams, candles and incredibly unique parfum de crema.

We brought in her newest "Story" of scents called The Forest.  Hints of moss, bark and foresty florals make the three fragrances in this line really special.  And her packaging can't be beat - think bubble bath in olive oil tins, parchment-wrapped soap in wooden boxes and triple-wicked candles in glass jars. 

Spring may seem like it's a long way off but you'll be transported to warm days thanks to this new line!

"The Forest"

Cocktail Hour!

kim alke

Inspired to remain indoors for most of the winter this year (thanks polar vortex), we managed to keep ourselves busy by studying a bit of mixology!

Thanks to a few new products, our fun with cocktails can continue well into the spring and summer.  We've brought in a vintage-inspired line of cocktail accessories designed and made by Mason Shaker in Brooklyn that includes wooden muddlers, stainless steel jiggers and shakers constructed using mason jars.  If you're looking for a little bit of instruction, the guys published a fantastic recipe book that offers delish ideas for every season of the year.

Mix & Be Merry!

Counting Our Blessings

kim alke

As we are beginning to unwind after the (fantastically busy) holiday season we have had a chance to look back on the first 6 (now 7 by the time I am writing this) months of Spruce.  We feel nothing but blessings and gratitude for all the support we have received right from the very beginning - the weeks of renovation, the nerves to open our doors, the first sale, the gorgeous summer months that brought in so many lovely new neighbours and friends, and the incredible love-filled holiday season.  We thank each and every one of you.

Yesterday we received the news that Spruce has been voted Top 3 New Design Stores in Toronto by BlogTO. 

We are thrilled. 

Now in 2014 we have so much to look forward to - the coming of Spring given these crazy temperatures is number one on the list!  But other than the return of warm days, we are so excited to continue to showcase new and local artists who take such pride in producing unique and high quality works.  Some of the best feedback we have received is that our clients are keen to shop local and handmade so our promise will be to bring more of this to you in the coming year. 

So on the eve of Spruce's 7 month birthday we wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2014 - make your dreams come true this year!

- The Spruce Team



City of Neighbourhoods

kim alke

Our newest LOVE: Tuck Shop Trading Co.'s City of Neighbourhoods toques!

Locally designed and locally made - a growing number of proud neighbourhood-headed Torontonians are touting their 'hoods with pride.  

Which neighbourhood are you?

Check out their "How It's Made" video here!

The Noble Cabbage

kim alke

This weekend marked the 37th Annual Cabbagetown Festival of the Arts - from Thursday through Sunday the neighbourhood was a-buzz!  Whether it was a pub crawl, the kick-off of the artists in the park or a live band in the sun on Sunday, it was fantastic on all accounts! 

We were lucky enough to partake in our first Cabbagetown Festival (as local business owners versus patrons) this year and loved every minute of it.  Despite a little drizzle (read: a lot) on Saturday, the crowds were cheery!  We met so many fantastic people from all parts of the City and the Country!   

In honour of our favourite spot in Toronto we worked hard with our fabulous suppliers to produce some very special "Cabbagetowner" kit ... from pillows and totes by Toronto's Nicole Tarasick to glassware by Vital Industries of Colorado to THE most adorable crocheted cabbage toys by Atomic Ami to lovely cabbage stationary sets.

Have a look! 

One of Our New Favourite Things...Our Wine Crate Wall

kim alke

If you have been in to see us recently, you would have noticed our new "installation"!  We recently met one member of the dynamic duo behind Bon Cru Crate Designs and were introduced to some of the gorgeous pieces they create from imported wine crates.

We now carry their serving trays, storage boxes, side table "cubes" and, have our own custom wine-crate accent wall.  Designed to fit one of our "bricked over" windows, our accent wall was built using imported wine crates, carefully stained and finished to suit our space to perfection.  From their portfolio, we've seen some of their amazing custom projects and are so happy to have our own!  (You can too!)

Here is their story: 

"Two high school friends who were once separated by their studies, reunite with a common vision of creating personalized art and furniture designs. Over a good bottle of wine and after some family feedback the name “Bon Cru” was derived and the journey began.

Bon Cru is a French term meaning “good vintage”. Here, vintage applies not only to the wine trade but also the character in our natural products. You will find as you learn more about our company that our products are exclusive and often tailored to the homeowners’ desire.  Thriving to meet the demand for unique, quality handmade furniture has been a continued goal while remaining focused on our core values and sustainable building practices."

Custom-designed, refined quality, one of a kind, locally made. 

Wedding Bells!

kim alke

Today marks exactly one week since one of the most special nights we have ever been a part of....Kim's little sister's wedding.

The breathtaking, Kelly, and prince charming, Scott, finally acquired their 'husband' and 'wife' titles last Saturday in Kim's parents' backyard in the perfect little town of Courtenay, BC.  

There were quite a few to-do lists to check off during the days leading up to the big event...this included, but was not limited to 'puffing' 100 tissue puffs, designing over 75 flower vase arrangements and chalking up over a dozen wedding signs.  Where there was stress there was always laughter and where there was a late night there was always wine.  

We reunited with family as though we have never been apart and we met some pretty incredible people who we hope to keep in touch with in the years to come.  Kim and I had a brilliant time and we're truly honoured to have taken part in it all.  

Congratulations to Kelly & Scott!  Whether we're sitting across from you at the kitchen table or provinces and time zones apart - we adore you and wish you nothing but a lifetime of love and light!


Fall in Love with Antique Lace

kim alke

Therese Bombardier we love you!

We jumped for joy today when the postman delivered a box full of gorgeous vases, mugs, tumblers and coasters - all hand-made in Halifax.

Therese is a master - she hand-presses her pieces with antique lace and glazes with the most elegant tones (Palladium, Bright Scarlet, Dark Caribbean, Foiled Chocolate to name a few).  We were introduced to her work in March and, needless to say, she was one of the first artists we contacted when beginning to stock our shelves. 

We currently carry:
Two sizes of vase - perfect for a summery arrangement on the garden bistro table or on a bureau or side table
Mugs - your cappuccino would be delighted to reside here
Tumblers - ideal for an afternoon tea or even a bright summer cocktail
Coasters - rest your glass on these beauties (sets of 4 available)

Pictures speak louder than words so feast your eyes on a few of her pieces below! 

Meet Fink

kim alke 

Our fave local chef (who happens to be our great friend and neighbour) has recently created a line of fantastic syrups and preserves.  Her products are created from carefully curated ingredients sourced as locally as possible and made by hand in small batches.   As the seasons change, so will Fink's products.

Fink has hosted two incredibly successful tastings during our first two weekends.  We've received amazing feedback on the delectable syrups and we can't keep the Branston Pickle in stock.  

Syrup Flavours Include: 
Provence in the Tropics - hibiscus-lavender syrup
Made for Tea - licorice-ginger syrup
Sweet Home - elderflower syrup
Refreshing Remedy - linden flower & mint
Taste of Morocco - lemonbalm & mint syrup
Granola's BFF - berry & tonka bean syrup   [sold out]
Waldmeister - sweet woodruff & rose syrup
Flavour O - orange syrup
Your Bean Nutty - tonka bean syrup

Current Preserves:
Branston Pickle
Ghost Beans - hot pickled beans
Chili Jam  [sold out] 


Have You Heard? We Give Away Diamonds...We Just Don't Know To Whom

kim alke

Pop-Up Paris.  Have you heard? 

We are the lucky ones in Canada who are the only stockists of these fab Parisian candles.  They smell amazing (wood smoke anyone?), they look great, and one in fifty is host to a quarter carat diamond! 

Here's what they say: 
"Combining our french savoir-faire and the thrill of the lottery, Popup Scented Candles will excite, delight and maybe even surprise their owners.  Inside every fiftieth candle, the lucky customer will find a diamond shining brightly at him through the melting wax!
1 in every 50 candle has a G .VS-SI  quality diamond hidden inside it"

All we can say is we LOVE them.  And we can't wait for the phone call from our lucky customer(s) to announce their win!

Scents include:
BooBlop [Bamboo]
WoodZip [Wood Smoke]
RicePow [Rice Powder]
FigShebam [Wild Fig]
WizzNadine [Grenadine]