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So Canadian, eh? : Jessica Waks

June 19, 2011


My guest this week has impeccable taste and style. Her apartment recently graced the pages of one of my favourite Canadian design magazines, Style at Home

Please give a warm 
welcome to

Jessica Waks, 


she is...



Jessica Waks is the author and decorista extraordinaire from the blog The World According to Jessica Claire


Most recently she landed the coveted position of design editor at Style at Home. {I am so jealous!} and can be seen as an occasional guest on Cityline, a fabulous lifestyle TV show filmed in Toronto.

Jessica's talent in design is evident in the way she decorated her boring beige rental apartment {before photos here} with Craigslist finds and a splash of glossy black paint highlighted by gold accents, creating a glamourous retreat. She has also had the wonderful opportunity to hone her skills by working for one of my favourite Canadian designers, Dee Dee Hannah Taylor Eustace, and is now involved in filming a new HGTV show called, "The Real Designing Women" {That will be exciting to watch!}

Check out her apartment, even her cats are stylish!







Photos courtesy of Style at Home





Tell us a bit about yourself? What is your education, your background? Have you always loved design?

I was born and raised in Toronto and graduated from the Media Information and Technoculture program at the University of Western Ontario. I always enjoyed writing and while at Western I contributed to the daily student newspaper and interned at a couple of different publications. The design element didn’t kick in until more recently in the past five years. Throughout my life, I have always had a passion for beautiful things and appreciated the finer details- but I was definitely not one of those people who would go to someone’s house and rearrange their furniture. It all changed when I began to update my childhood bedroom after returning home from university and my design research just totally consumed me. I was so enthralled with the various layers that went into creating a beautiful interior and I began to look at my surroundings in a whole new light. That curiosity and zeal for decorating snowballed into creating my blog, getting a job with a design firm and then deciding to pursue my interior decorating certificate at George Brown.

Why did you decide to start blogging?

I began my blog in January 2008 when I was working in PR and needed a creative outlet – somewhere to write and catalogue all of my favourite finds, ideas and projects. When I find something I love, I get really excited about it and want to share! It’s also really helpful because I can easily direct people to my blog and share a bit of “my world” every time they ask me for suggestions of where to shop for furniture or for a recipe and entertaining idea.

How did you get your big break landing the position for design editor for Style at Home?

Becoming a design editor at STYLE AT HOME is one of those pinch me deals where the comets aligned… I still can’t believe I ended up with my dream job at such a fantastic Canadian design institution! I had always been a fan of STYLE AT HOME, so when Margot Austin, senior design editor extraordinaire, scouted my apartment and shot it for the magazine, I was over the moon and a half. A couple of months after the shoot, news of the posting for Design Editor came my way via twitter (go social media!)and when I read the job description I was taken aback at how perfect the gig was for me. Here was a job that combined my love of media with my love of design! The opportunity also came at the right time, because after working at a high end design firm for three years, I was getting burnt out by unruly clients and was open to a change. The design media community in Canada is quite small, so I am honoured to be included in such talented and accomplished company.

Tell us what a typical day as a design editor looks like?

Your day is never the same, but it generally consists of pow-wowing with the other editorial staff, researching and sourcing the market for interesting new finds, gathering product and props for photo shoots and produced stories, scouting interiors, prepping for and executing media appearances, such as CityLine, and attending media events and launches amongst other things. My car is usually full of flowers, cushions and other props and I am mastering the art of the shlep.

What did you do before Style at Home?

My media studies, journalism and PR background have provided a solid foundation for working at STYLE AT HOME but I owe my design education to Dee Dee Taylor Eustace and the staff at Taylor Hannah Architect Inc. I started helping out with sourcing and media relations at THA and quickly developed into a junior designer with my own clients and multiple projects that I am very proud of. I launched the Design Online service and worked on industry events, such as IDS and the Junior League of Toronto Showhouse of Toronto and even participated in a reality TV production for HGTV. I have definitely learned a lot of useful skills in my studies at George Brown as well, but no classroom experience can ever mimic what it is like to watch someone like Dee Dee in action. I absorbed a lot from her and her senior staff and am grateful for the time I spent there.

You are a DIY diva with such an eye for detail and have amazing taste, what tips do you have to add some style to your home without spending tons of cash?

First off- thanks for the kind words! I do enjoy DIY projects but I fully admit I leave all the serious upholstering and hard core refinishing to the pros!
My best advice for people looking for style on a budget is the 2 c’s: craigslist and consignment. You have to be patient and willing to put in the time and effort, but you can find great deals and great prices. If you have imagination and either the skills or good trades you can trust to transform your finds, the sky is the limit!

Care to share where you go to get your amazing finds?

Some of my favourite consignment shops are Of Things Past, FOC IT, Around the Block and The Elegant Garage Sale. If we’re not talking budget than take me to ELTE, 1212, 507 Antiques or Ribbehege & Azevedo any day! {Toronto area shops}

What do you like to do in your free time?

The life of a design editor is pretty hectic with a lot of running around, so I love to relax in my apartment with my fiancĂ© David and our two kittens, Little Edie and Lucille II. I also love to cook and entertain, go on walks in Toronto’s urban nature trails and listen to music.

What hopes and dreams do you have? Where do you hope your newest job with Style At Home will lead?

I hope to be able to pick up some more of my decorating work once I settle into my gig at STYLE AT HOME. There is such a thrill when you put together a space from scratch and create a mood and feeling within a space, but I still get to do that at the magazine, so I’d be hard pressed to think of something bigger and better! I have always loved the idea of opening a little shop where I could sell well-edited collections of my favourite products and some of my made-over vintage pieces but that’s just me thinking out loud, haha

If you could meet anyone who would it be and why?

There are so many talented people out there right now who I’d love to sit down with and rack their brain, but I can’t seem to get one particular lady out of my head. I visited Rough Point, the Newport mansion of the late Doris Duke, last summer in Rhode Island and I am still obsessed with the eclectic blend of styles that the fashion-forward Duke displayed in her home. I would love to go back in time and have tea with her in her music room with its antique Chinese wallpapered walls and gilded French furniture.

What is your view on the role Canadian design play in the world design scene? Do you think that Canadians have a unique design sense? If so what is it that sets us apart?

I definitely think Canadians have a style signature – I think many of us are more approachable than our American counterparts and are perhaps more in tune and aware of the natural world around us as well. Both coasts have such unique styles and execute them so well. Vancouver if often more restrained, neutral and modern while Toronto and Montreal are often more colourful, layered and traditional. There are of course lots of talents who mix it up, but I like how the two sides of Canada can represent such varied facets of design on the international stage.


Jessica, thanks for participating in my series! I absolutely adore your home, you are a design star! 
Wishing you all the best in your new adventure at the magazine, I can't wait to see you work your magic! You are embarking on what is going to be such a fantastic career!

XO Barbara

9 comments:

  1. That was a fantastic interview, Ladies! Thanks for the introduction, Barbara. I absolutely love your home, Jessica, and am looking forward to seeing your talent on the pages of style at home - x

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  2. I so enjoyed this interview and am literally blown away by Jessica's apartment- her style is soooo divine. I can't wait to follow her blog and thanks Barbara so much for the perfect introduction!!!

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  3. Always look forward to your interviews! I love Jessica's style - it really reminds me of yours with the crisp black and white with bright pops of colour.

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  4. It's so great to "meet" Jessica; such a terrific interview!! There's such a wonderful lightness and whimisy influencing Jessica's approach to traditional that is engaging and refreshing... such a beautiful home! Congrats to her on her new gig with Style at Home, my favourite Canadian magazine!!
    Victoria

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  5. Wow Jessica, what a gorgeous space you've created for yourself! Barbara, thanks for introducing us to yet another fabulous Canadian!

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  6. Fab interview!!! Style at Home is one of my faves, so bit Congrats to you Jessica!! And the apartment is stunning!

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  7. It's hard to believe that this beautiful space is a rental apartment. Gorgeous! Thanks for the introduction Barb.

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  8. Another fantastic interview Barbara! I loved Jessica's house in Style at Home.

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  9. I love your interviews Barbara! Thank you for bringing these awesome insights to us... And Jessica's apartment is drop-dead gorgeous! What I really liked is Jessica's response to your last question, especially the way she described styles of the West & East Coasts... I don't think I've read it put so clearly before.

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