So Canadian eh? : The Crabby Fox

It is such a pleasure meeting Canadians that live outside of Canada! Today's guest lives in the every-so-hip borough of Brooklyn, New York.

Please welcome...

She is.....

A Canadian living abroad in the ever so hip neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York, Abigail or Crabigail as she is often called pens the blog, The Crabby Fox. Abigail, a whiz at finding the most amazing thrifty finds, is slowly transforming her apartment into a stylish abode, one that she shares with her "boys", her husband and cat. Ultra hip and edgy, she has a way of mixing  classic traditional pieces with cool mid-century finds. A fellow list-maker, I love following her "lists" she has on her blog. Not only is she into all things design, she is an avid reader who focusses on Canadian literature {high five!}

Hope you enjoy the photos of her place as much as I did! For more photos of her cool apartment, you can see the tour here.

Tell my readers a bit about yourself: What makes you tick? What you most passionate about? Your education background? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Toronto, in Cabbagetown – a neighborhood in the heart of the city. My parents still live there.   

I’m a life-long lover of books – not just reading, but books themselves. A beautiful book is a piece of art in itself! I studied English at the University of Guelph, and moved to New York City as soon as I finished. I work in the marketing department of a book publisher, in one of the most recognized and iconic buildings in NYC – the Flatiron!

My husband Haaris and I live in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood called Sunset Park with our cat, Izzy.

You are a Canadian living in New York City {I am green with envy}, what brought you to the Big Apple?

It was a bit of an accident actually, or at least unintentional! When I was in university, I decided I’d like to get into book publishing. New York is the center of publishing, and I was able to score a summer internship at a big publisher here. After that summer they invited me to come back for another internship the following year. By then I had graduated from university, and by the end of the summer I had found myself a full time job, and I’ve been here ever since (9 years now)!

I had never imagined that I would end up in NYC – or even in the US. It just kind of happened!

How do you find living in NYC in comparison to living in Canada?

This is a hard one to answer, because I don’t feel like I ever really lived in Canada fully as an adult. I moved to NYC two weeks after I wrote my final exam, and never even attended my own convocation!

I will say this about living in NYC – it’s exhausting. You need to be able to fight for everything – for an apartment, for a seat on the subway, for a washing machine at the laundromat. You need to learn to be pushy when it’s appropriate, and confident, and sometimes you need to be impolite (how un-Canadian!). You need to be able to live in extremely close proximity to other people. I think I’ve adjusted to being a good New Yorker about most things, but I’m still wary of jay-walking, which is something people tell me is very Canadian of me.

What made you decide to start a blog? What have you enjoyed and not enjoyed about blogging?

In 2009 we got married in a small and very inexpensive wedding, because we decided we would rather spend all our money on an extravagant honeymoon the following year. We were on a very strict budget to save for the trip, so I started the blog as a way of remaining accountable for my spending (I was in the midst a full-on furniture shopping obsession).  I made some money-saving goals – bringing my lunch every day, using coupons, seeking out deals, and not shopping. Instead of buying stuff, I’d post it on the blog! We went on our amazing honeymoon (Paris, Venice, Tuscany and a touch of Rome), and when  we got back I continued the blog. These days it still keeps me accountable to goals that I set for myself – mostly reading, saving and learning.

I still get a thrill when I learn that anyone besides my mom is reading the blog. I think that will always be my favorite thing! And it’s just a hobby, so there’s nothing I dislike. If it ever got to a point where I felt an obligation to keep it up, well, then things would be different.

How would you describe your design style?

My tastes lean heavily towards the mid-century, but I try not to get pulled into one style. Sometimes I see a home that’s so perfectly styled that it has a coldness to it, and no reflection of the people who live there.  I hope that our apartment reflects us – unique, laid back, maybe a little quirky, and totally imperfect. However, my mom described the apartment as “an ode to the melting Canadian north”, while it has also been described as “grandma’s cottage”.  

Where did you find all those amazing pieces that furnish your Brooklyn apartment?

One of the things that I’m most proud of our apartment is that almost everything was a Craigslist or thrift store find. The two couches and the Ikea bookshelves being the only things we bought new.

When we first moved in we decided that we didn’t want the apartment to look like a department store showroom. We wanted unique pieces with character. I obsessively scoured Craigslist, eBay and the local thrift stores to find things that caught my eye, and then would have to move quick – beautiful (and inexpensive) furniture does not last long online! Even friends would ask me to look out for particular items they needed! I still obsessively check these places, so the apartment is constantly evolving.

What inspires you?

My parents’ house, circa 1965. Or at least, how I imagined it to be! At one time, they were pretty stylin’, with lots of Scandinavian furniture and décor that I now see all over the internet.  

I’m also inspired by the style of tv shows like Twin Peaks and Mad Men, but who isn’t? One has a rustic-retro charm, and the other having a sleek, urban-retro charm.

And then, of course, I’m inspired by the many blogs I read. They make me so jealous that we can’t paint or make any cosmetic changes to the apartment. It’s amazing what people are up to – hopefully one day I’ll also be able to flex some DIY muscle.

One thing that struck me while browsing your blog are the lists you keep? Would you consider yourself a list person? And how have you managed to accomplish some of your goals on your lists?

I am a list-person, it helps me to organize my thoughts, which tend to be all over the place. On my desk you’ll find a notebook of to-do lists, thought-processes, ideas and due-dates. Even when I write copy for work, I list out the points to hit. There are also lots of scribbles – it’s not enough to simply “check off” an item on a to-do list, it must be scribbled out!

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Who knows where the wind will take us! One of our goals is to buy a home – either an apartment in Brooklyn, or a house outside the city. We can’t decide! We also entertain the idea of moving away – Chicago (which I love), Seattle or San Francisco, maybe. Or back to Toronto, or to London, where my husband is from. But New York is such an addictive place to live, that I find it difficult to imagine going anywhere else. It feels like you’re at the center of the universe here, and that’s a thrill that doesn’t fade over the years.

Tell us something that would surprise us!

I think people are shocked to learn that I have tattoos. One person told me that I “seemed like a nice girl”. I’m a nice girl with a couple tattoos, and despite what my mom told me, I have never regretted them.

Being a Canadian living in the US, do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart? 

What a lot of people outside Canada don’t realize is that Canadians are extremely proud. It’s hard to recognize because it’s a different kind of patriotism than you see in the US. So, I think what sets Canadian design apart is that it is so heavily influenced by the country – the landscape, natural resources, the wildlife, and it’s unique history that is so heavily tied into that geography.  I see it a lot in Canadian literature too. It’s a pride that is inspired by the country around them.

 I am so envious that you get to live in Brooklyn! How I love New York City and would love the opportunity to live there. And yes, I am surprised at the tattoos too! Hope you can one day get that house to flex that DIY muscle. Thanks again Abigail, happy decorating and reading!

XO Barbara


  1. Yay Abby!

    Also, now that I know your full story, I'm kind of jealous of your life... I was interested in a career in publishing until I realized that most of the publishing world is, well, not in Ontario. Curse my lack of an adventurous spirit!

    Loved the interview.

  2. I second Jeanette....I started following Abby not just for her canny sense of humour on twitter and her style ideas but also because I am a tad bit jealous that she lives in NYC! I love that city. If I win the lotto I am definitely buying a weekend condo there!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. YES ABBY! One of my most favouritist (that's a word right? BAHA!)people I have met on Twitter. Great to see an interview with her and get more in depth on her Canada VS USA debate.
    Thanks for interviewing Crabigail!

  4. I really enjoyed learning more about your life in NYC! Your apartment is beautiful, and your chairs transformations have inspired me to try reupholstery. Great work!

  5. Oh, she's a devoted chair lover like me...I follow Abby on instagram and twitter too. It would be so wonderful to scour thrift stores and craigslist in NYC. It's slim pickings here on the west coast. Great interview, loved learning more about the Crabigail! {adore the pen name btw} :)

  6. Loving the gallery wall!! And the vintage lamp, OK Just everything. Great pics, great interview!

  7. Oh I lived vicariously in Abigal's NY life right then. Oh how much I would like to live there. Thanks for the intro Barb, this girl is really talented and we love her because she is Canadian!!!!!

  8. This is great - I love learning more about the people I have "met" on twitter -Abigail being one of them! And I agree, full scribble/scratch out is required on to-do lists!

  9. You guys are too, too kind! Thank you so much for the kind words! I blush!

  10. Nice to meet another new-to-me Canadian gal! Love Abby's mix of treasures and great finds... Oh, how I would embrace a taste of NYC living style! Looove New York!

  11. So great to learn more about Abigail - just like Lindsey's comment, I "met" her on Twitter!

  12. Love these interviews! The gallery wall and vintage touches around the house are amazing!

  13. Great tour & interview!

    I get the 'pride' comment! When travelling, I do want peole to know I am Canadian...


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