So Canadian eh?: Janice from Life Begins at Thirty, Right?

I am constantly amazed at the endless amount of talented Canadians that are spread across this county. How they create gorgeous homes from sad dilapidated spaces is astounding!
is doing just that...

She is 

Janice, author of Life Begins at Thirty, Right? blog, along with her husband have taken a dilapidated old house in Toronto and are slowly transforming the space into a bright, airy and oh-so fresh house.
With all the trials and tribulations that come with renovating a really old house, it is a fun ride to follow along with her renovation adventures.

They even had their nursery designed by the fabulous Sarah Richardson for a Sarah 101 episode!

Her fabulously fresh and modern spa like bathroom.

Her stairwell. You should see the before!

Gorgeous entry, with a custom made console table and one of my favourite Alanna Cavanagh prints.

A small bedroom turned dressing room.

The Sarah Richardson designed nursery!

Her inexpensive art idea, framed fabric!

First up, thank you so much, Barbara, for having me! I’m simultaneously chuffed and nervous to be included in such a fabulous group of Canadians! So here goes…

Tell us a bit about yourself? Give us some insight into who you are, what are you drawn to, where you always creative? Your education?

This is always the hardest question to answer! It probably goes without saying but I am not an interior designer (I wish!). I’m 33 years old and live in an old Victorian rowhouse in downtown Toronto with my husband Jay and our 7-month-old son, Luca. Neither of my two degrees are in anything design related – everything I have learned so far I picked up through my intense obsession with internet research. I am also a self-confessed deal-hunter and am actually quite proud of myself when I get a good deal on something that I love!

Why made you decide to start your blog? And has there been anything that you have enjoyed about blogging? Not enjoyed?

I started my blog in June of 2009 – just a few weeks before my husband and I purchased our first home. I had been reading a lot of local blogs (mostly related to home renovation and décor) and figured that I could contribute to the community as we embarked on our own home buying journey. To be honest, I thought we’d be house hunting a lot longer and that the blog would document the hunt. Little did I know that we’d be signing on the dotted line a mere 2 weeks later!

My favourite part of blogging has been the relationships I’ve built with fellow bloggers and readers over the years. Whether it is assisting me through my many bouts of décor related indecision, or encouraging me through the many months of plaster dust and tiling mishaps that our renovations have caused, I am always grateful for the support and input of my readers.  

What is your day job? Is it design related?

Ha! Design related? Nope. I’m a corporate paper-pusher by day.  While I do love my job, I often daydream about a future that sees me sitting in a bright (naturally lit, of course) home office, working on a gorgeous Mac, blogging for a living. A girl can dream, right?

What are your go-to sources for anything décor related?

As a faux/wannabe-interior designer, I usually rely on the blogs of real designers and of other DIY homeowners alike. I love seeing a beautiful completed room and picking out specific items and/or an idea (like a colour scheme) that I think could be incorporated into my own house. I also love browsing Pinterest for ideas – that site makes it so easy to search “grey master bedroom” and end up with a well-curated group of photos. 

What is your design style? 

I have no clue!  I don’t think I have a particular style., unless it is the “whatever fits in a super narrow house” style. Probably won’t be seeing that in an issue of Style at Home anytime soon!

Tell us something that would surprise us about you!

Prior to becoming the city girl that I currently am, I actually grew up on a horse farm with my family! It was ten acres, North of the city. Surrounded by horses and dogs, I drove a pick-up truck and often arrived at school with hay in my hair after feeding the horses in the morning.  Now I live in a 15’ wide house and am surrounded by feral cats and aggressive, lawn-wrecking raccoons. My, how times have changed.

You are renovating an old house, what are some reno tips you have learned along the way? Any renovation  marital relationship tips as well?

When renovating an old house, get ready for surprises! Nothing is “standard” in an old house. Looking for studs behind that pretty plaster wall to hang a coat rack? Good luck. Want a gorgeous freestanding tub for your master bathroom? Good luck getting it up the super narrow stairs.

Also, I think it is important to be prepared to put some money into things you can’t see when you have an old house (insulation, roofing, foundation work, etc).  Consider it a housewarming gift from the previous owners who didn’t have to put money into that particular area.  Don’t worry, though. You’ll leave your own gifts for the next owners. It’s like good house-karma.

Oh and marriage tips? Don’t do renos J I kid, I kid. I think the best tip would be to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page before the renovations start. Mid-reno is not the time to discuss whether he knew that you meant “marble” when you said “tile”.  Leave the surprises to what you find behind the walls.  At least you can’t blame each other for those!

You are now a mother to a baby, how has a baby changed the way you decorate and/or renovate your home?

The biggest change so far is that the decorating and renovating has pretty much come to a complete halt. I was pretty naïve before Luca arrived – I thought maternity leave would be filled with playing with my sweet baby and doing fun projects while he napped (and he would nap ALL the time, right?!). Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  Things are starting to get a bit easier so I’m hoping that changes soon!

I’m also starting to think about baby-proofing the house. Aside from the standard changes, I am hoping to find a way to baby-proof our décor without losing everything we’ve created so far!

If you could meet anyone or do anything your heart desires, who or what would it be?

I’d love to pack up my husband and my son and travel the world for a year or longer. Italy and Bora Bora would be on the list.  I think that introducing Luca to real Italian gelato is an important responsibility of being his mom. And over-water bungalows. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, right?

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? 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? 

When I think of Canadian design, I think of Sarah Richardson and the Hudson’s Bay point blanket. I don’t think there is one style that sets Canadian design apart, but I think that is what makes it unique!

Thanks for giving a peek into your home! I am loving what you have done to your home, your taste is impeccable! It must of been exciting to have Sarah design your nursery! 

XO Barbara


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  2. Thanks for such a great feature, Barb! I've been following Janice's blog for years. While she gets support through fellow bloggers, her blog supported me back during some darkest moments of my home reno projects. She definitely knows how to keep it real in a virtual blogging world.

  3. I love reading about all these people/bloggers. That home is stunning, and working with "Sarah" would be a true dream.

  4. Barb, thank you for featuring Janice!! Amazing makeover. Can I possibly get the source for the entry rug?? It is just what I have been looking for! (when I get through all of my medical issues and mounting invoices!)

    2013 Artists Series

  5. Really nice to meet Janice! And yowzers on the transformation of their stairs! Wow, I love the impact of the black and white, and the entry is really sweet, too! Thanks for the introduction, Barbara!

  6. Great post! I remember that nursery! I'm going to go check out her blog right now!

  7. What a beautiful home Janice has. I also lived in one of those old Toronto homes with the narrow staircase and I remember how everything had to be taken apart to go up the stairs:)

  8. Yay! I love Janice & her blog :) Love all the renos they've done and the nursery is gorgeous! I remember I was in west elm with Kerry and we saw Sarah & Tommy buying stuff for that project! Great interview, as always, Barbara!!! xo

  9. Another great feature - Love Janice's blog!

  10. Thanks for introducing us to Janice! I sure do love that entry and the hit of industrial with the custom made table.

  11. What a lovely house! I adore that nursery!

  12. Great interview! I love Janice and her blog - love her taste and she's done a wonderful job with their reno projects. I have truly felt for her during her challenges with Luca and hope that only happy days are ahead xo

  13. I love Janice! She's so down to Earth and has a stunning bathroom!

  14. The mother of TRIBAL BABY! lol - I'll be checking her blog out....thanks lady :)

  15. Loved reading all about Janice and so cool to see whose nursery Tribal Baby really was LOL! I just popped over to Janice's blog - that console table is gorgeous!

  16. I have to say i love the transformation of the stairs...her bathroom is so spa like. :)

  17. thanks for the fun interview! I have always adored Janice's home and her bathroom is gorgeous! That nursery makes lot of adults super jealous and who would have thought Janice is a farm girl at heart!

  18. Thanks again for having me, Barbara! So fun!!

    Mom of Tribal Baby (haha!)


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