sneak peek: courtney wotherspoon

today’s first sneak peek is actually a mini peek into the home of artist/illustrator courtney wotherspoon. amy and i spoke with courtney back in january about doing a peek of her current home, but sadly i fell so behind with book work that i wasn’t able to coordinate things before courtney moved in to her beautiful new home in toronto’s art and design district. so i was thrilled to see that hgtv in canada had taken photographer over to her new home to feature the new space. they were kind enough to share some of the photos with us today and i am now drooling over the amazing staircase in her living room. courtney sent over descriptions of her home in her own words, so those will follow below. thanks so much to courtney and for sharing this with us!

*click here to see more images of courtney’s home at

[image above: our house is a 145-year old semi-detached victorian in beaconsfield village, toronto’s art & design district. i’ve lived in the neighborhood for years – in a converted factory apartment only blocks away – so when it was time to buy, it was a natural choice. for the next couple of years, the house will help provide income from renters, so the majority of the renovation we did after buying was spent on converting the single-family home into three units: a one-bedroom basement apartment, a 1000 square foot first floor unit, and a second floor and loft, where i live with my boyfriend and our cat maude. the image above is our living room with my homemade coffee table that i made years ago from a set of discarded drawers, a couple coats of high-gloss paint, a sheet of glass and a curious table leg. the deer sign floating above the couch is my reaction to the over-saturation of ironic taxidermy found just about everywhere these days. i’ll admit, i’m a sucker for the uber-trend but i just can’t stand to look into the glassy eyes of a real one on the wall. i’m on the hunt for interesting vintage signage, so this is the temporary stand-in.]

[image above: the wrought-iron spiral staircase weighs in at one ton and runs from the living room to our loft bedroom above. it has become the star of the house and will not be leaving this place for as long as i can foresee. (Oh and yes, that is a pregnant mannequin in the corner)]

[image above: this is one end of the loft bedroom. we added a 10-foot long built-in closet to the previously unused space. i made the cardboard headboard from the box the bedframe came in and some neon orange duct tape. i wanted something that was going to complement, rather than fight with the brick wall, but still be my kind of pretty…pretty gritty with a slightly wacky sense of humor. A home is always more fun to live in when you can look around and laugh ]

[image above: the biggest undertaking of the upstairs reno was definitely the kitchen. when I first saw the house – filled with junk and horrendous paint colours – i thought there was no way to be able to fit a kitchen into this tiny bedroom. not only did it fit, but it gives us room for everything we need, and all the stuff we don’t need but that I love to have around. i wanted open-shelving for the uppers for two reasons – to avoid the space feeling small and imposing, and to be able to display my glass, china and tchotchkes – collections which have yet to cease growing.
we also knocked out part of the wall to create a walk-up/pass-through from the hall, and open the space up to light and visiting guests. the silver harry allen pig is my sous-chef.

[image above: details from our hallway bar]

  1. liane says:

    i completely love that cardboard headboard. so genius.

  2. I loved the black staircase, very glamorous! also, the coffee table from the living room made me laugh. oh and the open shelving from the kitchen is so well done! nice feature!

  3. Emily says:

    awesome! I love the cardboard headboard.

  4. amy says:

    ” . . . the over-saturation of ironic taxidermy found just about everywhere these days. i’ll admit, i’m a sucker for the uber-trend but i just can’t stand to look into the glassy eyes of a real one on the wall.”

    THANK YOU, that was refreshing. I feel the same way & I am glad you said it. I am weary of hunting trophies, real or fake, in hipster abodes. It glorifies a “sport” I find repulsive. If they come from your dear departed Grandpa, that’s one thing, I guess. Maybe. But other than that? Gross.

  5. Helen Ellis says:

    Wow! I love that cozy loft. Who is the portrait artist in the last photo?

  6. Katie says:

    Does anyone know where the open shelving came from?
    I’m looking for shelving with brackets like that instead of the regular old bottom supports.

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Helen, the portrait in the last photo is done by yours truly. You can see the whole series here:

    Katie, the kitchen shelving is good-ol’ IKEA

  8. Travis K says:


    While I can’t access Ikea’s website on my draconian Internet browser at work, looks to be Ikea shelving to me. If it isn’t, Ikea has a similar option for what will be a very reasonable price.

  9. That black spiral staircase is amazing and that small but perfect white kitchen….Both are going in my dream/inspiration folder!!!!!

  10. She’s an artist, illustrator, designer triple threat! And I’m not just saying that b/c I’m her friend.. :)

  11. Rebecca says:

    Love the coffee table. I just scored a bunch of free drawers on Craigslist, I’m off to the basement to see if if I can make some similar magic!!

  12. Panda says:

    it’s been said several times already, but it needs to be said again: i LOVE that headboard!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Beth says:

    That pig is awesome!
    Oh, and so it the rest of the house! The pillows are great. The skeleton as one of the coffee table wheels is genius. And yes, I would totally love a staircase like that in my apartment.

  14. mixette says:

    I was just about to order white roller shades for my all-white office, but now *hello* BLACK. I would move to Toronto in a minute if I could be her tenant…

  15. I’m in love with the kitchen. Lust!

  16. Sylvie says:

    I love this space. I’m wondering where you got the brown leather bag at the bottom of the stairs…I’m looking for one just like it.

  17. rbjaneite says:

    The cardboard headboard is hilariously awesome! I’d love to make one myself if I ever have an opportunity :o)

  18. Maria says:

    love the coffee table being held up by the skull head. would be awesome to have a table with all four skull heads!

  19. Anna says:

    what a cool headboard!

  20. caroline says:

    Courtney, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m totally going to steal your cardboard headboard idea! I’m moving to a new place tomorrow and I’ll have tons of big boxes to use to dress up my cheapo bedframe. I’ve spent ages looking for headboards but until now, I haven’t found anything I like and can afford.

  21. Thank you all so much, I’m glad you like the place!

    Sylvie, I get comments on the bag all the time, as it is the Greatest Bag Of All Time. Unfortunately you’ll have to keep searching for one just like it, as this one was given to me by my mother ages ago. (I believe it came from Danier in the 80s…)

    Caroline-I don’t mind at all, and am glad to have helped…happy cutting!

  22. alex sunday says:

    ooh, all so lovely! usually something in a sneak peek stands out but with this one i love it all!

  23. I love the silver pig! I love decorating with barnyard animals in unexpected ways. Nothing is more unexpected than a silver pig on your counter!

  24. Wow, what a cool place! Love the headboard idea, total kitchen envy going on!

  25. Helena says:

    wow i have the same sofa! so nice with all those colored pillows…hmm have to do some remodeling at home!

  26. Beautiful space – thank you for sharing it here.


  27. wendy D says:

    the lightness and humor make this a place I’d love to spend the weekend in. You have to be quite smiley to have a cool pace like this. Thanks for inspiring!

  28. I love the living room! And that Staircase! What a great space…

  29. caitlin says:

    i’ve been a d*s regular for ages but have never quite been compelled to comment… until NOW!

    I’m obsessing over that coffee table!!! A DIY type post for something like this would be amazing… I’m now off to get some drawers, high-gloss paint and find an old skull : )

    A beautiful, quirky and very inspiring space Courtney! xx

  30. Molly says:

    Where is the gorgeous staircase from?

  31. Carrie says:

    Who did the illustration of the animal (a cow?) in the hallway bar?


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