Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: chrissy poitras + kyle topping

by Amy Azzarito

Chrissy Poitras and Kyle Topping bought this home in Prince Edward County, in a rural town in southern Ontario, Canada, in the fall of 2010, renovated until May 2011 and then moved in June 2011. Initially, they had a tough time deciding on a style for the house but finally settled on boho country — a country style with an artist/bohemian flair. Chrissy, Kyle and dog Rico are the home’s full-time residents, but the house is always filled with artists and designers from around the world. The couple rents out three rooms to visiting artists as part of their Spark Box artist residency program. In their spare time, they also run an arts publication, Square2, which is dedicated to presenting contemporary visual art, design, music and literature from Ontario-based artists. This is certainly a lively, activity-filled home! Thanks, Chrissy & Kyle! And a big thanks to Evan Nash for the photographs and Alex Fida for the design and staging. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: This is one of the many instruments Kyle owns. We have been carting this heavy organ around with us for the five years we’ve been together. Oddly, neither of us has learned how to play it. It sits proudly in our living room with one of Kyle’s paintings hanging above it.

Image above: This is one of the three residency rooms for visiting artists. I wanted to give each of the residency rooms a different feel, and I really wanted each of them to be special. This is the “girly” room (my personal favorite). The bed frame was a side-of-the-road find, and the lithograph print is another of Kyle’s works. Prince Edward County has the best garage sales, and pretty much everything in this room was purchased at one, including the vintage chenille bedspread, the vase and the bedside table. These sales are a great way to find deals and take visiting artists around the island.

The full home tour continues after the jump…

Image above: The past owners really hadn’t done any updating since the ’50s, and most of their lovely orange and brown design choices just weren’t for us, but there was something about this floral wallpaper that we liked. So we kept it.

Image above: This is our little dog, Rico, sitting on our living room chair. He is our little prince. Every time a new resident comes to stay with us, he wins their hearts (even though he has a bit of a Napoleon complex). Both arms of the chair were embroidered by one of the visiting artists, Allison Thompson.

Image above: This is the main living room of the house, which is shared by everyone who lives with us. My favorite part is the large bay window, which I’ve wanted ever since I was a little kid. We have plans to cover the panel wall, but for now it displays artwork from the many printmakers who have stayed with us and worked in the studio.

Image above: This is just a small section of the built-in shelf Kyle made for the dining room area. When we moved into the house, the outbuilding (which is now our print studio) had a bunch of old barn board stored in it. I was really excited to use it in the house, but Kyle wasn’t quite sure how to use it. That was until, after pulling up the many layers of vinyl and subflooring in the dining room, we noticed the house had a big gap between the one wall and the floor. After that, Kyle transformed this wood into built-in shelving and a new wall. It holds all our records, cooking magazines and books and the classical music collection from Kyle’s grandfather.

Image above: In art school, you are encouraged to make huge art pieces. I guess the thought is, “When will be a better time?” You have the resources, the space and time in school, so you should take advantage of it. What they don’t tell you is that your parents aren’t going to let your 8’ x 8’ paintings live in their basement forever. This is one of the residency rooms, which features one of Kyle’s 8’ x 8’ paintings as the headboard.

Image above: This is the shared bathroom for the visiting artists.

Image above: We decided to convert the storage space of the house into our living quarters. This is an image of our room. The artwork was given to us by artist Laurie Kang; my great-great-grandmother made the quilt, and the light fixture is a sconce from Alex Fida’s Oma’s basement.

Image above: I was being really picky about the base for the sink in our personal washroom, but as soon as I saw this old Singer sewing machine in a vintage shop, I knew it was going to be perfect.

Image above: This is an image of part of our print studio. You can see here our etching press (circa 1920) and our print wall. The studio is a fully operational fine art print studio where we also sell our art and crafts, along with works of other artists. Some of our work is sold in our Etsy shop.

Image above: This is our art library, which is constantly expanding.

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  • AMAZING, what a beautiful house! LOVE THE ART! Can I get that 8×8, I’ll take care of it forever.

  • My favorite thing is the base for the sink – the sewing machine cabinet! And I love the bench covered with the hide. Enjoy your home!

  • love love love! such a gorgeous composition and theme running throughout this home. Obviously the pup is doing a great job of keeping them inspired ;) , seriously tho, love it, especially love their choice of linens, and the lines and structure of the home, thank you for sharing, – with love, briana

  • wonderful home…

    i really like the fire stove in the main living room. could you tell me the name and manufacturer?


  • I love the combination of refined and rustic. I’d love to see a photo of the house from the outside, the description of it being surrounded by fields sounds lovely.

  • Thanks so much Amy and the Design Sponge team for posting our space. It looks so great and we feel so honored to be featured on this site :) And thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments. Rico is feeling pretty proud of himself right now …
    @Michelle the wood stove is a custom built Free Flow Stove. This will be the first year we use it and I am really excited!

  • Thanks for the inclusion of Canadian homes; this one is exquisite! Can’t wait to see more from our northern neighbors…

  • Oh Wow!! I have met both of the artists when I was in third year (they went to my art school -Queen’s University in Kingston, 1h 30 min away or so-and were discussing the steps and issues they underwent as part of starting a residency) . I remember them discussing the new house at the time and it going under renovations. It turned out beautiful! I’m so excited right now just to see people I have met and their home!

    PS, I am very jealous of your residency and your home. I just wish it wasn’t so far away!

    PPS. They have a great website with TONS of information for start up artists with questions about how it works in the real world outside of school.


  • Gorgeous! I love the sewing machine sink. Even though I live in Saskatchewan right now I dream of being back in Ontario and living in Prince Edward County- one of the prettiest places on earth, I think and your home suits the county perfectly!

  • I love this place! It’s similar to or house – great ideas to borrow too! I love the royal tin and the sewing machine vanity as well as the old chairs.

  • So many amazing little and big details here…every piece and where it is placed just seems to make sense…very inspiring. I would like to see the outside as well as Adrienne.

  • I love the art works in the house, and the overall design. How can I contact the owners to buy a painting?

  • I drive past your home almost everyday and have been so impressed by your efforts…now I get to see the inside:) Great to see young people meging past and present so beautifully:)

  • Adorable. Creative. I love the old furnishings giving the place warmth and character.

  • I’m so glad they kept the wallpaper! The vintage floral is an unexpected and pleasing contrast to the rest of the home.

  • Very beautiful, creative, and comfortable. Gives me a great idea for the sewing cabinet I’ve been saving for years.

  • WOW!!!! You have done a great job. Nell must be jealous. I am intrigued by the train on the bookcase. (I have an antique model train layout). Must come for a tour. Maybe Nella will come too.

  • Love everything you have here!
    I am in the process of looking for some new rugs and i love the rug you have in the picture tagged 9_chrissy. It is the reddish rug with the blue chair sitting on it!
    Would you mind telling me where you got the rug or have seen anything similar to it?