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Interiors

D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario

by Sabrina Smelko

When I was 23, just a few years ago, I bought my first home at an estate auction. It’s a story that I’ll surely tell my grandchildren, and one that still makes me shake my head with the absurdity of it all. I was born and raised in Milton, Ontario (just west of Toronto), and as a child, I visited what is now my home often. It was where friends of my grandparents lived (whom also worked for the family business), and my sisters and I always looked forward to visiting every Halloween where we were treated with far too much candy. I grew up just two blocks away from that house, and I have many memories of speeding down the street on my bike, waving as I whizzed by, admiring the hedges and geraniums that were perfectly manicured, and dropping in on occasion with family. Years later, when I learned that the home was being sold, I couldn’t help but attend the auction to tour the home I had always known from the outside but never fully explored inside — not anticipating that I’d bet on the home. It had many original features including hand-modelled decorative plaster ceilings, hardwood floors, a large picture-window that brought in lots of light, and an income suite in the basement. Including having an emotional attachment to the space, it crossed off many items on my list, and before I knew it, I was raising my arm, bidding on the home with a belly full of nerves. Long story short, I was the highest bidder to which the auctioneer said, “going once, going twice, sold!”

Since then, my home and I have gone through the entire spectrum of emotions, from disbelief that I owned it to gratitude and nostalgia, to seeing its potential, to being annoyed with it, to wanting more, finding it and losing it, and most recently, falling back in love with it. The nature of how my home and I came together is a zany one, and the nonstop excitement and change it has brought hasn’t stopped since; so when Grace approached the D*S team with the prospect of profiling our personal homes, I thought it would be a great opportunity to capture a moment in time. Just recently, I was considering moving and even put in an offer on (what I thought was) the home of my dreams, only to lose it. Since then, I’ve unexpectedly fallen back in love with my current space and the process has made me appreciate certain aspects of the home that I had once taken for granted: a huge, lush backyard where Piper can run around in as I garden, having family a stone’s throw away, the incredible sunlight that streams in, and the potential it has to become the space of my dreams. It was just this past week that I decided to stay and make it work by renovating it, which will mean knocking down walls, transforming the basement into an office and den, and completely gutting and renovating the kitchen. So these photos of my humble, 1950s bungalow will shortly become a time-capsule of sorts.

I love my home, and it will always have a special place in my heart, no matter what form it takes or how it’s decorated. Being my first home, it’s become my place of rest and my place of inspiration, and has allowed me to experiment with all things home design, DIY and the like. Buying a house, especially at a young age, was nerve-racking and scary at times, but it’s forced me to grow and learn and it makes me proud every day to wake up and call it my own. This is where I gather with friends, where I’m raising my puppy and where I’ve started my life with my partner, Shawn. It’s the space I’ve grown into an adult in, but above all else, my home has taught me that the grass isn’t always greener. In fact, the best of things might be right under your nose. –Sabrina

Photography by Sabrina Smelko

D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The open-concept layout of my home is quite an unexpected and unique feature considering the age of the house. Many homes on my street follow the same build, but mine is the only one I've been in (so far) that doesn't have a wall separating the living area and kitchen, which I'm so thankful for!
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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To your left as you enter my home, I use a drop-leaf table as a catch-all/entry buffet. When I have many guests over, I drag it into my living room and open it up to seat eight guests comfortably! Eventually, I plan to knock down the wall that it butts up against (currently holding my office) to create a dining room, following the open concept layout.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Our TV nook, which is also host to a cluster of art (from left to right): A Norman Rockwell painting above a jade plant, a grouping of wooden cutting boards I hung from the wall and three hand-carved wooden birds hanging from the ceiling. Piper is likely making a run for the bedroom!
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My home's layout. I plan to expand the kitchen to be nearly double as large, and knock down the walls to the second bedroom to accommodate a dining area.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Earlier this year, I took a trip to Cuba with my family and bought these hand-carved birds from a local vendor. My grandmother loved humming birds, so when I saw these birds, I had to have them. She passed away a few months prior to the trip, so they make me smile when I look at them and also remind me of the friendship the woman who used to own this house had with my grandmother. I hung them from an embroidery hoop to create a mobile.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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My modeling doll, which I use as an illustrator often. The black, glossy ceramic head was a thrift store find that has somehow survived numerous tumbles to the ground.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Open to the living area is my kitchen in all of its honey-oak glory! Even my kitchen has come a long way since I bought the home. I changed the hardware, removed a wallpaper border that used to cover the bulk-head, and installed the backslash and lighting myself. It's just a matter of time before I rip out the cabinets and start fresh!, which will also mean removing the section of wall you see here.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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My overhead, double-sided storage shelf is one of the smartest design elements in my home. On this side of the shelf rests living room appropriate objects and books, and on the other, glassware, mugs and mason jars of kitchen supplies.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Peeking from under the overhead storage, which we've hit our heads on several times. Much like the wall and cabinets, this will be removed in the reno, but I'm kind of sad to see it go!
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Cooking and preparing homemade meals is important to me, and despite the small galley layout of my kitchen, it's seen many dinner parties. I'm counting down the days until I get a dishwasher!
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Most of my glassware was found at thrift stores. I love their mismatched nature. The pink illustration is one of my own works titled "Sisters."
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The view from the kitchen into the living area. I absolutely love the amount of light that pours in throughout the entire day.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The couch is from Gus*, the rug from IKEA, golden footstool from Leon's Furniture and most other furniture is from thrift stores. On top of blogging for D*S, I also contribute to Leon's new blog, where you can find the DIY for the hanging copper pipe planter.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The "History of Dogs" plaque was found at a thrift store in Northern Ontario. I got it before I got Piper, and only after getting her did I feel justified in hanging it up. It's one of my favorite pieces. The Hudson's Bay blanket is a classic for any Canadian, the pillows are from Tonic Living, decorative ibex head is from Leon's.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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My lopsided umbrella tree that I found on the side of the road. I've been trying to nurse it back to health ever since.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The sunlight I get in my home is one of my favorite aspects of the space. It's great to watch out the window with a cup of coffee in the morning.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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On my coffee table rests a haluski board used for making the traditional Eastern European dish. I use it as a secondary surface for coffee table books from my two favorite creatives; Tomer Hanuka and Douglas Coupland.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The view from the hallway into the living area/entry.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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In 2013, I designed a number every day of the year, from 1 through to 365 and posted them daily on Instagram. It was a huge undertaking, but so worth it. I learned a lot from the process, so when I found this print from IKEA, I had to have it.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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My master bedroom is small and the closet space is limited, but it does the trick and I've done my best to create a sanctuary. The walls are painted in Behr's "Marine Magic" and the rug, accessories and all furniture is from Leon's.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Piper relaxing on our white shag rug. There's no better feeling on bare feet when you first wake up!
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Our room is so small we can't fit two nightstands and a bed, so my bedside table is actually a chest. The gold dog is a piggy-bank we started years ago to pay for our dog-to-be. We never ended up sorting through it or using it when we found Piper, which is kind of ironic, so it's become a decorative piece for now. Perhaps I can use the money for the upcoming renovations, haha!
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The glasses pictured are by a Canadian company called Bôhten, made from recycled wood. We recently profiled the owner, Nana, here on D*S! The brass umbrella jewelry holder was a thrift store score.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The pillows are from Tonic Living and the bedding is from Unison Home.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Our fur-baby, Piper!
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Our small but mighty bathroom features original black and white tiles which I hope to keep for as long as possible! I also adore the glass-block window which lets in tons of light but allows for full privacy. I love using the sunny shower ledge for plants.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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To combat the lack of storage in our bathroom, this IKEA overhead cabinet is handy, which is also home to my pothos. While I was putting together the cabinet, a little scoundrel ate the handle pull, so I created this one from a piece of birch.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Also original to the home is the old pedestal sink. It doesn't allow for much storage, but it's beautiful.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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My home office, filled with inspiration and art. I installed the pegboard system on the walls to add organization and storage. The large art piece is from Adam Garcia and the chair is from Structube. The bats are from a local art initiative called Garrison Creek Bat Co. I made the one on the right and the one on the left is made entirely from porcelain.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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Hustle! It serves as a reminder to work harder, and is also part of the name of my blog.
D*S Team Tours: Sabrina’s 1950s Bungalow in Milton, Ontario
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The "morning, dear" lettering is a personal piece I made, as well as a the illustrated foliage fabric.

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Comments

  • Sabrina your home is beautiful! I wish I’d been as smart as you in my twenties. You have decorated it beautifully, it is warm bright and inviting. Your piper is adorable– what kind is she? Thanks for sharing your home with us
    E

  • Favorite tour in a very long time – I almost never read through the whole post/captions, and this one I took my time on! Love the writing and personal story behind your house, and although I know you were crushed when your offer wasn’t accepted on the “dream” house, the fact that you’re staying in this lovely home (and remodeling it to make it even more yours) is really wonderful :)

  • Great read. I’m so glad it all ended up working out for you and you’ve got a newfound appreciation for your lovely home! I can’t wait to see how your renovations go, even though I love your current decor as well. Thanks for sharing!

    -The Office Stylist

  • What a lovely house, and a great story to go with it! I love your bathroom so much – it’s in amazingly good shape. And your dog is gorgeous! Don’t be in too big a hurry to take walls down. Walls are sort of in your way (literally) but where else will you hang your art? And the little overhead shelf in the kitchen is pretty neat. I think if you’ll miss it, that’s a clue to keep it. That’s just my opinion. But I’m also very cheap, and lazy, soooo…..

    I used to live up on the escarpment, overlooking Milton, over 20 years ago. We could see the tower from our yard on a clear day. I think it’s so cool that you’re close to family, in a house you always admired!

  • This is a beautiful home. I’d be interested in knowing how the expense of the renovation compares to what you would have spent on the new house. A renovation must be cheaper!

    • So would I, haha! I’m awaiting a few quotes now, but I think it will be far more affordable especially give where I live. House prices are through the roof and rising every year, so I think investing in mine will pay off, and is far cheaper than trying my hand at another bidding war and paying an arm and a leg for a place that may still need work! I’ll let you know how it goes :)

  • Nice tour. Thanks, Sabrina. This is the first time I’ve ever thought a pegboard might be something I could like + use! :)

  • I never really comment, but I have to in this case: your house is a dream. Love seeing more Canadian content on D*S, and I cannot wait to see what you do with your renovation. I hope you’ll be sharing the finished project with us as well!

  • I absolutely love your home, you’ve really done a great job decorating it, there are so many neat details. And I fell in love with the color you’ve picked for the walls in the master bedroom.
    Oh, and Piper is adorable :)

  • A beautiful home. And seriously impressed you had the wherewithal at 23 to see the potential and go for it! Looking forward to the renovation update!

  • That pegboard is genius. My husband’s desk is not small but half of it is already taken up by a screen a HUGE gaming tower (which he HAS to put on the table because “the airflow is better this way!”) and keyboard and mice. Hideous enough without all the pens and papers and STUFF that inevitably clutter up working desks. I threaten to washi tape the whole computer tower from time to time to try and make it less of an eyesore but maybe a pegboard to deal with the clutter maybe more husband friendly.

  • I love what you’ve done with with your house. My in-laws lived for years in one of similar style from the 50s, in the S.F. Bay Area. Some of the same built-in details, but yours feels brighter and more open.

  • Beautiful! Love the pegboard..and Piper :0) As a fellow Canadian who shops at Leon’s, in what section do you find the “heads”? Can’t find them on their site. Thanks!

  • how inspiring! i’m in my early 20’s and dreaming of buying a home, and doing my best to make that happen someday, but your courage to go for it is something to admire.

    in the second photo there’s a pair of clear glasses on the table. could you please share who made them?! is it also bohten? i’m in love!

  • A porcelain bat- how ironic!
    Love your bedroom paint- it’s really a beautiful and unique color!
    I concur with others that your bathroom is very cute. Love that you can have plants in the shower!
    I also love the shelf above your eating area.

  • Super love your place. Thanks so much for sharing it. Any chance you could send me a close up of the “history of dogs”. Great find!

    thx. S

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