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InteriorsStudio Tour

Studio Tour: Arounna + John of Bookhou

by Lauren Chorpening

Here at Design*Sponge, we’re big fans of Bookhou, the multidisciplinary studio that makes everything from gorgeous furniture, to watercolor prints, to lighting fixtures, to ceramics and soft goods. Arounna Khounnoraj was kind enough to give us a tour of the Toronto-based studio and storefront that she shares with her husband and business partner, John Booth — and the place where they produce all of these items while raising their young family.

“We were looking for a combination of storefront, studio, and residence,” Arounna says. “It was a tall order, but this building had the potential for everything. It has an internal staircase which links all floors. This space was ideal for us and our kids Lliam (9) and Piper (6), since we work in the space while the kids play upstairs. Everything is connected.”

Since the family bought the building in 2008, they have turned it into the space that they need by way of renovations on every floor and additions to the top and back of the building. Their home sits on the top floor, with the studio split between the second and first floors, and the shop opening to the street on the first floor. “When we purchased our place, it was a few months before a huge craft show and the main priority was to get the studio up and running fast. But we also had to live here through the renovation: camping in different rooms until they were ready. We were lucky that the previous owners just covered up all the nice old floors and molding, so we knew that if we removed enough surfaces that we’d find a beautiful, old building underneath,” Arounna says. “A few years later we did part two by extending our building to include more room for the kids and giving us more studio space for both creative and production work.”

Divisions of space in the studio help Arounna and John move from one product to another without having to completely reset. The natural light, white walls and tidy work spaces lend the studio an environment perfectly fit for inspiration. Arounna and John have created such a beautiful, functional and creative space to make and produce just steps from home. We are loving Bookhou’s studio as much as we love their work. –Lauren

Photography by Arounna Khounnoraj

Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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Bookhou's storefront is serene, bright and inviting. Their shop sits at the front of their all-in-one building.
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The storefront allows Arounna and John to share their beautiful products with Toronto and connect with their customers. The framed pieces are drawings by John.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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The gorgeous shop is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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The stairway that connects the downstairs studio to the upstairs studio is full of light and life.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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The downstairs space is the textile and production studio. "The table is where I do all the fabric cutting and John cuts the leather on the other side," Arounna says. "John made the pendant lights from parts he bought from Grand Brass. I love the light that comes from the staircase."
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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"My inspiration wall includes prototypes and completed pieces," Arounna says. "I also hang work from other makers. The stone crochet photograph and indigo embroidery is from my good friend Margie Oomen."
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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Arounna's screen printing station is equipped with everything she could need, along with her color swatches for quick reference and decision-making.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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"When we did our most recent phase of renos, we wanted to include a studio space to draw, paint and to just experiment in. This new space is also a favorite place for our kids to build Lego[s] and dance in, also the light in this space is amazing. This space is above our garage and we dropped the height of the garage in order to get higher ceilings in this space," Arounna says of the second-level studio.
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Arounna working at her desk in the upper-level studio.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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"The inspiration wall with a painting and quilt by me, an ink drawing and embroidery by our daughter Piper, and the photo is of a drawing John did when he was in architecture school," Arounna says.
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Arounna's work desk looks out to the deck. The sunlight in the second-floor studio is unreal.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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The sunny space is orderly, but with loads of inspiration. "Our studio is so multipurpose with everybody using it for their own purposes, so we wanted to keep it clean and organized so that when we use the space it didn't feel cluttered."
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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"The most challenging part of the studio is the live-work aspect, and sometimes you feel you can never leave the work behind. I guess the benefit is that we do get a lot of work accomplished when the kids are asleep," Arounna says.
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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"A close-up of some work we have hanging in the upstairs studio by both John and I," says Arounna. "That file cabinet we found on the road and it's made by Office Specialty, a Canadian company from the 60s."
Studio Tour: Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou | Design*Sponge
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Arounna in the sewing space where the shop meets the studio. Photograph by Rob Howard.

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