Interiorssneak peeks

An Ontario Home Filled with Art, Light, and Love

by Kisha

Social media has the ability to tint most things with rose-colored glasses and pretty filters, making it hard to determine what’s real and what’s not — so when you come across an account or feed that feels genuine and good, you tend to take note. That’s how I felt when I happened upon artist Tahsin Dhirani’s Instagram feed over one year ago.

Fittingly known on the interwebs as Tahsin “the good,” everything about Tahsin radiates positivity and authenticity. From her bi-annual “The Good Exchange,” a gathering of likeminded individuals who meet for an afternoon to swap soups or salads (feeding their bellies and their souls while raising money to support a good cause), to her artwork which heavily features uplifting and positive words, it appears that Tahsin’s mission is, simply, to do good.

It’s no surprise that the home she shares with husband and Toronto real estate broker, Mase, and their two young daughters, Daaniya and Niyya, exudes the same positivity, authenticity, and brightness. “I want it to feel homey, a little arty, light, comfortable, and relaxed… I like clean walls and artwork,” Tahsin says of their home, which is just a short trek north of Toronto in Vaughan, Ontario. “I want it to be a very inspiring place for everybody in the home. I want my girls to appreciate the beauty of handmade things and design, because design and art are extremely important to me.”

While the bones of the house are similar to those of many other suburban homes built in the mid-2000s, it’s the attention to detail, design, and purposeful injection of family memories that sets it apart. The mostly white walls set the foundation for graphic artwork, created primarily by Tahsin, punctuated with colors that carry through the entire home; creating a palette of black, white, shades of pink, gold tones and wood.

Equally as influential to the home’s atmosphere are spiritual routines, like an iPod that softly recites the Qur’an in Daaniya and Niyya’s room throughout the day. “… For us, Islam is a way of life,” Tahsin shares. “My husband and myself consciously make decisions of how we’re doing things. The Qur’an being recited is important — it’s soothing.” Add in a healthy dose of found objects — sometimes literally found curbside, other times collected on family vacations in places like Morocco, Egypt, and Mexico — and you’ve got the makings of a home that’s far from cookie-cutter. And while some spaces like the living room and master bedroom remain unfinished projects, they are well on their way.

What the Dhirani family has created is not only a beautiful and functional home, it’s a work in progress that feels genuinely authentic. It’s a sanctuary that inspires everyone who enters and, most importantly, the family that lives there. —Kisha

Photography by Kisha 

Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
Immediately upon stepping into the entryway, guests are treated to a taste of what’s in store: a bright, airy space accented with color, courtesy of Tahsin’s artwork. An oversized, black-framed mirror grounds the space while a rustic bench and artwork casually taped to (and propped up against) the wall lend to the casual and relaxed vibe.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
The entry hall, leading to the main living space, has a decidedly gallery feel. Oversized photographs of Tahsin's mother and aunts as well as her late father make a dramatic impact. “They were taken in different countries at different times, but they work together,” Tahsin says. “People don’t always recognize who they are -- it’s not a picture of them as you knew them... it’s a little more subversive. I love that.”
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
Since she’s taking photos all the time, Tahsin created the photo collage -- complete with 120 photos -- in the entry to show visiting family a highlight of her daughters' past year in a cool, artistic way.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
The main living area is divided into two distinct spaces -- a more formal living area and Tahsin’s studio space.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
What I love most about my home is…
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
The living room is still a work in progress but, at the time, is anchored by the large peacock chair. “My husband hates it, he thinks it’s the most uncomfortable thing,” Tahsin notes. “We have had to compromise a lot in this space -- he really wants a couch here… it’s too small for a couch, but I’ll settle for a modern daybed,” she says. “I’m going to be putting a canvas on the wall that I’m painting over the summer and the chairs I found – one man’s trash...” she laughs. “I’m still sourcing the reupholstery but I loved the legs. Cantilever chairs are sexy,” Tahsin continues. “I have a lot of jobs that I need to do.” A shelving unit from IKEA separates the studio from the living room.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
Artwork displayed on the sideboard opposite the living room shows the style direction Tahsin’s heading in. "It’s a mix of color, line, and words because words ground you back to where you want to be,” she shares. “It’s cathartic to write. It’s how I get my thoughts out when spoken words don’t come easy… and they don’t a lot of the time.”
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
An eye-catching gallery wall is the main focal point in the kitchen, with the unofficial center of attention being the giant handprint – Daaniya’s handprint that Tahsin made when she was still a baby. The gallery wall is grounded by a gigantic custom-made table that easily seats up to 10 for family gatherings and serves as the perfect workspace for her girls' art projects.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
“I’m not crazy about it but we make it work,” Tahsin says of the small kitchen. “The island is great.”
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
The family of four spends a lot of time in their second-floor, sun-filled, casual family room. Intentionally deep sofas were selected so they could lie back, relax, and cuddle together. “It’s supposed to be a relaxed zone where we hang out together, watch movies, play games, and do puzzles.”
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
Like the rest of the home, the girls' room is bright and punctuated with color. “I wanted it to be pretty, but not frilly pretty, and graphic… and color -- I can’t escape color. I’ll never be able to escape it because I want my kids to see color,” Tahsin shares. “I wanted it to be a nice, cozy, magical space.” Kanga cloths draped on each of her daughter’s beds were gifts brought back from Kenya and Tanzania – Tahsin and Mase’s parents’ home countries.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
A small portion of Daaniya and Niyya's book collection.
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
While the master bedroom is still considered a project, Tahsin’s nightstand is minimally finished. The prayer beads -- specifically, a tasbih -- hung casually on the lamp are made out of khak-e-shifa from holy land in Karbala. “It’s similar to a rosary,” Tahsin explains. “We recite words, prayer and use the beads to keep count.”
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
The bright ensuite bathroom was the perfect place for some of the family's many plants. Of the framed number five, Tahsin says, “Design-wise it has a nice shape -- it’s visually pleasing.” But true to form, there’s a deeper meaning. “I grew up in a family of five, there’s five senses, in our religion there’s a very important family that is a family of five -- just having that number around is nice.”
Tahsin Dhirani's Home Tour on Design*Sponge
“My favorite things to do in my home are braid my daughter’s hair, take photos of us just living + rearranging the furniture!”

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    • Asante sana! though we are from east Africa, unfortunately my husband and I don’t know Swahili very well ?. but thank you for taking the time to read and comment here. x

  • I enjoy that you show some homes with ongoing projects that aren’t quite “finished” — I mean, are we ever really finished? It’s more inspiring, really. I like hearing about what people are working on. Lovely home and artwork!

    • thank you for your comment! I agree 100 percent! actually, the house looks very differ t from when the photos were taken. we added in a craft/art desk in a small book in our upstairs hallway for the kids and have started on the backyard space. it’s never really done, but home is an evolving and changing space to fit our needs and where we are in our lives. thanks for taking the time to read through!

    • thanks Amy! I appreciate your appreciation of the details. as a designer and artist, that’s where the magic lies, right? x

  • Someone please tell me how to do the handprint!!!! And I love the idea of the kids art!

    • hello! the frames are from ikea and the handprint will be available in my shop in spring next year. and thanks, I love their artworks it’s so free and uninhibited. something i as and adult strive to be with my art. x

  • I love the entry hall photos, where can you have them printed so beautifully- that large? I love the idea, art yet family, culture, background – touching

  • lovely home. looks like you all are very happy there. that’s my wish for you. :)

    and a wish i have for me (if you ever check back to look for more comments) is that you will please tell me the source for the “greater than everything” art … like in this tour, i love it! thank you for that and for sharing your home through this tour.


    • that was meant to say “… like so much else in this tour …”.

      i press “print” and “send” much too fast some days. haha.

      • hello kathy!
        i just so happened to be on here today and saw your comment. thank you very much for you kind words and wishes :) the greater than everything print is available thru me! im still ironing out some kinks in my shop and site, but if youre interested in the print we can chat over dm in ig/email so you dont have to wait for the shop to open.
        my insta handle is @tahsinthegood