John Webster, artist
On the second floor of a charming house in Parkdale, artist John Webster has created a décor paradox: his space is an almost frighteningly busy collection of artwork, knickknacks, vintage furniture, old photos, magazine clippings, fabrics and chachkas that somehow all blends together into a vibe that’s soothing and delightfully playful (see above). Webster’s innocent yet gently sinister look was inspired by Pee Wee’s Playhouse
and, more importantly, his Aunt Audrey, a small-town schoolteacher whose kitschy home was a sanctuary for this clever boy. Webster inherited some of her stuff, including a prize pair of turkey salt-and-pepper shakers, and says all the visual clutter keeps him happy and engaged. “I can literally just sit and stare at a wall and be inspired.”
Salah Bachir, philanthropist
“My passion for the arts is as strong at home as it is everywhere else,” says Salah Bachir, president of Cineplex Media. Having seemingly put a painting across every inch of the palatial lakefront condo he shares with his partner, artist Jacob Yerex, Bachir purchased the condo above and has just installed a new staircase to connect them. “There’ll be a full gallery upstairs as well. I can’t wait to hang the art up there.” He says designer friends have told him he should focus, “but I like an eclectic mishmash of stuff we love. I didn’t want it to be overdesigned. I want there to be a comfort level, where people can put their feet up.”
Patricia Wilson, guitarist
With her days spent rehearsing with her band, Crackpuppy, and her nights spent bartending at Buddies, Patricia Wilson needs an oasis, so she created one on the balcony of her Village apartment. “In the summertime, it’s the mellowest place to be,” she says. Her partner, singer Hélène Ducharme, chose the flowers while Wilson oversaw the construction of the overhead trellis.
“I hired somebody to do it who, while he was up on the ladder, told me he’d been thinking of suicide,” she says. “So he’s doing the work, standing on a ladder, leaning over the balcony 21 floors up, and here’s me with my fucking finger in his belt loop. But he got it done and he did a beautiful job. It’s hard to get that shit up there.”
Brendan Healy, theatre director
For a theatre artist with an often dark sensibility, it’s surprising how bright and candy-coloured Brendan Healy’s King West condo is, with its blue walls, red sofa and yellow chair. “I like big colours,” he says. But, he admits, “it’s all in transition. I’m still figuring it out.” Though he’s lived here since November, “I work 50 to 60 hours a week, so I’m hardly ever here. It still doesn’t feel lived-in to me.” With Healy immersed in The Maids
, which opened Buddies’ season Sept 22, that won’t change anytime soon, but right now, the black-and-blue Manhattan apartment of fetish-wear designer David Chlopecki is a big influence on what Healy’s condo could become. His dog Toby will be happy either way.
Alex Canning, Mr Leatherman 2012
The new Mr Leatherman takes his title very seriously: his Village apartment is painted a masculine steely grey, with black leather furniture throughout. “I like to integrate a lot of what I do outside of my home in my home,” he says. “The leather community is a big part of my life, and I have to have leather around me at all times.” Even in the kitchen, where the bulk of Canning’s time at home is spent: “I run a little baking business on the side,” he says, revealing his sweeter side. “Cupcakes! They call me the Leather Baker now,” he laughs as he grabs a whisk, preparing to beat.
Gavin Crawford, comic
Of all the improvements Gavin Crawford and partner Kyle Tingley have made during the recent renovations to their three-level west-end home, Crawford seems most delighted by one of the smallest: the multicoloured light in their new “disco shower.” Crawford explains: “We were shopping around and looking at all these fancy ones (ooh, tiles that shoot water everywhere), but they were all really expensive. I saw one that was on sale, but when I looked closer, I was like, ‘Does that have a light in it? We’ll take it!’” As the light turns the water into a stream of ever-shifting rainbow colours, he says, “It’s the most useless thing you could have in your home, but it makes me happy every time I’m in the shower.”
David Tomlinson and Ryan Kelly, actors
“I’ve never met someone who works more in the place that he lives in than my roommate,” says Dora Award–winning actor Ryan Kelly, who’s celebrating his second anniversary of moving into actor/writer David Tomlinson’s sprawling apartment near the Sherbourne subway station. Sharing space can be tough — do these roommates fight? “No, we made a TV show instead,” Kelly jokes. The duo created Cordelia
, a YouTube series, showcasing their talents and their obsessions, that they film right at home. “I wanted a space that houses art,” Tomlinson says. “It’s a quiet sanctuary where we can both be very comfortable and introspective, but it’s also a place we can both create in.” With both of them acting in Sky Gilbert’s next play, Dancing Queen
, they’re happy to leave the roommate drama to other people — they’ll make actual drama.
Ryan G Hinds, performer
In his tiny, unpretentious bedroom in a small house in the west end, performer Ryan G Hinds has covered an entire wall with posters from his various gigs over the years. He’s been accused of vanity, but he doesn’t see it that way. “Often, we don’t get paid,” he says, so many times, “all we have left is a poster.” But they’re mementos, he says, of “fabulous nights” spent working with people like Syrus Ware, Lorelei King and Will Munro. “SOY and Buddies in Bad Times are organizations I hold near and dear to my heart,” Hinds says. “To be asked to participate in their events is an honour, and when those events are successful, yes, I’m very proud.”
Marty Rotman, leatherwear designer
As the designer of fetish wear and gear at Northbound Leather, one might expect Marty Rotman’s Village apartment to look like Alex Canning’s place, but no, he insists, “When I’m not working, I need anything but that.” His place is all warm colours and soft lighting with Edison-style exposed bulbs. “I keep the lighting low so people can’t see the wrinkles,” he laughs. Rotman loves to DJ, and his huge wall of vinyl records is kept in cabinets built by Robert “Master R” Rochon. “I think I’m the only person he’s built actual furniture for, rather than the leather dungeons and accoutrements he’s known for,” Rotman says. Now he just needs to decorate his 14-year-old pet lizard’s massive terrarium. Tree branches are so over.
James Huctwith, artist
Having lived in his Village condo “12 precious years,” artist James Huctwith calls his décor scheme “bohemian denial — denial of poverty!” The space is monochromatic, the walls an earthy moss colour that he jokes is “the visual equivalent of easy listening. I find white in apartments really hard on the eye.” His colour choice is, by day, “bright enough to live and paint with, but at night, it’s soothing and warm.” The centrepiece of the room is his battered, well-loved easel. With its paint flecks and chipped legs, it helps to create a mood that is, Huctwith says, “organic and unpredictable. Having the work right here is really just me extending myself into my own home, into my own life, on my own terms.”
Donnarama, drag performer
“The Queen of Halloween” only just moved into her Village bachelor apartment a few weeks ago, but its stylish décor has been years in the planning. When Donnarama was 11, she frequented a video store in North York that had a dedicated room for horror films. “Their upstairs was made up like a dungeon,” she says. “They had a dummy in an electric chair behind a cage. I would go after school and spend hours there.” She was thrilled with the vinyl wall coverings she discovered at It’s My Party on the Danforth: “I originally wanted red brick, but the grey looks like a horror movie castle. My interests, my life and my home are the same. People say, ‘Don’t go there’? I live there!”