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November 13, 2019

Curated Comfort

A young couple’s home is a mutual expression of their love for design.

Photography Cooper & O’Hara

Eames rocking chair from Design Within Reach; Flos lamp and Ligne Roset Tripied lamp from Dwell Modern; side tables custom-made by Ryan Spotowski; Gus* Modern chair, Gus* Modern couch, Frandsen lamp and Bensen Ile Pouf ottoman all from 29 Armstrong; pillows from The Modern Shop; rug from Crate & Barrel; painting by Ryan Spotowski


From the first day Ryan Spotowski and Jillian Scherba talked about sharing a house together, the couple’s attention focused on the decor of their future home. Scherba accumulated a mental portfolio of design elements derived from various websites and magazines she’d browsed, while Spotowski – a construction estimator who dabbles in furniture design under the handle, Ryspot – brought a knowledge and understanding of the evolution of art and design to the conversation.

In what would be considered a stroke of luck for most young couples, their aesthetic tastes were in sync. So, when the couple purchased their home in Quesnell Heights in December 2014, the process of decorating and curating the space became something of a mutual creative outlet.

“We decided early on [that] monotone, mainstream furniture is somehow always a knockoff of good design – even if the knockoff is a bad design,” says Scherba. “And it is often just as expensive, so why not choose good design first?”

Paintings (in doorway) by Borys Tarasenko

But dedication to good design didn’t always require something new. To ensure that interesting lines, colours and patterns were featured throughout the home, the duo scoured not only the work of designers in the field, but Instagram, Web stores and local outlets for modern works, vintage finds and inspiration for Spotowski’s custom builds. The resulting look is a mix of modern contemporary laced with refurbished vintage elements, giving the home a colourful take on mid-century modern decor.

With a focus on how the couple used the spaces within their two-level, 3,000-square-foot home as a starting point, Spotowski and Scherba – who were recently engaged – curated rooms to fit their needs. The open-concept living room and dining area, for example, is painted white to give the room a blank canvas for loud pops of colour; the space is not restricted to a restrictive colour-palette or theme.

“We wanted a space that was stimulating, full of texture and colour, so that, when your day really sucks, we can come home to something that is jovial and nurturing,” says Scherba. “This is also why I included potted plants and the Woolly Pocket wall planters in the room from the beginning; plants make a home feel cared for and add vitality to the room that art can’t.”

Of course, that’s not to say that art was ignored in the decorating process. The walls of the home are lined with paintings from local artist Borys Tarasenko, vintage artworks inherited from family members, an origami sculpture and a large feature painting by Spotowski.

Integrating the ideas into a cohesive whole, however, required a starting point. “The furniture choices in the living room all stemmed from the yellow Eames rocker. [It] was my birthday present from Ryan and he ordered it before we’d even looked at the house, because that was the one piece I really wanted no matter which home we ended up with,” says Scherba.

Eames chairs from Patina NYC; Blu Dot table from 29 Armstrong; Flos overhead light from Dwell Modern; wall planters from Woolly Pocket; Eames sideport purchased in Los Angeles

Naturally, given such a bright starting point, colourful flourishes – such as the reflective surface of the Blu Dot dining table mirroring the Flos dining room lamp light overhead – were needed to bolster the theme.

The master bedroom was a more calculated endeavour, because most of the furniture – including the bed – was crafted by Spotowski. The rustic, wood-laden room then lended itself to the Hudson’s Bay-themed bedspreads and colour palette, culminating in a clearly modern Canadian aesthetic.

Even with a basement designed for a more comfortable feel, there are still projects in the works, such as a guest room and a wine bar. But that’s something the couple looks forward to.

“I love having a mutual artistic project that we get to live in every day and share the outcome of our efforts,” says Scherba.

Painting by Colleen Galloway; origami sculptures by Ryan Spotowski and Jillian Scherba; Le Creuset cookware collection from Hudson’s Bay; Now Designs cylinders from Call the Kettle Black (closed); fruit basket from Museum of Modern Art Store

Pillows and blankets from Hudson’s Bay; lamps from Modernica; mirror from Modern Karibou; candle by Laura Djenko; Vintage Chateau Lake Louise painting; tablebed, and wall sculptures custom made by Ryan Spotowski

Clock from 29 Armstrong; Wrong for HAY brass lamp from The Modern Shop; rug from Rugs.ca; Gus* Modern chair, Gus* Modern end table, couch and bean chair from Dwell Modern; lamps from Ikea; pillows and blanket from Crate & Barrel

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