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455 parliament street
toronto, on

647.748.4060

Unique and locally-grown home accessories, vintage gems and fine art photography in the heart of Cabbagetown.  Located on Parliament Street, Spruce focuses on carrying hand-made decorative items, glassware, textiles and restored vintage pieces.

Spruce, Spruce Home Decor Inc., Parliament Street, Cabbagetown, Spruce on Parliament, Spruce Toronto, vintage, home decor, home accessories, photography

Blog

Pizza Lovers Unite!

kim alke

Last spring, we made a life-changing discovery: the Uuni Wood-fired Pizza Oven.

The Uuni is the definitive tool for your garden or outdoor kitchen. It’s designed specifically to take the cost, bulk and hassle out of using a wood-fired oven. 

Reaching 840F within ten minutes, the oven is perfect for high-heat cooking in the backyard or on the patio...at the cottage, or the beach...if you can carry it there you can cook there.  Think:
Pizza
Flat Bread
Salmon
Ribs
Just about anything that can be cooked or smoked at high heat.

We are in LOVE.

Currently, we live in a small apartment but storing the fuel and the unit is easy.  The pellets can be stored in anything dry and air-tight (we use a lovely vintage canister). The oven's cover doubles as a carrying bag so we can leave it covered on the patio, pack it up and store it, or take it to friends' yards or cottages.
 

The wood pellets are available here at Spruce or at any local BBQ or hardware store.

Uuni_cover1.jpg

The cover doubles as a pizza-party-ready carrying bag.

...Here's the BFF's set up at the cabin!

How much?
We are offering the units for $399.  Covers are sold separately for $75.
We have the pellets available as well in 40lb bags for $54 (this will last you all summer and then some) and smaller sizes will be available soon.
For more details or to purchase, click here.

Looking for a good how-to video?  Check out the video below...

Stay-tuned for the pizza party invite!

Gratitude is Not a Strong Enough Word

kim alke

On February 14th we closed our doors for a little week-long refresh.  We emptied the store to paint the floors, walls and ceilings while we did some restoration to fixtures and (in truth) had a little RnR. 

We were here...

We were here...

While this was going on...

While this was happening...

We re-opened on February 24th looking and feeling refreshed.  Then, sadly, woke up the morning of February 25th to smoke billowing into the building. 

We are so thankful that no one was hurt (pets or people).  But numerous apartments, ours included, were rendered unlivable as were three businesses: Spruce, Pipler Accessories and the 2-4-1 Pizza where the fire originated.  All three of us were forced to shut down until... we weren't sure when.

The generosity from all of you was, and is, overwhelming.  We have been so touched by the support of our neighbours and friends everywhere - but within our little neighbourhood especially.  We had offers for places to stay, we had dinners cooked for us, wine delivered, cards and notes constantly flowing into our virtual and irl inboxes.

We learned more about smoke and soot damage than we ever wanted to know.  We lost 100% of our inventory and struggled to save our large vintage pieces. 

It took four (very long & emotional) months to restore the building.  But, in the end, drywall was replaced, inventory repurchased, vintage fixtures restored and walls painted.

From this... 

To this...

And eventually to this...

We re-opened on Saturday, June 18th.  The morning after an incredibly love-filled party with family, friends & neighbours.  We sipped smoked negronis, ate burnt-marshmallow ice-cream, nibbled BBQ brisket and a few other "smoke-themed" treats to celebrate the end of a few incredible months. 

Incredibly tough, incredibly inspiring, incredibly emotional, and incredibly full of gratitude. 

I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me through this journey.  My partner Faust, my family (Byron, Carol, Kelly & Scotty), my village of friends (Jake, Trevor, Tracy, Claudine, Steve, Ryan, Aefa, Adrian, Jenn, Paula, Zack, Karmen, James, Ryan, Sam, MaryAnn, Gaby, Tanya, Heather, Mia, Shawn, Allan, Patty, Carol, Stephen, Meg, Courtney, Regina, Arshad, Trevor, Tanya (+ the crew) and the many more I've missed.

Thank you so incredibly sincerely from the bottom of my heart.
-Kim

"The wound is the place where light enters you"
-Rumi

Lavender-Peach Sangria Popsicles by Cahoots Bar & Kitchen

kim alke

Vancouver's Cahoots Bar & Kitchen provides endless inspiration!

Vancouver's Cahoots Bar & Kitchen provides endless inspiration!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Ripe Peaches (or Nectarines)
  • 1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2oz Cahoots Lavender
  • Half Bottle Dry White Wine

    Method:

    Peel Peaches or Nectarines and set aside half of one peach. Chop remaining fruit into large pieces and place in a food processor along with the lemon juice. Add Cahoots Lavender and half bottle of dry white wine and continue mixing until smooth. Cut remaining half peach into thin slices. Place two slides into each popsicle mold. Strain and divide purée into 6 popsicle molds. Place filled popsicles in the freezer until frozen.

     

    View the original post on Cahoot's website here

    All Things Copper

    kim alke

    We have been following the copper trend for a few years now.  It's classic, versatile and makes an amazing statement - both over-the-top and understated. Copper barware is something we have been searching for...and we finally found it.

    Meet Sertodo Copper.

    Jonathan Beall has been handcrafting hammered copper since 1997.  He operates a small family-style studio high in the Sierra Madres Occidental of Southwestern Mexico and with an international cooperative of master copper artisans, with workshops in Austin, Texas.  All pieces are made from 100% recycled copper and offer a lifetime of beautiful service.

    Working in small teams, these master craftsmen honour the traditions of copper production that date back over 1000 years.  Many have found copper to have special Ayurvedic properties.

    Did we mention these Moscow Mule mugs are some of The Great Oprah's Favourite Things?
    "Not like I need an excuse to enjoy a Moscow mule, but this tray and six-mug set, handmade in Mexico with hammered recycled copper, makes cocktail hour extra special." — Oprah

    We are thrilled to have met Jonathan and some of his team.  Their work stands high above the rest and proves the importance of master crafstmanship in a traditional and ancient trade.


    Living a Double Life...

    kim alke

    Some of you don't know I live a double life...

    I am a shop owner by day (and night and weekend) but I'm also a realtor.  I'm super lucky to work with THE most amazing team at urbaneer.com and sometimes I write a little blog for them!  Check out the latest here about giving your space a refresher course in colour!

    Image courtesy of decoist.com

    Image courtesy of decoist.com

    Happy Thursday!

     

    For My Best Friend

    kim alke

    Let's hit the park while the weather is still fine!  With our best friend of course...our pup.

    Another product I've been stalking for a few years is a line of pet leashes by Found My Animal of Brooklyn.  The founders met while walking their two rescue pups, both of whom were named Walter. The Walters were sizing each other up, and their people started a conversation that quickly revealed their passion for animal welfare. They decided to become partners after discovering they had more in common than two rescue dogs with the same name. They had both attended great design schools—Cooper Union and Rhode Island School of Design—and were passionate about animals, animal welfare and a love of the principles of good design.

    They support animal welfare by asking pets and their owners to help deliver our simple, important message: rescue over purchase.  They have supported over 50 rescue societies since inception in 2006.

    Nothing ages more beautifully than marine-grade rope and hardware. The individually-numbered, stamped tags on each FOUND leash remind us of the uniqueness of our animal, and allow the company to keep track of the number of animals they have helped so far.

    Did we mention they are damn attractive leashes!??  WOW.




    Bend it like...Bend

    kim alke

    I'd like you to meet my new crush: Bend Goods.

    I've been lusting over their stylish pieces of iron-styled art for quite some time and finally had some prime wall space to devote to their enchanting, modern, unique and colourful sculptures.

    Hot-dip galvanized iron to prevent rust, with a powder coated finish these are great for indoors or outdoors. 
    Gazelle
    Water Buffalo
    Longhorn

    I love them all.  Each are available in white, black or orange.  The longhorn is also available in copper.  Yes.  Copper.

    Imperfect Perfection: Vintage Furniture as a Fun Style-Injection

    kim alke

    Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.20.16 PM.png

    I love vintage.  I share this obsession with urbaneer's Steve Fudge, who recently revamped the kitchen in his Tennis Crescent property using mid-century pieces as the base and inspiration for the redesign. You can follow his journey as he takes a 1960's duplex from demo to dazzling, in Tales of Tennis Crescent.

    Whether you are inspired to begin mixing large vintage finds into your décor, or start small, we've gathered a few tips to help get you started! These are the 'Vintage Basics'. When hunting for the perfect piece to complement your space, keep a few key characteristics in mind:

    Construction:  Quality materials and construction are key. Was the piece constructed using quality methods and materials?  This can effect not only the life of the piece itself, but how long it will last in your collection.  Be sure to look at what it is made of - is it solid wood?  This term can be used loosely, so be sure to determine whether you are looking at solid-wood construction versus particle board or plywood with a veneer.  Check the inside and back of the piece to help determine its quality and materials.  For example, if the joints of a dresser are dovetailed, you've found a higher quality piece than one with nailed or stapled drawers. If the piece uses veneer instead of solid wood, keep a few things in mind: veneer gets a bad rap because of the cheap Formica-covered furniture from the mid-twentieth century. Don't be too quick to write it off; for centuries wood veneer was a perfectly acceptable way to finish a piece. However, when inspecting a veneer piece, look for chips or peeling as this is a sure sign of age/mistreatment that could end up looking worse for wear over time.

    Style/Silhouette:  Shape and size matters. Will the overall shape fit in with the space in mind? For example, an industrial cabinet’s sharp lines and steel construction will fit very differently than the rounded teak edges of a mid-century piece.  Pay attention to other aspects of design like hardware - is it original?  Does it fit with the timeline of the piece or was it added/changed?  Real vintage hardware usually has some weight to it, so be sure to open and close drawers to get a feel for the hardware. One key for mixing styles is: contrast.  Be clear about the overall look you want to achieve in the space; are you looking for a large impact vintage piece or subtle vintage touches via accessories?  Pair a large vintage dresser with modern vases. Place pillows with modern fabrics on a vintage sofa, or use an antique lamp on a lacquer side table. Tip: pick the focal piece and identify its style; use contrast for accessory items.

    The clean lines of this mid-century sideboard fit with other pieces and angular arrangement of this living room from Domain Home

    The clean lines of this mid-century sideboard fit with other pieces and angular arrangement of this living room from Domain Home

    Eclectic is key in this mix-and-matched dining room from Houzz

    Eclectic is key in this mix-and-matched dining room from Houzz

    Finish & Fabric: When refinishing, reupholstering, rethinking, an important thing to remember is these elements can be changed. Once you have chosen a piece that is well constructed, and fits your space, a coat of paint or new fabric can transform the piece in order to blend in with your room or act as a focal-point.  Tip:  take a photo of it in its place in the room before making changes as this can help you step back and see exactly what needs to be done.  Always sample paint and fabric; small paint testers and fabric swatches are available for a reason - use them!  Bring them home, try them out, invite opinions, look at them in the space where the piece will ultimately live to get a real sense of the colour and tone of the paint and/or fabric. Your upholsterer can be an invaluable resource here.

    Cabbagetown's Ghislaine Beckers kept things light and clean using neutral fabrics and paint colours when re-doing this room. Photo courtesy of Covet Garden Magazine

    Cabbagetown's Ghislaine Beckers kept things light and clean using neutral fabrics and paint colours when re-doing this room. Photo courtesy of Covet Garden Magazine

    Quirk Factor: A key question to ask is: do you want a conversation piece or a functional element that blends in with the room. I generally choose to go in the direction of a conversation piece by choosing something with an interesting story behind it!  This can work for both small and large pieces, so depending on your comfort level go with your gut and try something different - even if it's a small set of vintage trophies on the sideboard versus an ornate floor-to-ceiling gilded mirror.  Have fun! And if you feel you've gone a little too far on the side of quirk, pull back by mixing in some modern/contemporary pieces to help re-gain balance in the room.

    Size Doesn't Matter: Afraid to use a large piece?  Dip your toes in the water by starting a vintage collection!  A grouping of vintage tins on the sideboard, used as herb planters lined up on the window ledge, or even as kitchen utensil holders add a fun twist that can easily be changed.  How about a stack of vintage board games in the living room console or a collection of felt pennants mixed in with your art collection? 

    Get collection-inspired at local antique and flea markets

    Get collection-inspired at local antique and flea markets

    Show off your newly curated collection like this herb garden arrangement by Apartment Therapy

    Show off your newly curated collection like this herb garden arrangement by Apartment Therapy

    Using vintage in your space is fun, so enjoy the process!  Mix hard with soft, square with round, blocky with leggy.  Contrasting modern and vintage can create fun and interesting stories in each room.  Want to read a few interesting stories and see vintage touches that have been curated in a fun and fantastic way?  Check out The Black House, a vacation rental in Charlottetown renovated and operated by urbaneer's own Steven & James! The best part: you can stay there and enjoy it yourself!  

    Sexy Snow Shovels?

    kim alke

    Many of us are digging out our front doors today what with all that snowfall last night.

    And amidst all that grunting and groaning we bet you never thought you’d hear “sexy” and “snow shovel” in the same sentence, right? But then, you probably haven’t met Firn Canada’s newest winter tool!

    Winter is hard enough without being tormented by bad design. And while many might consider a winter tools to be constructed for necessity alone, this snow shovel by Firn is definitely display worthy. The brain child of two local industrial designers, this eye-popping shovel is locally crafted with high-quality responsibly-sourced materials.

    Yup, this Firn shovel stands apart as our 'icon of our season'.

    The Firn Shovel cleared the way to take top honours at the 2014 Sustainable Design Awards. Taking last year’s Interior Design Show by storm – and selling out on the first day - the dynamic design duo tweaked the construction by using Ash for the handle - ensuring greater strength and flexibility - while incorporating a stronger gauge of surgical-grade steel for the shovel’s blade. Even more brilliant is that every component of the shovel is manufactured within 125 kilometres of Toronto. 

    Not just a pretty piece – this shovel is resolutely “magic”.  The strong flexible blade allows you to cut into the snow or ice unlike weaker plastic models that tend to skim over the top. This shovel is also light and comfortable and did we mention how attractive you look when you’re using it?  Could you be labeled your 'Neighbourhood Style Guru'? We think so but regardless, be assured you’ll have the cleanest sidewalk.

    Available in gloriously glowing red or super-chic stainless, hang it in your front hall. It says "pragmatic and high-style" in the same breath!

     

    Getting In The Holiday Spirit...With Spirits!

    kim alke

    Say "cheers" this season with some fun and practical bar-ware - that's pretty to boot!

    The guys at W&P Designs in Brooklyn have put together a fab kit of their full line of bar tools including The Mason Shaker, muddler, stainless jigger and their hit cocktail book "Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails".  (I've tried many of the recipes and they're always a hit!)

    The Team at Vital Industries in Denver have wowed us again with these luxe "cheers" glasses.  The glassware is made in the US and hand-screened with 20K gold.  How's that for New Year's Eve luxury!

    No matter how you're celebrating the season we wish you and your family all the very best for a happy holiday and a healthy and prosperous 2015!

    Shout Out To My Homeland!

    kim alke

    Sweet Sweet Vancouver Island.

    Home of unforgettable forests, beaches and ... granola ;)

    My homeland is a pretty incredible hub for artisans and craftsmen.  Including Andrew Shepherd - creator of Vancouver Island Salt Co.  After years of travel and a fateful night on the beach boiling down cups of the Pacific Ocean over the fire, Canada had it's very own harvested sea salt.

    It recently won top prize in Telus' Small Business Challenge competition to help it expand.

    And it's delicious.

    Unrefined sea salt is the result of what is naturally harvested from the ocean.  It does not contain chemical additives that are regularly added to salt products to prevent clumping. Natural sea salt retains several valuable natural trace minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, potassium) that are removed during the processing of every day table salts. Because of this, the taste of sea salt reflects the characteristics of the waters from which it is harvested.  No two sea salts taste the same!

    We carry the full line of Vancouver Island Salts including the regular Sea Salt, Smoked Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel and 6 flavour-infused finishing salts: Danish Blue Cheese, Chef Bounty's Jerk, Spanish Paprika, Balsamic, Roasted Garlic and Orange & Lime.

    We love the Blue Cheese on apples or popcorn and the Orange & Lime around the rim of our coupe glass for an evening cocktail!




    Totally Terrific Tuck Shop Toques

    kim alke

    We (heart) the Tuck Shop Trading Co.

    We (heart) their style.
    We (heart) their comfort.
    We (heart) their designer.  Yay Lyndsay!

    About this time last year we received our first [tiny] order of Cabbagetown neighbourhood toques thinking "let's give them a go".  Within weeks we were receiving calls daily for neighbourhoods as far from our little spot in paradise as Parkdale, Mississauga and Scarborough.  These are definitely the little toques that could!

    Set for yet another incredible year (and I'm not talking about the incredible winter we had last year) we've received our toques and are ready to go! 

    We've expanded our line to include up to 15 neighbourhoods and are working with the Tuck Shop and Daniels Corp. on a *new* and very special addition to the #cityofneighbourhoods family:  Regent Park.  Look for them in store November 29th!


    Nicole Tarasick Continues to Amaze

    kim alke

    I met Nicole about five years ago at a local craft fair.  Being from Vancouver, I purchased one of her mod and amazing "YVR" printed pillows for family - plus another "YVR" & "YYZ" for myself :)

    As soon as things started coming together for Spruce's birth, I contacted Nicole in hopes she would be interested in working with us.  Since opening our doors in June of 2013, Nicole's work has been one of our best sellers.  Her designs are clean, contemporary and fit well in any space.  She expertly crafts each item using high quality materials and takes great care in screening each piece perfectly. 

    We have worked with her on some custom pieces for our lovely little Cabbagetown 'hood including custom pillows, totes and onesies **coming soon**.

    So here's a big hug and shout out to Nicole.  We sincerely thank you for the dedication to your craft and all the support you have given us over the past year and a half!

    Much more success to come!


    HBC Coziness

    kim alke

    Super exciting news!  HBC is in the house!

    We are now stocking the iconic Caribou Throw in cream/multi-stripe and charcoal - made in England from 100% wool.  Also in stock are merino wool baby blankets, children's caribou sweaters and a few adorable little knit toys that even adults will love!

    Stay cozy and stylish!

    Don't Forget to Play

    kim alke

    We have swings!

    That's right!

    For the kid in all of us...but also the design junkie.  They are gorgeous.  Handmade.  Weather-proofed wood.  Made in Montreal. 

    What's not to love?

    Earth Day Essentials

    kim alke

    We are thrilled to welcome ULAT Dryer Balls to the Spruce collection!

    Handmade in Vancouver from 100% Canadian Merino Wool, these little babies work magic on reducing your dryer use and your energy bills! 

    So what, exactly, does a dryer ball do?  Here are a few benefits that might encourage you to make the switch:
    - Decrease your drying time by 30-50%
    - Decrease wrinkles and static in clothes (think less ironing!)
    - Natural alternative to toxic dryer sheets with artificial scents
    - Perfume your laundry with a few drops of essential oils

    To find out more check out the video here


    Hand-Stamped Perfection

    kim alke

    We were delighted to discover the incredible work of Aly Nickerson shortly after opening last summer.  Thanks to her discovery of a vintage letter punch, she paired this with an incredible selection of vintage silverware and her fantastic works were born.

    Vintage. Hand-stamped. Silverware. Lovely.

    Adorable messages are letter-by-letter stamped onto spoons, forks and other unique vintage pieces.  Think about waking up and looking down to see you're holding a spoon that reads "Good Morning Beautiful" or sharing your first bite of wedding cake with your new life-partner using a fork that says "Mr." or "Mrs." - it doesn't get much cuter than that!

    Words don't do them justice so have a look!



    Library of Flowers

    kim alke

    We are so excited to add a new line of lovely fragances made by small-batch perfumer Margot Elena.  Library of Flowers is an absolutely delicious line that includes bath products, creams, candles and incredibly unique parfum de crema.

    We brought in her newest "Story" of scents called The Forest.  Hints of moss, bark and foresty florals make the three fragrances in this line really special.  And her packaging can't be beat - think bubble bath in olive oil tins, parchment-wrapped soap in wooden boxes and triple-wicked candles in glass jars. 

    Spring may seem like it's a long way off but you'll be transported to warm days thanks to this new line!

    "The Forest"

    Cocktail Hour!

    kim alke

    Inspired to remain indoors for most of the winter this year (thanks polar vortex), we managed to keep ourselves busy by studying a bit of mixology!

    Thanks to a few new products, our fun with cocktails can continue well into the spring and summer.  We've brought in a vintage-inspired line of cocktail accessories designed and made by Mason Shaker in Brooklyn that includes wooden muddlers, stainless steel jiggers and shakers constructed using mason jars.  If you're looking for a little bit of instruction, the guys published a fantastic recipe book that offers delish ideas for every season of the year.

    Mix & Be Merry!


    Counting Our Blessings

    kim alke

    As we are beginning to unwind after the (fantastically busy) holiday season we have had a chance to look back on the first 6 (now 7 by the time I am writing this) months of Spruce.  We feel nothing but blessings and gratitude for all the support we have received right from the very beginning - the weeks of renovation, the nerves to open our doors, the first sale, the gorgeous summer months that brought in so many lovely new neighbours and friends, and the incredible love-filled holiday season.  We thank each and every one of you.

    Yesterday we received the news that Spruce has been voted Top 3 New Design Stores in Toronto by BlogTO. 

    We are thrilled. 

    Now in 2014 we have so much to look forward to - the coming of Spring given these crazy temperatures is number one on the list!  But other than the return of warm days, we are so excited to continue to showcase new and local artists who take such pride in producing unique and high quality works.  Some of the best feedback we have received is that our clients are keen to shop local and handmade so our promise will be to bring more of this to you in the coming year. 

    So on the eve of Spruce's 7 month birthday we wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2014 - make your dreams come true this year!

    - The Spruce Team