What do you do when you’re itching for a country home, but work keeps you in the city? For actor Hélène Joy – fans of TV’s Murdoch Mysteries know her as Dr. Julia Ogden – the answer came in the form of a Victorian house in Toronto’s west end. “I walked into this house and it just felt like an urban farmhouse,” says Joy. “I loved it straight away.”
When Joy first set foot in the three-storey home a little over a year ago, it hadn’t been updated in a very long time. That was a big selling point. “I liked how rough it was,” she says. The house still had its original flooring, banisters and moulding. Joy – who has renovated seven rental properties in the city and holds a realtor’s license in her native Australia – had a clear vision of how to make this house her very own urban country escape.
First, she updated the lower level and turned it into a rental apartment. Then, she turned her attention to the upper floors. “My philosophy is to buy what moves you,” says Joy. In this case, it was a collection of farmhouse-inspired pieces and custom-designed accents, with a few meaningful personal items mixed in for good measure. Joy adds, “When you do that, when you work with pieces you really love, there’s a theme. It does come together and it’s not random at all. Plus, it’s just a whole lot of fun!”
These days, Joy trusts her home-design instincts, but that wasn’t always the case. “I’ve come to the point with decorating where I just don’t overthink it,” says Joy. “With this place I wanted to make it my own so every choice I’m making is because it moves me and I like it, not because I think someone else will,” says Joy. “Somewhere along the line, I realized I just hate new, boxed things. They’re boring as hell and they don’t make me happy. Well-made vintage things, even if they’re a little broken down, make me really happy.”