Welcome Home: Conni Jespersen's Bright and Beautiful Toronto Rental

Stylist and blogger Conni Jespersen provides a peek inside her bright and airy home that brings a bit of California cool to Toronto.
Photography: Conni Jespersen

Photography: Conni Jespersen

Conni Jespersen may live in Canada now, but she still considers herself a true California girl, born and bred. When this stylist and blogger behind Art in the Find gave us a tour of her Toronto home, we spotted elements of easy-breezy West Coast style at every turn, from the sunshine streaming through the windows to the pops of color and gold design details giving a bold bit of glitz to bright white walls. 

Below, Conni shares a look at her truly inspiring space. She also offers insights from her transition from San Diego to Toronto, explaining how she and her husband found their new rental, settled into the local community, and prepared for a serious climate change. We also got the inside scoop on her favorite pieces that make the house a home. Take a peek for yourself, below...

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You somewhat recently moved from Southern California to Toronto; how did you find this space and how long have you lived there?

Yes, my husband was offered an international opportunity through his company and being that [I'm] a freelance stylist and blogger, we were both able to pick up and make the big move. We found our space in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Toronto! We had about a month or so [of] notice, so I reached out to fellow bloggers who live here and asked for recommendations on neighborhoods downtown that were similar to where we lived in San Diego.

We wanted to be within biking and walking distance to coffee shops, restaurants, and work. We had some great neighborhood options, so we worked with a rental real estate agent who drove us all around the neighborhoods we were into, until we came across a 100-year-old walk-up home. When I saw the newly renovated interior and white walls, I knew that was the place! We've been there almost a year and a half now!

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This space is lovely and looks like it has some great character; what is your favorite feature and why? 

When I walked into the empty space before we moved in, I was immediately drawn to the bay window in the front room. I've always wanted a space with a bay window. I think they're absolutely stunning and such a great feature on older homes. Our small living room space is kind of like our living/dining room space, so we set up our dining room table in the space and it works perfectly. 

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How was the transition to a new city (and country!)? 

Well, we didn't have a lot of time to prepare for our move, around a month and a half or so, so we just kind of jumped right in. I immediately reached out on social media and used it as a networking tool. I set up some coffee dates with people here and asked a lot of questions. I even had one Skype meet-up where we chatted just about the winter! (Nothing like San Diego!) That really helped in getting to know the city. I think the weather was the biggest transition for me. Being that my entire wardrobe consisted of clothes that suited a warmer lifestyle, I had to invest in a few other cold weather pieces. It took our first winter (we moved in February of last year) to really think smartly about what to invest in and what to avoid. I thought I knew what cold was but I had no idea until I got here. What a learning process that was.

We've also learned to share a car here in the city. Toronto is a big city and has a big biking community. There is a lot of activity going on all the time. So we both bought new bikes and spend most of our weekends navigating the city by bike! It's been a wonderful way to get to know the city better.

I think, as tough as it might be to move to a new city, it was/is important to look at it as an adventure, searching for all the hidden gems in a new place. That's what we've tried to do and it really has made this experience a good one.

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What was your inspiration when choosing decor for your home? 

We lived in a condo in San Diego and I did a lot of painting in all the different spaces in our rental. So when I saw the white walls in our space here, I wanted to stick with that minimalism and simplicity and cleanliness. I love how it makes the small space look and feel clean. I [chose] pieces that have clean lines, and work well within a small space. I wanted a color palate that reflected that vibe. So I chose blues in the kitchen and living room that do well in communicating a clean airy feel. Then I added pops of color here and there in accessories and art. 

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Do you have any tips for fellow renters out there?

Don't paint! Haha. I had a bad experience with the last place we lived because I painted. Discuss any changes with your landlord first. I didn't, and because we had lived in our place for 7 years, I wanted to update a few things. They didn't agree with that so much. If you want to make big changes, I'd opt for removable wallpaper, as there are some amazing options out there, and I would change a light fixture or two, that are easily able to be replaced when you move out. 

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What are your favorite design resources? 

Pinterest for online and Domino for a great print magazine. I am still a huge fan of the print magazine. I love, love turning the pages of Domino Magazine and have a stack of them on my coffee table. I ear mark pages that I find inspiration from, whether it's a color choice for a room or a piece that I find inspiring. Then, when I'm ready for a mini-home decoration change, I look back at the magazines as a source of inspiration.

I try not to jump too quickly on a trend, but rather, pay attention to pieces that jump out at me as I'm decorating. Often, I get inspiration from local flea markets, which I frequent with friends on the weekends. Here in Ontario, they have a flea market called the Aberfoyle Flea, where I've found some great glassware and a few vases. Over the years, I've collected pieces here and there from flea markets, which are a huuuuge source of design inspiration. Back in Southern California, I love going to the Long Beach Flea Market and of course, the Rose Bowl Flea.

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What is your most prized possession in your home? 

Ohhh, I have a few....our couch and our painting from a friend in San Diego. We inherited the couch from my husband's grandparents. When we first saw the couch, it was upholstered in maroon fabric, had tassels, and a dust ruffle! Oh, it had DIY project written all over it. I had a good fabric resource in San Diego, called UFO fabric, met with a great upholsterer, showed them my inspiration, and the rest is couch-history. I hope to have this piece forever. It's both sentimental and functional and I love it.

The other is a painting by an artist and friend, Joanna Posey. We met back in San Diego and she offered to paint a piece for me that spoke both about our home and my brand, Art in the Find. The colors she used were so spot on and spoke to me in such a calming way, she really nailed it! It hangs in our living room space and is a constant reminder of home and our travels. It's a very special piece. 

p.s. Speaking of inspiring homes, have you met our new Home & Living Editor, SarahLou?