DIY Home Tour: Seth & Lis

Seth and Lis's Cozy Hintonburg Home

Seth is an Assistant Production Manager at the Great Canadian Theatre Company and Lis does a variety of odd-jobs: serving tea at a local shop, tending the bar at the GCTC, and making sewn goodies for her side-business.


We rent The Hintonburg Zoo, a 1.5 bedroom, 1920’s wooden shack-house in Hintonburg. The foundation is crumbling, there are mice in the ceiling, and the back neighbor smokes like a chimney. We’ve been in this house for almost 2 years. Good thing we rent.


We would like to say that ‘less is more’ when it comes to putting a house together, but that’s just a lie. After amalgamating two full apartments into one tiny house, and adding inherited teak furniture, an eclectic mix of art and garage sale/thrift shop finds, pottery, and homemade goods, we are in a constant state of purging and reorganizing. We would like to think that this makes the house interesting to visit every few months.

Some of that inherited teak furniture!

Some of that inherited teak furniture!

On a shoestring budget, the Zoo must remain fresh to its inhabitants, inviting, cozy and modern for guests. The goal is to create a balance between practical requirements (like storage) and the frills of having a few nice things.

A chalkboard  and knickknacks in the kitchen.

A chalkboard  and knickknacks in the kitchen.

Seth likes places people go through – like hallways, staircases, alcoves. They’re space most people don’t bother with but they’re often the most interesting. A favorite nook is when you come down the stairwell. Because of traffic, the orientation and style of artwork is often inherently dictated by these spaces.


Lis likes the kitchen. Here she feels most at home: making baked goods, experimenting with new recipes for dinner, making jams, soups, anything really whenever she has time. At times, it drives her crazy, especially when the doors fall off the cupboards, but mostly it’s a great kitchen for a rental. There is enough space to prep a meal, a snazzy oven that bakes things perfectly, and a dishwasher so we don't have to do many dishes.

The corner of their refurbished coffee table.

The corner of their refurbished coffee table.

Some of our favourite pieces include a 1960’s coffee table that Lis bought on Kijiji for $40. It was in pretty rough shape, so we stripped it and refinished it. Seth found a 5’ orange tree beside a dumpster a few years ago and brought it home. Sometimes it flowers. Orange blossoms are the bomb.


To make our house extra cozy, especially in the chilly winter, we have blankets that Lis has crocheted, quilts that she has sewn, and throw pillows made from recycled fabrics.


There are only 3 walls in the Zoo that are more than 8’ long, none of which facilitate a full sized couch in any way that makes sense. The living room is so small and weirdly shaped that we could barely fit a love seat in it. So, getting rid of our loveseat (and giving it to Miss Spoiled Rotten herself), we went to Ikea to buy two comfy chairs instead. This way we can both watch TV comfortably. Downside = less cuddling.


The dream is to have a house that has workspace – an outbuilding, a garage, etc. We both produce items that look great in our house but require a space to execute. Lis’ pottery requires storage space and special equipment, Seth wants to work on more than 1 bicycle at a time. The amount of studio floor space would commensurate the DYI-ness of our activities.


A few quick rules:

  • Buy cheap, things will break and that’s ok: Your guests will respect you for it when they break your wine glasses
  • Purge regularly: It feels great
  • Fuck clutter: Who needs it? It’s dumb. If you don’t use something every day it should be stored or non-existent. Only keep knick-knacks out that are meaningful to you.
  • Your space never needs to be finished: Just make it better each time and learn from your mistakes.

Thanks for sharing your space, Seth & Lis! 

Everybody else: hit up if you want your house, your special project, your life story, etc. to be featured.