CAMBIE At Home with Photographer Kimberly Harlowe
Introducing a special edition of our column CAMBIE At Home, an interview series that explores the rituals we create at home, how we interact with our spaces and build environments to support our lifestyles. Today's feature focuses on finding comfort at home while living in quarantine during this collective time of uncertainty.
Kimberly is a Toronto-based lifestyle and family photographer and a long-standing friend and customer of CAMBIE. Kimberly and I first met in my first brick and mortar store many years ago in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. I really enjoy following along with her on Instagram as she shares moments with her family in her beautiful home. Kimberly refers to her creative practice as honest photography, to embrace the mess, the chaos and the hustle & bustle. She encourages her clients to have fun and aims to document their life as it’s lived, candid and unrehearsed. I can see this in the snippets she shares of her personal life as @prettybird, it’s real life and it’s delightful.
Kimberly recently renovated her home and welcomed her third child, so I thought it would be an interesting time to ask her a few questions about her life during the lockdown that we are still under here in Toronto. I hope you enjoy reading about Kimberly’s experiences and seeing her inspiring spaces, since after all, we are all connected and in this together.
We really use our home as a place to connect, relax and create. We're on the second floor of an Edwardian era single family home, approximately 1100 square feet. It's small, intimate and cozy for the five of us. Once upon a time we used to entertain and have a coffee table but currently, we use our home to play board games, undertake art projects and try new recipes. The kids use it mainly to play. Nate creates Lego stop motion films and Jack spends a lot of time engaging in open play. I also use our space as my office where I edit client sessions + reply to emails. Since the pandemic started, it's also become Matt's work space, where we've now dedicated the office to his design work.
I want to say our king size bed because who doesn't love their bed? Ours is big enough for everyone, which is what makes it so inviting and comforting. Our space is a two bedroom and one bath and the two youngest are with us in a shared nursery space/master bedroom, so most times we just all end up in the same bed. A close second would be our newly renovated kitchen. Bright and airy, with a clean view of the kids to the living room, cooking has never felt more relaxed. Previously, we had some walls up which didn't allow for that open concept feel and if you have kids, you know how hard it can be to cook in a completely different room.
I feel that you have to love whatever you bring into your home. Whether it's antique, heirloom, handmade, newly produced - whichever it may be, you have to love it. What I treasure about our space is that we've created a mix of things that genuinely reflect what makes us happy and what we are connected to. A little old, a little new, we look for emotive pieces or details, including displaying our kids' artwork in our wall galleries with other pieces. The overall aesthetic is comfortable and family oriented but also polished. We decided to put the coffee table in storage to make room for the kids' fun things, like their Nugget couch, Pikler Triangle and wobble board. Matt made their Montessori shelf himself. Our main living room serves as their play area too, so we figured if we're going to share a space, we'd like for it to look pretty and reflect the materials that inspire us, as well as their play.
We've been in this space for about 6 years, so Matt and I had a lot of time to settle into all the ways our family has changed over the years and really figure out what we wanted out of it. We also took our time feeling out which aesthetics we're drawn to most. An open concept space was appealing to us because of how family friendly it is. It can be challenging in a small space with five of us to house, so you've got to be creative with organization and storage. This past fall in preparing for the arrival of our baby girl, we decided to knock down some walls and update the kitchen, which also stores our washer and dryer. We're mostly drawn to natural elements, combining textures and various materials while keeping things comfortable and relaxed. I've learned in this last year that I like pops of colour more than I thought. Reminders of our travels to Portugal serve as beautiful snippets of inspiration.
Last summer, we spent most of it at the cottage, where the kids and I spent our days on the beach and in the sun. It's not lost on us how lucky we are to have that opportunity and with Matt working remotely, we were able to have the most memorable summer. It was just the four of us as we quarantined and made the most special memories celebrating becoming a soon to be family of five. But being pregnant in a pandemic was hard, really tough on the nerves. So many family and friends missed the whole 9 months. And then adding renovations to that in my final 8 weeks was another kind of stress that I don't recommend. However once Blythe arrived, we were so grateful that our home was ready to welcome her into. Despite all the worry, isolation and fatigue, the pandemic has given us so much more family time that I will forever be grateful for.
Currently, I love sitting in the front room on the blue couch with a morning coffee, as the sun pours in from the bay window. Blythe on my lap, Jack playing on the floor + Nate getting ready for school. It's a quiet start to the day, somewhat busy but also so simple and beautiful.