kurt & lori
harmonize a love of bold colour with mid-century modern design
inspiration grows here
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contributors MICHAEL GRAYDON photographer
TRACY SHUMATE photographer
Michael had his first photography exhibit in the basement of his Unionville, Ontario, home in 1986. He presented a slide show of images from a family trip to the B.C. interior (“my roll was full of close-up still lifes of wood, rocks and anything else that caught my eye”). Michael’s eye for detail has led to work for such publications as Style at Home, Report on Business and Canadian House and Home.
Tracy is like a sculptor of photography. Her images explore the space around an object almost as much as the object itself. We’re so excited that she’s taking pictures for Covet Garden. Her work has appeared in Chatelaine, Canadian House and Home and Style at Home. Tracy also became an Internet sensation when her studio space was featured in Issue 6!
On the cover: illustration by Jessica Reid. Photo (opposite) of Kurt and Lori by Ali Eisner.
First we fell in love with Kurt and Lori’s place. It’s bold and colourful and it just has an interesting flow. There’s not a single nook or cranny that doesn’t elicit some sort of response. Which is to be expected when its inhabitants are artists and musicians. But there’s something more to the house. Can we say it has good vibes without sounding like we’re hippies? Even the scent of the house is delightful. Then we fell in love with Kurt and Lori. They have both had some pretty awesome experiences, but they are both super down-to-earth. They’re the kind of folks that make you feel like the centre of attention even when you’re in their house taking pictures of them.
visit our blog for more drink recipes!
Artist and musician Kurt and singer-songwriter Lori show us that home is where the art is
crafts photography by Michael Graydon
Collector’s plates: Kurt’s paintings of his favourite R&B musicians
urt was once the king of Toronto’s Kensington Market. In fact, he lived there for 18 years. But the artist-musician followed his love, singer-songwriter Lori, to the west end, where they bought their first house. “Initially I felt like it was the edge of the universe,” says Kurt. This is the place they found—an Edwardian-era, fourunit apartment house. They are the first owners to make any significant changes to it, says Lori. So they set about creating something totally different and new—a space that tipped its hat to their old downtown digs, while honouring the new neighbourhood. Using an online computer-assisted design program (Floorplanner.com) and old-fashioned cardboard and masking tape on the floor to figure out how to make the most of their new rooms (and where to place their old furniture), they first opened up the space. Kurt and Lori set up shop on the top two floors and rented out the rest. And a deck was added so that they could take in their new surroundings.
On top of the kitchen cabinet sits a bottle of “mystery liquid” that the couple found while renovating. Says Lori, “Every time a friend sees it, she says she sees the ghost of a lady in a pink dress.”
Part of Shelley and Brendon’s education philosophy is that kids are not just empty vessels. “Why should we treat them as lesser?” This concept is reflected in Clover’s room (previous page) and playroom (these pages). “Children should be surrounded by things of beauty,” says Shelley.
this page: “My main thing in a space is my plants,” says Lori. opposite page: The couple reconfigured found display cases into an ingenious shelving unit.
The house is still a work in progress. “My process is slower,” says Lori. “I like to see the blank walls for a while.” She stripped the paint off the door frames to see what was underneath.
While Kurtâ€™s love of colour is felt throughout the house, his studio is relatively bare bonesâ€” though he still has a very cool mid-century stool.
hey also both work from home, so they needed rooms to call their own. Funnily enough, Kurt’s art studio has white walls, bare floors and is decorated with only a collection of hats, while Lori’s music studio is filled with art and vibrant colour. After decades of renting, owning their own building gave them creative licence. “The previous landlord had a strict no-painting policy,” says Lori. “Here we painted every wall immediately, and we used some strong colours.” Pattern, texture and shape also play important roles in the house. Another goal of the renovation was to reuse or upcycle as much as possible, but rooms like the kitchen and bathroom had to be completely made over. “The things that we could afford in stores were uninspiring,” says Kurt. “Then we realized that if we could sketch it, I could probably build it.” Handmade touches in the house include the shelves in his studio, a table in the hallway and the slightly battered Eames chair that Lori found in the trash and recovered with fabric swatches.
this page: Kurt sketches by the light of the new third-floor deck. opposite page: Meemoo the cat on the move. “The nice thing about working from home,” says Lori, “is that you can take a 4 p.m. nap.”
A mix of high and low: estatesale sunflowers share space with an Eames splint. “There was a period when I was obsessed with Eames,” says Kurt of the couple’s midcentury collection.
he things in their house are not precious, nor are they sentimental. Shelves are lined with friends’ CDs. And most of the furnishings in the home are objects that have been with them forever. “It’s neat to live with a piece of furniture for so long,” says Kurt, “because it gives one a chance to imagine it in a new light, giving it new life.” A landscape from Kurt’s childhood home hangs sideways in the dining area. A vessel that Lori’s parents brought back from their honeymoon in Mexico becomes a centrepiece in the living room. The place is always lively. There are listening parties, collaborations with other musicians and artists and plain ol’ parties, where Kurt mixes up fancy cocktails like the Mick Jager (tonic and Jagermeister) or the Red Needle (cranberry juice and tequila)—a homage to Leonard Cohen. A spare room becomes a guest room thanks to a Murphy bed that folds up into the wall. As Lori so nicely sums up, “We have our workspaces here, but it’s the communal space that really makes the difference.”
opposite page: The graceful vase in the bathroom is a classic example of Blue Mountain Pottery, from Collingwood, Ontario. The company started producing its wares at the base of a ski resort in the early 1950s.
Kurtâ€™s music studio is filled with the kind of gadgets that would make a technophile swoon. We know because our resident technophile freaked out about the Aeron chair, the Tenori-on and the Moog coffee cups.
Meanwhile, in Lori’s studio, the design geeks are getting all excited about the vibrant use of colour. “In the morning, it really helps wake you up,” says Lori. “I recorded a big chunk of my album here.”
Photo by Ali Eisner
What artistic ability d KURT: I’ve got the ar
Which superpower do you wish you had? LORI: I’d love to be able to switch genders, see how the other half lives. KURT: The power to elect Jack Layton as prime minister of Canada. What’s your favourite guilty pleasure? LORI: TV trays in front of American Idol. Did I just admit that?
What’s your favourite flower? LORI: All flowers are created equal, well, maybe except for the carnation…poor thing. How do you most like to spend a Friday night? KURT & LORI: Dinner party with friends. What do you carry with you everywhere? KURT: Pride.
do you wish you had? LORI: Kurt’s rtsy stuff covered—I wish I had practical abilities. new releases!
what are you looking at?
Kurt Swinghammer’s latest project, Turpentine Wind, is a multi-media project inspired by the life and work of landscape artist Tom Thomson. It’s a CD of songs and a Blu-ray of animations set to instrumental remixes that comes with an original 8”x10” painting of a WAV file of part of the lyrics. A group of 20 WAV file paintings are also on display now at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener, Ontario, as part of the Searching for Tom exhibit (until May 8). Kurt is performing at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener on April 13 and on May 19 at the Music Gallery in Toronto. Lori Cullen is a singer-songwriter who first made a splash in the folk scene, but she just as easily interprets jazz, orchestral pop and acoustic folk. She has also appeared as a guest vocalist on the Polaris Prize--winning Final Fantasy album He Poos Clouds. Her latest CD, That Certain Chartreuse, is an eclectic collection of Lori’s own songs plus tunes by Suzanne Vega and Shania Twain (along with some other surprises). She debuts the disc with a concert at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on May 12.
• Kurt’s website • Lori’s website
good scents Lori turns us on to Heartsease’s all-natural skincare products photograph by Tracy Shumate
hen we visited Kurt and Lori’s house, we couldn’t get over how great it smelled. Turned out the source of the perfumed atmosphere was coming from the bathroom, of all places. Specifically from Lori’s collection of Heartsease soaps, essential oils and hand lotions. “I’m kinda hooked on essential oils,” says Lori. The line is made in Winnipeg by her friend’s mom! And like a good mother, Heartsease wants only the best for your skin— products that are “unspoiled by chemicals, synthetic scents, or dyes.”
château des chapeaux
Wherever Kurt lays his hat, that’s his home photograph by Tracy Shu “Wildhagen hats are quite distinctive and have a lot of personality. They use quality materials (Maharam fabrics!) and make them in small numbers at the Queen Street shop, so you’re supporting the local economy. The store is very creative and the folks are super friendly. My favourite always seems to be the newest one.”
3 ice cubes 11/2 oz gin 1/2 oz Campari 2 oz tonic several squirts of lime juice
check out our blog for more of Kurtâ€™s drink recipes!
get your drink on!
Amateur bartender Kurt shows you how to get Swinghammered with his famously refreshing cocktails photography by Tracy Shumate
Rum & College
3 ice cubes 11/2 oz rye whisky 1/2 oz Frangelico
3 ice cubes 11/2 oz gold rum 1/2 oz Averna 2 oz ginger ale several squirts of a lemon
Looking to concoct a lovely beverage for guests at your next party? Get a crash course in mixology with DIY Cocktails: A Simple Guide to Creating Your Own Signature Drinks, by Marcia Simmons and Jonas Halpern (the editors of drinkoftheweek.com). This breezy, informative book takes the intimidation out of home bartending by simplifying the steps of balancing flavours, booze and mix.
Kurt and Lori’s bold use of colour made us want to splash out on some great colour-blocked and patterned finds
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1. Virginia Johnson lightweight Merino wool scarf in Japanese dark turquoise, $195 2. Given refrigerator, $2,600 4. L.A. Eyeworks Kowalski plastic frames, $350 5. Vahalla Studios silkscreened 7. Demano laptop sleeve for MacBook 13”, €34 8. Shultz bakelite three-row bangle in red-and-ye $100 11. Curacao 300 mL body splash by Marc Jacobs, $85 12. Zomo Headphones HD-1200 in orang red-and-green rollerball pen, $90 16. Marimekko for Converse shoes, $80 17. Thomas Wold Block
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nchy Candide Garden (#78) Le Prisme Eyeshadow Quartet, $56 3. Smeg Orange Top freezerd Feist concert poster, $31 6. Themis mobile designed by Clara von Zweigbergk for Artecnica, $30 ellow-check pattern, $380 9. Rice melamine cups, set of 6 for $31 10. The Newton watch by Nixon, ge, â‚Ź69 13. AigleÂŽ Equibelle wellies, $169 14. Kate Spade Essex Scout bag, $395 15. Laban Scepter k Party credenza, price available on request.