Slice of life
Author Joy McCarthy is enjoying the last days of summer on her blooming balcony
As cars zoom by below on Toronto’s busy Bloor Street West, holistic nutritionist, lifestyle blogger and author Joy McCarthy looks to the trees in High Park beyond to be transported. McCarthy’s condo, shared with her husband and business partner Walker Jordan and their toddler daughter, Vienna (named after the Austrian capital and countryside they visit almost annually), boasts a family-friendly balcony space that is as unfussy as McCarthy’s recipes for gluten-free muffins and green smoothies.
The trio moved into the newly built condo in 2015. When it came time to design and outfit the balcony, the project brief was minimal and the budget was just $500. “It had to be kid-friendly, have a lot of green and be a space we could hang out in,” says McCarthy. To make it a reality, McCarthy enlisted the help of friend and Studio 1 NINE 1 owner, Emilia Wisniewski. “Emilia knew we had a very limited budget and a very small space,” said McCarthy. “But that we wanted to create a little oasis.”
To satisfy the kid-friendly requirement, Wisniewski carved out an area that’s Vienna’s “zone,” its footprint defined by a turquoise-and-white patterned rug, a soft storage basket with extra pillows and an (intentionally unclimbable) baby Acapulco chair, all from Homesense. Vienna drags out her favourite books and toys and, occasionally, a water table for splashing. On the other end, the adults hold court around their own table, purchased vintage from Eclectisaurus in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood, with chairs from Homesense, a blanket from Red Canoe and a black-and-white striped CB2 rug underfoot. And though, as McCarthy says, “[Vienna] has her space, we have our space,” the balcony hangs together, with layered patterns, textures and bright colours creating a vibe that’s fun and comfortable but not too child-centric.
Adding greenery required some creativity. “I just love plants and gardening, but when you have a balcony you’re much more limited,” McCarthy says. Taking inspiration from High Park’s manicured spaces and wilder areas, Wisniewski and McCarthy were able to green the space with potted geraniums, Brown-Eyed Susans, wild grasses, “some random tropicals,” firs, parsley and basil herbs and even a banana tree. Air plants hang delicately off a lattice from Plant World and a wreath and terrarium from Thorn Floral add to the overall diversity of the ecosystem, which, despite its variety and abundance, is easy to care for – a necessity for the family who travel often for play and for work.
Readers of McCarthy’s books, Joyous Health and Joyous Detox, and followers of her YouTube channel and Instagram feed can enjoy wholesome and seasonal recipes and lifestyle tips meant to inspire happier, healthier lives. “I love working out here in the evening, once I’ve put Vienna to bed,” says McCarthy, pointing to Vienna’s bedroom, which looks out onto the balcony. “I can always peek in on her,” she says. – KRISTINA LJUBANOVIC