Slice of life

The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - Globe Style -

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


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