When Lidija Jerant and her family sit down at their dining table, it’s under the warm glow of chicken wire adorned with 3,000 zip ties.

Jerant made the overhead light fixture back in 2003 when she and her husband renovated the main floor of the Leslieville house they had just purchased for $200,000.

While the sharp edges of the cable ties wreaked havoc on her fingernails during assembly, she “loved the result.” Not surprisingly, “it is a definite conversation piece” for guests, she adds.

“Our home decor is 80 per cent thrifted, found on the curb or DIYed,” Jerant says.

Textile artist Lidija Jerant's studio/home office on her home's remodelled third floor is "a happy place for me."

Frugality paid off during a second renovation of their century-old home six years later, in 2009. Her “super, super handy” husband, Nathan Buckwalter, worked alongside their accommodating contractor, contributing his labour as the second floor was gutted and reconfigured, the chimney removed, and a third storey added.

Not only did they gain 600 square feet of living space but Buckwalter’s efforts helped keep the total cost of the seven-month project to under $200,000, says Jerant, adding her partner helps bring her ideas to life.

“We were essentially a general contractor” for the reno, she says, explaining they found the necessary tradespeople to work on the project.

Their home boasts an impressive array of discounted and repurposed items sourced from thrift shops and Ikea’s “as is” room. For instance, hutches retrofitted to become bathroom vanities and built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace are Ikea hacks. For the built-ins, the couple bought three units and dissected one to top off the other two so that they’d reach the ceiling, Jerant explains.

Floor-to-ceiling bookcases are rebuilt Ikea units and the old brick fireplace surround was covered with parging cement in an "experiment (that) turned out quite nicely," says Jerant.

The main-floor ceiling is rough-cut knotty pine to create a “rustic farmhouse look” in the big living space they created by opening up the original floor plan of separate rooms. They covered the old brick fireplace surround with parging cement tinted a warm brown in an “experiment (that) turned out quite nicely,” she says.

“Our main floor is where we all gather together to eat, play games, watch a movie or just hang out,” says Jerant.

Up on the third floor, and adjoining their bedroom, is the den with a TV that “provides a space to be, when needed, like when the kids have friends over,” says Jerant of her 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.

Separated by barn doors Buckwalter built, her studio/home office is “a happy place for me … where I feel satisfied and inspired.”

Jerant, a textile artist, longtime bargain hunter and creative whiz, describes her family of four’s home as “warm, cosy and inviting.”

Jerant DIY'ed her dining room light fixture using chicken wire and 3,000 cable ties.

Some of the contents have had previous lives. “It’s garbage day, I’m going for a walk and I literally see something by the side of the road,” she explains, citing a chair she reupholstered and an old hutch she refinished to house their stereo and games.

Jerant, the maker behind Indie Boho Studio, creates contemporary textile art with macramé, weaving and basket-making in her third-floor home studio. She also teaches those crafts off-site at workshops in east-end Toronto. Her pieces, sold on Etsy, incorporate new and vintage fibres, rope, jute and beads to add texture.

Popular in the 1960s and ’70s, macramé is evolving into more sculpture-like, geometric forms since enjoying a resurgence seven or eight years ago, according to Jerant, whose workshops include materials and step-by-step instructions.

Throughout the family’s house, the furnishings and accessories made or found by the self-taught artist add a “visually pleasing (and) personal” dimension, she says.

The new third-floor includes the principal bedroom where walls, like the rest of the house, are white to maximize light and provide a backdrop for Jerant's artwork.

A favourite framed print she bought for $19.99 at the Salvation Army — “a big spend for a thrift store” — is both soothing and inspiring. “I love it so much that it inspired a weaving I made,” she says of the picture that includes colours of peach, navy and gold. “It’s eye candy to me.”

After years of collecting, Jerant has scaled back to keep only things “I really, really love.

“There’s something satisfying … about giving something a new life.”


Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering personal finance, home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her via email: [email protected]

The numbers

Purchase price in 2003 $200,000

Reno cost under $200,000

Size 1,800 square feet of living space

Bedrooms 4 + 1

Bathrooms 3


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