Decorating & Design

June 4, 2021

Toronto Artist Virginia Johnson Invites Us Inside Her Creative Studio

Potted geraniums heavy with pink and crimson blooms are sprinkled throughout artist Virginia Johnson’s city garden. “They reward you with very little work,” says Virginia as she steps out of her west end Toronto house and heads down the pea gravel path that winds through her backyard. “My grandmother had a potted red geranium that grew to be huge,” she adds, a little wistfully. The nostalgic charm of garden florals, the wabi-sabi allure of imperfections, pieces with a story — in less than five minutes, we’ve touched on the hallmarks that make Virginia’s art and design work so sought after. They also distinguish her newly built studio, a separate, single-storey structure tucked into the back of her garden.

In the last three years, she’s authored and illustrated a travel book, launched a line of wallpapers, created home goods for Hudson’s Bay and continued to produce her popular textiles and clothing. But what she was really craving was some healthy separation from the demands of being a mother, wife and entrepreneur. “I’d never had an art studio,” she says. “Creating this space was about valuing that more and acknowledging that it’s important to me.”

Virginia’s deep, narrow yard presented the perfect spot to build. Spanning the full width of the property, the studio neatly replaced an untamed pergola and her kids’ long-forgotten sandbox. Its overall design is simple, with clean lines and poured concrete floors. But, the exterior caters to Virginia’s preference for time-honored looks. “I’m not a modern person, so I went with more traditional doors and used reclaimed bricks on the façade to give that old texture,” she says. Virginia credits the new studio for her being able to finish her latest book, which will be published by Artisan Books next year. “I could not have done it without this space,” she says.

Scroll down to tour Virginia’s inspiring creative studio!