Meet Loma Hecker, Administrative Assistant, City of Toronto Cultural Events
Loma Hecker’s creativity flows from her tasks as an Admin Assistant for the City of Toronto Economic Development & Culture, City Cultural Events. “We produce large-scale events such as Nuit Blanche, Doors Open and Cavalcade of Lights,” Loma says of her work. But her creative endeavours are not limited to her professional life. As an artist/hobbyist, Loma engages in a variety of art media, whether acrylic painting on canvas, creative writing, script writing, and creating content for her TikTok account that now has over 5,000 followers. “I enjoy reading and advocating for social justice on my social media accounts and attending rallies and protests for causes supporting the Black & Indigenous communities. I also love to ride my bike and that is my mode of travel around the city. Living downtown is a hobby in itself.” Loma muses that although she has not been officially diagnosed, “I think I suffer from hyper fixation, so many of my projects are unfinished works.”
An unfinished work, however, is not a description Loma would apply to her renovated Victorian-era home. Rather, Loma says of the row house, built in the year 1900 and located in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods and Queen West community, “it is a work in progress”. Loma shared with us the gamut of tribulations and triumphs in her home’s extensive renovation process. “The house was due for renovations but we decided to take our time and do the work over the years. However, about two weeks after we moved in, an upstairs water pipe burst and flooded the house from the second floor all the way down to the basement. It was like Niagara Falls in our house. We had to get insurance involved and that started the renovation process. The first thing they [the insurance assessors] noticed was that the house had no insulation at all in its exterior walls. We needed new wires for all lighting, as it was knob and tube. So, we decided to dive right in and that meant re-gutting the house. We lived in the house through three years of major renovations. At one point, we (four people, three cats, and a dog) all shared one sleeping space, what was the original living room that is now the library. We had a wall tear down party and enlisted the help of many skilled family members.”
“The house originally was divided up as a duplex with a kitchen upstairs as well. The dining room was smaller as the hallway ran from the front into the kitchen. But we took that wall out and opened up the space. We built an addition to the back of the house and added another bathroom on the second floor in the master bedroom. We also renovated the attic that is now my son's room. We had no kitchen for about a year and ordered a lot of take-out, all of that costly and stressful. There were contractors that didn't even show up after giving us a quote but we found a contractor who did a fantastic job.” The renovations, Loma recalls, revealed “the weirdest finds in the walls” including creepy toys, old newspaper clippings and a jar of mouldy mayonnaise. Loma also pointed out other odd and interesting features of the house: a room in the basement that had a lock on the outside of the door to it, a bathroom window that allowed a full view inside from the outside. “Terrifying,” Loma says of that original feature that was eventually removed.
“As the house is Victorian, we tried to honour the art of restoration rather than just renovating so we added crown molding and raised the ceilings back to their original height. We also added European touches with our own heritage pieces. We painted the library walls a dark charcoal and the windows, all shelving, trim and baseboards are all dark walnut (the baseboards and dark trims are carried throughout the house) but each room provides a 'feeling’. The Library is a bit spooky but you can't help but be drawn into it. The dining room is bright, rich, and golden with tall grand ceilings and contains the largest chandelier in the house. My desire was to have guests feel as if they are about to dine in a large mansion or castle but really the house is quite tiny, only 14 feet wide in some places. The kitchen is inviting, bright and white with a French Moroccan theme that continues into the family room. The family room is the most casual space and its atmosphere is relaxing and comfortable.”
Loma has outfitted her home with beautiful and unique furniture and pieces that respect its historical integrity. Of her decorating style, she notes, “my inspiration for decorating is definitely rooted more in my love for history and heritage as well as inspiration from home magazines, television shows and travel. I can explain my decorating style as ‘themes’ and/or a ‘feeling’ for each room. For example, in the library, I wanted to project the idea of it being more of a cabinet of curiosities, a space with a lot of mystery to it that gives the feeling of being in a spooky old house as if you have stepped back in time. In fact, my children believe the house is haunted, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that, at least I don’t think so. There is a story connected to all of the items in the library.” As a Halloween enthusiast, Loma finds this little nod to the macabre appealing.
Of her decorating style, Loma says, “I love antiques and I love Moroccan, Egyptian, and African influences with a mix of French vintage pieces. I really like the French/ Moroccan style. I would then say our style is not only comfort but the expression of who we are as artists and the respect and love we have for unique art pieces.”
Like our previous featured homeowners, Loma enjoys shopping for unique finds at a variety of décor businesses and thrift shops. “I have to admit that one of my favourite places to shop is Homesense, where I find the new and more practical items at a great price,” Loma says. “I am definitely a thrift shopper, though. I love yard sales, or street sales. I have also found some great items at places like Value Village and The Salvation Army. I really have no limits. I do also patronize favourite stores on Queen Street West.”
In addition to these, Loma explains that some of her most noteworthy finds were free. “Most of the best things I have gotten and refurbished were free finds on the street! If you are on a budget and are handy finding free porch pickups, FB [Facebook] Marketplace is the way to go. I found a beautiful antique secretary's desk (worth at least $500) that just needed a few touch ups.”
Loma describes some of her favourite items as “my antique chairs that I travelled all over southern Ontario to find. I wanted to have a unique look in my dining room with different Victorian chairs that I could find at a decent price. I love every single one of the light fixtures we purchased for the house, like our Moroccan Chandeliers that we purchased from a couple who used to own a store front but now have a storage locker with all their beautiful Moroccan furniture. I would say one of my other favourite items is a Frida Kahlo picture I bought for $0.01 on Craigslist many years ago.”
Travel, also, has yielded unique and beautiful décor finds. “If all I could do in life is travel the world I would be travelling the world. I have travelled to my homeland, Belize, five times and to Mexico, Ireland, Barcelona, Marrakesh, and across the United States. I have brought back many items from all these places, not large pieces but art pieces for the walls, and trinkets, such as a light fixture from Morocco that we keep on one of the library shelves.”
Loma exudes the pride she has in accomplishing this large-scale renovation project with the help of friends, family, and a reliable contractor. She notes that her house is “the one in the neighbourhood that everyone talks about on Halloween”. As well, “the house is on a database for film shoots.” Loma concludes that the house’s massive makeover has been an arduous but absolutely worthwhile journey and refers back to its “work in progress” status. “The basement is our next project.” Perhaps we will have an update once completed.
To connect with Loma on social media visit her at: @Lomalicious (Instagram and TikTok).