At Home with Noinkees Owner Miyeko Simons
Local retailer Miyeko Simons is guided by her signature pared-down style at home, especially over the holidays.
For many of us, Christmas is a time to deck the halls with enough woodsy garlands, metallic ornaments, and green and red ribbons to choke an army of Elves on the Shelf. But come December, dedicated minimalist Miyeko Simons finds adding a few deft touches is enough to get her and her family in the spirit.
In the Cape Cod-style home Miyeko has shared with her husband Mike and teenaged daughter Abby for a dozen years, a tall vase of loose eucalyptus and amaryllis greets visitors in the foyer. A fresh-cut tree stands around the corner in the den, lightly adorned with low-key artisanal ornaments. And in the kitchen straight ahead, a cake stand of candy canes and other goodies is the only hit of colour against gleaming grey countertops and snowy cabinetry. If you’re looking for zany patterned wrapping paper and blinking rainbow lights, you won’t find them here.
“I don’t even know what to call my style – I just do what I do,” says Miyeko, who owns the Orangeville clothing and décor shop Noinkees. “I’ve always been eclectic, but it’s become more modern-eclectic in recent years.” During the holidays, retailers like Miyeko are (happily) run off their feet. So more than any other time of the year, Miyeko needs home to be a calm, Zen-like space to recharge.
A pared-down coastal aesthetic runs through everything she touches. In Noinkees, soft whites, cozy greys and warm beiges fill the clothing racks. Bohemian bracelets and amulets are lined up in jewellery cases. And baskets, blankets, wooden bowls and ceramics sit artfully on the shelves. “I’d prefer to have less in there, but I am a store!” she says, laughing.
It’s all a curated paean to the look and feel of a particular Cape Town beach spot etched in Miyeko’s memory. While the longtime retailer has always favoured a clean-lined and unflashy look, two trips to a chic, modern holiday villa called Kia Ora (named for the New Zealand Māori greeting meaning “be well”) in her husband’s native South Africa have pulled it all into focus. The resort sits in Camps Bay, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain. Pale sand, airy and open all-white interiors, and bleached driftwood set against a backdrop of rugged mountains – you get the picture. The words Kia Ora are even etched into the stone threshold to their home. “I love being by the water, the ocean life, the beach,” Miyeko says.
Reality keeps the family cleaved to the Headwaters region, in part because Mike is a commercial pilot flying out of Pearson and Miyeko loves being part of an Orangeville scene buzzing with restaurant, coffee and shopping options.
Noinkees – the name is the Afrikaans term of endearment given to her and her family by her late South African father-in-law – began as a home-based business in the den of the 2,400-square-foot house in 2008. After a stint in a small spot behind the main street, Miyeko moved the shop to Broadway a couple of years ago and name-checks her work neighbours as great places to shop and eat. “It’s part of who I am. We have such a great town – there’s so much here.”
Miyeko and Mike have been working at updating the home, built in the 1990s, bit by bit since they moved here from Ancaster. The division of labour is strict: “I’m the designer and he’s the doer,” she smiles. “That’s how we stay married.” It helps that Mike is a pro who is building up his contracting business Cavok Renovations. The pair pride themselves on tapping other locals whenever possible, for everything from big-ticket items to small accessories. To fix up the now black and taupe exterior, they called on Headwaters Windows and Doors and Mono-based Erb Roofing, for instance.
Upstairs, the renovated bathroom doubles down on the house’s spa vibe, with decorative Buddhist statues, a roomy rain head shower, a giant tub and a wooden bread bowl filled with rolled towels. Tucked in behind the bathroom is a small gallery-like “purse closet” where Miyeko displays a handful of well-crafted designer handbags.
For the master bedroom, Miyeko found three vintage, carved wooden panels from India at Orangeville Flowers to create a headboard of sorts – and a link to other spaces. “I like to tie wood into every room,” she says. Some of the most meaningful wood in the house is the Mennonite-made dining room set they’ve owned for two decades. “It’s the first thing we bought together.”
During the summer of 2017, the pair tackled their biggest reno yet, opening up the kitchen and living areas. They replaced a dated wooden kitchen with crisp white cabinetry from Home Hardware and customized the upper display cabinets with glass from Broadway’s Glasscraft – “He is such a sweet man,” she says of owner Bill Adler. Hexagonal tiles, sleek counters and a covetable pot filler faucet above the low-profile stove add further contemporary notes. The walls are painted a warm, creamy tone (Behr’s Linen White) and the floors throughout are shiny grey porcelain, the kind you’d see in a beach resort, naturally. Miyeko has fond memories of the family’s late dog Daisy skittering across the floors before she got used to them.
At the other end of the room is a fireplace redone in grey stone and a comfy grey sectional from Orangeville Furniture.
Miyeko’s touches throughout include sheepskin rugs, knit poufs, oversize wooden décor beads, blankets and pillows plucked from Noinkees’ stock. Local buys include pottery from Dragonfly and, during the holidays, cute gnomes on the Christmas tree from Noodle Gallery in the Alton Mill. Amid all this, art and travel mementos, including a South African wooden elephant that sits under the wall-mounted TV, still have plenty of room to breathe. It was all ready in time for the family to enjoy last Christmas.
Taken together no single theme or motif dominates, but it all feels connected by tone and sentiment. Like their family itself – Mike’s background is South African and Ukrainian, Miyeko’s is Japanese and Irish – there’s a global feel here that could encompass cool Scandinavian cultures too. Somehow it’s also a fit for a blustery winter in rural East Garafraxa. While Miyeko admits she longs for more beach trips, she’s looking forward to recreating last year’s simple but cozy family holiday. “It was the first Christmas after our renovation and it felt magical.”