Location: The Annex, Toronto
Size: 190 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting
A historic mansion in Toronto is a book and history lover's dream and for Natasha, it's also home. Well, one small bit of it is home: Natasha rents a 190-square-foot studio apartment in the building. And though teeny, she finds her living space less congested now than when she lived in a house full of roommates. For Natasha, small space living is "cozy and clever" — a liberating change of lifestyle that has forced her to streamline her possessions down to the essentials.
That said, she has had to adopt a strict "one in, one out" policy. Whenever she brings something new into the house, something old has to go. Well, except for one type of item. Downsizing was most challenging when it came to her extensive book collection. So she decided to "not decide" by keeping as many as possible! Creative (and sneaky!) storage solutions of all kinds hold reading material around the apartment. The blue suitcase under the dresser and one of the upper kitchen cupboards are two such hiding spots.
"Turns out pretty much anywhere is a good place to store books except the oven."
An element that stands out in the space is the loft bed that Natasha has actually come to love. She says that, "it's cozy to sleep in a small space, it reminds me of being in a bunk bed at summer camp or sleeping on a houseboat." Though, understandably, loft beds aren't for everyone. Perhaps they need an inhabitant with a sense of adventure?
Natasha's adventurous, and an entertainer; she calls her apartment a "nest" because she loves to host. As an always-ready host with a belief that no space is too small, she once welcomed 13 friends for her birthday party. She admits that gathering was a tad chaotic, but they managed and had a hilarious time.
Natasha has a refreshing, positive view of small space living. There aren't really downsides, just various adjustments to adopt — and perspectives to shift — to make a situation work.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Crow's nest/ Romanian grandmother's house. I love pastels and natural light, but I also tend to only buy things that are old and weathered. I like that mix of pretty and spooky.
Inspiration: I got my design taste from my grandmother. Her house was filled with tchotchkes from the old country: dark wood, old lace, red tablecloths, embroidered wall hangings of woodlands, black and white family photos. Most of my favourite things in the apartment are hers.
Favorite Element: I'm a big fan of bringing the outdoors inside, so I have a lot of natural materials lying around: branches, driftwood, birch bark, dried flowers. Some of my friends call the branches "my sticks" — I think they think they are failed flowers, which is hilarious. Clearly taste is relative.
Biggest Challenge: Minimizing my book collection. I essentially just refused to do it, so the real challenge became finding clever places to store all the books. The blue suitcase under the dresser is filled with books, and so is one of the kitchen cupboards. Turns out pretty much anywhere is a good place to store books except the oven.
What Friends Say: Everyone comes over, says "Holy this place is small," and then gets comfy on the couch and never wants to leave. I love hosting so people are always over. We call my apartment the nest.
Biggest Embarrassment: Definitely the tattered love seat, which I adore and refuse to get rid of even though Ruby (my cat) has demoted it to her scratching post. Also, I have lots of dried flowers because I kill plants like it's my job. I'm a Taurus and we are supposed to have green thumbs, but clearly I'm not fulfilling the astrological omens on that front.
Proudest DIY: This is more of a strange finder's story than a DIY, but in 2014 I got the idea to go to Romania to see the house that my grandmother was born in. Our relatives left the country a long time age, but the house was important to her and I was in the vicinity so I decided to go. I don't speak Romanian, and when I got to the house I got so nervous that I started rambling in English.
The man who answered the door stopped me mid-sentence and said, "I know you. You're Irene's granddaughter. You look just like her." I didn't believe him, so for proof he took a framed photograph off the wall in his living room and gave it to me to keep. It was my grandparents' wedding photo. It's the black and white photo on the dresser. Turns out he's an old family friend who had inherited the house. Sometimes the world is so small.
Biggest Indulgence: I'm a law student so any stolen moments spent relaxing and drinking wine on the couch are an indulgence. Also books, I have no self-control when it comes to books.
Best Advice: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris
Dream Sources: Jersey Ice Cream Co.! They do the pretty/ spooky vibe so well.
Wooden painting ladder — Arts Market on Queen E, Toronto
Wooden desk — heirloom
Metal table lamp – Nicked it from my brother (thanks Connor!)
White folding chair – Ikea
Loveseat – Ektorp, Ikea
Grey blanket on loveseat – Indigo
Wooden shelves – heirloom
Mini clock on bottom shelf – Ikea
John Waters poster on upper shelf – Strand Bookstore, NYC
Cathedral sketch – vintage art sale, Roncesvalles, Toronto
Dresser – garage sale
Lamp on dresser – Value Village
Blue suitcase under dresser – curb find
Valise under dresser- heirloom
Short shelf beside dresser – Habitat for Humanity Resale
iPod gramophone — Restoration Hardware
Record player – vintage speakers/ receiver, Audio Technica turntable
Painting of woman – curb find
Leather mirror on top of radiator – heirloom
iPod dock – Bay & Bloor Radio
White wooden stool – curb find
Dish rack – Ikea
White fruit bowl – Value Village
Large white mirror – curb find
Letter "N" – gift
Framed architectural sketch in kitchen – vintage art sale, Roncesvalles, Toronto
Welcome to BC tote bag - Victoria BC
Wooden crate (on top of fridge): antique barn, Penetanguishine ON
Nightstand – Ikea
Vintage flour mixer (with dried flowers in it) – antique barn, Penetanguishine ON
Hand towels – Ikea
Towels – The Bay
NYC poster – steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art