Mel & Dave's Industrial Chic Loft

House Tour

Name: Mel & Dave
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Size: 1200 square feet - 2 bedrooms, 2 baths
Years lived in: 2

Mel and Dave's beautiful downtown home is located in what is one of the earliest and best examples of loft conversions in a city now full of them. Their west-facing windows give them great light throughout the day - even the eastern morning light reflects off the glass towers across the way and back into their home. From their perch above it all (including a notoriously rowdy university campus pub) these two graphic designers live, work, and play. Fusbol, anyone?

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Used for decades as merchandise storage space for Sears, the building kept many elements from its industrial past for the new residents. Mel and Dave's two bathrooms are fitted with original light fixtures and ladders (which they cleverly put to use as towel racks). The concrete floors throughout the loft also remind you of the building's former life - although Mel and Dave wisely had them resurfaced with a rich matte finish. "They looked and felt like sidewalks when we moved in," Mel told me.

That's not all they did to the space in the short time they've been here. They also saw it through a nightmarish kitchen renovation. They altered the layout of the kitchen and put in all new cabinets and a seamless corian countertop. It may look beautiful and serene now, but it came at the expense of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The kitchen designer hired lousy contractors and fixing their mistakes took them way over budget and time. Now that it's all finished and behind them, they are able to enjoy it - especially the kitchen island, which they can raise and lower to use as extra counter space or as a dining table.

The mostly open loft space has a master bedroom and office that can be closed off from the rest of the flat with sliding doors. After regular working hours, the industrious pair uses their office as a base for their design company, CLEAN, and can often be found working side by side. They have been known to accept gorgeous artwork in lieu of payment. The two recently brought home an antique letterpress, and have plans to put that to good creative use as well. Their furnishings are mostly modern, with a few vintage industrial pieces thrown in for good measure. Add some lovely lush plants, a simple photo or print here and there, and you've got one awesome Toronto loft.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Functional, clean, patinaed, leafy.

Inspiration: Industrial-ephemera-flea-market kitsch meets 70's modern overuse.

Favorite Element: The Highs, the Lows, and the Views--polished vintage concrete aggregate flooring, a ceiling lined with literature from wall-to-wall, and an uninterrupted view of Toronto you can't get anywhere else.

Biggest Challenge: Turning 50% of our unconventional living space into useful niches.

What Friends Say: "Where did you get that?!"

Biggest Embarrassment: Mel - "One man's junk is another man's treasure." The hideous hood fan that wows every guest (I don't get it!).
Dave - "Turn off the lights, no really, turn them off." We've resorted to using candles after sundown as our existing lighting is reminiscent of that of a storage locker.

Proudest DIY: Turning our entire apartment's ducting system into a quasi-operational library. Guests always exclaim "Cool!" Followed by a few seconds of silence, and then the "How do you get 'em down..." We're workin' on it!

Biggest Indulgence: A German engineered kitchen--the focal point of the space... and plants--can't live without them.

Best advice: Love what you've acquired. Acquire only what you love. The rest you can live without.

Dream source: Balinese jungle via 60's mid-town Manhattan.

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Resources: Flea markets, artist portfolios, family discards, lifetime treasures, plant world.

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(Thanks, Mel and Dave!)

Images: Abby Cook

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