A 480-Square-Foot Home Is This Designer’s “Unicorn Apartment”

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Name: Lija Skobe and Emma the cat
Location: Toronto — Ontario, Canada
Size: 480 square feet
Years lived in: 8 months, renting

I found a unicorn apartment in the west end of Toronto. It’s not only affordable but it’s also comfortable and beautiful with old hardwood floors and a unique “popcorn patterned” ceiling. It took quite a bit of work to get it to its current state though. The previous renter had been in the apartment for 17 years. I was lucky that the landlord helped paint and let me choose the colours. It’s a perfect space for a single gal and her sweet cat, Emma.

My name is Lija and I’ve been working in international development for over 10 years. After living overseas on and off for the majority of that time, I settled in my hometown of Toronto. I’m now venturing into the area of affordable, Scandinavian inspired home, cottage, rental and RV design services as well as property management. Emma loves the apartment too since she can go outside easily and chase birds. We also spend a lot of time at our family cottage, which I renovated on a limited budget, as well. When setting up my new place eight months ago, I also had a limited budget so this meant that I procured and fixed up some key pieces of furniture and mixed them with more expensive but essential pieces. I also chose colors that are relaxing, soothing, inspiring, and are easy to update with other colors if so desired.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Scandinavian inspired, soothing, eclectic

What is your favorite room and why? Since the apartment is about 480 square feet, there’s really only one main room to hang out in… and I love it. It has a huge front window so the light that comes in first thing in the morning is magical. It also has a nice flow for all of my furniture. The dining area is also a part of the living room so it’s nice to entertain guests and easily move the couch for more comfort after a meal.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I wish it had air conditioning!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A friend gave me an armchair over 10 years ago. It was in storage for most of that time so I pulled it out, sanded it, stained it, fixed the straps under the seat cushion, bought funky fabric, and had the cushions reupholstered. This type of mid-century modern chair would definitely cost over $500 dollars in a store. A little work goes a long way when upcycling furniture!

Any advice for creating a home you love? Mix and match! A home should be curated. So this means mixing older pieces with new ones and also incorporating different types of materials like wood, metal and glass. Your space should feel relaxing and comfortable so choose colors that may you feel that way. Bring in your personal touch–photos and artwork that showcase your favorite memories and your personality. A home also should be as clutter free as possible so you can see all of the lovely things you own and it remains your sanctuary. Oh… and plants…. lots of plants!

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