Nuria and Ricardo’s Modern Toronto Apartment Filled With Natural Light

published Nov 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Name: Nuria Montblanch and Ricardo Duque
Location: Little Portugal — Toronto, Ontario
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; Rented

After meeting in Europe and living in the UK for a several years, Nuria and Ricardo decided to move to Canada. They first landed in Nuria’s hometown of Montreal and stayed just long enough to begin collecting furniture from local estate sales and markets. Many of their pieces were bought from a closing downtown convent, while the rest are mostly hand-me-downs or gifts from family. The couple love the clean lines of modern design but equally adore color and patterns. Nuria is especially drawn to textiles from places such as South America, Morocco, and Portugal—where Ricardo is from.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Given their creative backgrounds—Ricardo is an architect and Nuria is a designer—it is no surprise that they have been able to pull together their new space in a relatively short period of time. Last year, Ricardo got a job in Toronto, so that is where they are presently planting roots. It can be very easy to rush into designing a space; however, Nuria and Ricardo enjoy taking their time to source new items that are meaningful to them. They have filled some walls with bookshelves to display their large book collection and other treasured items, but are patiently waiting to find the “perfect” pieces to fill other walls and corners.

(Image credit: Ricardo Duque)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We like clean, simple lines and classic, modern furniture. We also appreciate a diverse range of beautiful objects for their sculptural qualities as well as for the stories they tell.

Inspiration: Modern and contemporary design along with the places we’ve lived in and travelled to and our different cultural backgrounds.

Favorite Element: Natural light. We’re on the second floor and we have big windows on the east, south, and west sides so the house is always connected to the outside. The mood of the house is constantly changing with the seasons, the weather, and time of day.

Biggest Challenge: We moved to Canada a few years ago from the UK, first to Montreal and then Toronto. Coming from tiny (mostly furnished) apartments in London, we had very little furniture and were faced with the challenge of filling our new, large space almost from scratch. Apart from a few pieces we brought from London, the majority of our house has been put together from secondhand shops, rummage sales (we got some great pieces from the Grey Nuns in Montreal, who were selling their convent to the University), and from Nuria’s mother, who is a great collector herself. Most of the art in our home comes from family and friends. There is still a lot we’d like to do, all in good time.

What Friends Say: There is a common reaction of amazement when they see the size of the kitchen for the first time. Some have asked us to pass on the apartment to them if we leave.

Biggest Embarrassment: The printed “wood” floors—although not many people notice.

Proudest DIY: We were given the 1960s teak kitchen wall system (from Nuria’s uncle), which had been damaged by a basement flood where it was stored for some years. We stripped it down and refinished it to restore it to its original condition.

Biggest Indulgence: The kitchen/dining space. It is quite rare to find a kitchen this size in Toronto. We love to spend time here, whether having breakfast by ourselves, hosting friends for brunch on the weekend, or trying new recipes in the evenings. It’s bright, warm, and spacious, which makes it a great space to be in at all times of the day.

Best Advice: We believe that a good spatial layout and lots of natural light are the necessary foundations for a good apartment. These will inform how you interact with each other at home and how you perform your daily activities, which will ultimately play an important role on how you feel in the space. After that, it’s all up to your personal taste.

Dream Sources: Beautiful Scandinavian and Japanese furnishings from Mjölk in the Junction, Cambie Design for Peruvian textiles, Noguchi lamps, INabstracto on Queen West for Mid-century modern.


(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • All walls: landlord white
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Coat rack: Eames Hang-It-All via Herman Miller
  • Vintage 1960s Danish teak dresser: bought in London
  • Handblown light fixture: HomeSense
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Sofa: prototype sofa from Pavilion Modern in Toronto
  • Eames rocking chair: bought in London
  • White floor lamp: IKEA
  • Red floor lamp: bought at the annual Trinity Bellwoods Yard Sale
  • Rugs: Turkish kilim, Indian woven rug from IKEA
  • Wall shelves: IKEA
  • Vintage sideboard: 1960s MacIntosh English teak bought in London
  • Noguchi lamp: bought at the Noguchi Museum in Queens, NY
  • Portrait of child: by Betty White
  • Stone block print: by Stanley Lewis
  • Photography: by D. R. Cowles, Anita Sperber
  • Stone paintings: by Marilyn Berzan-Montblanch
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Table: IKEA
  • Antique wood chairs: bought from the Grey Nuns in Montreal
  • Floor lamp: found on the street
  • Lampshade: from friends
  • Red vintage ceiling lamp: Marché aux Puces St-Michel in Montreal
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Vintage Danish teak wall system: from Nuria’s uncle
  • Vintage wood veneer radio: secondhand Sony
  • Stone cut print: by Stanley Lewis
  • Ceramic Portuguese codfish: Bordallo Pinheiro
  • Blue and green glasses: bought in Marakesh, Morocco
  • Cutting board: Larch Wood
  • 1970s SIAL stoneware dinnerware by Gaetan Beaudin: Canadiana
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Bed frame: IKEA
  • Bedside tables: IKEA
  • Painted wood dresser: bought from the Grey Nuns in Montreal
  • Clothes stand: Muji
  • Print above bed: Vasco Mourao
  • Rug: traditional Portuguese blanket from the Alentejo
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Mirror: IKEA
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)


  • Chairs: Danish Modern bought secondhand
  • Shelving unit: IKEA
  • Art Deco skyscraper light fixture: found at Marché aux Puces St-Michel
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Floor plan of the apartment (Image credit: Ricardo Duque)

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Thanks, Nuria & Ricardo!