Andrew’s Colorful, Creative Live/Work Loft in Toronto

updated Aug 29, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Name: Andrew Stelmack
Location: Toronto, Canada
Size: 725 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 5 years

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Andrew is a professional actor (both on screen and stage), visual artist and writer. However, it is his visual art that now takes up most of his time. To accommodate his creativity, he moved into this live/work space five years ago. Previously Andrew had almost always lived in spacious houses, but one day after tearing a finished painting on a staircase in his last home he knew it was time to try living somewhere different.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

The transition from house to loft living forced Andrew to downsize and edit everything he had. To this day, Andrew says—without reservation—it was the best thing he ever did. Everything he owns now is appreciated and enjoyed. He rotates furniture and decor seasonally. All the superfluous things are gone, and it has instilled a sense of calm and serenity in all other aspects of his life. Andrew now always tells people “don’t be scared of downsizing or throwing away seemingly sentimental things you never use or look at. You will be amazed how much it will change and cleanse your personal life as a result.”

As an aside, Andrew lives in the same building as Tim whose plant and collectible filled apartment we toured earlier this year. It is fascinating to see how people living in similar conditions can truly customize their space to make it their own!

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, mid-century modern, minimal

Inspiration: I get to see a wide variety of decor in the homes of the many clients buying my artwork. I like to take the ideas that attract me the most and find a way to incorporate them into my own style.

Favorite Element: My loft is bright and airy, from the rare high wood ceilings and the plentiful wrap-around windows.

Biggest Challenge: Fitting both a living and a work space into such a small footprint. I wanted it to be a space where I could easily fluctuate between work and relaxation, but both had to be separate. My workspace is always in a cluttered, messy and crazed state of creation, so I need the other half to be calm and serene. I also need my living half to be able to properly show off my artwork to clients. Finding how to do that took a few years of living in the space to figure out. Eventually the answer was to turn the bedroom into my studio and completely tear down and remodel the laundry room into a loft bed with plentiful storage and laundry facilities underneath it.

What Friends Say: How big my space is…when in truth, it really isn’t.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Biggest Embarrassment: The dust and film on the windows! With all the sun, my windows never seem clean enough! Ever! And with wood ceilings and living downtown, I swear as soon as I dust another layer is there within the hour. Thankfully, I have learned to let it go!

Proudest DIY: Most of my loft was completely gutted and redone by me (with a little help from my younger brother Chris). Previously it was a photography studio. The best creation was the removal of what was the laundry room into a loft bed built over the washer and dryer, letting the original bedroom become my art studio. This major renovation finally made everything come together.

Biggest Indulgence: I am a quality bargain hunter and recycler at heart so probably nothing, to be honest. The stories behind many of my finds can often rival my love for their cool looks.

Best Advice: Live in your space for at least six months, if not a year, before doing anything substantial. Live in it. Let the space tell you what needs to be done, not the other way around.

And take your time looking for furniture and accents and art. Don’t run to the big box stores—where everyone else goes—and try and do it all at once. Why the rush? There is nothing more boring in the end than having your own space looking like everyone else’s. Especially when it comes to art. Saving up for an original artwork will always create the “wow” factor in a room unlike anything else you will buy. Best of all, you get to have it for a lifetime!

Finally, only choose special pieces to display on tables and shelves and rotate them in and out of storage. By having a few items, rather than a cluster of them everywhere, you will see them and appreciate them a lot more. I can’t say it enough: Less is more!

Dream Sources: You can’t beat Kijiji, Habitat for Humanity, Craigslist and secondhand or antique shops for unique, one-of-a-kind surprises. There is always EQ3, CB2, and some other cool Queen Street shops both East and West for ease of shopping, but I prefer the hunt. (Few people seem to realize that the east part of downtown Toronto is getting cooler than the West Side it seems, every day…)

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

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Thanks, Andrew!