This Chic Toronto Apartment Is How to Do Expensive Taste on a Small Budget
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Name: Robin Daprato and cat, Gimli
Location: Toronto, Canada
Size: 900 square feet
Type of Home: Duplex/House
Years Lived In: 6 years, renting
I have worked in props and set decoration in the film industry for the past six years and in that time I really found my love for design and styling. When I first entered film, I had also just moved into my first *adult* rental home and my world, both at work and at home, quickly became centered around all things aesthetic. From styling food scenes at work, to falling in love with the art of a curated bookshelf at home, it’s safe to say that my passion for styling had surfaced.
Two years ago, I started @rosesonadelaide, my Instagram account dedicated to my love for interior design, DIY, rental hacks, and a place to share information about my tarot reading side hustle. As my tarot business started to get busier, I also noticed that I was increasingly having people ask me if I could help them style everything from rental homes to weddings to using the Roses space for shoots. I LOVED it. So, I am now in the very preliminary/scary beginning stages of turning Roses on Adelaide into an interior styling venture.
It’s hard to believe (for me), but I have been in my place now for six years! It’s even harder for me to believe how much has changed in those six years. (You can see some of those changes by checking out Robin’s last home tour on Apartment Therapy.) The list of what I love about my space could go on forever: the location, the quirks, the detailing, but at the core, I love my home because it has been an unwavering anchor. It has been a place of safety for me through moments of change, pain, and hardship, but also through moments of joy, laughter, and growth. It has also been the space that revealed my passion for interior styling and for that I will be forever grateful to my sweet little oasis.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Intentional
Inspiration: Travel, at the risk of sounding too cliché, inspires me. Visiting places like Florence, Oaxaca, and Copenhagen, has shown me the magic of what can happen when architecture and design are treated as an art rather than an industrial necessity for urban expansion (which is what my city often feels like as more and more ugly high rises fill the sky). I think more than anything though, I find inspiration from nature. A uniquely shaped branch or a hidden creek has more magic for me than even the most beautifully crafted object.
Favorite Element: Gimli (my cat)
Biggest Challenge: Expensive taste, on a small budget. I’ve had to get super thrifty and really harness my DIY skills over the years because generally the things I want are wayyyy out of my 29-year old, living in downtown Toronto budget. Generally, what I will do is look at what I love, the ideal “thing,” then figure out how I can get it or recreate it for significantly cheaper. I work a job that requires me to be relatively handy, have access to quite a lot of tools/equipment, and am surrounded by an amazing number of skilled people who have been willing to help and teach me over the years. Sometimes, if I am being honest, my DIYs have ended up costing me more, but it is all a learning process, right?
Proudest DIY: There have been so many, it is really hard to pick, but if I had to, it would be my dining room table that I built when I had COVID and was self-isolating. I couldn’t leave my house and couldn’t get any help, so I had to get my parents or friends to leave materials for me on my porch. There was a few times I really wanted to throw in the towel because *spoiler alert* building a dining room table isn’t an easy beginner task. BUT, I am so happy how it turned out and am really, genuinely proud of it.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I think one of the most unique things about my home is that I have a kitchen garden in downtown Toronto! It is such a rare thing to have a green space, even the small size I have, in the city. I love being able to walk outside in the summer and pick fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, or peppers and moments later be able to engage with the vibrancy and excitement of the city. It is a grounding, momentary urban escape that I absolutely do not take for granted.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: For me the biggest aha moment was when I decided to only have things I loved on display (within reason). It made such a huge difference, especially in my kitchen and bathroom, when I uncluttered surfaces and put all of my appliances and “eyesores” into cupboards and drawers. It may take me an extra few seconds to take out my toaster or blender, but the visual decluttering really makes a small space feel bigger.
Another thing I do is before I buy something, I create a mood board. I put together images of things I already have in a room (generally I include big items like a couch, rug, table; as well as art and decorative objects) and then integrate the item I want to buy and see if it works. It has saved me countless times from purchasing things that, ultimately, wouldn’t quite work. Finally, don’t be afraid to change where things live in your space. I am constantly moving around furniture, art, decorative objects etc. and it always surprises me the impact an old piece in a new context has in terms of revitalizing both the object and the space.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Trust that you know what you like before anybody else. As much as I love a space largely filled with whites, blacks, and browns, this is not for everyone. Designing your home can be such a powerful form of self-expression, a space that can really reflect who you are and what you love and I believe you should decorate based on what you feel connected to rather than what TikTok or Pinterest is telling you is cool at the moment. After all, it is you who will be spending the most time in your space, so shouldn’t you love it? As I look around my space now, I realize that it is only those truly meaningful objects, those objects I loved despite what was trending that have been consistent through all the design transitions I went through in my 20s. The truth is, it has only been in the last couple years that I really stopped listening to trend pressure and began to ask myself, how does this shape, color, object, fabric make me feel? Through that, I figured out my personal styling sensibilities. Of course, I find inspiration from incredible designers like Athena Calderone and Leanne Ford and absolutely get design ideas from things they are doing, I would be lying if I said otherwise. But, what inspires me the most about them is their innovativeness and fearlessness to step outside of the box. I guess, simply put, my best home secret is letting my gut guide me first and being unafraid to do things a little differently.
PAINT & COLORS
- Main Floor — Benjamin Moore’s “Chantilly Lace OC-65”
- Outdoor Deck — Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black No.57
- Bathroom — Backdrop Home’s “Modern Love”
- Bedroom Accent Wall — Backdrop Home’s “Ghost Ranch”
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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