Shelley’s Loft Full of Collected Treasures

published Mar 10, 2014
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(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Name: Shelley Gainer
Location: Toronto, Canada
Size: 1100 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; owned

The first place place that popped into my head after getting my Apartment Therapy gig was the beautiful loft of my friend (and former boss!) Shelley. This is as authentic as it gets for a loft, folks. The building was converted from a warehouse into lofts in 2003, featuring wood beams, brick walls, metal warehouse doors, concrete floors and huge windows. Shelley shares the space with her ginger-haired cat Molly and boyfriend Tim. Her space is filled with so many interesting artistic and vintage pieces it’s easy to get distracted!

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

You can tell right away that Shelley has a love for art, especially the unusual. The loft is filled with pieces that she’s collected over the years that range from custom commissioned paintings to etsy finds. She’s done a great job of mixing vintage mid-century, industrial and traditional furniture to have it all live happily together. There is a piece with a story in every corner which I’m sure makes dinner conversation a breeze. I have to give Shelley credit for finding that balance of having lots of beautiful collections (aka ‘stuff’) without the feeling of clutter.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: An eclectic collector with a strong hankering for mid-century modern and animal-inspired art.

Inspiration: My friend Michele, she has amazing style and some amazing artwork. And she has always encouraged me to buy art.

Favorite Element: Definitely the chalkboard. It allows for so many options for unique artwork based on your mood, the season or the dinner menu. The possibilities are endless.

Biggest Challenge: Finding artwork big enough to fill the space and not break the bank. I had a painting commissioned for the living room so that the size would be perfect.

What Friends Say: Most people can’t believe how high the ceilings are (11 feet) and how open the space feels. Also — it’s pretty amazing that there’s so much brick — 3 of the 4 walls.

Biggest Embarrassment: My Kitchen Countertops. They are inexpensive looking standard issue from the original building conversion and it’s the next item on my list of things to do.

Proudest DIY: I usually leave the DIY’ing to others although I’m first in line to buy a great piece. A few years ago however, I created an art piece for my a friend’s Cabinet of Curiosities Exhibit that I’m pretty proud of.

Biggest Indulgence: My biggest indulgence was my ottoman, and it was an accidental indulgence. I ordered it online were some surprise fees that I did not anticipate.

Best Advice: Buy what you love and always measure twice.

Dream Sources: Queen West Antiques and GUFF for high quality and curated vintage furniture.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Resources of Note:


• Sofa – The Art Shoppe
• Curtains – Restoration Hardware
• Lighting – West Elm
• metal lockers – Ikea
• Rug – Elte
• Art – Competing Halves by Kate Domina and The Thinkers, Candace O Bell
• Mint green Barncaster guitar – Custom made by Alastair Miller using reclaimed barn wood.

Dining Table & Chalk Board – Commute
• Dining chairs – Queen West Antiques
• Pottery (Squirrel, Bird, Anchor) – rcboisjoli studios

Vintage book shelf – Queen West Antiques
• Vintage desk – GUFF
• Axe – Best Made Co.


  • Jesus – “Untitiled”, Victor Mitic,
  • Elastic Band Ball – “Knotted”, Joanna Strong
  • Small Black and Gold painting “Untitled”, Ness Lee
  • Creepy Guy – Vintage “Untitled”, Vera Lord, 1942
  • Cat Artwork (Portrait of Molly commissioned by a street artist – Jean Lauday)


(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Thanks, Shelley!

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