A Cozy, Formerly ‘Plain’ Condo Proves the Power of Small Updates on a Rental

A Cozy, Formerly ‘Plain’ Condo Proves the Power of Small Updates on a Rental

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Name: Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski (Founder of Tiffany Leigh Design) and partner, Luke  
Location: Church and Wellesley area—Toronto, ON
Size: 650 square feet
Years Lived In: 6 months, renting

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The main reason we started looking at this building in particular because our best friends live next door and it’s walking distance to my partner Luke’s job at Sick Kids Hospital in downtown Toronto. Coming from a charming, century third-story walk up, I wasn’t necessarily sold on condo living, but the idea of being so close to friends was appealing. When I saw this unit, however, I was sold. It was a beautifully blank canvas, well laid out, and had a huge den off the main living space for my home design studio that didn’t make me feel like I was working in a cave.

The first thing that we did upon moving in was paint the entire shell white. It freshened up the space and allowed our pieces to really star in the space. One thing we quickly noticed is that there was not enough wall space for both a sofa and a TV. By adding IKEA PAX units in the office, we were able to use the side of one of the IKEA PAX units to extend the wall and fit a TV. The biggest goals for me were infusing a plain, contemporary condo with vintage soul, designing a space that felt like “us” (it is our first apartment together), and creating a home conducive to entertaining. All of our vintage wares fit in seamlessly here, creating a beautiful juxtaposition between old and new, and we successfully hosted two large Christmas parties here this holiday season—so I think we have succeeded!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is based on simplicity, earthy tones, and a good mix of new and vintage. I love to incorporate bits of travel (seen in the photography on our walls) and pottery and treasures from around the world for a pieced-together look. Neutrals and lots of texture are staples of my design aesthetic, with just a hint of coastal style through stripes and natural materials like jute and driftwood tones.

Inspiration: Travel is always my main inspiration—and I look for cues to incorporate in my own home everywhere I go. Another main inspiration is drawn from studying the works of my talented fellow designers like Lauren Liess and Studio McGee.

Favorite Element: My favorite element is my dining chairs. I spotted them in the window of a vintage shop in Hamilton, but the store was closed. I raced back the next day when they opened and snatched them up. They are a set of eight (only six live here currently). I broke the “rules” and painted the teak frames black, and now the textured woven seats really sing. I know that I will have these chairs forever, and sometimes (like this instance) buying vintage is even more affordable than going to the bigger box stores!

Biggest Challenge: I don’t love the orangey-yellowy wood tone of the floors, and they are a little beat up. I’ve added a large area rug in the living room, a runner in the kitchen, and a rug in the bedroom, so that a large portion is covered.

Proudest DIY: My bedsides are my proudest DIY! I get asked about these green dressers all of the time and they are actually an IKEA hack I did five years ago! I purchased two plain KOPPANG chests and added trim around the drawer fronts, new hardware, and painted them! They used to be robin’s egg blue but it was time for a moodier hue in their new home.

Biggest Indulgence: The oversized lamps in my bedroom. I had to have them. The scale is everything and they remind me of the vintage pottery I love so much.

Best Advice: I always change the lighting in my apartments, even when renting. I think that lighting makes or breaks a design.

What’s your best home secret? I love to have our diffuser running all of the time, especially when we are having company over. It keeps things smelling fresh and gives me a little boost. They say that scent is tied closely to our memories—I want our loved ones to think fondly of the time spent together here whenever they happen to smell peppermint (my go-to essential oil!).



  • Walls — ‘Here Comes the Bride’ – Beauti-Tone Paints for Home Hardware
  • Nightstands — ‘Vegetarian’ – Beauti-Tone Paints for Home Hardware


  • Sofa – Custom by Decor-rest
  • Rug – IKEA (now only available in black and white)
  • Rust Pillows – Must Societe
  • Windowpane wool blanket – Must Societe
  • Small lumbar pillow – Cloth and Main on Etsy
  • Black and White Stripe Pillow – Vintage, etsy
  • Floor Lamp – IKEA
  • Coffee Table – Liamm coffee table, Elte MKT
  • Tree – Figus Moclame from Dynasty
  • Side Table – Vintage from Vintage Fine Objects
  • Leather arm chair – Vintage
  • Striped pillow on arm chair – Custom with Virginia Kraft fabric
  • Bowl under coffee table – Vintage from Christie’s Antique Market
  • Art above sofa – Personal photography printed and framed by PosterJack


  • Table – Vintage from Christie’s Antique Market
  • Chairs – Vintage
  • Light Fixture – Leanne Ford for Target



Thanks Tiffany!