Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months
Before my friend Heather welcomed me into her home for the first time, she blocked the doorway and asked me if I remembered Kate Winslet's flat from The Reader.
"Um... yeah," I said, warily. "Didn't it have a tub in the middle of it?"
Heather nodded and stepped aside, and after I took just a few cautious steps into the cube-like loft space, I saw it: a tub in the middle of her home.
Tub notwithstanding, creating a comfortable and well-functioning home was no problem for the artsy and spunky director of a non-profit. Her studio loft is one in an 88 year-old building managed by an arts collective. Catering to the art community, rent is kept low and the studios have not been updated since the manufacturers previously using the building vacated it in the 1980s. They left behind a rough space that the current tenants see no need to polish up or renovate. The scruffy walls, windows, and floors have a raw beauty to them reminiscent of an Anthropologie catalogue.
Heather's solo move into the building came at the end of a decade-long relationship, and the studio is almost a symbol of her newfound independence. The space is cheerful, quirky, and fun, with well-organized open storage on outright display. Heather's open closets filled with girly and colorful clothing and accessories are one more reminder that she no longer has to share her space with anyone. Although, to be fair, she still displays her ex's artwork on the walls.
The light-filled loft and neighboring artists keep her inspired and productive. Whether she's cooking, entertaining, making music, or luxuriating in her bathtub, the space suits her perfectly.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My style: Big, cheap, highly imperfect off-industrial studio.
Inspiration: Huge windows and a clawfoot tub in the centre of the room - what more does one need?
Favorite Element: Treehouse-style sleeping loft. Every night is an adventure.
Biggest Challenge: Not noticing the grimy pipes and ceiling.
What Friends Say: You pay what for this?
Biggest Embarrassment: There is less than zero privacy in the building in general, and my bathroom in particular. It makes for some difficult moments during first-date dinners.
Proudest DIY: Salvaging a sheet of plywood, turning it into a banquet table across the bathtub, and laying out a great party spread.
Biggest Indulgence: A decadent nightly bath. Lots of hot water, but lots of pleasure.
Best advice: You can't over-estimate the power of good lighting. It is your friend. It will change your life.
Dream source: I'd like a restaurant design team to use my flat as a test lab. Quarterly. I like change.
Resources: The bones of this place are so good, I added very little. Most of my stuff is from thrift shops and craigslist. I did splurge on a cowhide rug, to remind me of my farm-girl past.
Images: Abby Cook