Mjölk Boutique Owners Renovate Their Toronto Abode
The design boutique Mjölk is an unlikely oasis. On a busy road lined with work-worn brick buildings in Toronto’s Junction neighborhood, the shop is a tailored space full of artful Scandinavian and Japanese design: ceramics by Masanobu Ando alongside George Nakashima originals. Its young owners, Juli Daoust and John Baker, built the collection through visits with the makers, selecting cups from kilns in Finland or handmade cutting boards from studios in Tokyo.
They’ve shaped their home with equal care and craft: Above the shop is a two-level, 2,450-square-foot apartment that brings home everything they’ve learned in their work and travels. “There isn’t a lot of separation between the first floor and the floors above,” Baker says of the apartment, where he and Daoust live with their two-year-old daughter, Elodie. “It was always the same idea: We’re going to take a building and live above it and have a store.”
Studio Junction worked within the 19-foot-wide building to create an apartment that, thanks to a clever layout, offers light and space despite being hemmed in on both sides. Finished with soap-treated Douglas fir floors, handmade oak shelving, and many products from Mjölk’s inventory, the dwelling offers a warm and very Scandinavian getaway from the bustling city. “A lot of people have trouble getting the human side of a home in contemporary buildings, and that’s what we admire most about these guys,” Baker says. That means lots of wood, materials that will acquire a patina over time, and an arrangement of rooms that emphasizes communal living.
The architects’ focus on communal living—particularly in an urban environment with children—led to some unusual choices for the floor plan. The public rooms were placed on the building’s third floor, the bedrooms on the middle level. A courtyard (the architects’ substitute for a backyard) was carved into the top floor between the kitchen and living room; it is lined on three sides with large, oak-framed windows, and provides outdoor space for Elodie to roam freely. “From any view—the kitchen, the living room—we can see Elodie,” Baker says. “She can be independent, and we know it’s a safe environment. In a house, often you need to be standing at the back door to see the kids.”
Baker and Daoust are committed to living in the home for a very long time. “It’s not like, in ten years, we’re going to redo our kitchen,” Daoust says with a laugh. “Our goal is to still be here in 40 years, and our house will look exactly the same.”