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Converting a Commercial Storefront to a Home (and Studio!)

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Seeking more space and a connection with the city, an artist and a designer turn an old Toronto storefront in Dundas West into a home and studio.
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  Architect Tamira Sawatzky and artist Elle Flanders get an awfully good view of their busy Toronto street from their office and dining room.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    Architect Tamira Sawatzky and artist Elle Flanders get an awfully good view of their busy Toronto street from their office and dining room.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  The table is by Made, the sneaker-inspired Shoe Toss pendants are by Jeremy Hatch of Ricochet Studio, and the laser-cut photo on the wall is by the couple’s collective art and design practice, Public Studio.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    The table is by Made, the sneaker-inspired Shoe Toss pendants are by Jeremy Hatch of Ricochet Studio, and the laser-cut photo on the wall is by the couple’s collective art and design practice, Public Studio.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  The living room is five steps down from the kitchen and office space and features textured black slate tile from Olympia Tile, Voyage Immobile sofas with Farniente collection upholstery (a wedding pre­sent from Flanders’s mother) by Roche Bobois, and a rug from Turkmenistan the couple picked up in Jerusalem. The sliding glass doors are by Loewen and the glazing above is by Inline Fiberglass. Sawatzky relied on Wayne Arsenault for the custom millwork and carpentry.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    The living room is five steps down from the kitchen and office space and features textured black slate tile from Olympia Tile, Voyage Immobile sofas with Farniente collection upholstery (a wedding pre­sent from Flanders’s mother) by Roche Bobois, and a rug from Turkmenistan the couple picked up in Jerusalem. The sliding glass doors are by Loewen and the glazing above is by Inline Fiberglass. Sawatzky relied on Wayne Arsenault for the custom millwork and carpentry.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  "Everything here is long and narrow. You can't escape that. I think it was clear right away that we were going to go with this linearity," says Sawatzky.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    "Everything here is long and narrow. You can't escape that. I think it was clear right away that we were going to go with this linearity," says Sawatzky.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  Sawatzky designed the bookshelves along the living room wall out of Ikea components: one-inch Lagan butcher block countertops and inexpensive Ekby Lerberg brackets. She also used pieces of the strong and attractive countertops for built-in shelves in the upstairs lounge as well as for trim in the kitchen.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    Sawatzky designed the bookshelves along the living room wall out of Ikea components: one-inch Lagan butcher block countertops and inexpensive Ekby Lerberg brackets. She also used pieces of the strong and attractive countertops for built-in shelves in the upstairs lounge as well as for trim in the kitchen.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  In the second floor lounge, a Flex sleeper sofa in Gravel from CB2 sits opposite an antique Chinese coffee table Flanders inherited from her grandmother.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    In the second floor lounge, a Flex sleeper sofa in Gravel from CB2 sits opposite an antique Chinese coffee table Flanders inherited from her grandmother.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  In the master bedroom, the couple opted for Artemide lighting: Vintage Eclisse table lamps by Vico Magistretti hang over the nightstands and a Tizio table lamp by Richard Sapper rests on a side table. The lounge chairs are vintage finds, and the rug is a Bedouin design purchased in Jerusalem.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    In the master bedroom, the couple opted for Artemide lighting: Vintage Eclisse table lamps by Vico Magistretti hang over the nightstands and a Tizio table lamp by Richard Sapper rests on a side table. The lounge chairs are vintage finds, and the rug is a Bedouin design purchased in Jerusalem.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  Maira wallpaper from the 70s adorns the guest bathroom. When they knocked down several interior walls, Sawatzky and Flanders were left with tons of lath—the thin, irregular strips of softwood that provided the base for wall plaster. With the help of a demolition contractor, they sorted out the cleanest pieces to reuse. The couple clad the box on the second floor that contains their bathroom and closets with the lath, nail-gunning each piece to the walls.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    Maira wallpaper from the 70s adorns the guest bathroom. When they knocked down several interior walls, Sawatzky and Flanders were left with tons of lath—the thin, irregular strips of softwood that provided the base for wall plaster. With the help of a demolition contractor, they sorted out the cleanest pieces to reuse. The couple clad the box on the second floor that contains their bathroom and closets with the lath, nail-gunning each piece to the walls.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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  In the kitchen, the continuous kitchen worktop and table are made of marble from Caledonia Marble. The pink Tamatik dining chairs are by Connie Chisholm and are from the Canadian design shop Made. The Blinding Love pendant lights are by Periphere, which has shops in Montreal and Toronto. The iron rails were 
inspired both by screens the couple had seen on their travels in the Middle East and by the ornate wrought ironwork favored by their Portuguese neighbors. Barzel Ironworks fabricated the banister to Sawatzky’s design by slicing up iron pipe, welding it, and painting it.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    In the kitchen, the continuous kitchen worktop and table are made of marble from Caledonia Marble. The pink Tamatik dining chairs are by Connie Chisholm and are from the Canadian design shop Made. The Blinding Love pendant lights are by Periphere, which has shops in Montreal and Toronto. The iron rails were inspired both by screens the couple had seen on their travels in the Middle East and by the ornate wrought ironwork favored by their Portuguese neighbors. Barzel Ironworks fabricated the banister to Sawatzky’s design by slicing up iron pipe, welding it, and painting it.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

  • 
  To keep vases, dishes, and small appliances handy but off the countertop, Sawatzky designed two niches within a wall of deep cabinets. Inset outlets supply power; butcher block lines all sides; and Plexiglas doors provide hits of bright orange. Plastic World, a local dealer, custom-cut the Plexiglas for the storage cubby which sits beneath a photo by artist Chris Curreri.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    To keep vases, dishes, and small appliances handy but off the countertop, Sawatzky designed two niches within a wall of deep cabinets. Inset outlets supply power; butcher block lines all sides; and Plexiglas doors provide hits of bright orange. Plastic World, a local dealer, custom-cut the Plexiglas for the storage cubby which sits beneath a photo by artist Chris Curreri.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

  • 
  The couple has a large collection of cookbooks. To provide storage for them in the kitchen—and also seating—Sawatzky topped narrow bookcases (Bestå units by Ikea) with custom-made cushions, upholstered in gray Circa fabric by Knoll Textiles purchased from Modern Fabrics. The bookshelf-cum-bench was custom upholstered by Tina Morgan Designs.  Photo by: Naomi Finlay
    The couple has a large collection of cookbooks. To provide storage for them in the kitchen—and also seating—Sawatzky topped narrow bookcases (Bestå units by Ikea) with custom-made cushions, upholstered in gray Circa fabric by Knoll Textiles purchased from Modern Fabrics. The bookshelf-cum-bench was custom upholstered by Tina Morgan Designs.

    Photo by: Naomi Finlay

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