A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Chelsea and Ryan live in a Toronto apartment with their Boston terrier, Otto. Chelsea works on policy at a non-profit and Ryan is a law student. Their airy home, filled with souvenirs from travels, reflects their shared loves of books, movies and cooking. Take a peek inside…

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Dining table: EQ3. Dining chairs: vintage.

On a home with history
Chelsea: This building was originally a Kraft cheese factory, then a mattress factory. They’ve renovated it to become apartments but it’s still gritty — in a good way. The ceilings are high, and you can see all the pipes and ductwork.

On the magic of mirrors
Chelsea: The mirror makes the small dining area feel bigger and brighter. I found it at a thrift store, where it had a gaudy gold frame, but we painted it white to feel more modern.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Black planter: IKEA. White candle holder: Muji. Cactus pot: garage sale find. Turntables: Technics 1200s.

On beloved books
Ryan: We built bookshelves starting halfway up the wall, so we could put a turntable and cabinet below. I got my PhD in philosophy, so most of these books are my old grad school books. Law is a second career for me. Since Chelsea had a good job in Toronto, I wanted to stay with her instead of following my academic career to small towns far away. I knew I could apply similar thinking to a career in the law. But I also love Patricia Highsmith! I’ll bring The Talented Mr. Ripley to the beach.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Bed: EQ3. Filing cabinet (for socks and underwear): Craigslist. Bedside table: vintage. Round lamp: IKEA.

On clever storage
Chelsea: Behind a white denim curtain, under the stairs, is a huge storage area where we keep winter clothes and Ryan’s movie collection. Some are even VHS! They’re his babies that come with us every time we move.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

On white shirts as decor
Ryan: We hang our clothes on open racks around our bed. Since people can see this rack when they walk in the front door, we decided to put only one color there, so it didn’t look so much like you’re looking into someone’s closet.
Chelsea: Of course it attracts EVERYONE’S attention because it’s all white shirts.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Mountain artwork: silk scarf from Fieldguided.

On living with Otto
Chelsea: Our dog Otto is basically our baby. He sleeps in our bed.
Ryan: He takes up as much room as either of us do. And everyone who comes over ends up loving him.
Chelsea: Our good friends even named their restaurant after him.

On a comfy bed
Chelsea: We always have soft white bamboo cotton bedding. We make the bed every morning because it adds a sense of calm. Also, this building is definitely not soundproof. Our lease even has a section that talks about the sound. So, we bought an excellent Dohm white noise machine. That helps when one of us wants to sleep in, too.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

On personal artwork
Ryan: Only we can see this framed artwork because they’re on the interior wall of the loft. They’re the only personal photos of us that are hung up. Chelsea: The flier is from a museum that we visited on our honeymoon in Germany. It feels romantic.

On a secret TV
Chelsea: We also have a TV mounted on the brick that faces the bed. We watch movies every night. We have another TV in the living area, too. It’s a lot of TVs for a small space!

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Basket: vintage, similar.

On having a clean house
Chelsea: We keep things neat because we often work from home. In our old place, we had a spare room that became The Junk Room. You can’t do that here. Ryan: We don’t have anything in our house that we don’t use once a month or more.


Sofa: IKEA. Rug: EQ3. Coffee table: Craigslist.

On favorite movies
Chelsea: We love relaxing on the sofa — we’re both big movie buffs. The Toronto International Film Festival every September is the best part of living here.

On 15 minutes of fame
Ryan: We were actually extras in the film Capote! You can only see us for a second, but we got to watch Phillip Seymour Hoffman do his method acting; each line had a variation because he was just doing it from feeling.
Chelsea: We were told to dress up as ’60s intellectuals going to a talk. We got our hair and makeup done. It was really cool. All we had to do is sit in an audience and give standing ovations. All afternoon.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

On Toronto home stores
Chelsea: I like the pottery from a store called Easy Tiger — we have a speckled pot by Workaday. We also love a tiny vintage place called rec + ART HISTORY. The owner has an amazing eye.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Pendant light: similar. Lockers (for shoes and jackets): Craiglist.

On decorating with souvenirs
Chelsea: We found the photo of a Persian rug on a trip to Berlin five years ago. We rolled it up and brought it home. We love decorating with souvenirs, and we’d love to do more traveling.
Ryan: One day.
Chelsea: We’re planning a trip to Hong Kong and Japan. If Ryan passes the bar exam in June —
Ryan: I’ll pass it!
Chelsea: Then the next day we’ll go. That’s the plan.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

On ingredients on display
Chelsea: Putting food into glass jars makes it look prettier on open shelving. We must cook a lot because we’re constantly refilling these jars! We’re pescetarians so we cook a lot of lentils and split peas. Five ingredients we always have on hand: olive oil, fresh parsley, halloumi cheese, cumin and turmeric.
Ryan: I also really like black rice. It’s slightly earthier.

A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

Carafe: IKEA. Glasses: EQ3.

On home cooking
Chelsea: We cook a lot from Ottolenghi cookbooks. And the Gjelina cookbook. When I’m home by myself, I’ll have bread and cheese from the cheese shop nearby.
Ryan: We have nice cheese shops and a French bakery one block away.
Chelsea: Our area has everything we need — a library, good coffee…
Ryan: Cute bars.
Chelsea: And a dog park.

Thank you so much, Chelsea and Ryan!

P.S. More home tours, including a rainbow bookcase in Manhattan and a woodsy cottage in New Hampshire.

(Photos and styling by Nikole Herriott and Michael Graydon for Cup of Jo.)