A Book-Filled Loft in Toronto

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.)

  1. I like the scientific house arrangement and lots of accents! very perfect

  2. Priscilla says...

    But where are all the black people (people of colour) houses? I would really like to see that

  3. mel says...

    oh gosh, is it possible to know which building this is in toronto!? it’s so stunning!

  4. Katie says...

    How did you make your bed?? I want to do that in my studio but don’t know how to get started! Help!???

  5. edie says...

    I come back to this tour every couple of months.
    it’s the perfect combo of lived-in and dreamy.

  6. Hilary Tschoepe says...

    Could some kind soul please help me? The black lacquered-looking floor lamp in their dining room/living area-who makes that lamp?! I see it everywhere on blogs; I think it is the cutest damned thing, and can not find it in real-life. Did Ikea carry it many moons ago or am I imagining that?

    • Chelsea says...

      Hi Hilary,
      Yes, it’s an IKEA ‘Kulla’ floor lamp. Perhaps Craigslist would yeild some results!

  7. Cindylou says...

    Love, love, love the environment you’ve created! And, I totally understand the sleeping arrangements. My BT “Lucylou” is definitely the “Queen of our queen bed….small price to pay because she’s the best!

  8. Nice article jo… of course they are creative…

    I know Canadians are art lover, we used to send a lot of artwork there especially for their interior walls. thanks a lot again for sharing such a lovely story.

  9. nice to see a home tour that isn’t in NYC or California!

    The place looks really cosy and I love the way they find ways to make their small place work. I also love it that they obviously have their own style and dont have a stylist or decorator do the job. that always ends up looking staged and cold. This home has warmth!

  10. Meg says...

    Finally, a Canadian post! I recently moved back to Toronto after living in NYC for almost 7 years. Your blog helped me through many ups and downs in the big bad city. There’s no place like New York, but Toronto has its own thing going and I’m so happy to be home. Canada loves you, Jo xx

  11. Meg says...

    Finally, a Canadian post! I moved back to Toronto after living in NYC for 6.5 years. There’s no place like New York, but Toronto has its own thing going on and I’m so happy to be here. Canada loves you, Jo!

  12. I love that you did a Toronto apartment! I love this city :)

  13. I love this because Canada is now my home, and I’m really close to Toronto! I would love to see more of their styling/decor, do you have their website?

  14. Tiffarah says...

    this is beautiful, omg. Also can I possibly get the dimensions for the wooden part of the loft bed space? I want to see if I’ll be able to make one of those in my room. Thanks

  15. Sara says...

    SO exciting to see Toronto featured here! Will have to bring this up at the next CoJ articles club in #the6 next Monday. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yeah!!! :)

  16. Kendra says...

    CANADA! Come to Montreal next!

  17. Love all the books, miss Toronto. Would love to know which non-profit Chelsea works with.

    Also happy to see the IKEA kitchen island looking so glamorous – I have the same!

  18. What a nice management of everything.

  19. Luna says...

    Yay Toronto! Maybe a city guide?

  20. Kate says...

    Very cute couple and a lovely, calm apartment. I love these sneek peeks!

  21. Lo says...

    Their energy exudes from their words, you can so easily picture this conversation going down on that black couch.

    I am obsessed with the rug print, so lovely and it really adds some depth to an otherwise hard area of the home.

    Thanks for sharing, as always!

    Lo xo

  22. Lo says...

    Their energy exudes from their words, you can so easily picture this conversation going down on that black couch.

    I am obsessed with the rug print, so lovely and it really adds some depth to an otherwise hard area of the home.

    Thanks for sharing, as always!


  23. Oh my, this is such a beautiful loft and living space. I love all of the books and I love the mezzanine bedroom. I don’t think those beautiful floating stairs would work for my toddler though…

  24. Rachel says...

    I grew up with that same coffee table that still resides in my father’s house. I’m thinking of trying to convince him to pass it on to me while it’s in style again!

  25. Lynne Z. says...

    Omigosh can’t believe you were here in Toronto! Did you have some time to explore the city Joanna? Where did you eat? What did you do besides work? :)

  26. Nat says...

    Lovely apartment. Cool and fresh, with a very smart sense of style and practicality. Loving the nook-like bedroom space, and Otto of course!!

  27. Wow, the house is decorated so wonderfully, everything is neat and nice! I like the bookshelf

  28. Robin says...

    Lol love all the Canadians in the comments ;). It is really nice to see a place in my hometown! I love COJ but often the posts reference products and services we can’t get here, or the shipping is super high. I’d love to a Canadian beauty uniform or week of outfits post too.

  29. Sundhya says...

    Yay, Toronto! My favourite city!

  30. Julie says...

    Awesome apartment and such a cute couple :). Tell me I’m not the only one who had to look up the meaning of pescatarian…

    • Haley says...

      Just did too :) And agreed, awesome apartment, cute couple

  31. I love how this home really reflects both Chelsea and Ryan, and the things they’ve seen/collected/enjoyed over the years. You can’t pay a designer to create that feeling :-)

    I lived in Toronto on and off for around 4 years and have such a soft spot for the city and its people!!

  32. M&D says...

    we truly love your style of decor, wonder where that comes from?! And Otto is the best ‘granpuppy’ ever!

    • shannon says...

      If this comment is from one of Chelsea and Ryan’s parents, that is great! How nice of you to read and comment on their house tour!

  33. kay says...

    YAY Toronto! Maybe a city guide from the cup of jo team soon? You will love this city!

  34. Julie says...

    Lovely space! I would surround myself with bookshelves if I could. I love Toronto ( I live 4 hours north of there), and we visit often. Always something to do, very multicultural and interesting city.

  35. Leeney says...

    Love this! Could I ask where the kitchen island is from? I love the open layout of the place.

  36. Oh my gosh. Everything about this space is absolutely beautiful. Love the exposed ceilings, the bedroom loft (are you kidding me?!), the shelves of books (!!), all the white and wood. I want to cry it’s that good. <3

  37. Vicki says...

    I love all their little non-fussy souvenirs! It’s so warm and comfy to be surrounded by shared memories, don’t you think? And not a porcelain thimble in the place!

  38. Amy says...

    I love this place. Very chill, easy, and yet still has a distinct style all its own. Some things even appear a bit off-centered. Again, I love this! I would live here tomorrow.

  39. Erin says...

    i love their apartment and would love to know which building they live in, as a toronto resident :) could probably guess the neighbourhood! I love those stairs!

  40. Rebekah says...

    What a lovely apartment and Chelsea and Ryan sound super lovely too.

    • I can confirm that they are lovely, kind-hearted, thoughtful, and brilliant people :)

  41. Meghan says...

    Beautiful asthetic! I’m loving seeing a TO couple featured, go Canada! #viewsfromthesix

  42. It makes my heart happy to see a home filled with books (mine is too!). Feeling so inspired!

  43. Alyssa Leister says...

    This is my favorite one yet! This looks so nice and inviting and it’s nice to see an apartment. Plus I’m a sucker for kitchens. I literally just want to see everyone’s kitchens!

  44. So, so great to see fellow Canucks on COJ. Makes me homesick for T dot.

    • LC says...

      Me too!!

  45. Emma says...

    My husband and I just bought a home in SF and renovated it (plus designed it with a good friend and interior designer), we have some great stories about the home buying/renovating experience (and cool items). Feature us in one of these stories?!!!

  46. rach says...

    They’re adorable!

  47. Ugh, I “Kondo’d” my bookshelves and looking at these makes me regret it!

  48. Andrea says...

    Does Canadian code allow electric outlets to have exposed lines? Or piping that can double as a hand rail to a sleeping loft? I know about warehouse aesthetics, but this just seems like a loft conversion without code enforcement. It’s a nice place, but it doesn’t look that safe.

  49. These two are so cool! I love that they talk about the two tvs in the small space and how they watch tons of movies. I feel like home tours always try to pretend that people don’t watch tv, and tbh, that’s my husband and my favorite at home activity! When I was setting up our space and reading design blogs, everything said to make the fireplace the center of attention, and to basically hide the tv… but that’s crazy! that’s not how real life works, at least for us!

  50. I love the idea of framing museum flyers. I always save them–if I loved the museum!–and right now they’re sitting in a box, along with old city maps, tickets, etc. No longer!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, it’s such a great idea! i never would think of it either, but it’s a nice way to keep the memory alive.

  51. So happy to see a Toronto couple featured! Woo Canada.

  52. yael steren says...

    I’m obsessed with the book loft and that record player!! Just a quick note about the hangers. You should always avoid those plastic hangers because clothes tend to slip off! I personally love the velvet hangers, which you can buy for a decent price on amazon (! I know they were going for the all white look, but they do make the velvet hangers in a cream color, so it’s not too far off!! xx yael

  53. Cate says...

    YAY Toronto! YAY Canadians!! We’re right here :)

  54. The decor is so simplistic but it looks so refreshing. And their dog is super cute


  55. Omg the cute bed with those little stairs <3

    -Kirsten //

  56. Caroline says...

    They seem like the coolest couple. I love the simplicity of their place. I hope Ryan passes the bar so they can travel.

  57. Maja says...

    I currently live in Toronto and it’s getting quite expensive (to buy/rent alike) so it’s interesting to see what people do with their space here.

    ps. I love Otto’s Bierhalle, it’s just down the street from me!

    • Aga says...


    • Christine says...

      Ditto!!! Haha we’re all in the WQW area, I take it?

    • Johanna says...

      The restaurant link goes to the Dönor place in Kensington, although maybe it’s the same people? Does anyone know where their building is? Was curious what neighbourhood.

    • Maja says...

      Hello fellow neighbours!! :):)

  58. Eek, love it! I think this place is in my neighbourhood.

    How does one get featured in Cup of Jo? It’s always been a dream of mine and I think our place has the design chops for it.

    • Sara Campbell says...

      1. Hi Leigh! Hope you are well!

      2. I’m pretty sure these are the lofts on St Helen’s

  59. Eek gorgeous! I think this place is super close to where I live.

    How does one get their place featured on Cup of Jo? It’s always been a dream of mine and I think our place has the design chops for it!

  60. Toronto! Forever home for me, and this makes me miss it that much more <3 I've always joked that if I had a million dollars lying around (but lets be real, that'll never happen), I would buy a home in Toronto just so I could always have a place there to return to.

  61. Lovely! Out of curiosity, how does Cup of Jo find these homes and people (for beauty uniforms) to feature? They’re always perfect!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your note! this one i found on instagram — a woman i follow had visited their loft (she’s friends with them) so i contacted her, and she put me in touch with chelsea. i explained Cup of Jo to chelsea and asked if she’d be up for a shoot and interview. luckily, she was! :) then we set up the photo shoot with (the amazing) nikole and michael, and i interviewed chelsea and ryan one evening when they were both home from work. :)

      we find most house tours through friends, instagram or just people we know. it’s a mixed bag, we are always keeping our eyes out. so fun to see people’s spaces!

  62. What’s Toronto like? I need to leave Boston ASAP.

    • Hey Hannah! Toronto resident here. Toronto is great, there’s lots to do, with some incredible bars and restaurants and beautiful institutions like the ROM and the AGO. We’re right on the water which is wonderful to spend time on during the summer, with the Waterfront Trail, beaches, and the Toronto Islands. It’s very much a “city of neighbourhoods” but everything feels cohesive, it’s very easy to walk along main streets like Bloor, Dundas, or Queen and browse several different neighbourhoods on your journey! I’ve been to Boston and loved it, but I know that it’s on the smaller side and gosh darn difficult to find a cool place for a drink in the evening! Hope you make it up here soon!

    • j. says...

      It’s the most diverse city in the world! Great food, great culture and a wonderful sense of community. Come for a visit, I guarantee you’ll love it.

    • Christine says...

      As a current resident of Toronto who has lived in Boston before, I would say come to Toronto if you like a larger city feel, and a place that is more multicultural. Something that I was always so surprised by in Boston was how many people had grown up there, gone to school there and then stayed as adults. It seemed like I was the only new person in town! That is NOT the case in Toronto. In Toronto it seems like no one was born and raised here! The city itself has wonderful bars and restaurants. Boston waterfront is far nicer, as are the museums. But Toronto is a wonderful cultural hub! Oh…and as much as people in Boston complain about their transit system, Toronto’s is SO much worse. Come visit! Canadians are a friendly bunch!

    • Mary says...

      Former Toronto resident here (translated to Baltimore), but Toronto will always be home! It’s an absolutely wonderful city- incredibly diverse, easy to get around via food/bike/public transport (but driving is a bit of a nightmare). It is very safe (there are very few places in the downtown core that I would hesitate to go alone late at night), and there is always so much going on. But at the same time, you can still find relatively quiet neighbourhoods across the city.

      Downsides- the winters are terrible. There is no way around it, but if you’re from Boston I’m sure you are used to it. The only bright side is that I feel like it brings Torontonians together, plus half the city is connected underground anyway.

      Cost of living- it has gone up steadily over the years, but to be honest, compared to other major American cities, Boston being one, then I don’t think you would find it that expensive. I actually find food/groceries cheaper in Toronto than I do in Baltimore, exchange rates aside.

    • Emily says...

      It’s a wonderful city! We’ve lived here for a couple of years and I think it’s pretty amazing – tons of green space, diversity, friendly people, great design and food, museums, waterfront…it’s lovely. That said, it’s also getting quite expensive to rent and basically impossible to buy unless you have a spare million or so (or are okay with a high rise condo for half a million). We got outbid on rent multiple times – rent! As far as housing goes it’s one of the more expensive cities, but Canada is worth it (and if you’re paying for health care what I hear Americans have been paying for health care, it will probably even out anyway!).

  63. shannon says...

    I like the format of talking to both members of the couple who live there! Very cool ideas for a small space.

  64. This place looks so cool! I always figured that these types of homes can only be in LA or NY.. never thought that it would be in my home town :)

  65. E says...

    We have a dog named Otto too. Such a good dog name. :)

  66. Otto knows how to pose!

    • God DAAMN he does!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, he is such a ham! :)

    • jaclyn says...

      I wanna kiss him!

  67. Their whole apartment is beautiful. My favorite part is their bedroom. The little stairs and that bed!

    Xo Lendy

  68. Harriet says...

    I’m also super thrilled to see fellow Canadians (and from Toronto at that!) featured on this blog, which is also one of my favourites. What a beautiful and charming home! Thanks for sharing – hopefully there will be more Canadians featured on this blog in the future? ;P

    • Christina says...

      I agree!
      (I’m originally from Halifax, but live in London, UK) gives me a little bit of homesickness to see anything Canada!

    • Amy says...

      Yes, I’d love to see some Canadian west coast style represented! It’s a little different out here than the east coast style I see so frequently, especially on the islands :)

  69. JB says...

    I’m a West Coast transplant in Toronto (normally, people move the other direction) and I’m always trying to convince my friends and family back west why it is such a great city. I love TO! Now only if it was more afforadble…

  70. Christine says...

    Yay Toronto! All these recs are right in my neighborhood! So fun.

    • Ching says...

      Which neighborhood is this in Toronto? It seems idyllic!

  71. Bright and airy. I’ve always imagined living in an old factory. Since I was a child. I was so disappointed when I went to NYC as a teen…because I didn’t want to live there and I guess my mind only saw me living in a factory there. Now whenever I see an empty one, no matter where I am, I imagine living there.

  72. Charming!! So curious to see a floor plan. I would love to borrow some of these ideas, especially the bedroom area raised above with storage below. Seeing lots of similarities between this loft and ours, great light, white brick and lots of exposed wiring and pipes :) Coming back to this for sure when we start some mini renovations.

    • Ashley says...

      I second the floor plan. I’d like to see them for all apartment tours! It’s so helpful to be able to conceptualize the whole space.

      This apartment is *literally* my fantasy home. You guys have such beautifully restrained and easy-going style!

    • Chelsea says...

      Hi Emily! Our place is approximately 675 sq ft and the layout is roughly a large ‘T’ shape — the bedroom and bookshelf alcoves making the top of the ‘T’ and the entrance and kitchen at the bottom of the ‘T’, if that makes sense :)

  73. Awads says...

    As a newish Boston Terrier owner, I scrolled quickly through first to see Otto. And he did not disappoint! Thanks for sharing your lovely home, and that sweet, sweet doggie!

    • Nat says...

      Haha, I did the same thing! Our Boston will be 11 years old next month. He’s an amazing being. Best dog ever!! Thankfully he is just as agile and strong as he was in younger years…just has some gray hair:). Best wishes to you and your new-ish pup!♡

  74. Such a great small space! Love it!

  75. I love their bits of dialogue! What a bright, interesting home and people. We are huge fans of Ottolenghi too.

  76. Cait says...

    So happy to see a fellow Canadian’s apartment on here, my favourite blog! What an interesting space, love the personal touches. I’m from Winnipeg, MB – and we have so many interesting homes and apartments. Winnipeg was recently named one of the best cities in the world. :) You should do a home tour on a Winnipeg based home one day.

  77. Brianna says...

    I’d love to know how they organize their books. Are they just on the shelves however they land? Alpha by author? By title? Genre?

    • Chelsea says...

      Hi Brianna! We have our books shelved pretty haphazardly right now, but our spring cleaning plan is to re-shelve them and organize by genre (and alpha by author within each genre)!

  78. Dominique says...

    woohoo! so happy to see Canadians on here :) lovely place!