An Arty Apartment in Toronto

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Reza Aliabadi’s renovation of this condo’s social space stripped the room to its essentials to create a simple yet multi-functioning area with an art-inspired palette.

It’s not too often an architect is commissioned to design a meagre 42-square-metre residential interior, but Reza Aliabadi of Toronto’s rzlbd welcomed the pie-shaped challenge offered by this project, which he has dubbed “Blue Pie.” The client, a family doctor who was new to the city, was an old friend. “I went to high school with him, so it was truly an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Aliabadi jokes, explaining that the freedom to choose everything in the space, right down to the kitchen cutlery, further tempted him.

With only four weeks of access to the space before the client moved in – bringing little more than his clothes and his laptop – and a budget of just $25,000, the solutions had to come fast. Fortunately the client knew exactly what he wanted, taking inspiration from a photograph of an iceberg he had recently purchased from Aliabadi, and a painting called “Back Alley Abstract” by Sandra Duba-Shubs. Both feature a strong blue and white palette and the design was dictated by this.

With such a small space and only two usable walls, due to the curve of the third, the design began by reducing the room to its essentials. The kitchen was left mostly intact, due to budget constraints, and the other wall was left to serve all other purposes required of a main living space. The client needed a work area and shelving for his medical texts, but also wanted to be able to entertain. A solution was created with bright white millwork that spans the full wall, incorporating shelves above a single 65-centimetre-deep piece that begins as a desk and drops down to form a bench.

With a few cushions added the bench allows for plenty of seating without the need for a bulky sofa. At the far end, a wine rack and bar complete the picture. Also built in is the matching white dining table that cantilevers off of a column near the curving wall of windows. This and the other “furniture” float, like icebergs in the sea, over an equally bright blue concrete floor, painted after tearing up the original hardwood. “The whole character of the space is from the floor,” says Aliabada. “That was a difficult decision, but easy at the same time.”

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