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A Downtown Loft Chock Full of Playful Personality

Two collective souls go hog wild adding art, chairs and tchotchkes to their King East digs

By Simon Lewsen
Photography by Naomi Finlay

Lesley and Matthew have a giant pig in their kitchen. It’s made from plastic and has a serving tray on its head, perhaps to make it seem functional – a pretense that Lesley quickly dispels. “We love things that make us smile,” she says, “but have, at best, a limited purpose.”

A Carl Hansen & Son dining table and Frank Gehry’s Hat Trick chairs overlook the skyline. The Herman Miller sofa from Quasi Modo is upholstered in Maharam’s Dot Pattern.

As medical professionals, Lesley and Matthew work in clean, clinical settings, so at home they want light and colour. “We love a place to feel happy and bright, and we don’t mind spending money for things, but we don’t want our home to feel precious,” says Lesley. Seven years ago, the couple moved into their two-storey King East condominium and set about personalizing the 167-square-metre box, which has panoramic windows facing west to the city skyline and south to the lake. Their aesthetic might be described as Scandinavian, but funky.


Some of the furnishings have an airy Nordic sensibility, but others are large, colourful and designed to be noticed. The second-floor living-dining area has spindly bentwood chairs by Frank Gehry and a lightweight fibreglass chaise by mid-century masters Charles and Ray Eames. Amid these subtle pieces, however, there’s a distinctly less subtle acquisition: a cushiony red blob with felt butterflies sewn onto it. “Our nephews and nieces love jumping on it,” says Lesley.


The unifying force at work here is the couple themselves: their tastes, their whims and their desire to commemorate life events. There are Cookie Monster puppets nestled on ledges or between shelves because, when Matthew was struggling to complete his Ph.D., the Sesame Street character became like a patron saint. “Nobody is more single-minded and focused,” Matthew says. Lesley, for her part, likes to celebrate the couple’s wedding date with themed gifts – some classy, some goofy. There’s a corrugated cardboard seat (also by Gehry) for the paper anniversary, a handcrafted Thos Moser chair for wood and a fuzzy sheep statuette for wool. This tug-of-war between sophistication and whimsy plays out in every room.

In the home office, loungers from DWR sit in front of a wall tiled with photos by Cindy Blaževic.

On the wall in the upstairs study, artist Cindy Blaževic set white tiles with photo transfers depicting medications: a pink Wellbutrin tablet, an orange Alprazolam pill, an off white Effexor capsule. Lesley, a psychiatrist, commissioned this pharmaceutical rainbow to commemorate a career milestone, but the piece also brightens an otherwise dour concrete space. “It’s my own personal antidepressant,” she says.

Categories: Spaces
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