Kelly Jenkins and Kenzie Burchell were preparing to move in long before construction had ended on their Toronto condo. The building was being was being converted from an operational industrial boiler factory into roomy three-storey hard lofts. The couple purchased in 2014, during preconstruction, and moved in three years later – mid-construction, really. “It felt like we were squatting in a factory. Well, it actually was a factory,” Burchell says.
The couple met while Burchell was visiting Toronto from Britain. They moved in together a few months later, “which we never talked about,” Jenkins says, though Burchell recalls a conversation about co-habitating some time circa the fourth date. The home purchase happened quickly as well, though that wasn’t their intention. One day they were driving home from a local grocer and "I had heard about this building because somebody that works in television, as I do, had bought down the hall,” Jenkins says. “I was like, ‘Kenzie, let’s go check out the model suite,’ because it’s just fun to look at stuff.”
That visit became something longer than a casual glance. “Then we didn’t speak about it for about three days,” Jenkins says. “We pretty much went silent out of nervousness of what we had just seen,” Burchell adds. The handsome space, close enough to busy Bloor Street West for convenience, but far enough away for peace and quiet, was clearly a winner. After the purchase was made, they kept tabs on the project’s development, walking their dog, Francis, to the park nearby (“She still goes to the same park every day,” Burchell says) for two years and peeking their heads in periodically to check on progress.
That natural curiosity, while a boon for the dog, may nearly have killed the cat (metaphorically speaking – Francis is the home’s only four-legged occupant). “As the walls came up we started panicking,” Jenkins says. “I don’t have much spatial acuity and it looked so much smaller than we thought.” Burchell continues: “We were guessing about furniture, but with a really incongruous, unrealistic understanding of the space, basically from peeking in.”
Once in the space, their concerns were assuaged. The sofa, from Elte Mkt, scouted a year in advance and purchased and delivered on their closing date – in a preferred colour and at a preferable price, no less – fit perfectly, to their surprise. Likewise the dining table, which they’d been feverishly plotting to cut down by a foot-and-a-half. “We were planning all these contingencies because we’d assumed it was basically the width of the room,” Burchell says. “It was completely perfect,” Jenkins says.
The overhead light was purchased fast and furiously, to take advantage of the scaffolding that was in place for installing drywall (the ceilings here are 18 feet tall). Additional light fixtures came later. A statuesque vintage lamp sits kitty corner to a diminutive fixture from EQ3 that’s positioned on a low credenza, which allows for a 5-foot-by-12-foot projection overhead (there’s no screen in sight). “We’re both massive media consumers, like TV, film, news,” Jenkins says.
That credenza meanwhile is filled with treasures, bestowed and borrowed, so to speak: dog toys, a blanket Jenkins’s mother knitted, “a letter opener I stole from a boss I hated,” Jenkins says jokingly. “Maybe I can put it in my office and a student can steal it from me,” Burchell says (he’s a professor at the University of Toronto). “Circle of life.”
But two of their favourite pieces are revealing in different ways. A birch tree-carved wine cooler was purchased from Mjolk specifically for their new apartment. “It might be the best thing in the room,” Jenkins says. But then he reconsiders. A painting that hangs prominently, by artist and friend Margaux Williamson, was borrowed, and burns bright with immediacy and the promise of permanence. It’s title: Another Year. “So that’ll hopefully be there forever,” Jenkins says.