When Christopher Grimston moved into his Corktown loft five years ago, he had a 1,500-square-foot blank canvas to work in – and have fun with.
Some would have been daunted by the space, with its stark white walls, high ceilings ranging from 10 to 20 feet, and complete lack of room dividers. But the brand and marketing consultant – a collector and connoisseur of quirky pieces that tell stories, and he likes to think, hold secrets – couldn’t wait to transform it into what he calls a “living loft.”
“This was originally designed to be retail space for a grocer,” says Grimston, who bought his unit in downtown Toronto because of its lack of a meticulously laid-out floor plan. “I loved that it was open to my own interpretation. I was downsizing from a house in Cabbagetown that was double the square footage. But I’m incorrigible when it comes to picking up objects that talk to me in a certain way. So I’m afraid I’m upsizing again,” he says then laughs, referring to his penchant for picking up treasures – modern, vintage and antiques – in junk shops, antique markets and online.
His dining room, for instance, is roughly 200 square feet and he’s used a vintage wood cabinet to define that space. “I use the curio cabinet as a soft demarcation [from the living room], and I’ve made it more curious by filling it with only white objects.”
The black-and-white wall of art, behind the owner, is another device to keep all eyes riveted on this space. “I’m not precious about the roles and norms of art hanging. If you look behind the frames there are nail holes all over because I like to swap things out,” he says. His collection includes works by Canadian artist Chris Curreri, whose photograph of the guy with the six-pack is called Beside Myself.
“Convention would say that space should have two pieces of art. Not me; I hung 10. Some people think if you put too many things on the wall the space becomes too confining. That might be true,” he says. “But I think because my space is all open, lots of art makes it far more interesting.”
It’s that word – interesting – that dictates all of his design choices. His teacup sculpture on the dining table is more proof. “I had this idea of taking old teacups, breaking them, and rebuilding them with pink and green neon glue,” Grimston says. “I discovered that wouldn’t work. Then I thought of doing stacks of tea cups and keeping them together with duct tape. My poor housekeeper won’t go anywhere near it because she’s afraid it will break and I’ll be upset. But I won’t because that was the original purpose.”
A collector of things since he was a young boy, Grimston says he’s drawn to anything that tweaks his imagination. “Looking around I dread moving day,” he says. “But that’s a long way off.”