The listing: 365 Dundas St. E., Unit 108
Asking price: $675,000
Monthly maintenance fees: $745.32
Taxes: $3,137.16 (2016)
Listing agent: Nick Horton, Blue Elephant Realty Inc.
The Back Story
Chris Barnes and Ryan Livingstone were still getting to know Toronto neighbourhoods about 12 years ago, when they first passed by the Century Lofts in Cabbagetown.
The pair had recently moved to the city and they stopped on Dundas Street East to admire the building’s art-deco architecture. From there, they got talking with one of the residents and learned that some units were for sale. They soon purchased a north-facing unit at the front of the building.
“We’re from small-town New Brunswick, so an industrial loft held a lot of appeal,” Mr. Livingstone says.
“That’s kind of an awesome city dream.”
Mr. Barnes adds that he was born in Taiwan, where his parents were textile manufacturers. He grew up in a household full of design publications that showcased inspirational urban lofts.
Forty-one units were created at Century Lofts when the former Imperial Optical lens factory was transformed into a residential building in 2000. The developers kept the structure’s yellow brick, steel I-beams and huge industrial windows.
Once they moved in, Mr. Barnes, a marketing executive, and Mr. Livingstone, an artist, found they fit in well with the many creative types who used the suites as studios and living spaces.
Five years later, the largest unit in the building, No. 108, was being sold off under foreclosure.
It had been badly neglected by the previous owner, but Mr. Barnes and Mr. Livingstone saw potential beneath the decrepitude.
The Unit Today
As a sculptor and painter, Mr. Livingstone was drawn to the expansive windows facing south and east, which brought in the morning sun.
“I wanted to live in an inspiring place,” he says.
First, the pair had to remove the garbage bags taped to the windows and the drywall covering the ceiling and the concrete pillars.
“We sand-blasted everything to expose the brick and the columns,” Mr. Livingstone says.
They also had the floors blasted down to the original terrazzo throughout most of the 1,170-square-foot unit. “It was a journey,” Mr. Barnes says. “When we sand-blasted the place, it looked like a bomb went off in here.”
The polished terrazzo came out so well the pair didn’t need to use chemicals to seal it, which helped them to achieve their goal of keeping the unit as environmentally friendly as possible.
Throughout the space, the couple had all of the electrical systems, lighting and climate controls upgraded.
“Everything is changed in this unit,” Mr. Barnes says.
The large main room combines the kitchen, living area and dining area.
The two decided to turn two smaller bedrooms into one large one. The master suite has wall-to-wall storage space and a small den.
The bathroom was renovated to include a large walk-in shower with a glass enclosure, and the rainhead shower is the same type as the pair found at a boutique hotel in Manhattan.
One unusual aspect of Unit 108, says real estate agent Nick Horton of Blue Elephant Realty Inc., is it includes a two-car garage – the only one in the building. Mr. Livingstone says that in addition to providing shelter for the car, the garage is a great place to store and pack his large works of art.
The monthly maintenance fee includes fees for the garage and a storage locker.
Mr. Barnes and Mr. Livingstone say they enjoy nearby Parliament Street for its shopping, pubs and restaurants. From their loft, the St. Lawrence Market and the Eaton Centre are both a short walking distance away.
Mr. Horton points out that the area has become even more lively as the revitalization of Regent Park continues.
To highlight the Century Lofts’ creative milieu, Mr. Horton commissioned a water-colour sketch of the building by artist Shengyu Cai.
Mr. Barnes and Mr. Livingstone are both avid cooks, so they designed a new kitchen with custom-built cabinets and a large island in a minimalist design. The idea was to have a kitchen that doesn’t seem like one, Mr. Livingstone says.
There are hidden appliances and artfully lit shelves for displaying their pottery collection.
But because they both love to cook, they made the room as functional as possible.
Mr. Barnes says the couple know that an industrial space can sometimes feel cold, so they gave the kitchen a more organic feel with a palette of blues, taupes and greens inspired by the terrazzo and the natural pebbles embedded in the concrete columns.
“I just loved the really subtle colours of the little blue rocks,” says Mr. Livingstone, whose work is often inspired by the nature and wildlife of rural New Brunswick.
Over the island hangs a spherical light fixture that glows soft yellow and resembles a lantern. The organic globe was made partly from bamboo by an industrial designer in Thailand.
“From down the street at night it looks like a moon,” Mr. Livingstone says.