Lofty Design: Vintage Meets Industrial Cool

When radio and TV personality Adam Wylde needed a designer to transform his Toronto loft, he didn't have to look far. The brilliant designer, Ramsin Khachi, was not only an old family friend, he is the in-house design consultant on Wylde's mother's long running television show, Marilyn Denis Live. Khachi's design aesthetic plus the long personal relationship made him the perfect designer to transform Wylde's loft condo from ordinary to spectacular urban living space.

The result is a satisfying marriage of vintage warmth and a sharp modern edge. It's young and sophisticated, yet eminently liveable, taking advantage of the industrial vibe of the area as well as the views of the Toronto skyline.

Wylde's loft is in the King East design district of Toronto, an up and coming area, close to the downtown core, with lots of high end manufacturing showrooms. It has great heritage, is near to the Distillery District and is home to many vintage buildings.

Khachi's design for the Wylde loft was inspired by the work he had done on a showroom in a nearby building that had once been an artillery factory.

“I wanted a mix of vintage and modern, something that would suit Adam. He's young and independent, a casual guy but with an appreciation for heritage.”

“When I design a space, I always tap into the customer, and who he is. It's a little like painting a canvas. Adam doesn't collect a lot of stuff, but he has nostalgic items that mean something, retro pieces that have a new cool today. So I aimed at a balance between vintage and modern.”

The balance is immediately evident in the loft living room, where a focus wall that Khachi calls the “braille wall,” is the dominant feature. It is actually pressed recycled paper glued to the wall and painted over. While the effect is surprising and pleasing, it functions also as a way to fill in the cavernous space created by the high ceilings. The dark grey ceiling and dark wall (Benjamin Moore, Kendall Charcoal, HC-166) carry the eye down. Retro light fixtures, carefully proportioned, help to make the tall space less intimidating.

A circular staircase was a problem ““ too steep and narrow to be comfortable ““ so it was replaced by a larger, safer staircase that helps to define the space a bit better, one of the problems of an open design room.

Floors in the living room look like vintage reclaimed wood but are actually vinyl flooring (Centiva, Smoked Oak). “It is a fantastic floor,” says Khachi. “It is nice to walk on, economical, easy to care for and looks great.” A bound broadloom rug is the perfect look to match the space, with its clean lines and texture serving to define the seating area.

A large sofa from Style Garage adds softness, while a cocktail table with a stone top and wood bottom blends natural wood and rustic metal. Wylde's vinyl albums and turntable, plus an orange vintage phone, personalize the room.

The seating for the kitchen island are old stools that Khachi found. “I got these in Chicago. They are the engineers' stools from an old locomotive that swing around and adjust up and down. There were only two, and they are a piece of history that no one else could have.”

While the stools provide seating for the island, they can also swivel and be used for seating for the living room. “Everything is convertible and can be easily moved around, a necessity in such a small space. Two small squares can be extra seating, and even the dining room table can tilt sideways and tuck away.”

The space around the fireplace was covered with a brick veneer, to bring the outside of the building inwards. A raw steel mantle was added. An under-utilized spot beside the fireplace was given a raised platform, with a piece of sculpture and a hanging pendant overtop. It connects and pulls the space together.

The dining area has stamped metal chairs from Restoration Hardware, which add an industrial feel, and the kitchen has prefabricated high gloss cabinets that wrap around and then blend into a chalkboard wall. “Visitors are always expressing themselves here ““ there's continually so much stuff written on the wall ““ people love to be able to comment this way.”

There's lots of kitchen storage, a Cambria quartz countertop, and large size subway tiles, cream with a dark grey grout, which give an edgy contemporary feel. Metal shelves blend with rustic elements to create the balance in the room.

The loft bedroom used to be open to the living room, but Khachi installed custom made factory style windows. “I love the feel of these windows. They set the tone for the whole space, keeping the site lines of the industrial buildings across the street and the Toronto skyline clear, but adding definition.” There are automatic Hunter Douglas blinds for privacy.

Khachi also pulled out the bulkheads in the bedroom, exposed the pipes and painted them to achieve a factury-turned-loft feel, giving the  room more space and ceiling height. Storage is hidden behind mirrored doors, and there is more storage under the bed. Sconces from Restoration hardware light the room, and the bedding is clean, simple and masculine. “I always like to keep a space simple ““ don't overdo or over accessorize the details. Don't put in too much ““ the less there is, the more it shows.”

“We rethought some of the space, closing up the washer and dryer, which now opens from the hallway. There is sophisticated technology throughout the apartment, and the washer will turn off automatically when the door is closed. You have to think about these things when you live on the top floor.”

There are two bathrooms. The upstairs bathroom creates continuity in space with a countertop that carries into the shower. The lines and mirror make the space bigger.  Tiles look like concrete, for a continuation of the industrial feel, but are softened by lighting and the mirror.

“This is a truly urban space, with real city feel. We used technology throughout, to make the space livable and comfortable, but the wires are hidden to avoid clutter.”

The blend of natural wood with rustic, refined and raw metals throughout creates a perfect balance between vintage and industrial. It's a classic city loft, tailored to fit the personality of its owner.