Advertisement
Life

How designer Tiffany Pratt turned a run-down Beaches apartment into a technicolour oasis

“Colour has a healing energy. It’s the cheapest way for people to find joy”

By Isabel Slone
How designer Tiffany Pratt turned a run-down Beaches apartment into a technicolour oasis
Photos courtesy of Tiffany Pratt

When Tiffany Pratt moved to Toronto from Connecticut in 2008, she was 28 years old and figured the city would be a stopgap on her way to an interior design career in Los Angeles. But then she moved into a 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom apartment in the Beaches, just 20 steps away from Lake Ontario, and she started to settle into the community. After she opened an art studio on Queen East, the city began feeling like home. Fifteen years later, the unimaginable has come to pass: she’s still in that very same two-bedroom apartment.

The dynamic pink-haired interior designer, who has appeared on HGTV’s Project Bakeover and Home to Win, is renowned in design circles for her signature technicolour aesthetic. “Colour has a healing energy,” she says. “It’s the cheapest way people can find joy.”

The technicolored living room of Tiffany Pratt's Glitter Suite
The Glitter Suite, where Pratt has lived for 15 years

Her apartment, lovingly dubbed the Glitter Suite and frosted in cupcake pink, reflects that philosophy. Over the years, Pratt has repainted the walls and added fresh wallpaper, exercising the DIY makeover muscles she developed renovating a farmhouse in Connecticut. She even hired a pro to retile the bathroom floors—multiple times—to reflect her evolving tastes. “I use my apartment as my canvas,” she says.

In 2019, Pratt started dating Zach Webster, who works in finance. Conveniently, he lived in an apartment on the boardwalk, just five minutes away—they met because Pratt’s wiener dog, Poppy, had a habit of lying down in Webster’s parents’ driveway. Both of them wanted to stay in the neighbourhood, and Pratt didn’t want to give up her beloved Glitter Suite. So the couple decided to maintain separate addresses as a way of avoiding a multimillion-dollar foray into the real estate market.

They got married in June 2021, and a month later, the apartment right next door to the Glitter Suite became available. “The timing was insane,” says Pratt. “It felt very meant to be.” Pratt and Webster decided to continue their Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter living arrangement. “We talked about the logistics of it, and we liked that it wouldn’t upheave our lives,” says Pratt. “It felt like the perfect solution.”

Pratt's second apartment, before any of her DIY renos
Pratt’s second apartment, before she began her DIY reno

There was one hitch, though: the apartment was filthy and in disrepair when they took over the lease. “To say it needed some TLC is an understatement,” says Pratt. The floors were painted “baby poo brown,” and the walls were washed-out shades of blue, yellow and green.

The first order of business for their DIY renovation was sanding the floors to remove the most offensive paint colour, then reinforcing the disintegrating walls with fresh plaster. They also covered the ancient, crumbling fireplace with a semi-circular wall and a brand-new fireplace façade. After all that, the living room ceiling caved in and required vaulting by a professional. “That was the one thing my landlord helped out with,” says Pratt.

The living room in mid-renovation, after the ceiling has caved in
The living room ceiling caved in mid-renovation

Once the broken infrastructure had been mended, they hired a painter and issued a directive: cover everything in a coat of white. “My design aesthetic is pretty eccentric, so I wanted to start with a white canvas,” she says. It also represented compromise. “Zach doesn’t love colour as much as I do. I hoped the paint job would make the space a bit quieter for him, so he doesn’t feel like he’s living in two rainbow palaces,” she says.

Pratt's new living room has a brand new fireplace facade
The living room post-renovation

Since the couple already cook, eat and sleep in Glitter Suite, they renovated the second apartment to serve different purposes. The two bedrooms became Webster’s home office and gym, stocked with a Peloton, free weights, a squat rack, hula hoops and a trampoline. They added a big TV to the living room and turned the adjacent dining room into a studio for Pratt, with a giant easel and room for art supplies. Then they stripped out the full kitchen and replaced it with a smaller studio kitchen that features a turquoise mini fridge for drinks and essentials.

The kitchen before Pratt stripped it out and replaced it with something smaller
The kitchen pre-renovation

 

The post-renovation kitchen, which includes a mini fridge
Since they have a full kitchen in the Glitter Suit, the new kitchen only has a sink and a mini fridge

The decrepit bathroom demanded a complete overhaul: the only original detail that remains is the old cast-iron tub. Pratt replaced the tired porcelain sink with a contemporary IKEA vanity, complete with pink faucets, and put in a brand-new toilet scored for free from Pratt’s colon-cleansing clinic. They kept the vintage tiles intact but sealed them and painted them turquoise.

Advertisement
The bathroom needed to be completely gutted
The bathroom needed to be completely gutted

 

Pratt's bathroom after she spruced it up
The bathroom after its overhaul

The separate-but-together apartments have proven to be the perfect arrangement. “We live a really peaceful existence because we’re not in each other’s way,” says Pratt. “He has his independence and autonomy, and so do I. When we come together to cook a meal and go to bed, it feels like we’ve had enough time away from each other to really enjoy it.”

Their goal for the renovation was to buy as few new items as possible. They reused many of the items Pratt had stored in her basement when she closed her art studio in 2011. In the kitchen, she added her steel work table and oversized industrial sink. The kitchen cabinets are a combination of IKEA buys and items salvaged from the curb. The light fixture is made from two cheap paper lanterns Pratt found in a junk shop on Bloor West.

The couch in the new apartment is the same one Pratt had in the Glitter Suite, but with the legs removed. She constructed a new base out of wood, painted it yellow and placed the old couch on top to create a colour block effect.

The new office, complete with a revamped couch from the Glitter Suit
The new office, complete with a revamped couch from the Glitter Suite

 

Advertisement
The light fixture Pratt made out of hula hoops and other dollar store items
The light fixture Pratt made out of dollar-store items

Finding a light fixture for the living room proved challenging. “If I wanted to find a fixture to fill the space, it would have cost $4,000,” says Pratt. So she fashioned her own out of hula hoops, plaster strips and zip ties, most of which she found at the dollar store. The glass shelves flanking the TV are filled with an assortment of creamware gifted to Pratt from an antique-collector friend.

The painted shelves in Pratt's living room, which hold a collection of creamware
Pratt’s collection of creamware

In each room Pratt designs, she likes to incorporate something she calls an “F-you” detail. “It’s something in the room that makes zero sense because it doesn’t match anything else at all,” she says. In the new office, it’s a leopard-print blind. In the Glitter Suite dining room, it’s the hand-painted stripes on the walls. “It’s the imperfection that makes the space feel one-of-a-kind.”

The home renovation “wasn’t cheap,” says Pratt, but she did the “emotional and mental math” of what it would cost to move and came up with a number she was comfortable spending. She splurged on necessities and infrastructure, to make sure the apartment was in solid condition, and scrimped on quirky design flourishes. As long as they remain in the home for the next five years, Pratt believes they will have gotten their money’s worth.

While she and Webster may not stay there forever, the dual arrangement is perfect for them right now. “This apartment has served me so beautifully,” says Pratt. “I can’t believe I am still here 15 years later, married, with a dog. It’s like a sweet little fairy tale.”

Exiting the rainbow suit

NEVER MISS A TORONTO LIFE STORY

Sign up for This City, our free newsletter about everything that matters right now in Toronto politics, sports, business, culture, society and more.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.
You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Latest

Kiss and Tell: “My Tinder date wouldn’t stop trying to hold my hand”
City

Kiss and Tell: “My Tinder date wouldn’t stop trying to hold my hand”