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Real Estate

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

By Caroline Aksich| Photography by Brittany Carmichael
How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet
Debbie Lu, 26

Account manager at a public relations firm

Where: Fort York How much: $303,000 How big: 514 square feet

Two years ago, Debbie, with financial help from her parents, made a pre-construction deposit on a condo in Fort York, where the prices were in line with her $300,000 budget. She loved the location: close to the hubbub of downtown, but also walking distance from Lake Ontario.

“I grew up by the Yangtze River and I’ve always been drawn to living by the water,” Debbie says. Even so, she opted not to buy a lake-facing suite. This pizza-slice-shaped unit appealed to her because it doesn’t have a hallway hogging all the square footage, and because it’s on one of the building’s top floors, which affords her extra privacy. Another plus to having a unit on the building’s north side: she has an unobstructed panorama of Fort York, a historical site no developer can put a tower on.

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

Almost everything Debbie has bought for her home is white, including her dinner table, her picture frames and her speakers. She thinks the bright colour palette makes the space look bigger. She made an exception for her duo of red dining chairs:

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

Debbie barely uses her oddly shaped balcony. During winter, she stores her bike there. The balcony, is, at least, a prime spot for concerts: last summer, she and her friends listened to Feist perform at the Field Trip music festival, which took place at Fort York:

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

After seeing some work by local artist Smolik at a gallery on Queen West, Debbie tracked him down online and commissioned a portrait of herself. The finished drawing includes references to everything she loves: wine, ice cream, girl power and her Chinese heritage:

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

She spent weeks researching the ideal litter box for her cat, Hazel. This Poopoopeedo litter box is from the U.K. Not only is it white (so, on theme), but the oval shape makes it look less like a litter box. Hoping to get rid of the box altogether, Debbie recently bought a kit so she could train her cat to use the toilet:

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How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

She has a shoe problem. Her coat closet is packed to bursting with her fancier kicks, which she stores in their original boxes:

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

Her bedroom closet is always immaculate, with garments organized by colour and length. “Even a small mess looks big in here,” she says:

How a 26-year-old account manager lives in 500 square feet

Debbie loves her little home, but she can’t picture herself sharing the space with a partner, and she’s not keen to spend the rest of her life researching small space living hacks on YouTube. She’ll likely trade up when she can.


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