How an artist lives in under 500 square feet

How an artist lives in under 500 square feet

Alexis Jardin, 50


Where: Corktown
How big: 497 square feet
How much: $256,000

When Alexis Jardin left her rented Liberty Village penthouse behind in 2008 after a breakup, she was ready to buy a home of her own, but she didn’t want to bring more than a few suitcases with her. She had a short wish list: the place had to be small, it had to be easy to rent out when she was travelling and it had to have at least a little bit of outdoor space. (Jardin grew up in Muskoka and can’t abide by an indoor-only lifestyle.)

While working a photography gig, she found out about plans to redevelop the West Don Lands, an ex-industrial site east of the Distillery Distrct. Excited by the area’s potential, she decided to make it the starting point of her condo search. With a $300,000 budget, she began hunting. A pre-construction Streetcar Developments condo in Corktown seemed perfect, but when she showed up at the sales centre, there weren’t any units left. “I was so bummed,” she says.

As she was walking away, her selling agent came running after her. A buyer had reneged. Without a second thought, Jardin signed the paperwork. After a three-year build-out, she finally got her keys in 2012.

She bought bar stools and a table to match her stainless steel counter tops, so there wouldn’t be a single shiny focal point breaking up the space. She props up her canvases on the stools when she paints:


She painted the north-facing wall black, which she thinks makes the room feel bigger:


A minimalist by nature, Jardin doesn’t need much storage. She does, however, love to entertain. Once, to accommodate 42 guests at her birthday party, she made room by stacking her armchairs on her bed:


“Stuff having multiple functions is key,” Jardin says. Her couch pulls out into a guest bed, while her actual bed does double duty as a linen closet (the mattress pulls up to reveal storage boxes):


The balcony has an elaborate vertical garden, giant ferns and—for some privacy—curtains hanging from tension bars. “Being a country girl, I’m always tinkering out here,” Jardin says. “It’s the only place in my home where there’s some colour.”

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