How a creative couple turned 3,000 square feet of old office space into a chic urban flat

How a creative couple turned 3,000 square feet of old office space into a chic urban flat

Illustration by Aleksandar Janicijevic

In 2012, Gianpiero Pugliese, the founder of Audax Architecture, and his wife, Mariya Naumov, were looking to upgrade from their one-plus-den condo at College and Bathurst. Mariya was pregnant with their first child, Maximilian, and they needed more space—but they craved something different from the standard Toronto semi.

By chance, during a poker game with friends, Gianpiero met the new owners of a low-rise office building in Little Italy slated for redevelopment. The third storey was a 3,000-square-foot shell at the time, but when Gianpiero went to see it he fell in love with the light that poured in from two expansive walls of windows. In early 2013, he and Mariya, who’s now an interior design student, bought the entire floor and got to work turning it into a home.

They spent nearly a year designing the space, drawing inspiration from Paris and New York, where families reside in chic, sensibly designed apartments. By the summer of 2014, when they moved in, the building was also home to a coffee bar, some office space and two other residential suites.

The elevator opens into a combined living room, dining room and kitchen. Three bedrooms, a laundry room and a massive walk-in closet take up one half of the apartment and can be sectioned off with double doors when Gianpiero and Mariya entertain. Max is three now, and their daughter, Evelyn, was born last year. They find that the ­single-storey setup not only prevents stair-related injuries but also seems to keep toys from migrating into the main living area.

The family spend most of their time in the “winter garden,” a bright sunroom with southern exposure. And they love that the perks of the neighbourhood are—quite literally—at their doorstep.


The Raphael dining chairs are from Audax’s custom line:


Many of the books in Gianpiero’s office belonged to his father, who was a mechanical engineer:


The office is more like an alcove. Here’s a view of it from the living room:


And here’s how the living room looks from the opposite angle. You can see through to that sunroom, which shares the fireplace:


Gianpiero’s parents bought the master bedroom’s chandelier during their honeymoon in Venice in 1963. Audax’s rose-hued Evelyn chair was named after Gianpiero and Mariya’s daughter:


Gianpiero is teaching Max to draw. The Millennium Falcon rendering is a joint father-son project:


The kitchen has quartz countertops and sandblasted oak cupboards, which automatically open with the press of a finger:


The vanity in the master bath is from Restoration Hardware:


Max’s room has shelves for his books du jour:


Their mood board is currently displaying design sketches and some fashion inspiration. Max has taken to adding his drawings:


And this is Evelyn’s room. The Harvard rocker was a gift from Gianpiero’s parents when he graduated:

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