Inside an artist’s gallery-like home above his old art store
Before Queen West hit peak hipster, it was possible to buy a building on the strip relatively cheaply. That’s exactly what Ben Woolfitt did. The slab-like structure was built in the 1930s and later housed a metal spring factory. Ben took it over from a foundering garment company in 1996.
Ben divided the 30,000-square-foot building into 10 large art studios. He kept 4,000 square feet for himself and relocated Woolfitt’s, his art supplies shop, to the ground floor. It remained there for 17 years until he sold the business to Curry’s in 2013 so he could focus on his own artwork. Until recently, he ran a gallery behind the building.
“My home is a place to see my art in context,” Ben says. He decorated the space with the help of designer Jolene Kessler. Several different seating areas allow Ben and his guests to soak in his work, as well as the work of other artists, like Larry Poons, William Ronald, Jack Bush and Jules Olitski. “I used to have a house near Casa Loma,” Ben says. “Houses work well if you’ve got a family and you need rooms. I live by myself and I like space.”
The sitting area has classic Le Corbusier chairs on steel frames. The ceiling used to have exposed beams, but Ben closed them in. “Now people walk in and see the paintings, not the ceilings,” he says:
The kitchen has had the same hand-rubbed red cabinets for 20 years:
“I play snooker every day. I’m a good amateur player,” Ben says:
Ben’s vibrant acrylic artwork decorates the bathroom:
The bathroom also has an infrared sauna:
The stools at the foot of Ben’s bed are based on a design by Mies van der Rohe: