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Real Estate

How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet

By Vibhu Gairola| Photography by Brittany Carmichael
How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet
Paul Kozak, 35, and Sonja Tijanic, 30

Digital fabrication technologist; architectural designer

Where: Moss Park How much: $320,000 How big: 450 square feet

The high ceilings in Paul and Sonja’s tiny two-storey condo are both a blessing and a curse: they steal precious square footage from the second floor, but they create a shaft of air above the diminutive lower-floor living area, which makes it feel a bit bigger than it is. “It’s amazing what an extra story of clear air can do,” Sonja says.

What Paul and Sonja lack in square footage they’ve made up for with design. After buying the condo in 2013, they started renovating. They removed a clunky kitchen island, installed a counter that seats seven comfortably, and put in 16-foot-tall shelves that are recessed into the living room wall, so they don’t take up any floor area. Sonja’s father, who has a millwork shop, volunteered his time and equipment, so they were able to do most of the work themselves.

Finding storage solutions was a challenge. “In a large home, you don’t look for space in places like in wall cavities,” Paul says. “We started noticing those areas when we opened up our walls—that there’s space under the stairs, or room for a kick plate under the kitchen cabinets. In a normal kitchen, you don’t use that space because you don’t need to.” After five years of steady work, the suite has a clean, modern and cheerful look. But there’s always room for improvement. Next, Sonja wants to turn the bottom three stairs into drawers.

The living room feels large and spacious, thanks to high ceilings and a wall of windows:

How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet

Paul and Sonja swapped out their standard 30-inch-wide appliances for 24-inch-wide appliances. The only appliance they didn’t replace was the 17-inch dishwasher:

How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet

They decided to turn the wasted space under the stairs into a pantry:

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How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet

Paul keeps his bike suspended off the balcony, secured by rope. Sonja stores her bike in the parking garage:

How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet

And there’s more built-in storage up in the bedroom:

How a pair of 30-somethings live in 450 square feet

Do you live in a tiny condo? We want to talk to you.


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