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Real Estate

This DIYer’s 600-square-foot Leslieville bungalow is nearly half the size of her old pad, but it’s twice as homey

“I truly believe that every square inch counts”

By Iris Benaroia| Photography by Ebti Nabag
This DIYer’s 600-square-foot Leslieville bungalow is nearly half the size of her old pad, but it's twice as homey

Georgia Nevison, 34, and her sidekick, a charismatic Wheaten terrier named Porter, spent Covid hunkered down in a spiffy condo at Queen and Spadina. Georgia is the director of marketing and head of operations for Hadden Homes at Berkshire Hathaway. 

After buying the condo pre-construction in 2016, she tweaked the layout and upgraded the finishes. The unit’s treetop views and roomy footprint appealed to her (it’s 1,000 square feet with a 400-square-foot terrace), but she pined for a backyard garden and a way out of her maintenance fees, which totalled $889 a month“Because of Covid, I wasn’t even using the facilities,” Georgia says. “It was a waste.”

So she sold the condo for $1.1 million in November of 2020, trading it in for a compact bungalow in Leslieville. “[The condo] had 11 offers! It was lovely,” says Georgia, who paid $1,057,000 for her new 600-square-foot, one-bedroom house. In February of 2021, she moved in.

The all-white interior felt ho-hum, but the vaulted ceilings and skylights made her new pad feel spacious and bright. “Any normal person would have kept it as is, but I have a design background, and I wanted to personalize the space,” says Georgia. “I like that sexy New York loft, boutique hotel aesthetic.”

To add some character, Georgia and her engineer father pulled out the power tools for an epic six-month makeover. They relocated the staircase, which was hogging plum space in the living area, to the rear of the home in order to improve the flow. Georgia was up for the task. “Last year, my Secret Santa gift from my family was a circular saw,” she says. The enterprising duo also streamlined the kitchen by sawing down a supersized island. They gave a city-cool vibe to the only bedroom, enlarging it by stealing square footage from the kitchen and lining one wall with a colossal closet. Patterns, prints, and orange and blue hues throughout also energize the space.

“I truly believe that every square inch counts,” says Georgia, who doesn’t miss condo life. Purging her things has made her think more creatively about how she lives, she says. “And Leslieville is perfect for a single person. I’m steps from Queen Street and Cherry Beach, so the dog can run around off-leash. This area has all of the amenities of the west end, but it’s quieter.”

Next up: she’s designing an entertainer’s dream zone in the backyard for lounging and dining. And her tiny bungalow is getting an even smaller companion. “I’m halfway through building my ‘she shed,’” she says. Georgia currently stashes her tool collection in the small structure, but she plans to turn it into a painting studio this summer.

Georgia built the free-standing closet in the foyer over a weekend. It holds Porter’s leashes and her outerwear. “After browsing fancy tile shops, I spotted this floor tile at Home Depot,” she says. A professional tiler installed the black-and-white marble mosaic. “I didn’t want to mess up the house’s first impression.”

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The foyer features floor tile from Home Depot
Georgia built the free-standing closet in the foyer. Its compact size is a space-saving hack

Georgia’s grandfather was a painter. His works make up part of this “forever growing gallery wall,” as she describes it. Her favourite of his is the watercolour of London showing Big Ben. He also made the Monet replica in oil paint. The blue prints are from Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Paintings by Georgia's grandfather hang on her walls
More art on display in Georgia's hallway

Pocket doors coolly slide open to the bedroom. “I have a ton of clothes and shoes,” says Georgia of the large, customized IKEA Pax unit that hides a pipe chase. The bed is king-sized. “Porter is small, but he’s very big when he sleeps.”

A large customized IKEA Pax unit in the small bedroom
Handles on the customized IKEA pax unit

Georgia made the “It’s Lit” artwork in the kitchen out of matches.

DIY artwork that Georgia made using matches

Georgia stores glassware and pantry items in this big old oak cabinet. It’s from her childhood home in Summerhill.

Georgia stores glassware and pantry items in this big old oak cabinet. It’s from her childhood home in Summerhill

“I love the buttery leather of these Elte chairs,” says Georgia. “They’re the first really nice pieces of furniture I bought for myself.”

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Leather Elte chairs in the living room

The previous owner left this Crate and Barrel display shelf behind. “What a nice bonus!" Georgia says. “I have a collection of elephants that I pick up when I travel. They’re my favourite animal.” The herd hails from Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico and Hungary. Her favourite is a silver candlestick elephant from Cambodia.

A Crate and Barrel display shelf in the living room features a collection of elephants from Georgia's travels
A collection of elephant sculptures

Cutting down the kitchen island was risky, Georgia admits. “There was a high likelihood that it could break in the process, but it ended up being fine. Now the kitchen is quaint.”

Georgia cut down the kitchen island as a DIY small-space hack

The green storage cabinet under the TV holds Georgia’s art supplies, including paints, brushes, papers, yarn and knitting needles.

A view of the kitchen and living room, including a Crate and Barrel display shelf

“Porter’s Perch,” as Georgia calls the elevated area at the back of the house, is a prime spot for tracking squirrels. She installed a wall-mounted monitor and a Herman Miller chair, so the space can be used as a mini office.

A wall-mounted monitor and a Herman Miller chair, so the small space can be used as a mini office

The new stairs lead to the back door. “You go down half a storey to get to the back,” says Georgia. “We built a vestibule there to house a small mudroom, and above it is the half-nook.

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The back patio

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