Great Spaces: A Toronto screenwriting couple steals a home renovation idea from their own show

Great Spaces: A Toronto screenwriting couple steals a home renovation idea from their own show

Great Spaces

Karen Troubetzkoy and Derek Schreyer met at film school in Vancouver more than 15 years ago and have been romantically and professionally inseparable ever since. Nine years ago, they bought a 1940s two-storey home in Little Italy—their first house. It was stumbling distance from Café Diplomatico, Schreyer’s favourite hangout, and a bargain because it had been slow to sell.

But the place was too small for the two of them (who both work from home), their Portuguese water dog Cooper and their two cats. They planned on renovating but abandoned the idea after being told that any expansion would cost them their large backyard. Then, while they were in Montreal filming 18 to Life, the CBC show they created about a young married couple, inspiration struck. “When the family at the centre of the show needed an apartment for the newlywed characters, the show just built a third-level attic on the set of the family house,” Schreyer explains. So Troubetzkoy and Schreyer went about getting permits, and by November 2009 they had ripped off the roof of their home. Less than eight months later, they had a new hideaway loft—and their lawn intact. The bright, airy space is influenced by both the woodsy British Columbia cabins from Schreyer’s tree-planting days and a St. Lucia resort Troubetzkoy’s father (an architect-turned-hotelier) built. Now they spend almost all of their time on the third floor, using it interchangeably as a bedroom, bathroom, office, living room, gym and spa (the kitchen is still on the ground floor). They couldn’t have written a better ending.

Great Spaces

Troubetzkoy and Schreyer refinished the claw-footed tub with matte grey Farrow and Ball paint so it would look more like a piece of furniture.

The simple IKEA pendant lamp over the bath creates dramatic and inexpensive spot lighting.

The photograph—of a building in wreckage—was taken by Troubetzkoy’s father. They deliberately hung it near a window with a skyline view for contrast.

They bought this antique industrial measuring tool in Vancouver. “I’ll give $100 to anyone who can tell me what it does,” Troubetzkoy says.

Troubetzkoy and Schreyer had planned on buying a prefab sauna, but they were so impressed with the craftsmanship of the rest of the addition they asked their team of Finnish builders to make one instead.

The Candela luau lamp, a wrap present from 18 to Life stars Stacey Farber and Michael Seater, is rechargeable and has a built-in dimmer—great for taking out on the deck at night.

Designed by contractor Andrew Hotari, the sliding barn door is made of wood salvaged from an old building near Barrie.

Great Spaces

The black canvas beach chair was free, rescued from the side of the road near their house.

The Fireorb wood-burning fireplace was chosen for its laid-back ’70s beach house vibe and can rotate to face the bathtub or the couch.

The two-headed gooseneck lamp was in the window display at local clothing store Apt. 909. Troubetzkoy and Schreyer sweet-talked the owner into selling it.

Their vintage Coleman cooler is from a second-hand store in Montreal.

They made the curtains that wrap around the bed from king-size jersey sheets, which are less expensive than real curtains and were the perfect length.

The orange folk art stool and the mini globe were both part of the set of Madison, the teen drama that Schreyer wrote for in the 1990s.

Colourful cardboard IKEA hat boxes are a cheap and simple way to stash bedside clutter.

The footboard is a repurposed window frame that holds firewood and doubles as a bench for weightlifting.

Instead of a traditional headboard, the couple hung Broken Forest wallpaper from behind the bed. Troubetzkoy likes the way the woodland tableau adds depth to the room and brings the outdoors in.

The velvet stag wildlife blanket was purchased at Rossy, a Quebec discount department store, and adds a cheeky note to the room.


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