Great Spaces: a filmmaker turns a former car repair shop into a killer bachelor pad

Great Spaces: a filmmaker turns a former car repair shop into a killer bachelor pad

Robert Pilichowski’s family emigrated from Gdansk, Poland, in 1980, when he was eight years old. They settled in what was then Toronto’s Polish enclave, Roncesvalles Village, where they lived for a year before moving to the burbs. Pilichowski, now a photographer and documentary filmmaker, chose to return to his first Toronto ’hood when he was looking for a place of his own. He found a loft conversion that had once been an autobody repair shop and began dismantling unwanted elements—cheap laminate flooring, low-grade kitchen cabinetry, a squat toilet—in order to build his ultimate bachelor pad. His father, Roman, a former shipyard engineer in Poland who worked in factories in Canada, helped with much of the reno. Together, Robert and Roman tried to give the cavernous 2,600-square-foot space some personality. “I hate things that are generic or prefab,” says Robert. “I need things that have history, substance, character—pieces that make life a bit more cinematic.” The furnishings are mostly vintage, and the art is carefully curated. Pilichowski tried to preserve the repair shop vibe wherever possible. (He’s a self-professed gearhead who owns a 1963 Chevy Nova and a 1966 Honda motorcycle, which he parks in his living room.) He also kept the exposed brick and concrete floors, for which he’s found a great use—he often skateboards around the open space to unwind.

The Glass blower David Thai made three of these asymmet­rical chandeliers for the loft. Pilich­owski’s dad, Roman, welded the steel angles and did the wiring.

The bathtub is original to the building. Roman tiled the bathroom walls.

Roman also made all of the walnut furniture in the bedroom. Robert is forever in awe of his father’s woodworking skills: “He’s old school. He could probably build an entire house from scratch.”

Pilichowski bought all of his rugs—both cowhide and sheepskin—near the family cottage in Barry’s Bay. The bushel of twigs came from up there, too.

The Thonet chairs from Queen West Antiques were in rough shape until Pilichowski and his dad revived them with stain and lacquer.

The letters, part of an old supermarket sign, are from the St. Lawrence Antiques Market.

He bought the vintage Self Service sign on eBay. It’s a nod to the building’s past life as a
repair shop.

The fully restored 1966 Honda Black Bomber sits in Pilichowski’s living room when he’s not
riding it.

Pilichowski traded one of his own photographs for “Eyes Wide Open Shutters Closed,” by the artist Juliana Neufeld.