Great Spaces: Inside a Leslieville painter’s Berlin-inspired studio

“My rooftop in Germany was so bright—I wanted to replicate it”

By Iris Benaroia| Photography by Derek Shapton
Painter Kate Hollett on the rooftop deck of her Leslieville loft

Who: Kate Hollett, a multimedia artist Where: near Dundas and Carlaw

In 2010, Kate Hollett moved from Toronto to Berlin, where she lived and worked for a decade. While overseas, she rented out the live-work Leslieville loft she’d owned for over 20 years. She also had the place renovated, redoing the floors, kitchen, bathroom and staircase as well as adding a third floor plus a rooftop deck. “I wanted it to be clean and simple and white, like my flat in Berlin,” Kate says. (The walls were formerly painted sage green, harvest yellow and hunting-coat red.) “My rooftop in Germany was so bright—I wanted to replicate it.”

Kate Hollett's paintings inside her Leslieville home

Kate returned to Toronto in January of 2020, and when the pandemic hit, she already had a fantastic shelter-and-work-in-place set-up ready. Gallery­white walls are a perfect backdrop to showcase Kate’s vibrant paintings. She divides her time between the rooftop, where she sprays and stretches canvases, and the main dining area downstairs, where she paints using acrylics.

For Kate, her live-work space is the best place to be. “I pop up to the roof several times a day,” she says. “I drink a latte, sketch ideas and listen to the sounds of the city.”

Kate Hollett's living room is filled with her paintings
White walls brighten the space, which is ideal for viewing Kate’s eye-catching paintings. “The light bounces around everywhere,” she says


The studio inside painter Kate Hollett's Leslieville home
Kate’s latest painting is called “Elana Superwoman,” from a series she’s working on titled The Art of the Selfies. The painting’s background is inspired by Renaissance portraits of lords and their lands


The cupboards where Kate Hollett stores her art supplies
Kate stores her art supplies in these cupboards. She also uses the steel backsplash for notes when she’s drawing


Paints in Kate Hollett's studio
Kate paints in the main dining area. Under the spattered drop cloth is a white harvest table she’s had for about 40 years


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