This east-end loft doubles as an art gallery

This east-end loft doubles as an art gallery

In 2016, Emily Harding went looking for a loft. She had lived in New York, where artists and curators sometimes showcase artwork in their homes to avoid paying astronomical rents on gallery space. Her plan was to do something similar in Toronto, and to lure potential buyers by hosting monthly art-focused dinners through Palette, a supper club she runs with her business partner, Jeff Dinan.

She found the ideal spot: a two-storey, 2,300-square-foot suite with a large rooftop terrace in the former Coca-Cola plant at Dundas and Carlaw. She bought the unit pre-construction. The design was too conventional for her taste, so she asked the developer, Atria, if she could rejig the interior with help from Ali Kafaei of A and Associates Architects. They worked together to modernize the loft while preserving some of its industrial grittiness.

The finished space makes the most of its concrete floors and painted steel beams. The mezzanine is surrounded by a wall of glass, allowing light to flow throughout the unit from strategically placed skylights.

Emily’s living quarters are upstairs. Downstairs is where she runs her business. Ernestomeda, an Italian firm, designed the kitchen, where well-known chefs like former Top Chef Canada contestant Dustin Gallagher have prepared Palette’s multi-course meals.

Sharing the space with up to 200 gallerygoers requires a relaxed attitude toward privacy, but Emily loves being surrounded by art. “Plus, walking downstairs to work makes life so easy,” she says.

Emily does most of her living—and lounging—on the loft’s upper floor:


The cabinet is originally from the Art Shoppe, but Emily got it from an antique store in Prince Edward County. The green velvet sofa, a popular selfie spot during art events, is from Article. “All the furniture is neutral so it doesn’t detract from the art,” Emily says. The original concrete floors are polished and finished with a matte urethane:


These three pieces are by Robert Cameron, a Canadian artist who incorporates wine into his work:


The painting in the middle, titled “Brillo en la Mirada,” is by Carlos Delgado (the Colombian-​Canadian artist, not the former Blue Jay). To the right is “The Healer,” also by Delgado:


The backsplash and kitchen countertops are Calacatta marble:


Emily’s bedroom is separate from the gallery space:


Here’s the rooftop terrace: