See inside a chocolate-maker’s jam-packed Kensington Market loft

See inside a chocolate-maker’s jam-packed Kensington Market loft

Sarah Keenlyside, the 44-year-old co-owner of the Ossington restaurant La Banane and Baldwin Street chocolate shop CXBO

Sarah Keenlyside’s apartment is as hectic as her schedule. Once a full-time freelance documentary filmmaker, she now runs a video production company, a restaurant and an artisanal chocolate shop that specializes in colourful truffles. She also plans to open a new cocktail spot in the spring.

Her 750-square-foot loft is “like the inside of my brain,” she says. It’s filled from floor to 13.5-foot ceiling with artworks created by friends (there are many pieces by her mentor, Douglas Coupland) along with one-of-a-kind mementoes and thrift-store finds. The art is everywhere. It’s below the windowsill and above the kitchen cabinets, where her 16-year-old cat, Oscar, sometimes lounges. “It helps to put things high so that you feel the volume of space,” Sarah says. “If everything was low, it would just feel like a smaller apartment. It’s a cool, proportioned space, and it’s elevated so much by the stuff.”

She used a large Norfolk pine and a rubber plant to form a makeshift divider between the living and dining areas. She’ll form clusters of items to create volume out of smaller objects. Without the organized groupings, the space might look cluttered by random artifacts. That’s why she has two Leaning Tower of Pisa models, three decorative plates with cat faces on them and a growing collection of Canadian pottery and colourful glass jars. “Take one little object and it’s lost, especially in a space this big,” she says.

The free-standing yellow-and-black Styrofoam block formation below is by Sarah’s artist friend Bruno Billio, who used to have it in his small apartment at the Gladstone Hotel. She bought the Finnish hanging light fixture at a store on Queen West for about $800. It’s one of the few items in her home that weren’t a steal. She found the glass table at Eclectisaurus in Moss Park.


This  collage is by Douglas Coupland.


The couch was a serendipitous Craigslist find. It’s by Niels Bendtsen, and it was a very affordable $3,000. Sarah bought the coffee table at Metropolitan Home in Vancouver. “Something about a round table feels more convivial and conversational,” she says. “It softens this L we have going on with the couch.”


Sarah spotted this receptionist desk on Craigslist. “It was perfect because it’s so small,” she says. “I love the fact that I can fold it all up and make it all go away.”


Sarah recently installed a new Mirolin tub in the bathroom.


The wood painting, by Vancouver artist Attila Richard Lukacs, was an impulse buy during the Art With Heart auction at Casey House. “When it hit $10,000, I grabbed my dad’s paddle,” Sarah says. The pink dresser is from Metropolitan Home in Vancouver, and the stacked globes were part of Douglas Coupland’s 2012 Nuit Blanche installation.