Check This Space looks at how millennials live in Toronto, taking readers inside the homes and lives of some of the city’s favourite social media personalities. Watch for regular instalments of this series on thestar.com.
Renting a condo in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood these days costs, on average, just under $ 2,500 a month, according to real estate website Zoocasa. But those prices haven’t been a concern for Tiffany Pratt for a long time.
The social-media-famous designer and stylist moved into her two-bedroom rental on the upper level of a Beach house nearly a decade ago, and staying put meant she’s locked into a price most millennials won’t find easily now. Though Pratt, 37, won’t say how much exactly she pays, she says she only recently got her first rent increase. “I’m lucky because I’ve been here for a long time, so I’m kind of grandfathered in,” she says.
The apartment, just under 1,200 square feet including the patio, is just a few metres up the street from the lake. It’s a reflection of Pratt’s signature vibrant style, following about a year of major renovations when she redid everything from the walls to floors to lighting and more.
Article Continued Below
A rainbow staircase at the entrance ends at a hallway that leads to two bedrooms and a bathroom towards the back of the home, and the kitchen, living and dining rooms towards the front. Because most of Pratt’s work with crafts, designs and photography is done at home, the living room doubles as an office, with a built-in workspace on one wall. “Most people don’t live as pink as I do,” she says.
As a kid, Pratt moved back and forth between her mom’s home in Florida and her dad’s in Brantford, Ont. She moved to New York City in her 20s, working her way up through the business world from a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue, and helped run an art studio for children in Connecticut before choosing to settle down in Toronto to be close to her sisters. Pratt now shares her home with her new puppy, Poppy. “It’s an old lady with a really good face job,” she says.
Check This Space: Inside the Distillery apartment of Instagram star and artist Hatecopy
Bathroom renovation picks up pink theme
Designer and stylist tickled pink with kitchen renovation
How much do you pay in rent?
I don’t think that’s something I feel is good to advertise. (My friend) is currently renting a unit very similar to mine. I think it’s $ 2,100. I did look at a property two doors down that faces the water and it was the exact layout of my house for $ 2,400. Newly renovated. But I would say what I’ve done with mine is more newly renovated than that. To buy down by water, this close, it’s lunatic.
Article Continued Below
What’s your neighbourhood like?
Quiet. Very safe. Forty per cent of the shops have closed in the last year and a half, so it’s like no man’s land up on Queen St. It literally feels like a desolate weird small town. And everyone knows everyone. I love the Beach. I’m saddened that we don’t have as many businesses as it could. But living here to me is just peaceful.
What is it like commuting to and from the Beach?
I don’t care. For me, all the extra time getting in and out of this place is worth it for the beach. The extra 15 or 20 minutes that I’m stuck sitting in traffic, or even sometimes an hour, it doesn’t even faze me because the end game is that I’m here and I hear the lake and I see the stars.
I’m an exclusive driver a), because I’m a control freak. I don’t have the kind of job where I have the luxury of time and I also usually have something in my car, like I’m taking things to and from or I’m picking something up.
What do you like best about this home?
Although the place is not gigantic, it still has assigned rooms. Like I have a proper dining room, living room. It’s not like a condo where it’s a shared space where you have to have a living, dining, kitchen all sort of in one. Because of the way it’s laid out, you do get to maximize the rooms, so it does have a feeling of spaciousness. In Toronto, very rarely can you get a place like this with two bedrooms, the way they’re sectioned.
What is the most challenging aspect of this space?
That it’s on the second floor. The nature of my work is hauling stuff and creating things, and bringing things up and down the stairs is a b—-. I wish that there was a time-lapse camera over the past years to watch the stuff I’ve had to carry out of here. Installations, things I created for weddings, chandeliers, boxes. At the same time the second floor is amazing because I don’t hear anything and I only see treetops. So it feels like I’m living in a tree house.
How long do you see yourself living here?
I don’t necessarily ever see myself giving this place up. I’m hoping that at some point my landlord will just sell me the property because I’ve been here for so long. Deals like what I could get here are only going to be done person-to-person, not through the real estate market. Because if it’s through the real estate market, I will not be able to afford it. I’m also not married to owning anything. And I do not really like the idea that I would have to sink a lot of my cash into like my heater blowing up or whatever. That is still (my landlord’s) responsibility and if something goes wrong, it’s on him.
What would you tell another millennial who’s looking for a home in this area?
The lifestyle out here is not that of a person that wants to be in the middle of it all. So if there’s a millennial who wants to come out here, I think it’s the type to enjoy a little bit more peace and a little bit more nature. And also, you’re not going to get a flashy condo down here. Everything in the Beach is old.
What kind of style were you going for in decorating this space?
I really wasn’t going for anything. I think I was going for happiness. I like to mix things together that other people wouldn’t, but then they see it and they go, ‘Oh yeah, that works.’ Like the outdoor swinging chair.
I worked on the kitchen with Home Depot in 2016. Once we improved the kitchen, everything else looked like s—. When you start improvements, it’s like a domino effect. You have to be careful because once you start, you can’t stop. I had a handful of men that were in and out of my house so much last year that it was like I was Murphy Brown and these guys were my Eldin. It took a year.
What was your budget for the renovation?
I didn’t really have one. As each room was progressing, I kind of had to look at it as a monthly spend. Because I’m self-employed, every month was different. Some months I could spend enough and really go for it and other months I had to row back and wait. I would say on my house alone, it was a minimum of $ 3,000 a month, if not more.
If you didn’t live here, where would you live?
I’d only live in the Beach.
This interview has been edited and condensed.