Constant Experiments Keep Transforming This Toronto Home


In 2017, Jackie McKeown and Fran Miller were living in a loft in Toronto’s West End, right near Sorauren Park, that was quickly becoming too small. At the time, Jackie had just started fashion styling, meaning there were racks of pulled clothes hanging about, and Fran had just launched F. Miller, her natural skincare label. “I was making skincare products on the dining table,” Fran says. “There was crap everywhere.”

Luckily, they didn’t have to go far to find something bigger, settling on a 1908-built multi-level house just a few blocks away. “It’s exactly what you’d picture for one of these houses that hadn’t been renovated since the ’40s,” Fran says. The basement was lined with claustrophobic wood paneling. The kitchen floor was a linoleum of blue and white checkers. The carpets were turquoise and nearly everything else was dusty rose. It was so kitschy, in fact, that Jackie used it as a set for a photoshoot.

Then, the destruction began. Their first priority was gutting the space right down to the studs. “It was a bunch of little rooms before,” says Fran. “Really bizarre and non-functional spaces,” adds Jackie. They ripped out the wood paneling and turned the basement into the home of F. Miller. And on the ground floor, they laid light wood floors, built out storage closets and a bathroom, and, most important to Fran and Jackie, razed walls to create an open and airy interior.

A Vitsœ 606 Universal Shelving System divides the living and dining rooms. The solid travertine dining table was found on Kijiji, while the mismatched Alvar Aalto 66 and 69 chairs came from vintage dealers and a now-shut café that was selling off its furniture. The pendant lamp is by EQ3. The wooden plinth is by Toronto-based furniture studio JDH Projects.

While open-floor plans are ubiquitous, having dominated homes for decades now, the challenge facing their owners is largely the same: how do you create intimate spaces within them? It’s a question that Fran and Jackie fiddled with for ages, playing with seating arrangements and rotating new pieces of furniture in and then out. Only recently did they find a solution: a Vitsœ 606 shelving unit that demarcates the living and dining rooms, while serving both. On one side, the Dieter Rams design houses art books, a record player, and an Akari lantern. On the other, it stores glasses by Sirius Glassworks in arm’s reach of a solid travertine dining table. “Jackie’s idea to put some sort of division up totally changed the space,” Fran says. “Now, it feels a bit more lived-in; it has the coziness that we were striving for from the beginning, but never really had the time or energy to sit down and properly map out.”

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