In Refinery29’s Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennials. Today, interior design photographer Jules Lee shows us how she turned her Toronto condo into an eclectic oasis.
Jules Lee's Toronto apartment looked like "an empty white box, void of any character" before the interior design photographer and her boyfriend Tim turned it into a vibrant, electric oasis. The key? Melding investment pieces (like her to-die-for $1,200 green mid-century modern couch, Lee’s first adult purchase) with affordable and sometimes even found items. Among the latter: Lee’s collection of over 400 records, inherited from her lolo, a hulking green bedside table from Craigslist that the couple affectionately refers to as "the Shrek," and a highly coveted Eames lounge chair, rescued from beside a dumpster.
Green is a big theme in their apartment. "I like to think of myself as a plant mom," says Lee, who has filled their one-bedroom plus den, one-bathroom home with ZZ, pineapple, and monstera plants, a vertical garden, and more. (She's also planning on planting a balcony garden this spring.) But it's not the only colour she's committed to. The apartment is a menagerie of bright, bold pieces — like the blue-to-green gradient MOMA milk glasses, the light pink accent wall in the kitchen, Lee’s bright yellow guitar with a cow-print strap, and the '80s purple and pink Grease 2 poster hanging in the living room. These vibrant pops bring warmth and energy to the space while making it feel all their own.
Lee and her filmmaker boyfriend have lived in their 638-square-foot condo, close to the city’s Distillery District, for almost two years. They rent the space from Lee’s sister (which accounts for the $2,000 rent, a bonus!), and which definitely made the apartment more desirable — but wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor. "Had I looked, I think I would have ended up in this area anyway," Lee says. Not only was she already attached to the nearby St. Lawrence Market, she also wanted a space that wasn’t right in the chaos of the downtown core. "I’m not much of a hustle and bustle kind of city girl, and I have a controversial fondness towards the slow pace of the suburbs, so I appreciate how much less busy it is than other areas."
Like most condos dwellers, Lee and her partner have maximized the limited floor space they have, with Lee using the living room as her place to watch TV (K-dramas Itaewon Class and Crash Landing on You are some of her faves), relax, exercise, and work — thanks to small, but crucial additions like a laptop desk. And even before the era of WFH, the pair converted their den into a state-of-the-art home studio for Tim to produce music: a window-less space (think the bat cave for musicians) with ambient lighting that contrasts with the rest of the condo’s bright interior, and houses his own similarly impressive record collection.