In 2017, Jackie McKeown and Fran Miller lived on a loft in Toronto’s West End, right near Sorauren Park, which quickly became too small. By that time, Jackie had just started fashion styling, which means that racks with pulled clothes hung around, and Fran had just launched F. Miller, her natural skin care brand. “I made skin care products on the dining table,” says Fran. “There was shit everywhere.”
Luckily, they did not have to go far to find anything larger and settled on a 1908-built bungalow just a few blocks away. “It’s exactly what you would imagine for one of those houses that hadn’t been renovated since the 40s,” says Fran. The basement was clad with claustrophobic wood paneling. The kitchen floor was a linoleum of blue and white pieces. The rugs were turquoise and almost everything else was dusty rose. It was actually so kitschy that Jackie used it as a set for a photoshoot.
Then the destruction began. Their first priority was to clear the space all the way down to the students. “It used to be a bunch of small rooms before,” says Fran. “Really bizarre and non-functional spaces,” Jackie adds. They peeled the wood panels and made the basement into F. Miller’s home. And on the ground floor, they laid light wood floors, built storage cabinets and a bathroom, and most importantly for Fran and Jackie shaved walls to create an open and airy interior.
While open floor plans are ubiquitous and have dominated homes for decades now, the challenge for their owners is pretty much the same: how do you create intimate spaces in them? It’s a question that Fran and Jackie have been fiddling with for years, playing with seating and rotating new furniture in and then out. Only recently did they find a solution: a Vitsœ 606 bookcase that delimits the living room and dining room while serving both. On one side, the Dieter Rams-designed art books, a turntable and an Akari lantern. On the other hand, it stores glass from Sirius Glassworks within reach of a solid travertine dining table. “Jackie’s idea of creating a kind of division completely changed the space,” says Fran. “Now it feels a little more built-in; it has the coziness that we strived for from the beginning but never really had the time or energy to sit down and map out properly. ”