We lovingly refer to the “old bones” (see: charming antique details) of spaces frequently, but it’s hard to rival this 700 square-foot Montreal studio in that regard. With tall ceilings, antique shutters, an ornate fireplace, and original parquet wood flooring, this space would charm even the most Modernism-loving skeptic. Lauren Maclean, an Ontario native with a lifelong passion for interior design, runs a blog called Living By Lo to channel her creativity, while using her personal space to show off her skills. After making the leap and moving to Montreal two years ago, she took up residence in an even smaller studio (see our tour of that space here!), where her “small space living” theme inspired others through her Instagram page, which grew her exposure as a designer exponentially. Today, she uses her online platforms to inspire her followers to connect with their space: “I truly believe your space can really influence your state of mind so I have loved the chance to share this message and encourage others to create that relationship with their home.” See her full space below as we chat with her about the challenges and rewards of owning your space!
Lauren takes full advantage of the existing character of her space, making sure that her minimal aesthetic doesn’t detract from the features that make the studio unique. Each aspect is fully considered. “My apartment is in an old brownstone like building and it’s full of architecture and character. 15ft high ceilings, large windows with wooden shutters, intricate moldings and herringbone wood floors.”
“The interior details are very reflective of a Parisian apartment which is a personal style I really adore. I like to use the existing features of a space to help tell the story of my design, so since this space was a bit different than my last I actually changed quite a bit. With more room to work with I was able introduce bolder color palettes and add some stronger pieces to compliment the Parisian vibe that the space naturally offered. I like to design starting with an empty space giving my mind time to visualize the spirit and feel of what I want.”
“I like my space to feel welcoming and warm regardless of the design style I choose. I added natural pieces throughout so it feels less formal and more effortless including wood or rattan materials. Plants and flowers are also how I like to add a natural and live element. Lighting is most important to set the tone of a space and make it feel warm, so I distribute table or floor lamps in all corners of a room using low-wattage soft bulbs. Mixed with the glow of candles, it’s a great way to offset the formal feel of modern décor. I really didn’t want my space to look like an overly decorated showroom, but a space that I comfortably live in so these natural elements really helped pull that together.”
With more room, of course, comes more space to consider from a design perspective. Lauren’s already minimal design aesthetic lent itself well to this new space, she decided to take her time filling the in the gaps and not rush anything. She explains, “it let me find things I really love and connect with instead of rushing it for the sake of being ‘done.’ Living in a bigger space doesn’t mean I want to accumulate ‘stuff’ that doesn’t bring me value, so doing it one bit at a time let me appreciate the process and not feel cluttered.”
“I know I am so lucky to have found a space with such charm, like these herringbone wood floors! But aside from the obvious, when I first took this space it was in terrible shape. With a lot of actual blood, sweat and tears, and ONLY my two hands, I transformed a very rough, dirty, and terrifyingly colorful apartment into a fresh new canvas for me to work with. A place to create just for me. Putting in all the work on my own has really let the space feel like mine, something I am proud of, and it’s that feeling that I love most when I walk into my home. For me it’s not just about creating a nice room full of pretty things, but really creating a space you connect with that becomes a reflection of you who are.”