What I bought

A creative approach to condo shopping and design


What’s it like living on King West in the heart of Toronto’s condo boom? Shawn Hernden, director of marketing and communications at Canadian Stage and owner of King West Design, couldn’t be happier.

“I think the condo boom has been unfairly accused of wiping away the architectural and cultural fabric of our neighbourhoods,” says Hernden. “The true experience of condo living is that you’re often navigating the streets with people who walk the same path to work as you do, who use the same grocery stores and eat at the same restaurants. There’s something very special about living with others who are attracted to the area for the same reasons.”

Hernden’s condo is at 478 King West, adjacent to hot spots Weslodge and Patria. You can tell by the funky art on his walls that he’s interested in design.

“Many of the pieces are by local artist Mark Huculak (Mark Art Studio). The artwork is gritty and vibrant, which perfectly plays off the white walls, concrete ceilings and brick exteriors.”

Hernden originally wanted to live on a higher floor but was turned off by the prospect of having to overlook rooftops with loud fans and smelly air conditioners.

“I didn’t consider living on a lower floor until I saw this condo’s amazing outdoor terrace, which almost doubles my living space for eight months of the year.”

He makes the most of his balcony by filling it with plants and trees, and has even installed an irrigation system.

Original condo budget $325,000

Unit price $307,000 in 2012

Wish list “I was looking for popular items: open floor plan, plenty of outdoor space, natural daylight, high cement ceilings, sleek kitchen with built-in appliances, lots of wall space to hang art and an on-site gym.” Hernden also wanted to be able to walk to work.

What he got A 500-square-foot one-bedroom suite with a spacious 400-square-foot terrace. His home is a convenient 30-minute walk from Canadian Stage’s Berkeley Street Theatre and administrative offices.

His design philosophy Though the condo is only 500 square feet, it comfortably fits a 126-inch couch that seats eight and a dining table for four. “The key to decorating a smaller condo is to avoid buying smaller pieces and instead find pieces that perfectly fill the space.”

What he says about the neighbourhood “King West has an amazing, youthful vibe with chic bars and restaurants, and the best areas of the city are a 20-minute walk in any direction. I’m always talking about how the best of Toronto is at my doorstep, and you can’t say that about too many places.”

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