• About A Space: Ally Couch's Toronto Small Space

    Ally Couch’s Toronto home may be tiny, but thanks to tons of natural light streaming in through big windows and clever storage solutions, the compact Parkdale neighborhood space feels just right. Join us on a tour of her space, and get her tips for how to make the most out of your square feet.
    Photos by Arden Wray

    Above: Woven Kilim RugHimalayan Salt Lamp, Printed and Solid Pillows

    Located in an "up and coming" area on the west side of Toronto, Ally (who also happens to be the Store Merchandising Manager in our UO Toronto store!) was initially drawn to her home and the area because of its cozy neighborhood surroundings — big trees, lots of locally-owned shops in the area, and prime waterfront views. 

    What's your design philosophy?
    Minimal but meaningful. I am inspired by Scandinavian design aesthetic with modern elements and minimal orientation with a focus on light. The big windows in my apartment are one of the main reasons I was drawn to the space. They let in so much light which makes the apartment feel so much bigger. I love modern clean lines and pops of color here and there, which help add interest and variation. Some vintage pieces and lots of plants help warm up any room and add another dimension to the space. Quirky meaningful objects tell stories throughout our apartment of places and memories we want to remember. 

    Above: Boo pillow, Duvet, Over-the-door storage hooks

    Can you share some of your top tips for storage and making the most of a small space?
    My tiny bedroom holds more than it seems with hidden storage in unexpected places. I think it's all about creating storage that integrates into the space without it being overly obvious. I like multi-functional pieces that can add to the overall design of a space while still allowing for storage. 

    Making the most of a small space is all about careful decisions with furniture and trial and error. With small spaces I find sometimes you need to get it home and see how it feels with everything else you own before deciding.

    Above: wooden display shelves, three-tiered locker shelf

    What are some of your favorite objects you own? 
    I love them all! Everything either serves a purpose or has meaning for me. Some of my favorite objects are handmade one-of-a-kind or vintage pieces. I have two little cast iron bunnies from the late 1800s that I purchased at an estate sale with my dad a few years ago. We love to go treasure hunting and can usually find some really cool things. My 90-year-old grandfather made me a side table using logs and branches which currently sits beside my bed. It's dainty and perfect for the space. Everyone asks about it and it's fun being able to say that my grandfather made it. I also love my woodland creature ceramics made by Sarah Burwash that I planted succulents in. I also have the cutest tiny ceramic toast coaster from London based artist Charlotte Mei. 

    Even the stick above my bed is attached to a great memory. A few summers ago we were drinking beers in a canoe floating around a lake and I decided I wanted to bring home a stick (at the time I didn't really know why or where it was going to end up but I did know I wanted one). Although I got soaked trying to grab it from the shoreline...it was worth it.

    Above: Good Vibes and Tina Crespo Saltwater prints

    How do you keep your space feeling new or interesting despite the size limitations?
    I have a gallery wall in my living room that tends to feature current special favorites. It's easy to add and remove to gallery walls and when it's time for a refresh you can add a new print, or little treasure on the floating shelf. 

    Rugs, pillows and textiles are also great for changing up a space. I usually buy new pillows for my couch every season which can make it feel totally different. Bedding is something else that is fun to play with. I love buying new duvet covers or blankets and having a rotation of these which makes it feel updated and new every time. 

    Fresh flowers are also fun for adding to a table or surface and can contribute to the overall mood of a space. I have about ten unique vases I like to use for different flowers. 

    What music is on regular rotation at home?
    I change it up often, and I find it really depends on the weather and occasion. Right now I'm loving the debut album from Leon Bridges, "Coming Home." I have a strange mix on the regular rotation but you can usually find me listening to either Motown classics like The Supremes or folk favorites such as Father John Misty and First Aid Kit. 

    What do you make for a dinner party — any go-to, foolproof recipes or menu ideas?
    My boyfriend and I love to cook! Sometimes we will prepare ahead of time which makes entertaining in a small space so much easier. I love using my handy crockpot and can make a mean lasagna in it. It's easy to use and you can clean up ahead of time so that when your friends are over you can just enjoy their company and serve the food when it's ready! Eggplant Parmesan is another crowd pleaser for my family and friends, and it's another great dish for preparing early. We also use our BBQ in the summer. One of our favorites for grilling is yogurt lemon marinated chicken and vegetable skewers with roasted garlic Parmesan asparagus...it's so delicious and skewers are always easy for serving. 

    How do you set it up for a group despite the small size (and any tips for entertaining in a small space?)
    I think it's about making everyone feel comfortable and being prepared. My table has a removable leaf so it actually expands to seat six people which is perfect for fitting everyone around a table. 

    Above: On her patio, Ally grows her own herbs and veggies in a small garden. 

    What are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
    There's so many awesome spots, whether you want doughnuts at Gloryhole, or fresh-cut flowers from Coriander Girl. My favorite place to eat is Grand Electric, which has the best tacos in the city, and an enclosed patio which is perfect for a fun evening. Crown Flora has handmade bags, candles, and a selection of plants, succulents and cacti. It's one of my favorite spots for finding little gems for around my apartment. There's also the Toronto Designers Market a few blocks up from my place that has local vendors who sell handmade goods and crafts.

    Shop Ally's Picks