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This Toronto Apartment Is A California-Inspired DIY Heaven

In Refinery29’s Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennials. Today, tarot reader and entrepreneur Robin Daprato shows us how she turned her Toronto apartment into a California-inspired, DIY sanctuary.
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Just steps from the hustle of West Queen West in Toronto’s so-hip-it-hurts Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood, around the corner from T.O. staples like Type Books and Sud Forno, entrepreneur Robin Daprato has created a soothing escape — more reminiscent of a sun-blanched home you might find on the West Coast than a one-bedroom plus den apartment in the heart of a landlocked city. In fact, with the light wood frames, wicker, and crystal and floral accents, Daprato affectionately — and aptly — refers to her style as “California casual.” “It’s very airy and light,” she says of her design vision.
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She’s been perfecting that vision since moving in five years ago, reinventing the apartment — which is the lower floor and basement of a home — within her limited capabilities (despite having a pretty chill landlord, she still has to reign in her creativity — a renter’s life!), finding workarounds like putting a white piece of wood over her kitchen’s existing countertop to offset the dark cabinets and cupboards. 
Photographed by Polina Teif.
That creativity includes flipping the script when it comes to floor plan. Bucking tradition, she set up her office on the main floor and moved her bedroom into the basement, creating a welcoming nook where she can relax and decompress, watching movies on a projector (a key space-saving option), and working out on her Peloton (the most expensive purchase in her space). Working in the props departments on movies — which often means unconventional hours — the switch-up in the floor plan allows Daprato to get some shut eye during the day. “It really feels like my upstairs is my living space, whereas the basement is my more intimate cozy, nesting space.”
Her true passion is in the design and wellness space (she’s both a tarot reader and working towards opening a forest-therapy based hotel in Prince Edward County). And her love for wellness and the outdoors translates throughout her home, which is bedecked with elevated neutrals and prints — like the black-and-white cowhide rug in her living room. The DIY-er is even painted a mural underneath the stairs leading down to her bedroom, featuring shapes in light blues, pinks and yellows, inspired by an abstract rock formation visualized in her head.
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Photographed by Polina Teif.
“I’m drawn to earthy, soft tones, but also love contrasting that palette with some dramatic pops of colour,” she tells Refinery29. A self-proclaimed aesthetic person (that’s the Earth sign speaking; she’s a Virgo), intentional design is critical to Daprato, who wanted her space to not only be functional, but also a reflection of who she is as a person — which is still changing. “ As I continue to grow, I continue to refine and curate my space with pieces that inspire me.” 
These pieces includes both found, DIY’d and custom items, like the custom light wood peg board in her office made by one of her friends, which acts as storage and display for crystals and cards for her tarot readings, the blush pink velvet chair in her living room (a $10 Kijiji purchase from a woman in her 70s), or the handmade guitar from her dad, which has a place of honour on one of her bedroom walls. The centrepiece of her family room is a marble coffee table, initially won in an Instagram giveaway, accidentally broken, and then stuck back together with epoxy glue; covered with a gold line that accidentally adds character. 
Photographed by Polina Teif.
The rent is — at $1,945 plus utilities — Daprato acknowledges, on the steep side, but worthwhile for the space and location. Not to mention the backyard, her favourite part of the house and a place that helps with both her mental and physical health. “I knew that it was important for me to create a plant-filled, outdoor oasis that could help counteract the impact of living in the heart of downtown,” she says. 
Seriously, sign us up.
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