Check Out This Dramatic “Before And After” Home Office Redesign

In our growing freelance culture, living spaces increasingly double as workspaces. Interior design duo Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan (better known as ‘Colin and Justin’), who are partners in both business and life, know exactly how to edit a home into an office — they do it themselves, everyday.

Not only do Colin and Justin work from home, they say that every single one of their friends does too.

That’s why their stunning 1900 square-foot (not including the terrace) Toronto pad is designed to accommodate their work-life and their home-life, which includes a passion for entertaining, lounging and functional style.


Colin and Justin’s east and south-facing kitchen/living room

The first thing Colin and Justin did when they purchased the downtown Toronto condo was knock down the walls and cut the unit from three bedrooms to one. This open concept creates functional room for working and entertaining. The windows and natural daylight help Colin and Justin maintain energy throughout the day, and prevent feelings of claustrophobia and being “stuck” at work.

“We always say that a clear mind and a clear home go hand-in-hand,” says Ryan. “In the same way that people reference the principles of Feng Shui to clear out clutter and the lines around your home, we’ve done that in a grander scale. In addition to getting rid of clutter, we’ve gone ahead and knocked out walls.”

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Colin and Justin’s clean, sleek kitchen

Taking out the walls created an open, free-flowing feeling that prevails around the apartment.

“This helps with creativity and the generation of ideas because you can be clear in your thoughts without the obstruction of obstacles as you look around.” Most of the couple’s collaborative magic occurs at a massive dining room table that basks in sun in the centre of the condo, where they will roll out drawing boards, pull out laptops and sit there and “conspire to dominate the world.”

“Efficiency is the greatest thing you can have at home,” says Ryan. “If you lose the clutter, you have a clear canvass to work with.” If you work from home, he says this means using things like wireless computers that can be tucked away or a folding desk. The pair has transformed some of the most “catastrophically messy home work places” to clean, efficient and minimalist-inspired workspaces.

The space below was a live/work space photography that had piles of files stacked and no order whatsoever.

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Colin and Justin’s “before” shot of a client’s space.

“We made all of the office furnishings from component parts from Ikea and then added a glass front to the desk to make it look more professional,” said Ryan. “Providing storage space for all items creates order and wall hanging magazine racks help to keep work surfaces clear.”

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Colin and Justin’s “after” shot.

McAllister advises not to wait to clear out the clutter. “Clean out the space on day one,” he says. “Get rid of the things you don’t like or that are negative and things that aren’t ‘you.’ Create something that is you so that you feel totally comfortable and you feel like your space is tailor-made for you.”

As much as wide-open, window-filled spaces can facilitate the generation of ideas, your home also needs to have a place that’s free of distractions. Colin and Justin did away with a massive entranceway storage area to create an office space. “It’s enclosed, with no distractions,” said McAllister of the space he jokingly calls “Justin’s naughty corner” – something important when you work from home (the distraction-free space, that is). “It’s always so easy to put the television on or to put some music on. It’s good to have somewhere that you can escape from and be disciplined, especially when you need to stick to self-imposed office hours,” continues McAllister.

Of course, reducing clutter also means making the space your own.

Colin and Justin's bedroom

Colin and Justin’s bedroom

“If you make the space your own, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable,” says Ryan. Speaking of comfort, every home that doubles as a workspace needs to include spots that feel like home and are designed for unwinding and relaxing (perhaps with a glass of wine). In Colin and Justin’s home, this means a cozy reading nook and an wide-open living room with a massive sectional couch that seems designed for a Netflix binge.

“Invest in comfort if you’re going to spend money on anything,” said Ryan. “That means a bed and a sofa. They are designed to offer comfort after a long day and a long commute in traffic.”

And in today’s climate, we need all the comfort we can get.

You can catch the ever-dynamic pair this weekend at the GTA Home & Reno Show (February 17-20).