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Life & style

Bespoke downtown condo is a sleek, chic oasis, renovated to perfectly match the owner’s style of living
living room, kitchen

Located 11 floors up on a street in downtown Victoria, Justin Tse’s condo has views towards the Inner Harbour.

The condo’s uniquely situated front door sits tucked in a narrow slice of exterior balcony, creatinag a homey and individual vibe to the entrance, despite the elevator ride to get there. It’s a spot he’d had his eye on for years, and now that he’s finally a few months out of renovating, it’s a home that’s been perfectly tailored to his lifestyle.


“I actually bought my first place in 2017 just two doors down, and I always kept an eye on this building,” says Justin, who’s built a lucrative career by filming tech-based YouTube videos and reviews.

The unit is one of only two in the building that has an outside terrace (and it’s sizable, at nearly 1,000 square feet), and in 2021 he finally reached out to the owner to see if he was amenable to selling.

“I ended up buying it off market and basically jumped immediately into the renovation,” says Justin.

The original interior was gutted to make way for a modern aesthetic with bold contrasts, and just a touch of industrial design. Abundant black walnut, white oak herringbone floors and porcelain made to resemble veined marble run throughout the interior.

Two structural columns flanking the kitchen and main living area were stripped down to expose the concrete beneath, giving a textured touch to the otherwise bright white walls. And the layout itself was retooled as well, with a walkway closed off to build out more usable space in the kitchen, a massive walk-in shower installed in the primary en suite and the closet completely knocked out of one of the smaller bedrooms to increase space.

Justin brought in Jonathan Poppitt and the team at Thomas and Birch Kitchens + Living and they worked together to overhaul the front entrance, kitchen, main living area and primary bedroom. It’s their fourth collaboration, having previously worked together on several other downtown spaces with great success. This condo was nominated for Medium Contemporary Kitchen Design of the Year with the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and it won Best Media Wall, which is unsurprising once you see the space in person.

Flanked by built-ins and hidden storage, the media wall is centred around a massive television.

“Being a tech guy, having the 85-inch TV was the focal point of the living room,” says Justin.

The team knocked out the original fireplace and installed a slatted feature wall and used a combination of pale porcelain and stained walnut to create a frame for the television. A water vapour fireplace off to one side adds a touch of ambiance in the evenings.

“We also dropped the ceiling one stud length so we could install the LED lighting and the speakers,” adds Justin. In an otherwise modest space, the setup creates the feeling of a decadent entertainment experience.


Turning to the kitchen, the design is incredibly visually satisfying. The dark-stained walnut still allows the interesting grain to show through, and contrasts against a heavily veined pattern on the porcelain island and countertops. Textured hardware from Buster + Punch contributes a vintage industrial feel, as do the matte black sconces bracketing the black slatted hood fan.

Perhaps the most striking element is the Pitt-style cooktop, where each gas burner and control dial is set directly in the porcelain countertop. But it takes standing back and looking at the whole to make it all come into focus.

“Justin wanted symmetry, but also asymmetry,” says Jonathan. “So, when you look at the space, we built the pantry to match the fridge, and the tap in the sink lines up with the middle of the range. But then the island is asymmetrical, with the table that extends out the side. And there’s the coffee station and bar we built off to the side. So, it gives you a bit of both. It’s a nice balance for the eye.”

“The biggest thing that changed was the size of the island and the seating around it,” adds Jonathan, noting that Justin didn’t want traditional bar stools. “We pushed the depth of the island to match with the bulkhead.”

Thomas and Birch also spearheaded the outdoor kitchen, designing it to be functional and elegant, but also unobtrusive, so as not to detract from the arresting views.


Following that functional and elegant tone, the primary bedroom’s walk-in closet was completely redesigned to allow for an open “grab and go” cabinet—making it easy for Justin to grab his favourite sweatshirt or jacket on his way out—as well as a steam closet and ample storage designed around his wardrobe. Done in black walnut, it creates a smooth sense of flow from the rest of the home, as does the darker grey stone in the en suite, which is the same stone used in the kitchen, just in a different shade.

The entire renovation took more than a year, but the three-bedroom condo shines with its modern design—the rich textures and tones are gorgeous in the brilliant sun streaming through the expansive windows.

“I really like this main living area with all the light,” says Justin, “but the kitchen is really the centrepiece.”


Suppliers List:

  • Design: Justin Tse
  • Cabinetry and Millwork: Thomas and Birch Kitchens + Living
  • Countertops: FLOFORM
  • Countertop Product: Infinity Stone Surfaces
  • Hardware: Buster + Punch