Between AirBnB and rental unit, a company is betting on nomads to stay in luxurious homes, if only for a short time

The Numbers Residence, 1305 Dundas St. W., Toronto.Luloo Boutique Houses

Open the nondescript door of 1305 Dundas St. W., and one is warmly greeted by a small sign: “Welcome home, Wanderers,” it reads. “Stay a while.” A small arrow invites the wanderer to trot to the second floor, find their door – one of 24 over two floors – and flop down on the comfy bed, or perhaps prepare some scrambled eggs in the small kitchen.

But will wanderers react to something that dwells in the twilight zone between AirBnB and the hotel? Something very luxuriously furnished, yes, but will they pay a premium — room rates start at $2,000 a month — to fit in under 400 square feet? Or, in some cases, less than 200 square feet? Will the one month minimum stay have them running around screaming?

Laleh Rouhani of Luloo Boutique Homes bets they’ll run to her front door smiling.

“There’s a new trend that people don’t want to be tied to one place,” she says. “They don’t have a home, they just travel from town to town and live in the same place for two or three months.”

Ms. Rouhani is perched on a long grassy gray sofa in the generous common area of ​​“Numbers Residence,” which could very well be the first micro-suite short-term furnished rental concept to hit the market in Toronto. To her left is her business partner (and older sister) Pouneh Rouhani, and, peeking out of the wall to her right, a statuesque giraffe with a friendly face holds a chandelier in its mouth. The two sisters launch the term “nomad” while describing the project. It is therefore not surprising that, across the hall, a very large photograph of a grizzled nomadic gentleman, wearing a stocking cap and baggy panting takes up an entire wall above the coffee station. . .

While the clothes may not be the same, the 21st century seems to have produced a whole new kind of homeless: able to carry their work(s) around in their laptops and armed with both envy to travel and a distaste for the uncontrollable. housing market, these new Roma are citizens of the world…as long as WiFi is available. And as Toronto grows, they will also arrive on our shores, needing a place to set up their “tents”. :

Or, they’ll come from here: Although Numbers has only been accepting tenants since mid-December, most come from the Greater Toronto Area. “Some research shows that people are happier if they’re less crowded,” says Rouhani, who came to Canada from Iran in 2004 with her older sister and parents.

“Minimalism, you know? his sister intervenes.

The young woman continues: “It supported the idea of ​​micro-units, so we always thought of looking for the next project, then this building appeared.” This was certainly a central question in Pouneh’s mind, since she had done her master’s thesis at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management on this specific subject.

  • The Numbers Residence, 1305 Dundas Street West, TorontoLuloo Boutique Houses

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Of course, because COVID-19 hit, it took the duo twice as long — two years to be exact — to finish bringing this bricks-and-mortar test case to life. And because the original 24 units they inherited had building code issues, because some were “living rooms” that had no kitchens while others had makeshift kitchens ( and probably illegal), and because the outdated HVAC system was unsafe, it became a grueling two years to boot. However, with the help of architects Ja Studio, interior designers Commute Design Studio and general contractor Dazz Group, the end result is spectacular.

Even in the smallest units, high ceilings, herringbone floors, and the ability to have more than one place to sit turn what could have been a dreary dorm room into a happy nook for scriptwriting. In some of the larger units, a few stairs lead up to an arched opening containing the bedroom “wing,” huge windows overlook the bustle of Dundas Street, and built-in furniture maximizes dining space. And all the pieces are tied together by the same materials and color palette: warm gray kitchen cabinets and countertops; sleek black faucets; and lattice screens in natural or painted wood cover closet doors, entire walls, or even, cleverly, ductless mini-split systems.

And because the sisters have a keen eye for decor, there are also thoughtful and tactile details, such as small blobby flower vases, kettles with wooden handles, and ceiling moldings to give the eye a treat. a place to rest. Overall, Numbers Residence’s micro-units are warm and welcoming spaces that any nomad would be happy to call home.

Of course, such a concept would not work in the suburbs. As Pouneh Rouhani points out (and what his thesis substantiated), much of what tenants pay for in a micro-suite is what’s not in it at all, but rather right outside the front door. And here on Dundas Street West off Dovercourt Road, all a quick sprint away when it’s -15C, are restaurants, bars, flower markets, cheese shops, trendy cafes, butchers and saloons. hairstyle.

Speaking of which, before the sisters tackle their next Luloo project, they would like to find the right commercial tenants for the two large ground floor spaces. “We would like to have a local [business] it goes with the image of the building, of the street,” says Laleh Rouhani.

While the couple hoped for a spin studio or a gym – the spaces are too big for a family cafe – recent events suggest these operators might be coy. So, with the help of this writer, a few ideas rise to the mast: how about a coffee roaster, a microbrewery or a small supermarket?

The Rouhani sisters built it… so will they come? They would be stupid not to.

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