Bohemian Living Spaces: Industrial Cottage

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I’ve been in touch with Matt for a while now, so when I came up with the idea for this series, he was one of the first I wanted to include. The point of this series is to showcase the different bohemian living and work spaces people have found, built, and created. So if you’re in need of inspiration for your own living situation, or you just want to know more about what is out there, read on.


The Industrial Cottage
approx. size: 900 sq ft
12′ ceiling height
7 large, east facing windows
Gorgeous views of the Grand River
Purpose: recording studio and living space


Matt was inspired by a friend who had found the building and rented a spot there. Matt originally rented an office suite on the other side of the building, but quickly jumped to his current space when it was made available. It was formerly used for tanning hides.

“I sometimes call this my ‘industrial cottage’, because it is in an older industrial/ warehouse building, yet I have a 2nd story, several-window view of the Grand River, which flows about 20 feet from the building and although known as a fairly dirty river, is guest to many boaters and fishermen, and gives me some peace-of-mind that only a flowing body of water can give you.”


Of course, living in a warehouse loft like this isn’t always so simple. Often these unconventional spaces weren’t originally designed for full time living.

“I wish I had worked on insulating the space more extensively prior to moving everything in. It’s an older building, and there are a ton of old windows in here, so the summers make it like a greenhouse, and the winters are fairly drafty in the space.”

Matt’s industrial cottage also has no shower. And while there are several workaround ways to have a shower (especially if you already have plumbing), Matt has a clever fix that works well for him.


“I’ve got running water via utility sink, but no shower. Fortunately, my part-time job has a wellness center with private showers, and I also have a YMCA membership, which is about a 10 minute walk from here.”

On the bright side, the space has a fully functional kitchenette- a sink, hot plate, small refrigerator, some shelving, and a few desk-like surfaces to utilize.


One of the most common email questions I get is how to handle landlords. Matt’s approach is a bit more honest than how I tend to do things, but it demonstrates the simplicity and benefits of truth.

“There is some debate on how to handle the landlord situation. For me I had to have his ‘ok’ on things, mostly because I also run my recording studio/business out of here. If I were trying to do everything behind his back, my stress level would be through the roof…

Sometimes I feel awkward living here- it’s a warehouse, and I am one person living here among many small business existing in here. Taking in groceries or having a drink with friends is both exhilarating and sometimes awkward. Also, not being in a residential zone, I forfeit my voting privileges, which is quite a downer.”


So why create a space like this?

“The view, the quiet, the price.”


And just as an aside, Matt told me the cost of his rent and utilities, and it’s absolutely affordable. I assure you, if you’re renting today, you can afford to do this. It may take a bit of creativity and searching, but if you want an unconventional living space, they are out there waiting for you.


If you’re in the neighborhood and looking for a unique place to record your album, Matt’s industrial cottage is just the spot. Matt’s website is and you can find him on facebook at Amber Lit Audio.



If you or anyone you know has an unconventional living space and would like to be featured here, please get in touch!


12 Responses

  1. This is going to be such a great series. I am very excited for it. Matt’s place looks really great. It makes me want to get home and start making a fun workshop for us! It just goes to show with a little creativity you can have the house/space of your dreams.

  2. definitely a great music studio! and awesome that you live and work from home.. or office? the no shower thing would be a bit odd for me though. i’m somewhat in a similar situation actually but i don’t find it ideal for me!

    • Janet, I think I’ll be tackling the no shower thing in a future piece, because I get a lot of emails on that subject. But you certainly have quite the story too! Not many folks can move across the globe to live in the slums. And you do it with style!

  3. It would be difficult to express how excited I am about this series. It is EVERYTHING I love. Great, characterful home spaces, a musician / slash creative living in that space and just the idea of thinking and living unconventionally. As I say, it’s everything I’ve lived and everything I love. How I have missed your blog young sir! 🙂

    • Pea! Thanks for stopping by. I think this series will be good. I have a lot of space to feature, so hopefully I can curate the content at a decent pace while traveling with spotty Internet…

  4. i live a few days a week in ex bank building(C 1890)

    I like your blog!

    • Wimmera, I sent an email your way. Let me know if you get yours up and running and we can do a feature here! The former bank sounds like a gold mine. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  5. Thanks for running this story David, and I am glad to have found your blog/website- it helps me feel not so crazy for enjoying this bohemian-like lifestyle 😛 . Looking forward to further articles.

    • Matt, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad this sort of stuff helps. I have some great posts in the making, but it’s taking me some time to get them together. Stay tuned though, it’ll be worth it!

  6. […] you can skip having a bathroom altogether, but it may be worth your time to build one. And since anyone can do […]

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