Inside a lawyer couple’s one-bedroom condo // Going In-House

Photo of Jenna and Kai Kramer standing at their kitchen island
We visit the home of two Toronto lawyers, whose African art, vintage furniture and floor-to-ceiling views give their condo outsized charm

By Jeremy Freed

On Tuesday March 2nd, 2021

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In the spring of 2018, Jenna and Kai Kramer moved into a 42nd-floor condo in the heart of downtown Toronto. The couple instantly fell in love with the spectacular views of the skyline afforded by its northeast-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. As in most condos, the square footage was limited, but for this hard-working, travel-loving couple it was enough.

Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived. Suddenly, their modest unit became not just a home, but an office, a yoga studio and a bakery test kitchen. “Like most people, we were completely unprepared to both be working from home full time,” says Jenna. “We had to get creative.”

Photo of Jenna and Kai Kramer with their dog, Patrick, on the couch in their downtown condo

The tenants: Jenna and Kai Kramer
Jenna’s role: Legal counsel at Unilever Canada
Kai’s role: Associate legal counsel at MongoDB
Years of call: 2017
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Home profile: One-bedroom condo, 700 square feet

For the first six months, they worked together in the condo’s light-filled solarium, but competing conference calls necessitated creating a second office space in the home’s dining room. The work-at-home setup was completed with the addition of a French bulldog puppy, named Patrick, who the couple brought home last spring. He earns his kibble by providing emotional support between Zoom meetings.

Jenna, who is from Saskatchewan, and Kai, who grew up in Zimbabwe, met in 2016 as summer students at Fasken. “We didn’t particularly get along initially,” admits Jenna. “But by the time we returned to the firm for articling, we were inseparable.” During the break between articling and starting as associates, the couple embarked on a three-month world tour, with stops in half a dozen European countries and sojourns in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. “Our friends thought we were crazy, but we came home closer than ever,” says Jenna. To Kai, the moral of the story is clear: “Find your crazy and embrace it!”

From that point on, life moved fast. In 2018, they moved into the condo together and, the next year, they got engaged in Malawi, en route to Zimbabwe. During the pandemic, they both left Fasken to take in-house positions, with Jenna joining Unilever and Kai moving to MongoDB, a high-growth tech company. In May 2020, the pair were married at a 10-person ceremony in a friend’s backyard.

As a reflection of their diverse backgrounds, creative passions and travels, the home’s decor is quirky and energetic. Antiques collected from Queen West boutiques share space with wood carvings from Zimbabwe. “It was really important for us to have cultural touchpoints for me because Canada isn’t my ancestral home,” says Kai. The kitchen was important, too, for the pair of enthusiastic foodies. “Lately, I’ve been assembling a different type of bread dough every Friday night,” says Jenna, “so that we have fresh focaccia or cinnamon rolls on Saturday mornings.”

The couple is looking forward to resuming a busy schedule of hosting dinners, brunches and game nights as soon as circumstances allow. In the meantime, they’re happy to continue working and hanging out at home. All while admiring the stunning views of downtown skyscrapers. “It’s particularly spectacular at night,” says Jenna. “We’ve lived here for almost three years, and the view is still a novelty to us.”


Photo of Jenna and Kai Kramer standing at their kitchen island

Island oasis
A functional kitchen workstation was a must for this pair of enthusiastic home cooks. After considering everything from a marble slab to repurposed wine barrels, they landed on an industrial chef’s workstation, which was perfect for their ambitious culinary creations.

Colourful portrait of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hanging on the condo wall

The Notorious RBG
Jenna found this picture of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Etsy. Ginsberg inspired her to apply for — and land — a clerkship at the Federal Court of Canada, which she completed after her articling term.

A vintage armoire

Wardrobe change
In search of a creative solution to the condo’s lack of closet space, Jenna and Kai drove north of Toronto to pick up this vintage armoire they found on Kijiji. The seller told them it was imported from India.

Patrick the French bulldog lying on the couch

Office assistant
Patrick Ginsburg, the couple’s French bulldog, is an ideal work-at-home companion. “We often joke that we have the best mental health breaks because of our adorable roommate,” says Jenna.

Blue Danish living-room rug

Out of the blue
The couple’s first major purchase together was this Danish living-room rug. The cheerful pop of colour contrasts nicely with the condo’s dark floors.

Wooden carved giraffe

A tall order
Kai brought this carved giraffe back to Canada after a visit home to Zimbabwe. “It was bought for me by a really good friend,” he says. “It’s a good reminder of home.”

Hand-carved wooden chess set from Zimbabwe

Checkmate
“Though neither of us are on par with Beth Harmon [of The Queen’s Gambit fame], we both enjoy playing chess,” says Jenna, who discovered this hand-carved set on the last day of the couple’s trip to Zimbabwe. “Our suitcases were overflowing, but we couldn’t leave without it!”

A set of prints by Kehinde Wiley, an American painter best known for Barack Obama’s presidential portrait

It takes a village
The dining-room wall features a set of prints by Kehinde Wiley, an American painter best known for Barack Obama’s presidential portrait. “I was raised by my mom and her sisters in Zimbabwe,” says Kai. “This piece is an ode to the women who had an impact on who I am today.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This is a story from our Spring 2021 Issue.


Photography by May Truong.