BY KIM PEMBERTON / PHOTOS BY DASHA ARMSTRONG
A YouTuber’s downtown condo features a sleek custom kitchen, an inspiring home office and a stunning panorama of the city — the perfect backdrop for his video content.
When Justin Tse was planning his ultimate bachelor pad and work/live space, he knew he wanted all the bells and whistles technology offered. His condo is where he films many of his YouTube tech and home videos.
The 23-year-old entrepreneur and social influencer has a social media following of 1.4 million across different platforms, with 657,000 YouTube subscribers. Even with its impressive work set-up, the 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath corner unit’s true wow moment comes from its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the Victoria harbour.
Not that Tse spends much time enjoying the water view from his minimalist living room. Tse estimates he spends only 10 per cent of his time enjoying the open-concept, kitchen/living and dining room. The rest of his time at home is spent in the office, which used to be the master bedroom, or sleeping in the smaller, second bedroom adjacent to the office.
Designed for Work
Tse’s office centres around an L-shaped desk he custom made from a $2,000 Bo Concept desk, which he already owned and then enhanced with an Ikea wood kitchen countertop and legs from Uplift Desk. There’s also an overhead projector to watch hockey games and NASCAR races in the background as he edits videos.
“A lot of times I don’t even go to my living room or kitchen for one to two weeks,” says Tse, who admits he tried cooking at the start of the pandemic, but like a true bachelor, prefers Skip the Dishes and home-cooked meals with his parents.“
The work stuff doesn’t feel like work. I’ve built my life around work,” says Tse, who works seven days a week, 13 hours daily.
Tse has been a content creator for 10 years, beginning at age 13 with his first YouTube video. Since then he has created over 1,000 videos and now has influencer partner contracts with businesses like Google, Samsung, Best Buy, Amazon and Dyson, to name a few.
After his business took off, Tse was able to buy this first condo in 2017, at his parents’ urging.
“When I started making a decent amount on YouTube, I was wasting it on shoes,” says Tse.“No one knew how long that income would come in, so the original intention was to rent it out as an investment property.”
But after six months it made more financial sense for the then 20-year-old Tse to move into the condo so he could start filming videos in the newly updated space.
A Touch of Gold
He did a major kitchen renovation in 2019 and when it was completed, filmed a “Modern Luxury Apartment Tour” for YouTube of his own place.
Millwork designer Heather Stewart, of Thomas and Birch Kitchen and Bath Boutique, says the renovation goal was to give the kitchen a “higher-end feel.” It previously had entry-level cabinetry that wasn’t the best quality when the condo was built in 2009, she says.
Tse chose the ever-popular Shaker-style cabinetry in a neutral color with a lighter kitchen island cabinetry colour.
“I expected something more contemporary from Justin, but this [the Shaker cabinets] was the direction he led us,” Stewart says. “He also had a collaboration with Buster + Punch, so their gold hardware with a polished industrial look was used. It’s definitely a statement piece, and ties in with the Brizo faucet.”
Tse has no regrets with going for a more transitional modern look since he’s all about good business sense. After all, although he plans to keep the condo indefinitely, one has to consider resale.
“I’m pretty happy with the way it all turned out,” he shares.
CUSTOM KITCHEN: Thomas and Birch Kitchen and Bath Boutique
KITCHEN DESIGNER: Heather Stewart @gray.bird.design
COUNTERS: Caesarstone Canada
APPLIANCES: Samsung Canada (except refrigerator)
LIGHT FIXTURES: West Elm
HARDWARE: Buster + Punch