Clay pottery and brasswork from the Middle East. Handmade Iranian carpets. Jungle-themed wallpaper.

The many components of Armita Hosseini and Jiad Minkara’s first home together represent a modern fusion of cultures, heritage and personalities.

She’s a Toronto psychologist born in Iran; he’s a finance professional of Lebanese descent. They met at a charity event that Hosseini organized after the deadly August, 2020 explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. (The powerful blast of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse killed 218 people, wounded thousands, and displaced more than 300,000.)

After their love “blossomed into a lifetime partnership,” the couple went looking for a place to begin their life as a couple, says Hosseini.

Cabinetry showcases Middle Eastern enamel pottery and handmade metal pieces in "a modern, yet welcoming atmosphere," says homeowner Armita Hosseini.

“We decided to completely renovate a new space we bought together into a modern, yet welcoming atmosphere with touches of Lebanese and Iranian art and decor,” she explains.

They moved into their eighth-floor condo in a boutique building in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood last spring following a four-month major makeover.

“What I love about the space is that it really represents us, looks like us and feels like us,” Minkara enthuses. Recalling their initial connection, he says he “just loved the fact that someone who was Iranian was raising money for Lebanon.”

Their condo's abundance of windows felt "nostalgic" because both grew up in homes with lots of natural light, says Hosseini.

Hosseini, a self-taught cook and food stylist who was making culinary specialties to raise funds for the Lebanese Red Cross, says their love triumphed despite the “political turmoil between Lebanon and Iran” and the “COVID-19 chaos” at the time.

The pair, who are engaged, say their attraction to the downtown condo suite was also mutual. With its abundance of big windows, making it “light and airy,” they felt “nostalgic” because both grew up in homes with lots of natural light, says Hosseini.

Although the unit in the eight-year-old building was well-maintained, they opted to gut all the rooms except the principal bathroom. Working in collaboration with Toronto-based RZ Interiors, the couple divided up design responsibilities, putting Minkara in charge of the living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Wallpaper with lush, tropical vegetation brings the powder room to life for guests.

“I’d never even changed a light bulb before,” he admits. Meanwhile, Hosseini was given the bedroom and office “to go crazy and do whatever I wanted.”

But their similar styles, tastes and trust in each other’s choices meant they saw eye-to-eye on most aspects of their customized living space.

The goal was to make “every minute spent at home count,” whether it was in their bedroom decorated in a neutral palette to create a “peaceful sanctuary” or the powder room where guests are surrounded by wallpaper with a lush “wild jungle theme,” she says.

The bedroom, in soothing neutrals, features a painting of "The Kiss" by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, one of Hosseini's favourite artists.

Curated accessories and artwork that reflect their cultures are displayed on the walls and in cabinetry. Some pieces are artisan pottery and traditional brasswork from travels to the Middle East while others are family heirlooms. Vintage Second World War posters, for example, belonged to Hosseini’s great-grandfather, and are not only rare but have sentimental value.

The pale wood floors provide a complimentary backdrop for Iranian-made handwoven rugs with a modern look ordered from Heidarian Carpets.

Their light-filled condo is a reflection of them as both individuals and a couple, says Minkara, adding they love sharing it with family and friends.

A handmade brass piece from Lebanon adds visual interest on a low cabinet in the living room.

As the cooking half of the duo, Hosseini spends a lot of happy time in the open kitchen adjoining the living room. She posts pictures of her dishes on her Instagram account: Cooking with Armita.

Seven months after moving in, the young professionals feel truly united.

“For us, this renovation was a beginning of how we see our life together, bringing two cultures together despite the controversies and odds,” says Hosseini.


Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering personal finance, home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her via email: [email protected]


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