A New Design Gem Opens in Leslieville

It’s not everyday that a new design boutique opens within steps of my front door and so I can’t help but get very excited, especially for something that is so fabulous that it reminds me of New York a little bit- which is really something to shout about don’t you think?   And what am I so giddy about?  The opening of Black Rooster Decor‘s first bricks and mortar store on Queen Street East, a few blocks east of Carlaw.  Until recently, most would agree that this side of Queen Street lacked luster until an influx of condos and a reno-boom improved everything.  Now, we Leslievillers get to enjoy the fruits of all the change: great stores are coming too.  Hallelujah.

Black Rooster Decor already has a very successful online business so the new store is a natural move.  Their strength is providing great design to clients who are looking for a well curated collection of items ranging from mid-century modern to European antiques.  While most of their business is currently across the border, they are dedicated to like-minded Canadian suppliers and designers.  They also have a personal shopping service which is fabulous for those who need a little inspiration.  See below for my interview with owner Nina Ber-Donkor.

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How would you describe the over-all style of the store? A mix of what we sell online with some local items thrown-in to make it special for our Toronto clients.

What makes you unique? We’re really lucky to have some local designers and clients in Toronto that have supported us, so we’re coming in with a perspective of what they like and want to see in-store.

Why Leslieville? It’s our favourite hood and close to home. 

What new products are you most excited about? Discovering new artisans that are making affordable and unique everyday home goods. It’s thrilling to offer something not found at the chain stores, something you won’t see in every home.

Where do you find your treasures? Are you off on buying trips all the
time? Not as often as I would like to… many of our purchases are made from visiting with our suppliers, seeing their new product lines, going to trade shows and sometimes blind trust in a product we’ve never seen but can tell will be awesome based on past experiences. 

What magazines are your go-to’s for inspiration? Domaine, Rue, Lonny. They’re killing it right now. And Instagram is a major source of inspiration. 

Why expand from a successful online business to bricks and mortar 
(when many retailers are doing the exact opposite at the moment)? It’s not an expansion but rather an extention of what we do. No one would question us opening a storage warehouse so a retail store is just as important for our business where customers can come in and chat and look and feel and get inspiration. And it’s really nice to actually talk to people and not sit behind a computer all day. 

Where can you be found? Instagram, Twitter, Website

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Paris! A design-love story.

Doors GoodI had the amazing opportunity to go to Paris for a week and spent the whole time walking, looking, ooing, ahhing and most of all eating!  But that’s for another type of blog.  Here, I want to show you a few of my favorite moments that have an element of design.  As you can imagine, it’s very hard to narrow down the images but I will do my best.  As infamous street fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham says, “you go to Paris to re-educate the eye”, and that is really what it’s all about.  While some shopping is a fun thing, I think that the most valuable gift I get from travel is a shift in perspective.  I need to visit other places to see what other people are doing and wearing, to soak up art that I can’t see anywhere else, to find treasures big or small and to let myself open-up.  While I love Toronto, too much of the same thing can feel like a tight little box sometimes.  So!  Escape is essential and escape I did.

Word to the wise about traveling to Paris in August: the weather is sublime, the people are happy and there is an atmosphere of summertime fun everywhere BUT there are also lots of tourists and many (many, many) of the home-design shops are closed.  With September comes slightly cooler temps and the big Maison and Object design fair, so if I did it again I would opt for after labour day.

I’ll start with the first thing that I saw in Paris: the adorable flat that my friend and I rented in Montmartre.  It was a fifth floor walk-up (fun on the first day- not so much after day five) with a gorgeous view over the Parisian rooftops and a rustic/chic Parisian decor.  Things to note: herringbone floors, huge mirror above the mantle, industrial mixed with antiques and art everywhere.  Oh and the view of course!!DSC_7059 DSC_7063 DSC_7057The next noteworthy place would surely be my favorite fashion/design store, Merci. This multi-story boutique is a MUST for anyone interested in home decor trends and fresh ideas.  The style is laid-back and unpretentious and looks as though it has been thrown together over time.  There are mismatched chairs, signs of wear and tear and inventive chandeliers or pendants with everything.  While they certainly aren’t re-inventing the wheel, I was impressed by a varitety of chic finds like great table and chair options, big lush linen sofas (wrinkles be damned!), great table top and lots of hip lighting.  Here are a few faves:

IMG_0705IMG_0708IMG_0727IMG_0732 Next I will take you to one of Paris’ most famous flea markets, Clignancourt, where you can find everything from 1920s fashion magazines to oil paintings to antique daybeds to buttons and ribbon.  It’s a decorator’s dream come true and I found myself overflowing with joy many times.   While some vendors yelled “no photos!” and chased me away, I did manage to get a few shots.  There are things there that I have never, ever seen anywhere else and I couldn’t help but wish I could work in Paris! Oh the things I could do….

IMG_0701IMG_0681IMG_0695IMG_0683IMG_0696The other super inspiring store that I found was (gasp) one of the big department stores of Paris called Bon Marche.  What a well curated space!  The home floor was elegant with an incredible flow of movement from department to department and a large selection of the most important things like table linens, lighting and furniture.  I was very, very impressed with the quality being offered here and bolstered by the sophisticated tastes of the Parisian shopper!

IMG_0750IMG_0751IMG_0746IMG_0764I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least a few of the gorgeous ornamental details that I found at Versailles.  As much as I love the laid-back chic of the contemporary stores, and the slightly worn antiques from the flea market,  I also adore gold gilt and rococco details.  Who wouldn’t? Any well-rounded look at Paris includes both so feast your eyes!

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DSC_7355IMG_0635IMG_0331That’s all for my little tour.  There is just so much to see and do in Paris that I barely sat down for five minutes- unless it was to eat several croissants at a time over coffee in the morning or sip a glass of rose while admiring the view in the afternoon.  I’ll miss it and look forward to next time.  Thanks for joining me!

Let’s Go Antique Shopping: Video Project

I absolutely love a good antique hunt, big or small, because it feels like a chance to find one-of-a-kind treasures that might have slipped under the radar for years.  It’s also a fabulous opportunity to add personality to a space by layering in things that create meaning or add an unexpected touch.  My parents have always been big antique people so I’ve been surrounded by interesting stuff since I was a small child.  Now, I feel like any room WITHOUT something quirky can feel a bit drab or uninspired.  To celebrate my big love of antiques and share with you a few of my favorite tips, I made this little video at the Christie Antique Fair just outside of Toronto a few weeks ago.  I hope it inspires you to hit your local flea market or antique store to bring home something special.  Enjoy!!  And keep me posted on your fab finds!