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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Garden Party at Andrew Richards Designs

I attended a cheerful showcase event at Andrew Richards Designs  to celebrate warmer weather and the coming patio season. Hosted by Faulhaber PR this summer garden party featured delicious treats concocted by none other than Chef Susur Lee (and his two sons Kai and Levi who are opening their own resto soon- or at least rumour has it). While introducing his tasty-tidbits, Chef Lee named the martini glass as this years’ best way to serve outdoor hors d’oevres- and I have to agree.  Who wouldn’t want to nibble alfresco from a tall, sexy vessel that has it’s own handle?

I love the outdoor furniture at Andrew Richards Designs and refer clients here all the time because the pieces have exquisite quality, chic styling and an array of shapes and sizes to fit any patio space.  This is high-end stuff well worth an investment for those looking for lasting beauty.  The upholstery fabrics and colour choice is boundless and clients can truly get a hands-on feel when designing a space.

This is my favorite piece in the showroom right now because of it’s demi-lune shape as well as fresh white colour.  So glam! If I could have one set, this would be it.

I’ve written about this piece before but it’s worth another mention. I think the sturdy nautical styling is fantastic and I haven’t seen anything like it elsewhere.

There were lots of fun new trends on display including adorable green “grass” carpeting great for softening cold balcony floors or adding whimsy anywhere. I also love the kids’ line that is unbelievably cute:

Steely light grey is a terrific alternative for someone looking for a modern look.  There are several pieces available in this colour and can be mixed-and-matched with others.  The big lounger is fun for those with a big-enough yard- especially good for poolside.

And here I am….what a fun morning!  Thanks ARD!

President’s Choice Home Spring/Summer Preview

I had the opportunity to check out the new President’s Choice home products that will be hitting stores very soon. There are some great finds here…especially in the patio furniture department.  Here are my favorites:

This line of sturdy patio pieces is a great buy.  The above chair is made of substantial hardwood and feels like it should cost much more than the $149 pricetag. I also saw a great bistro set ($179) and park bench ($99) .

For anyone looking for a quality umbrella that doesn’t cost a fortune this one is $39. That’s bananas!

And now for a little bit of fun: these little tables are going to be super popular this season.  They are only $15 a piece and can be used in so many ways.  I love the choice of colours and geometric shape.

Looking for an old fashioned rocker styled with minimal lines? I think these are great for a front porch in a slightly ironic kind of way.

This Muskoka chair comes with a pull-out ottoman. Despite a little minor assembly, it will be just the right thing for my Haliburton staycation this summer.  Maybe it should be re-named the Kawartha Recliner?

Let there be light!  I am a sucker for lanterns of all kinds and these are so cute.  I don’t think it would be too wise to leave them out in the rain….but other than that shine on!

Inspired Design from Norway

On this first cold and blustery day of March I find myself day-dreaming of summer days to come and sailing on wide open water.  So I’m doing what I always do: looking for design ideas that make my dreams part of my everyday life.  Want to join me?

A few weeks ago I wrote about a new discovery that I found at the Interior Design Show (you can read that post here): a company called Spinnaker that brought a few phenomenal pieces to display. This modern company hails from Norway and their “Spinnaker Chair” was inspired by the crisp look of white, billowing sails.

While gorgeous in white I was also totally ga ga over the tailored black look embossed with bold lettering reminiscent of racing sails.  I would love to put this chair into a masculine living room for a bit of edge. BTW the Spinnaker was designed by creative duo Linda Steen and Lena Axelsson (extra point for female designers!).

I was equally impressed (or maybe I should say obsessed?) by the “Relax Chair”, an outdoor piece that I  would love to add to patio decor or a modern dock lounge.  These chairs encompass so many of my favorite things: natural fibers like linen, leather and oak; a rustic casual vibe and nautical styling.  A cool feature: they adjust to any uneven setting by shifting slightly to stop wobbling.  The leather straps and ropes are design just for this purpose. Can you imagine something more perfect for perching beside the lake?

Check out Allmodern.com to find out more about both the “Spinnaker” and “Relax” chairs- I’ve been told that they ship to Canada.

A third great find from the same company in Norway is the “Scandia” chair which is available in Toronto at Mjolk or at Full House Modern in Vancouver.  These chairs are come in stackable or lounge varieties made of lacquered American walnut or American oak.  Gorgeous and perfect for those looking for something fresh with a mid-century vibe.

All images come from Spinnaker’s website or my own personal snapshots at IDS.