Downtown design shops
King East neighbourhood the new furniture mecca
It’s the old chicken-or-egg question: who’s following whom into the KingSherbourne area, the condos or the design stores? High-end boutiques, lowerend retailers, antique markets, frame restorers and discount kitchen outlets have earned this stretch of King East a reputation as a design destination.
Shops like Trianon (247 King East, 416363-9851), Stacaro (225 King East, 416-367-5959) and Nienkämper (300 King East, 416-362-3434) offer luxurious furnishings and highly stylized window displays that resemble Elle Decor magazine spreads. If price is no object, by all means check them out, but their storefronts also provide ideas and inspiration for the rest of us.
If you’re looking for more affordable pieces, there are still great options in this nabe. EQ3 (222 King East, 416-8152002) has modern furnishings at modest prices, and the living room, home office, bedroom and dining room setups in the store are easy to imagine in your own abode. EQ3 has everthing from rugs and bedding to tableware and cushions. Find a modern armless suede rocking chaise for $549, eye-popping teal sofas for a grand, cowhide carpets for $699, candy-coloured glassware at $10 a piece, lamps starting at $25. The shop also sells affordable original artwork (photography and oils).
A source for affordable Oriental art and furniture is Sastra Imports (250 King East, 416-368-6443). Owner Jessica Wong works with Indonesian artists to ensure fair prices are paid for their exquisite work. She only imports items made from recycled or plantationgrown timber. The store opened in May but also has a space on Carlaw for larger Balinese beds and armoires. Most of the modern-style furniture, including lounge chairs, coffee tables, dining tables and entertainment units, ranges from $500 to $1,500, more than fair for items with such detailed handiwork. If you’re on a budget, the mini-Buddha bookends go for $35 or $60 a pair.
For many downtowners, limited space is more of a concern than limited funds. Roomy Home (232 King East, 416-2036813) is a cleverly named shop dedicated to providing sleek, multi-functional furnishings for smaller spaces. Owner Joanna Kakkavas and designer Corrine LaFlamme have created their own furniture line and do custom work and design consultation. One of their most popular items, the wall bed, with a comfy memory mattress and silent hydraulic system, looks like a very expensive contemporary entertainment unit. It starts at $2,000 and can run up to $8,000 with all the bells and whistles. Their square coffee table turns into a comfortable dining table ($1,000). Kakkavas and team also sell small accessories by local artists who exhibit at the One Of A Kind shows. For those into the original form of recycling, there are always antiques. At the Anthemion Gallery (197 King East, 416368-6628), owner Francis Satto buys and sells antique furniture, fine arts and Oriental carpets. Pop in to look at his extensive collection of slag glass lamps ($450 to $2,000), large dining sets, signed oil paintings, grand pianos, McCoy pottery and odd chairs. Don’t bring your pooch, though – resident German shepherd Marcus is somewhat territorial but happy to move out of your way as you price twin bed frames ($450/pair) or Victorian cabinets ($1,500). Once you’ve got your furnishings wrapped up, pop into Betty’s for a pint, or Toba for a glass of Merlot to complete your downtown shopping excursion.
Meaghan Clark is a Toronto-based freelance writer who writes about design and retail initiatives.
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