From Spad­ina to Stra­chan and be­yond, ever-chang­ing West Queen West rules

NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - By MEAGHAN CLARK Pho­tos by MARK COATSWORTH

queen west has al­ways been a favourite shop­ping des­ti­na­tion for any­thing edgy to wear, cheap eats and drinks, indie stores to browse and out-of-the-or­di­nary stuff to read.

It’s been this way for, well, for­ever, and the area is still home to the tat­tooed and pierced, among oth­ers. But the Queen West 1988 look – black leather jacket, scruffy jeans and Doc Martens – has been up­dated to in­clude hood­ies, yoga pants and Pumas.

Queen be­tween Bathurst and Niagara has had a few great decor shops for some time, but it’s never been seen as a de­sign des­ti­na­tion or as a place to find in­te­rior designer folk. Long­stand­ing an­chors like Jalan (699 Queen West, 416-504-3473) and Pav­il­ion (739 Queen West, 416-504-9859) have been pro­vid­ing great In­done­sian wares and mod­ern fur­nish­ings re­spec­tively for years, keep­ing this stretch of Queen on de­sign-savvy minds.

But times have changed, and new decor and de­sign shops have opened in the Trinity Bell­woods neigh­bour­hood. One very well-known designer with her own fur­ni­ture line and tele­vi­sion show has set up shop above a name­less cof­fee shop just off Queen West, an unof­fi­cial de­sign-des­ti­na­tion stamp of ap­proval if you ask me.

The south side of Queen West used to be home to sev­eral mom-and-pop an­tique shops, some with more pedi­gree than oth­ers. An­tiques and Col­lectibles at 821 Queen West is one of the last of th­ese, and has a mass of kitschy and retro odd­i­ties. Re­cently spot­ted: a set of four char­coal resin and chrome chairs for less than $150.

Next door at 819 is Com­mute Home (416-8610521), where you’ll also find retro pieces, although they tend to be more ex­pen­sive and more unique. Spe­cial­iz­ing in cus­tom metal shelv­ing and up­hol­stered seat­ing, Com­mute Home also cre­ates one-of-a-kind light boxes and scrims from images col­lected all over the world. Cus­tomers are en­cour­aged to bring in their own pho­tos and trans­form them into works of art. Light boxes start at just un­der $1,000, and cus­tom seat­ing ranges up­ward from $450. If you ever won­dered how a

chrome den­tist light and an an­tique mir­ror might pair up, stop by and check out th­ese finds your­self.

Fairly new to Trinity Bell­woods is Fluf (881 Queen West, 416-362-3583), a spot stuffed full of pil­lows. Seat and floor cush­ions, throw pil­lows and bol­sters in ev­ery colour and pat­tern can be found here, start­ing at about $65.

A few steps away at an­other newbie, Type Books (883 Queen West, 416-366-8973), you’ll find cof­fee-ta­ble and night­stand reads. If you don’t see that spe­cial book on emerg­ing po­etry in Canada, the own­ers will cer­tainly do their best to ob­tain it for you – it’s that kind of place. Type is good-look­ing, com­fort­able to browse in and has a bul­letin board an­nounc­ing lo­cal events like the West Queen West Fest held re­cently in the park, or the Read­ings For The End Of The World held on 06/06/06 at the Cameron House.

The Bathurst end of the strip is well worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing. Mac Fab (600 Queen West, 416-5343940) is home to bolts and bolts of fab­u­lous fab­rics for drap­ery, up­hol­stery, cush­ions and more. For the past three years, owner Dale Sonier and his team have been mak­ing cus­tom drap­ery and head­boards, a trend that seems to be tak­ing off. For $800 or less you can get a wall-mounted or bed-frame-mounted head­board in a huge ar­ray of fab­rics and styles. Most clients tend to go with neu­tral mi­cro­suedes, but I’m think­ing an elec­tric-blue, silk-tufted, camel-back num­ber with a gi­ant stuffed mar­lin above… or not.

A few doors down, Ur­ban Barn (610 Queen West, 416-364-6664) of­fers af­ford­able, chic fur­nish­ings with lots of Asian ac­cents and Um­bra ac­ces­sories.

Pop around the cor­ner to Leigh & James (164 Bathurst, 416-955-0138) to see gor­geous hand­crafted ta­bles, cab­i­nets, shelv­ing units and beds im­ported from Viet­nam. Own­ers Nicki and Dean im­port silk light­ing in a va­ri­ety of colours and styles, and do cus­tom work as well.

“The French In­done­sian style mir­rors tra­di­tional art deco,” says Nicki, whose hos­pi­tal­ity makes shop­ping here feel more like vis­it­ing the home of a good friend.

Speak­ing of which, if you and your good friends need a break from all this eye candy, there are plenty of places to in­dulge in other ed­i­ble treats.

New to this stretch is the Rose­bud (669 Queen West, 416-703-8810), a tiny space with good re­views from NOW’s own Steven Davey. Johny Ba­nana (181 Bathurst, 416-304-0101) is for those who want au­then­tic Latin cui­sine at af­ford­able prices.

There’s a Sec­ond Cup and a Star­bucks in the ’hood, and those who de­mand sweets have sev­eral indie pur­vey­ors to choose from: JS Bon­bons (811 Queen West, 416-703-7731), the Nutty Choco­latier (700 Queen West, 416-640-0440) and Duf­flet (787 Queen West, 416-504-2870) all of­fer gooey and gor­geous nib­bles.

Eye candy, choco­late nib­bles – West Queen West is def­i­nitely a des­ti­na­tion.


JALAN – 699 Queen West

FLUF – 881 Queen West

MAC FAB – 600 Queen West

PAV­IL­ION – 739 Queen West

LEIGH & JAMES – 164 Bathurst

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