GO WEST! SPOTLIGHT ON QUEEN WEST
From Spadina to Strachan and beyond, ever-changing West Queen West rules
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.
ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES – 821 Queen West
JALAN – 699 Queen West
FLUF – 881 Queen West
MAC FAB – 600 Queen West
PAVILION – 739 Queen West
LEIGH & JAMES – 164 Bathurst