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Style by the Mile


Published: 07/13/2012


Shopping has universal appeal, but jumping in and out of the car can dampen almost anyone's enthusiasm. That's one of the reasons I regularly park myself near the 1200 block of Yonge Street in Toronto, where I can enjoy some of the most satisfying home decor shopping in all of Canada.

It all starts just a few streets south of St. Clair Ave. If you're not driving, the Summerhill subway station is the best stop.

Walking south on the west side of the street, wearing my most comfortable shoes and clutching my eager credit card, I'm filled with hope and anticipation. If style by the mile is enticement enough, follow me.

Marie Antoinette French Antiques & Decor, 1268 Yonge St., 416-323-8555, owner Francine Stevenson-Boisvert.

It's no secret that I'm fond of French decor. This is perhaps one reason I like to begin the Yonge St. tour with Marie Antoinette, where my head swirls with the selection of fanciful crystal chandeliers, 18th to 20th century armoires, marble-topped consoles and delicate painted furniture. Marie Antoinette has its share of froufrou but that's just part of its charm.

Braem & Minnetti Inc., 1262 Yonge St., 416-923-7437, owner Guido Braem.

Continuing south you'll find Braem & Minnetti, an institution for those in search of fine antiques. The prices are dear but so is the merchandise -- regency bull's eye mirrors, ormolu-accented chests of drawers, lacquered secretaries, and bronzes are just some of the temptations. Even if the budget doesn't allow for purchasing, stop by and see what the 'good stuff' looks like.

Palette Fine Art Gallery, 1260 Yonge St., 416-968-9000, owner Lisa Cohen.

After pressing my nose to the glass at Braem & Minnetti, it's a relief to visit a shop where I can actually purchase something. At Palette Fine Art Gallery, step inside and enjoy a thoughtful selection of original artwork by emerging Canadian artists at reasonable prices ($700 to $1,000 for a medium-sized original). Custom framing samples fill an entire wall and the professional staff offers in-home and office consultations as well as cleaning and repairs, which are done on-site by accredited restorers.

Absolutely North, 1236 Yonge St., 416-922-6784, owner Vicky Mansell.

Just past Walker Ave., you'll find one of my frequent haunts, Absolutely North. Along with its smaller sister shop, Absolutely Inc. (down the road at 1132 Yonge St., 416-324-8351), Absolutely North sells the most eclectic mix of furniture and accessories -- contemporary and antique. The larger 'north' store concentrates more on the furniture and lighting, whereas the smaller 'south' location is packed full of unique ideas (meaning accessories) with a whimsical flare.

City Mattress and Iron Bed, 1234 Yonge St., 416-969-9997.

If you haven't changed your mattress since Lucy and Ricky had twin beds, the experts at City Mattress will take a computerized body profile and match customers to the perfect mattress. In fact, they'll even tackle the husband-wife (or any combination of co-habitation) issue, combining both body types.

Baroness Antiques, 1230 Yonge St., 416-922-0904, owner Vicky Wahle.

Step into the tiny gem, Baroness Antiques, and enjoy a small but delightful assortment of 19th century furniture finds that will warm any room. Dinner plates (glass with gold inlay -- all the rage in France right now), Louis Philippe chest of drawers in pine (a rare find), and paintings from the 19th and early 20th centuries are (relatively) affordable rarities. God bless the Baroness (yes, owner Baroness Vicky Wahle's aristocratic French family dates back to the 12th century, though she never, ever mentions it; trés gauche) offers a lay-away program, allowing clients to enjoy a favourite classic piece right away.

L'Atelier, 1224 Yonge St., 416-966-0200, owner Josef Hasbani.

Visit L'Atelier even once and you're sure to fall under the spell of owner Josef Hasbani, whose sense of drama and playfulness permeate this enchanting establishment. Josef's brilliance is his thoroughly modern approach to design, whether working with fine antiques or streamlined Art Deco. I'll tell you a secret too; this is where I go for great gifts; hurricane lamps from India in every shape possible, sprightly doggie beds and Lucite drinking glasses are just some of the enticements.

Quintessence Designs, 1222 Yonge St., 416-921-3040, owner Georgiana Ku.

When you need 'a little something,' Quintessence offers a sweet assortment of small gifts in nearly every price range.

Horsefeathers, 1212 Yonge St., 416-934-1771, owner Lawrence Hyland.

Keep moving, and oh, be still my heart, Horsefeathers is fun, fun, fun. Affordable antiques, great reproductions, stylish accessories, garden furniture and statuary -- if you only have an hour to shop, this is  the destination. Owner Lawrence Hyland shops France and England in search of Louis 13th to French Art Deco, French Country to streamline contemporary pieces with an Asian flare. A must see.

Decorum Decorative Finds, 1210 Yonge St., 416-966-6829, owners -- Mathew Heney and Barbara Lee.

When you can satisfy your most frugal client you know the prices are good. Climb the stairs to Decorum and you'll find 19th-century French chandeliers, Italian convex mirrors and Lucite lamps among other sumptuous samplings.

R.G. Perkins Antiques Ltd., 1198 Yonge St., 416-925-0973, owner Sheldon Perkins.

If Canadian pine makes your heart go pitter pat, than your shopping tour should begin here. Colonial brass lighting, harvest and side tables, chairs, mantelpieces and even a Mennonite china cabinet are in store.

Embros Importers of Quality Cookware & Fine Cutlery, 1170 Yonge St., 416-923-1808.

Now, for those of you who can really cook, there are two great kitchenware sources nearby. Embros at 1170 and Word of Mouth Upscale Kitchen Warehouse at 1134. Between the two locations you'll find everything you need and quite a bit you don't -- Dualite toasters in delicious colours, copper pots, and a must for the pro B.B. Quer, the 'Q' by Weber.

Matthew Berger, 1162 Yonge St., 416-850-3407, owner Matthew Berger.

Surprisingly affordable classics and a range of 20th-century studio pottery from England and the U.S.A. are what you'll find at Matthew Berger. If you are looking for a decorative accent, the antique textiles -- including Aubusson pillows -- are divine. By the way, I once bought a Biedermeyer secretary here that was seriously under priced (although I didn't tell Matthew that until now).

Demarco Perpich, 1116 Yonge St., 416-967-0893, owner Peter Demarco.

Crossing MacPherson, you are nearing the finish line. This next stop will revive your senses. In the right hands, flowers are so much more than accessories. Peter Demarco clearly has the right hands, romantic hands, creators of voluptuous flowers (nothing spiky thank goodness!). Dip inside and breathe in the heady scents.

The Prince of Serendip, 1071 Yonge St., 416-925-3760.

A visit to The Prince is a cross between sneaking into a grand theatre's prop room and stepping into the looking glass, in either case the over-scaled garden statuary, theatrical torchieres, and wildly evocative paintings are all madly divine.

Constantine, 1110 Yonge St., 416-929-1177, owner - Rita Tsantis.

Brace yourself; Constantine is like no other shop on the tour. Owner Rita Tsantis prides herself on acquiring unusual and decorative pieces with a 'natural' element. She has fabulous style and the courage to combine exotic African art, Venetian chandeliers (as well as authentic Fortuny lamps) and rustic furnishings with aplomb.

Putti Fine Furnishings, 1106 Yonge St., 416-972-7652.

Putti Fine Furnishings is a destination unto itself. Fine, rare, frivolous and witty enticements are only part of the charm. Owners Linda Wade and Martin Dwyer scour France and Italy (especially the finer flea markets) to acquire painted furniture, crystal chandeliers, decadent linens and gifts too beautiful to actually give away (rose petal soap leaves are a current obsession). Putti Fine Furnishings is a sensual experience. Make sure to pat Rupert, the resident King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

French Country, 6 Roxborough St. West, 416-944-2204, owner Vi Jull.

If you love shopping as much as I do, gather your strength and step just around the corner (west on Roxborough St.,) to find French Country. Vi Jull displays tableware in vibrant French Provencal colours, mattelase quilts, rustic furnishings, and delightful accessories, all with a French country accent. Don't forget to wander to the kitchen nook that is full of treasures.

Hollace Cluny 1070 Yonge St., 416-968-7894, owner Susan Fowlie.

Clean lines, simple and understated contemporary furniture and accessories is what you'll find at Hollace Cluny. Many of the pieces have an artist's hand, including the selection of lamps, trays, vases and bowls in resin from Canada's own Martha Sturdy.

Belle Époque, 1066 Yonge St., 416-925-0066, owner Andrew Dymecki.

Ceramic pots, Provençal straw bags and an assortment of affordable finds fill Belle Époque to the point that it resembles a small French flea market. C'est trés amusant!

Spotted Zebra, 1062 Yonge St., 416-944-0251, owner Juditha Sakinofsky.
Corporate gift-packagers with a unique flair, Spotted Zebra abstains from the typical wicker-and-cellophane route. From gourmet food crates to gorgeous baby gifts, owner Judith Sakinofsky opts for fabulous boxes wrapped with ribbons of ivory, raspberry or apple green. Inside you may find a selection of creams, shampoos and sunscreens nestled together with a natural sea sponge, some Belgian chocolate treats, a slim radio for the shower, scented candles or jazz CDs.

Farrow & Ball, 1054 Yonge St., 416-920-0200, owner Jason Cass.

Probably you are far too tired to visit Farrow & Ball right now, however, return on a day when you're refreshed and feast in the delicious wall colour and wallpaper that this venerable English paint and paper company carries. You may even run into Jason Cass, the tall and handsome host of One House, Two Looks.

Orleans French Antiques and Furnishings, 1096 Yonge St., 416-966-0005.

Located in Rosedale, Orleans offers fine French antiques and home furnishings. Antiques with a unique or interesting story may end up here -- how about sideboards owned by French peasants during Marie Antoinette's reign? Owners Michel and Maureen Falk offer an impressive selection of different armoire styles. Rare clocks, antique mirrors and beautiful wrought-iron chandeliers are available, along with marble-topped commodes. Orleans has been in business for almost 10 years. There is something for everyone's budget here since items in the store do range from about $50 up to $12,000.





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