In the Heart of Toronto's Castlefield Design District

The JL Showhouse Report

Dated Posted: May 7th, 2009

Written By: Leila

Junior League Showhouse

I woke up much earlier than usual this morning in order to attend a breakfast hosted by the Junior League to thank its showhouse suppliers (for more information on the Junior League Showhouse visit our earlier post).  Thankfully the coffee was hot and the pastries were sweet, thumb and I managed to visit 50 meticulously designed spaces and was done before my normal wakeup time!   Sadly, story photos were not permitted so you’ll just have to go yourself (lucky you!).

A look at the grand McLean manor - set on the beautiful grounds that are now shared with Sunnybrook Hospital, this property was purchased for $92,000 back in the 1920s.

I can tell you this:  lots of cool metallics – polished nickel, shimmery satins, silvery greys.  This is balanced with loads of texture – alligator walls, shagreen furnishings, cultured stone tiles, faux-mosaic vinyl wallpaper, pebble floors, rustic doors, solid wood slabs, antique steamer trunks, carpeting of every possible kind including underpadding as area rug (how very Madonna in her underwear as overwear phase), feather lights, a corroded copper fireplace, vintage bronze hardware and tufted velvet ottomans.  And despite some over-the-top displays, the overall take-home message seems to be a return to timeless, classic elegance. Blame the recession or thank eco-awareness, but we seem to be moving away from re-designing trendy spaces every few years and are instead choosing elements rooted in history and tradition.  Lots of antique furnishings and strong architectural elements.

Another much-repeated detail in the JL Showhouse is the ornate perforated screen (think really fancy lattice).  I first noticed it as I approached the house (it’s okay to take pictures of the outside, I’m sure).  This exterior detail seems to be original, but many of the designers picked up the idea and ran with it…all over the house, notably as a room divider in Kimberley Seldon‘s master suite and as cabinetry detail in Glen Peloso‘s coach house redux. 


Speaking of which, you don’t want to miss the coach house.  There’s a café on the main floor – I love the deep aubergine paneling – so stop in and grab a cuppa (even if you’re not there at 7:30 am like I was).  Upstairs, the coach house has been revamped by Glen Peloso’s team and made into a design boutique where suppliers are selling all sorts of great finds for you to snatch up at great prices – plus 20% goes to the Junior League of Toronto.  Suporting all those great finds are tables made from our vintage iron panels and huge steel brackets (see the ‘before’ picture below), as well as a narrow, industrial steel console that we designed and manufactured here on site.   The designers were challenged to “think green” and we are tickled pink that Glen Peloso Interiors chose to base such a large part of their design on salvaged pieces from our store because reusing is truly the greenest solution.

These antique panels and brackets are now table bases in the JL boutique.

Do put the JL Showhouse on your must-see list for May.  Everything you need to know is right here.  It would make a great Mother’s Day outing – maybe give mom a rain-check for later in the month just to avoid the crowds.  You really want to take your time and see everything. 

Despite their individuality, all the different spaces compliment each other remarkably well, especially since each room was designed by a different firm, and they weren’t collaborating on colours and themes.  Hopefully this will give people confidence to be a bit more ecclectic in their own home styling.  No more matchy-matchy – just put together what you love and be a little daring!


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