Fabulous design and decor stores
Saltspring Island, B.C.
The brainchild of four entrepreneurial female artists, Coastal Currents Home and Garden Gallery (133 Hereford Ave., 250-537-0070) offers an eclectic collection of art made by local artisans. Colourful glassware and fabrics pop against neutral walls inside the circa-1935 heritage-house-turned-showroom. Each room uniquely displays everything from gardening books, greeting cards and ribbon to top-quality kitchenware and wicker furniture. It's the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind gift.
Neutral fabrics and dark woods come together with panache at Cabinet (10 Birch Ave., 416-923-9234). The inviting furniture showroom features solid wood bedroom sets, dining tables, and upholstered sofas, all elegantly displayed. Cabinet's versatile wooden furniture pieces are designed and manufactured by owner Ron Briand, but what's great about the collection is that all the pieces are designed to work together and can be custom-made to fit your space.
Aztec Furnishings (2392 Bloor St. W., 416-761-9611; aztecfurnishings.com) A little bit of Mexico in Bloor West Village. The store provides “unique alternatives to standard home furnishings,” says owner Kevin Jones, who travels to Mexico regularly to purchase items directly from the manufacturers. Along with rustic hand-crafted Mexican pine tables, desks and cabinetry, you'll find small pieces like colourful hand-blown glass, vibrant hand-painted Talavera pottery water jugs and bowls, and aromatic candles embedded with coffee beans or cinnamon sticks.
Named after owner Stewart Mills' favourite jazz musician, Ellington's Home Decor (1824 Government St., 250-385-5884) is overflowing with funky decor accessories. Mixed in with reproductions of mid-century modern designs by Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe are art deco-style lady lamps, framed prints and platform beds, plus a freestanding bar -- a bar cart with a half wall. Resin statues of famous cartoon characters will surely tickle your fancy.
Since 1989, Charles Rupert: The Shop (2005 Oak Bay Ave., 250-592-4916; charles-rupert.com) has specialized in supplying historic tiles, fabrics, wallpapers and furnishings for the restoration of heritage houses. Today the shop is often the go-to place for museums, TV and movie productions when they need to recreate an old-fashioned period look. Whether you're restoring a Victorian house or just adding a touch of tradition to your home, the staff offer ample knowledge and expertise.
• For discount deals on teak cabinets, bamboo tables and other furnishings from Southeast Asia, check out The Bargain Room, a new space in Toronto's Kuda Interiors (388 Carlaw Ave., 416-463-4805; kudaimports.com).
• Looking for luxury leather furniture? Hauser Company Stores and Natuzzileather company have teamed up to open Natuzzi Gallery in Burlington, Ont. (29 Plains Rd. W., 905-681-3355).
• bouclair.com soft stuff -- towels, sheets, fabric -- for bed, bath and beyond.
• circlecraft.net An institution on Vancouver's Granville Island, this cooperative offers beautiful one-of-a-kind ceramics, textiles and more.
• daniadown.com A West Coast retailer with a lovely selection of bedding and accessories; see site for store locations, too.
• hillsburys.com An inspiring collection of wrought-iron pieces, from wall sconces to chandeliers.
• ingearstore.com An eclectic mix of furniture, artwork and accessories.
• leevalley.com Hardware heaven -- everything from garden tools to doorknobs; plus great handyman gifts.
Illustration by Ashleigh Schouwerwou