Why this interior designer’s favourite space is his living room

Deirdre Kelly
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 16 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

When the Kelowna, B.C.-born interior designer Jeffrey Douglas purchased his Toronto townhouse four years ago, the 1889 Cabbagtetown Victorian was literally sagging at the seams. A 1970s renovation had removed original historic details as well as a few supporting walls, whose absence resulted, some 40 years later, in the structure falling in on itself. Wanting to rescue the home he shares with graphic designer and illustrator Steve Yeates from sure disaster, Douglas gutted and renovated the house, an 18-month process. When it was done, the owner of Douglas Design Studio, located two doors up the street, had not only a fully modernized home but a 3-D portfolio for prospective clients. The first stop on the tour is always the living room, which features furniture of Douglas’s own design. “The fireplace is used all the time,” he says. “It’s a great room for relaxing in.”

The console

“It’s made of solid walnut and all the hinges are finger joints. I wanted the look of horizontal slats and designed it so air flows through the unit. I use it to store linens and other things for the adjacent dining room.”

The bookshelves

“These were custom-made with lighting inside the shelves that reflects up and down. They hold a variety of things, including old books that belonged to Steve’s family and a suitcase once belonging to his aunt. I have added dried flowers from my mother’s garden.”

The lamps

“These are original to the 1950s. I got them from Atomic Warehouse, an online mid-century store based in the U.S. They remind me of my grandmother’s mid-century-modern house in B.C.”

The fireplace

“It’s carved from solid cottonwood limestone and was made by Traditional Cut Stone in Toronto after my own design. It’s new but is deferential to the era of the house without being slavish to it. It helps make the room what I call neo-Victorian instead of just Victorian, a result of the addition of contemporary touches like this.”

The artwork

“I am particularly fond of Japan and Japanese culture and so thispiece has meaning for me. It’s by the talented Quebec photographer Laurent Guerin and it shows a traditional geisha inside a contemporary taxi. It’s an image that looks caught in motion. I especially love the subject’s inscrutable expression.”

The couch

“I also made this. It was something I conceived of from scratch. It’s kind of got a mid-century aesthetic. But the main thing is that it is comfortable and was designed that way. It’s got double cushions and is long enough to lie on. I often use it for reading or taking a nap.”

The curtains

“The cashmere fabric is by Loro Piana. I love those curtains. They’re superluxurious.”

The yellow chair

“That was done for a client as a prototype and I ended up keeping it. I like the yellow colour. It adds warmth to the room. The lines are interesting: contemporary meets art deco.”

The carpet

“This is a woven-leather area carpet handmade in India. It’s a texture I have always admired and it works well with all the furniture. It’s very practical: super-easy to maintain, comfortable under foot and it lays flat, never bunching up.”

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