Ten years ago, one per cent of people I knew owned a top-of-the-line Wolf range. Now, 60 per cent of my clients do.
Luxury is a moving target. One decade it is granite countertops, the next decade it is quartz. My most discerning clients are now in search of something new — or rather, something old.
It seems, in a world that is dominated by technology and low-maintenance, man-made materials, items that show evidence of human experience are becoming more valuable. I learned this lesson when I was searching for leather office chairs for my studio. I like to surround myself with natural materials — wood, leather, marble. My Carrara marble island at home makes me happy — rings and all. When the sunlight hits it, there is nothing that can replicate it.
In an attempt to keep an eye on budget when furnishing my studio, I decided to look for vintage leather office chairs. This is when I discovered that patina comes with a high price. I also realized that genuine designer pieces (not knock-offs) really do hold their value. I perused One King’s Lane, 1st Dibs, Ebay, Kijiji and multiple auction sites. Alas, I decided to invest in new, genuine leather drafting stools from Humanscale at Design Within Reach — I will patiently add the patina over time.
I started paying attention to the premium we are paying for materials such as reclaimed wood. All those pine subfloors the contractors tell you to get rid of and replace — people are paying upwards of $25 per square foot to purchase the same wood and are reinstalling them as finished flooring. The aged pine is stunning and adds character that was previously only achievable in century homes.
I have purchased indigo fabrics that were frayed and had holes because the vintage indigo has a quality I adore and because, frankly, I think it’s cool. I like sensing the history of the cloth. I like the hand-stitched repairs.
One of my favourite trends is decorating with artifacts or artisanal accessories — items that show slight imperfections of the human hand.
Designers are notorious for wanting things that you can’t buy at big box stores — for wanting things that not everybody else has.
Here are some of my favourite spots in the city to pick up such things in case you feel the same:
At Snob on Carlaw, the owner has an amazing collection of art and artifacts from Africa. Another one for international inspiration is Saudade, a lifestyle store celebrating Portuguese design and artisanal tradition located in Little Portugal.
For wood doors, hardware and architectural salvage, I head to Scarborough’s the Salvage Shop. I never leave empty-handed.
Another favourite is Machine Age Modern on Queen East. It’s great for mid-century modern finds.
And finally, Addison’s Inc. in the west end: I came here looking for plumbing fixtures and left hours later with a sense of the city’s rich history. It gave me a new perspective on luxury. It all comes down to craftsmanship and a visible human connection.
Catch Danielle Bryk as one of the designers on HGTV Canada’s Home To Win series, as well as on her own show A Bryk At a Time.