The Castlefield Design District
The Castlefield Design District is a furniture and interior design lover's dream. Set in an industrial area northwest of Dufferin and Eglinton, the design destination is home to some of Toronto's best (and priciest) finds all immaculately assembled in large warehouses and showrooms along Castlefield and Caledonia Roads.
There is lighting, furniture, kitchen, bathroom, carpet, floors, drapery, art and almost every other imaginable home decor solution here. Roots even has a showroom - yes, they do sell furniture - located on the ground floor of their corporate headquarters inside the Castlefield Design Centre at 1400 Castlefield Road.
Whenever I go here I'm overwhelmed by the selection and the scale of it all. It's too bad I've often gone home empty handed though. Even during one of the 50% off sales, the 8x10 area rugs marked down to $4,000 are still out of my price range.
But if money is no object, you're in the mood to splurge for something unique or special, or you're prepared to hunt around for a bargain (yes, they can be found here too) then a few hours meandering around the Castlefield Design District is definitely time well spent. Here are 7 of my favourite stores in the area that should be at the top of your agenda if you plan to visit.
Fans of stores like Smash, Post & Beam Reclamation GUFF and World Headquarters will definitely find lots to ogle at throughout this two level treasure trove of reclaimed doors, lights, stained glass windows and hard-to-find industrial relics.
The many different sizes and shapes of doors are perfect to make a desk or dining table. Be sure to ask owner Sam Mirshak to show you stuff he may have strategically hidden for his most discriminating customers. It's also worth keeping an eye out on the store's blog which is occasionally updated with some of the new inventory he's managed to reclaim from sources locally and abroad.
Found directly across the street from the Door Store, Sharon O' Dowd has a more polished selection of mostly wood based antiques procured from Europe and Quebec. They have an eclectic mix of tables, chairs, bookshelves but the most intriguing items here just might be the statement pieces like this old manual book press (below):
ELTE might be the most well known store in the area but if you don't know where to look you might miss it. Sure, it's a massive warehouse of a space with a huge sign atop (see above, but still, it's off Castlefield Road on Ronald Avenue where smaller stores like Luminart and Reznick Carpets can also be found.
ELTE is best known for their endless selection of quality, high priced carpets but they also stock a great selection of coffee tables, sofas, chairs and furniture from brands you may not expect to make furniture (namely, Calvin Klein).
Ginger's Bath and Summerhill Hardware are part of the ELTE empire and located just down the street at the corner of Castlefield and Ronald Avenue. Go here for the most stylish towels, bathtubs, soaps and other bathrooms supplies. They also have a terrific selection of faucets and kitchen sinks if you're looking to re-create a look you saw in the latest issue of Dwell.
Among my favourite recent finds here was a wall mounted shampoo dispenser (above), because who doesn't want to have the same conveniences as the gym when in their home shower? At around $60 for a pair it's one of the more affordable design finds in the store.
This massive showroom next to Roots inside the Castlefield Design Centre has a wide range of traditional and contemporary furniture as well as colourful and modular design from Kartell. In fact, the showroom is really a big open space that combines HorseFeathers Home plus complimentary stores from Studio B, Grace Gallery, Weaver's Art, Threadcount and California Closets.
Much of the selection here is a bit traditional for my tastes, but I did spot some jaw dropping vintage finds, intricate Chinese book shelves and contemporary lighting fixtures from Kartell (below). Service is friendly and helpful even if the prices aren't.
The sign that reads Canada's largest lighting showroom is no joke. The lighting options are endless here and the prices are actually a deal. Almost everything is for sale below the suggested retail price and extra discounts here are not uncommon as Union actually strives to have the best selection AND the best prices in town.
If lighting is what you're looking for, there are tons of other options in the area though. Also worth checking out is Sescolite and Victorian Revival; as well as the offerings at ELTE, HorseFeathers Home, The Door Store and Luminart.
All this shopping (or browsing) is bound to make you hungry, so for a quick lunch or snack your best bet is to join the cab drivers at Commisso Brothers & Racco Italian Bakery - a 24 hour convenience store and Italian bakery that serves up fresh pasta, veal sandwiches and desserts like custard tarts and canoli. While here you might as well take home some of the fresh Italian bread baked on site.
Other food options include Cafe Rustica inside ELTE where they serve excellent panini, salads and coffee; or the popular Carol's Cheesecake and Cafe on Castlefield near the Door Store.
For a map of all the places mentioned above please see below.
With contributions from Sarah Kelsey