Elliott and Ward
It's a museum. It's an art gallery. It's your Grandmother's lounge. No, wait - it's the newest furniture shop on Riverside's Queen East strip.
In Riverside , you could almost call this place pretentious, given that the shop's 1800 square feet of flagstone floor seem so finely tailored. The prices are reasonable and are, by and large, less that you might pay elsewhere, but don't expect many awesome steals. It's definitely not a bargain shop.
The area isn't known for upscale charm. But owner Adrian Elliott thinks she's on the leading edge of a new wave, as Toronto rediscovers what used to be the "neutral zone" between Queen East and the Beach. This shop promises lots of turnover and regularly refreshed vignettes, because of the unique concept that they've used to imagine their business.
Their shop is a "High-End Consignment - Retail" space. They sell retail work they throw in for style, but they also have high-quality pieces placed on consignment. It's not a typical vintage shop, because everything has to be perfect. They won't take anything with scars or obvious signs of use. One result of this market model is lower prices for higher quality. A good example is a reupholstered designer sofa. It usually goes for over $6000, but here it sets the wallet back just over $2200.
They both love styling up living spaces, and their homes have featured in style magazines. Elliot claims that their design sense is "elegant and simple." This doesn't say much, but it perfectly describes what you see when you walk in. The colour schemes are designed to fit into most environments - green on white, showy red or gold for accents, earthy wood tones and neutral colours for big pieces and upholstery. You don't have to visit a dozen shops and spend every weekend trekking across the city to find that something to match the sideboard you got at one place and the table you found somewhere else. And tapestries, dressing table mirrors, reupholstered art deco chairs, false columns and even hand-painted ceramic rabbits are stashed casually about the store like odd little treasures.
Retail items here are smaller and are definitely for condo dwellers. The best example is the simple black-stained wood dining table with handy extensions. It's a lot like the tables on offer across the city, and not any cheaper, except that this place also has four different styles of Parson chair to go with it.
They're trying hard to promote local artists and Canadian crafts. Toronto designer Ranee Lee supplies them with elegant accessories, like beautiful faux-tortoiseshell boxes, leather pieces and storage ottomans with delicate marquetry. Mosaic mirrors are some of the best finds, a mix of art deco and art moderne. Each piece of ceramic and glass on the frames is applied by hand by a local artist, who does her work on spec. They're not cheap, but they shouldn't be, given the quality. Gorgeous carpets have been thoroughly cleaned, and can't be found anywhere for the same price - way less than half what a new one would cost. They're also in far better condition than anything from other vintage shops.
It's obvious that Elliott and Ward love glass and ceramics. Display cases are filled with vases, glassware and cast metal accessories, all different and complementary. Elliott says that her greatest prizes are the fine white ceramics made by a Quebec artist, not inexpensive by any definition, with a small bowl retailing for over $70, but definitely worth the sticker price for such flawless, delicate work.
They plan to showcase a new artist every 3 months, each bringing a new style and aesthetic to the store. Considering that their stock changes frequently, this should mean that revisiting the place every once in a while might be worth it.
You're not going to outfit your entire home or get that custom modular sofa you've always wanted here, but if you need a bit of fashion accessorizing for a niche or a bay window or the bedroom, this might be the place to do it. The best things in life aren't bargains, though, and this is a rule you'll be learning quickly if you're spending your paycheque in this shop.