Best of the City 2012: 10 perfect products for inside your home and out

Best of the City 2012: 10 perfect products for inside your home and out

Best of the City 2012: Shopping

Golda’s Kitchen
2885 Argentia Rd., Unit 6, Mississauga, 905-816-9995
Birthday cakes haven’t been the same since the Food Network’s oddly addictive cake-decorating showdowns inspired over­ambitious parents to sculpt their own fairy-tale scenes and Batmobiles out of fondant and edible glitter. This sprawling Mississauga kitchen supply store, a favourite of professional cake makers and home bakers alike, has an overwhelming selection: baking pans come in an infinite array of shapes, sizes and styles (including whoopie pie, madeleine, and bundts in the form of roses, castles and cartoon bugs). Golda’s also carries more than 4,000 essential decorating tools, from airbrush compressors to sprayable concentrated food colours, as well as plastic dowels (for buttressing your multi-tiered masterpiece), Styrofoam cake dummies (for practising piping and icing techniques), and a botanist’s fantasy of moulds for sugar flowers. For the newbie confection artist, a 177-piece decorating starter kit costs $225.

Ziggy’s at Home
794 College St., 416-535-8728
SpongeBob, Dora and the like are okay if you want your kid to be like every other Thom, Dylan and Harriet, but for toys that are fun, environmentally friendly and literally one of a kind, seek out the adorable critters handmade from reclaimed materials by Canadian label Cate and Levi. Created by Toronto dad Josh Title—who named the company after his son and his son’s best friend—the brand has conscience and cuteness to spare. Sir Elton’s son Zachary owns some of the hand puppets. If they’re good enough for the Rocket Boy, they’re probably good enough for your rug rats. $28–$79.

Running Free
708 Denison St., Markham, 416-410-3733
It’s worth the jog to Markham. This 32-year-old mini-chain operates some six GTA locations, but its 7,000-square-foot flagship store carries the most extensive and eclectic selection of gear and gadgetry. With the current vogue for barefoot running, shoes of minimal design—lightweight, fluorescent Newtons, for example, available exclusively at Running Free—are hot. Other nifty accessories include pedometers, armband GPS, stride sensors that measure heart rate, a number of different sports massage devices (including a portable ice massager) and neon triathlon transition mats.

Hawk Eyes
103 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-916-6212
The furniture in Rachelle Turner’s button-cute Ronces­valles storefront looks like it was poached from Snow White’s cottage, making it a one-stop shop for the kid who wants the ultimate fairy-tale bedroom. Turner sources her finds from estate sales and antique markets and dealers, then refurbishes and repaints the pieces (often in shades of butter yellow and pink). On a recent visit, we saw a floral vanity and stool ($575), a small green enamel table ($365) and a white pressed-metal changing screen ($395), as well as a collection of silkscreened light boxes by local artist Christie Greyerbiehl—a beautiful alternative to the traditional night light ($68–$150). Turner also stocks adorable vintage dishware and cup-and-saucer sets perfect for teatimes both real and pretend.

Kiosk Furniture and Accessories
288 King St. E., 416-539-9665
Stylish, sophisticated and oh so comfortable, the cocoon-shaped Nido armchair by Italian furniture designer Paola Lenti is the throne of outdoor furniture. It’s made of the line’s signature rope cord (as is the matching ottoman), which is water resistant and comes in colours to suit all schemes from neutral to neon. The perfect place to curl up with a book, catch some rays or slide over and make room for one more, should summer lovin’ be on the agenda. Chair $7,000–$8,000, ottoman $2,000.

WMF Boutique, The Bay
176 Yonge St., 416-861-9111
Home chefs the world over dream of Mauviel copper pans and Le Creuset cast iron pots, idolizing their history, their craftsmanship, the way they might perfectly cook a Sunday rabbit. Here’s a hot tip: the best in cookware isn’t French. The German company WMF has been making pots and pans since 1853, and the century and a half of experience is evident. The company’s Cromargan stainless steel cookware—a special, trademarked blend of 18 per cent chrome, 10 per cent nickel and 72 per cent steel—is engineered to be utterly indestructible. It won’t even scratch. The handles are designed for comfort, the rims for easily pouring liquids and the base to heat quickly and evenly. It’s not that French cookware is bad or anything. It’s just why buy a Renault when you can own a Porsche? Seven-piece set for $800.

West Elm
109 Atlantic Ave, 416-537-0110
We’ve all seen those sub­titled European family dramas where the central action revolves around a weekend meal, eaten outdoors, in a perfectly disheveled garden, on—gasp!—beautiful china. For most of us, this is an impossibility. Toronto just has too many obstacles to al fresco fine dining: freak hailstorms, wasps, ill-behaved North American children. But that doesn’t mean summer barbecues should force us into using paper plates or infantile plastic. West Elm’s nautical-themed melamine plates are the perfect compromise. They’re durable enough for running kids, quirky enough to hold hot dogs and classy enough to satisfy your inner Martha Stewart. From $5 a plate.

Bergo Designs
28 Tankhouse Ln., 416-861-1821
It’s hard to pick just one favourite thing at Bergo. There’s so much to look at—pop in while killing time before a Soulpepper show and pretty soon you’ve missed curtain. The Blomus stainless steel watering can is an embodiment of everything the store does well. It’s clean-lined and elegant, as beautiful as it is functional. So nice, in fact, it’ll look good perched on your condo’s Noguchi coffee table next to the house plant it’s meant to water. $170.

Zig Zag
985 Queen St. E., 416-778-6495
Overly trendy chandeliers are problematic. A faux tractor wheel with faux candles seems novel—until you attend your neighbours’ dinner parties and discover they all have the exact same one. The best bet is to make sure your chandelier is unique. For that, Zig Zag in Leslieville is the place to go. The owner, Joe Graafmans, visits Europe twice a year to source vintage models by the likes of Hans-Agne Jakobsson and Jørn Utzon—the showroom is a who’s who of mid-century design. Particularly glam is a 1960s Sciolari chandelier, a series of acrylic and bronze blocks arranged around a hanging brass frame ($1,095). Each model is in excellent condition, ready to be hung above a teak Danish dining set (or, you know, something more obscure).

Avenue Road
415 Eastern Ave., 416-548-7788
A good side table can be hard to settle on. It’s often the last piece of the living room puzzle, and it needs to be elegant, but not scene-stealingly so. The Bell table does this trick, with a hand-blown emerald or mauve glass base and a glossy crystal top. Its two components are fused like a misshapen hourglass, a shiny, transfixing piece of mellow mutant furniture designed by Sebastian Herkner. It’s also practical: it’s mostly glass, so coasters aren’t required, and it’s sculptural in its own right, so it doesn’t need flowers or a bowl of hard candy to make it exciting. It’s sold at Avenue Road, which means procuring one requires a trip to that massive, architecturally stunning warehouse on Eastern Avenue, a sure treat for side table–loving design geeks. $3,257.

By Denise Balkissoon, Ariel Brewster, Andrew D’Cruz, Bronwen Jervis, Emily Landau, Signe Langford, Jason McBride, Mark Pupo, Peter Saltsman and Courtney Shea | Photographs (except patio chair) by Liam Mogan