11 weird and wonderful interiors from 50 years of Toronto Life’s decor coverage
To celebrate Toronto Life’s 50th anniversary, we’re revisiting the best stories, photos and issues from the magazine’s past. Here, a look at some of the most peculiar decor trends from yesteryear
If you think Don Mills is lower suburbia, you should see the Perrins’ Japanese garden
The home of Cec and Teruko Perrin was one of the earliest versions of the recurring Toronto Life feature “Great Spaces.” Teruko, who moved from Japan to marry Cec, designed a lavish suburban home away from home, featuring “rugs from Peking” and a Japanese tea room.
My Journey into the Land of the Flat People
Flat people, the writer suggests, are not like regular Torontonians—they are freakishly devoted to decorating their apartments and turning them into singular, unique spaces. Take, for instance, this couple, who opted for a creepy dollhouse vibe (complete with a creepy doll).
Your office: how it tells who’s really in charge
Writer Michael Korba surveys the offices of Toronto’s most powerful men (and one woman). His verdict on Mayor David Crombie? “Rigid, anal, and neurotic.” Of Mel Lastman, whose desk had a gap that revealed his feet, Korba wrote: “It takes a powerful, self-confident man to expose his knees and socks to visitors.”
Wine cellars from the ground up
Our 1975 Restaurant and Gourmet Guide included detailed advice on how to construct and maintain a wine cellar. It prominently featured a 33-year-old Clayton Ruby, posing in his own refrigerated wine cellar next to a 2,000-bottle collection. Even then, Ruby was a bit litigious: he tells a story about how he made legal threats against the LCBO until they relented and granted him permits to import cheap wine from New York City.
Going with the glow: an illuminating look at the leading lights
We meet an interior decorator who professes to take a “dramatic” approach to lighting. In his home, he uses theatre spotlights, fitted with pink and amber filters.
Where the smart money lives
In 1982, we found out how much eight prominent Torontonians paid for their houses. Then-mayor Art Eggleton bought his house at 74 South Kingsway, in 1976 for $46,965. Paul Godfrey, meanwhile, lived large as ever in a two-garage home at 25 Leacock Crescent worth $260,000.
Spring 1982 Decor Guide / April 1982
Reflective moods: here’s lookin’ at you, kid
Writer Wendy Dennis offered readers mirror-related decorating tips both practical (Windex!) and narcissistic (“Avoid mirror in a dining room”). The feature includes photos from homeowners who adopted the reflective decor trend du jour: the owners of a Cabbagetown apartment, for instance, describe washing up in their travertine marble bath, surrounded by an 180-degree wall of mirrors.
May 1988 / Spring 1988 Homes
Garrett Sweet Garrett: Portraits of artists in their homes
This photo essay documented some of the more outlandish residences of Toronto-dwelling artists. One “archivist of post-industrial detritus and pop fallout” said her decorating strategy was upholster everything using junk, while a filmmaker living on Queen St. East took Canadiana to its bizarro extreme with multiple taxidermied Canada geese.
Once around the block: Shedding some light on the glass brick
Our homes guide noted the “decorative assault” made by these oversized ice cubes. The glass blocks were popular in constructions such as the Toronto Police headquarters on College Street, where they were used for their ability to let in light but keep prying eyes out. They also happened to be bulletproof.
Lust for Lofts
It was the turn of the millennium, and seemingly every unused mid-rise building downtown was being converted into loft space. At the time we seemed to find this trend puzzling: Who would want to live in such a vast, spartan space? Mostly phonies and poseurs, concludes the writer, though she grants that a good loft is a ticket to instant bohemian chic.