Edison bulbs Eclectic Revival 3075 Dundas St. W., 416-766-5500
When LEDs and compact fluorescents became the norm, decor radicals opted for replica Edison bulbs—the low-tech lighting equivalent of a turntable. The bulb’s distinct amber glow is produced by fragile carbon filaments; it’s a warmer, softer light than the tungsten coil on an incandescent emits. They’re becoming easier to find—Restoration Hardware carries them now—but the city’s cheapest source remains the vintage lighting store Eclectic Revival. $15 each.
Condo sofa Morba 665–667 Queen St. W., 416-364-5144
Charles and Ray Eames, the Pop-era furniture icons, designed the Sofa Compact in 1954, but it seems like it was always destined for the tiny living room of a CityPlace tower. The couch is as slim and elegant as a runway model, and it floats airily on a pair of chrome legs. While the original is still produced by the premium manufacturer Herman Miller, modish furniture source Morba offers a made-in-China knock-off for less than half the price. $1,699.
Desk Queen West Antique Centre 1605 Queen St. W., 416-588-2212
In a typical week, the Queen West Antique Centre has a handful of bargain desks—futuristic Italian tables from a bankrupt start-up, or vintage partners’ desks in handsome oak. Occasionally, rummaging through the vast inventory will reveal something fantastic, like an authentic Herman Miller Airia desk with walnut millwork and a gleaming white top—a barely used leftover from a retail photo shoot, going for $1,200 less than they sell new. $995.
Coffee table Smash 2880 Dundas St. W., 416-762-3113
Glass tops and wenge slabs are so 2002. The vogueish coffee table in every shelter magazine now is a reclaimed industrial weighing cart—usually made of slats of lacquered hardwood atop two sets of iron wheels. Park it beside a low-slung felt sectional to nail the eclectic artist look. The Junction curiosities store Smash has stacks of these tables, some in need of a light dusting. $250.
Bathroom accessories Ginger’s 95 Ronald Ave., 416-787-1787
The faucets and fluffy towels at Ginger’s can be pricier than a mortgage payment. But at the rear, semi-hidden, are discount tables of last season’s onyx toothbrush holders, nickel-plated towel rods, vanity mirrors and other baubles that will instantly transform the lowliest WC into a boutique hotel spa.
Knobs and pulls Addison’s 41 Wabash Ave., 416-539-0612
When everyone has the same granite and Shaker cabinet kitchen, there’s nothing more important or more frustrating than the hunt for distinctive hardware. And depending on how many drawers you have, it can get expensive. Addison’s, the museum-like plumbing and decor artifact store, has boxes and boxes of reclaimed doorknobs, cabinet pulls and latches—in nickel, chrome, vintage glass, brass and the occasional bright red ’60s powder-coated steel—starting around $7 each. They’re a bargain, especially for a one-of-a-kind patina.
Room divider Industrial Storm 1106 Queen St. W., 416-955-9888
Industrial Storm elevates the humble room divider with exquisite materials (bubinga wood, gold leaf) and impeccable craftsmanship (mortise and tenon corner joints, as opposed to IKEA’s patented pegs and staples). All their pieces are made to measure, which makes them incredibly expensive—and they never have proper sales. But for those willing to forgo the truly custom experience, discontinued floor models can be significantly marked down. On a recent visit, a three-panel shoji-like screen, with handmade paper in a mahogany and redwood frame, was reduced from $3,200 to $2,560.
Home theatre Sound Designs 55 Mill St., The Cannery, Bldg. 58, ste. 101, 416-364-4800
Sound Designs carries some of the city’s most high-end AV equipment at decidedly high-end price tags (witness the $140,000 home theatre system on display). Carrying the best and most up-to-date inventory requires quick turnover, which means frequent markdowns. So while early adopters may be willing to pay full price, more patient electronics addicts can score generous discounts. A rimless, 46-inch Samsung 3-D TV, which first hit stores in 2010, was recently discounted from $3,200 to $1,800 (at the time, less than at chains like Best Buy or 2001 Audio Video).
Indestructible luggage Evex Luggage Centre 1911 Dundas St. E., 905-238-7900
Briggs and Riley suitcases have the seemingly immortal resilience of Joan Rivers, but thankfully none of the glitz—each piece is minimally embellished and impeccably designed. Evex Luggage Centre, in a dingy Mississauga strip mall, offers a wide selection of pieces at wholesale prices: a 20-inch four-wheel carry-on retails for $470 but here is $100 less.
Custom bookcase The Pine Store 248 King St. E., 647-435-0194
Doug and Jim Howie’s tiny, ramshackle store has the jumbled feel of a suburban yard sale. It’s easy to miss among the mammoth, lustrous furniture showrooms on King East, but it’s worth finding because the custom, Mennonite-made pieces are almost IKEA cheap. A three-by-eight-foot solid pine bookcase, built with Ontario-grown wood and finished in one of six handsome stains, is $350 and can be ready in four weeks.
Wooden toys Mastermind Warehouse Sale mastermindtoys.com
For toy-crazed tots, Mastermind’s annual warehouse sale, usually held the last week in May, is almost as exciting as Christmas morning. Parents and grandparents (and overzealous aunts, and birthday party guests—really, everybody) should also get excited about the discounts: the latest additions to a Playmobil or Thomas the Tank Engine collection can cost up to 70 per cent less than retail. Look for an announcement on the website.
Crystal chandelier Lighting Originals 109 Cartwright Ave., 416-781-7232
The stretch of Cartwright Avenue just east of Caledonia is lined with places hawking discount chandeliers, but those at Lighting Originals stand out for their superior quality: most of the crystal is sourced from Europe and is of the highest quality (30 per cent lead content). Regular prices aren’t low, but discount tags always hang on a certain percentage of the merchandise. One week, a five-foot-tall chandelier (the kind that might hang in a glam double-height foyer), was $9,995, down from $11,995.
Farm pendant Universal Lamp 121 Cartwright Ave., 416-787-8900
Describing a house as barn-like is no longer a euphemism for trashy—the urban country look is hotter than a shirtless Ryan Gosling (well, almost). Craftmade’s bronze pendant light wasn’t reclaimed from a century-old barn, but it’s just faux-tarnished enough to fool the most discriminating house guests, and it’s infinitely more in vogue than that halogen track lighting you’ve been meaning to replace. At $105, you can afford to buy a matching set.
Patio furniture InsideOut 1280 Castlefield Ave., 416-782-2700
During the winter months, when most Torontonians get cold just thinking about being outside, almost all of InsideOut’s Castlefield showroom goes majorly on sale. Keep an eye out for its selection of trendy resin wicker furniture (it looks like wood but it’s actually plastic). A clean-lined, three-piece sectional, with cream-coloured, mildew-resistant cushions on a black and brown wicker frame, costs $2,995, down from $3,699.
VOC-free paint The Zero Point 1590 Queen St. E., 416-602-6586
Leslieville’s The Zero Point specializes in environmentally friendly, VOC-free and ethically produced paints. They’re manufactured with renewable energy and come with sustainably harvested stir sticks. Of the different brands available, YOLO, which is clay-based and comes in a vast array of colours, is the most affordable, averaging $60 per gallon (similar brands can push $85).
Discontinued wallpaper Primetime Paint and Paper 299 Queen St. E., 416-703-9846
For anyone with big ideas and small rooms, discontinued wallpaper (maybe one with a bold, rococo-inspired flower pattern) is the most affordable option. Riverside’s Primetime carries odds-and-ends rolls (each one is 11 yards, which is typically enough to cover 45 square feet) from brands like Graham and Brown, York and Provincial for $30 (their regular merchandise averages $170 for the same coverage). Just don’t mess up the application—the catch is that the same pattern won’t be available again.
Fabric Robert Allen 170 Bedford rd., 2nd Flr., 416-934-1330
For one day each summer and fall, Robert Allen’s Designers Walk showroom, normally off-limits to anyone but discerning decorators and retailers, has a doors-open sample sale. Discontinued banners (three yards by 54 inches) are discounted from about $200 to $10 each; bolts of overstocked silks, linens and embroidery are $10 per yard. Unfortunately, sewing lessons aren’t included. The next is sometime in July.
By Andrew D’Cruz, Matthew Hague, Rachel Heinrichs, Emily Landau, David Lawrason, Jason McBride, Mark Pupo, Peter Saltsman and Courtney Shea. (Images: Light bulbs, sofa, knobs, toy by Liam Mogan; TV by Carlo Mendoza)