Name: A. J. Berne
Location: Village of Swansea — Toronto, Canada
Size: 645 square feet
Years lived in: Owned 5 years
What can be better than a view of Lake Ontario and the chance to take in a few moments each day, to gaze out at the water and watch the sailboats wander and tides change? For A.J. — not much. A.J. lives in a waterfront condominium in the city's West End. From her windows she can see the hospital where she was born, the park she played in as a girl and the skyline from above.
When planing to purchase a home, A.J.'s initial plan was to land a century home in one of Toronto's more central neighborhoods. However, she became sold on the luxury of a smaller space, as it allowed her a more care-free lifestyle within her already busy schedule.
A.J.'s passion for architecture and interior design is evident in her space. She has a strong sense of personal style and a great appreciation for history. A collector, especially of books, A.J. proudly showcases her acquisitions throughout her space. She has designed a space that works for her and is one that her guests always feel comfortable in, too.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Traditional (with a touch of whimsy…)
Inspiration: I am inspired by what Nancy Lancaster affectionately referred to as "English Country House" style. I love that these spaces are created, collected and curated over generations. I love how personal these spaces are. The sense of history and the stories these spaces preserve. The rich layers of pattern and colour — from the chintz to the Persian rugs, the blue and white ginger jars, the Chinoiserie elements and I especially love — the libraries!! Is there anything more divine than a room full of books?? I think not…
I have (what some have described) as a keen interest in architecture and interior decoration. I am inspired by the "old-school" decorators like Sister Parish, Dorothy Draper and John Fowler and by interior designers today that are fearless in their use of colour and pattern like the Madcap Cottage Gents — Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke and Scott Meacham Wood. Ben Pentreath is a constant inspiration. I also love the work of designers such as Tommy Smythe and Thomas Jayne for their appreciation of history, architecture and impeccable use of antiques.
Favorite Element: My tiny library is my favourite part of the space. I am an avid reader and a total bibliophile. I wanted this space to feel warm and enveloping (just like a good book) and I think that the use of the colour red really helps achieve this. I have great affinity for the colour red!! It all began with the fabric on my great aunt's wing back chair — I chose a red silk honey-comb pattern with gold bees. A touch of whimsy is always in order! Then the Kazak rug — I adore Kazak rugs for their brilliant use of colour. I am also slightly obsessed with all things Chinoiserie! The red Chinoiserie table is a favourite. I think that Diana Vreeland said it best when she said that "red is the great clarifier — bright and revealing. I can't imagine becoming bored with red..."
The views of the lake, downtown and the park ain't so bad either…
Get the look! → Traditional With a Touch of Whimsy
Biggest Challenge: Avoiding being profiled on an episode of "Hoarders!"
What Friends Say: That it doesn't feel like a condo…but I think that is what is referred to as a "backhanded compliment"…because it is indeed a condominium (although, I much prefer "apartment").
Biggest Embarrassment: Dirty windows…as I am unable to scale the side of my building and clean them myself…I would if I could.
Proudest DIY: The pillows on my cane back bergère chairs. Prompted by my love of textiles, I began taking sewing lessons just over a year ago. I fell in love with this golden yellow damask patterned fabric with these fabulous parrots and added jaunty red piping!!
Biggest Indulgence: The custom made 100% down-filled sofa from Barrymore Furniture Galleries.
Best Advice: Tiny spaces deserve to be grand!! Surround yourself with things you love and that make you happy and NEVER underestimate the power of a brilliant textile to do wonders for your disposition!! (…the same can also be said for a very good steak).
Dream Sources: Scalamandré, De Gournay, Pierre Frey, John Rosselli Antiques, Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen, M.S. Rau Antiques and Ida Manheim Antiques.