Will’s English Gentry in Cabbagetown

published Jun 15, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Will
Location: Cabbagetown, Toronto, Ontario
Size: 1,300 sq. feet
Years lived in: owned for three years

Six years ago, Will arrived in Canada from the U.K. with a few suitcases of clothing. Since then, Will has built up his ideal home with personal objects and furniture that combine elements of his homeland and adopted city. His self-described style: “landed gentry with a North American twist.”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Will’s home is part of a rowhouse built in 1889 for Irish immigrants. Situated in a dead-end, the rowhouse is surrounded by the homes and gardens of other houses. It’s quiet and green, though only minutes from the center of downtown Toronto.

Will tried out various paint colors and combinations before settling on his chosen palette. He added molding and baseboards to make the rooms more cozy and luxurious. The careful arrangement of photographs, prints, flower arrangements, and accessories make for a balanced and elegant home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Landed gentry with a North American twist. My home is very British in theme but has North American influences. I want it seem like I’ve escaped the country with all the family heirlooms and just landed here in the new world.

Inspiration: I grew up in Surrey, U.K. where there were a lot of stately homes that I enjoyed visiting. Items like the intaglio are a nod to that.

Favorite Element: The location because it the rowhouse is in a hidden dead-end and surrounded by other homes’ gardens. It’s very quiet, leafy, green and completely silent at night. I can sleep with the windows open but I’m a 10-minute walk from the center of the city (College and Yonge and College). The only thing that wakes me up in the morning is the sound of the birds.

Biggest Challenge: Storage – keeping things organized so it still functions smoothly. I have a little storeroom where the furnace is downstairs and I’m constantly purging items to keep on top of things. Lighting is another challenge. Areas of then house are still a little dark.

What Friends Say: Everyone is very kind. People are impressed. I’m at the age where my friends are buying their first places and they recognize how much work I’ve put in to mine to make it this way. I entertain a lot with BBQ parties.

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet on the stairs. It’s cream, totally unpractical and was put in by the previous owner. It shows every speck of dirt and needs to be steamed regularly. At some point in the future, I’ll switch it out for something jute or another woven natural fiber.

Proudest DIY: The woodwork in the guest bedroom. One day I accidentally flooded the basement and discovered old hardwood floor underneath. I pulled up the carpet, pulled up nails, then polished and stained the floors. I also designed the cabinets and finished them with sanding and staining. A carpenter did the initial building and cutting of the cabinetry.
Also the fireplace in the living room. I stripped down and repainted the mantel, taking off 8 layers of paint to bring back the detail, and then repainting it.
I also etched numbers the house number into the glass above front door with etching cream from Michael’s Craft Store, a simple but very satisfying job with an elegant result.

Biggest Indulgence: The chair in the living room (Mitchell Gold bought from the now defunct Caban). It was one of the first things I bought when I moved to Canada. I brought only clothes from the U.K. and needed to buy cutlery and lots of other essentials, everything else but instead bought the chair.

Best advice: Dark colors. People seem to shy away from them but it gives more elegance and richness to a space than light colors.

Dream source: ELTE A great high-end furnishings store in Toronto. A working fireplace (of any sort).

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)



    • All Benjamin Moore:
    • Hale Navy in the guest and master bedrooms.
    • Cromwell Gray in the main floor (like Farrow & Ball’s Pantalon ell, & Pantalone, which I had in my previous apartment).
    • Metropolis in the upstairs bathroom.
    • Carbon Copy in the dressing room on the ceiling and walls (a purple-based black).
    • Booth Bay Gray for the kitchen cabinets.
    • Rockport Gray in downstairs stairwell.
    • Coventry Gray in the downstairs bathroom.


    Green’s Antiques on Parliament and Winchester: corner cabinet in kitchen, guest bed frame and side tables, gentleman’s dresser in the master bedroom, wardrobe in the dressing room, lamps in living room, mantel piece in fireplace
    The Cabbagetown festival yardsale: side table in living room
    • IKEA: living room couch that is also queen size sofa bed and the bed in the master bedroom. I trimmed the bedhead myself.
    • Mitchell Gold side chair in living room from Caban
    • Value Village in Ottawa: coffee table, side table and mirror in living room from (each piece was $14!); dining room chairs ($10 each); old telephone table in the living room.
    • Dining room table ($100) from Almost Antiques on Queen St. East
    • Side table in entryway from The Bombay Company.
    • Side table in guest bathroom ($45) – I waited for 4-5 hours at an auction at Goodwill on Bloor St. and it was the last lot. I was determined to get it.


    • Glasses and china from Waddington’s Auction House in Brighton, Ontario; all estate sales from across Ontario. A lot of things are cleared out for free.
    • The Conran Shop (a friend is a buyer for the store and gets me great pieces): pinstripe duvet in master bedroom, art deco style cars and pewter bathroom accessories, Wedgewood teapot a sample (Dynasty pattern), dog pillow in the living room. (http://www.conran.com/)
    • Intaglio purchased through eBay from Simon Orrell Designs someone in the U.K. who took casts of originals. I framed them all myself.
    Ebay: silver cocktail shakers, flatware
    • Foo dogs in living room from Pearl River in New York City
    • Tray on coffee table and white Foo dogs, Coral in living room (I painted it red) from Winners
    • Frames and sculpture in the master bedroom from St. Lawrence Market
    • Champage buckets from Value Village
    • Candlesticks from Pottery Barn
    • Blue and white China lamp from Green’s Antiques
    • Vases from Caban (now defunct) or florists


    • a lot of lamps from Green’s Antiques
    • Sconces from antique stores in Ottawa.
    • The Whale Oil lamp, kitchen chandelier and outdoor light from Canadian Tire (about $10 each).
    • I installed the lighting, crown molding and most of the thicker baseboards from Home Depot to give some period detail to the house.



    • stairwell came as iS
    • the runner in entryway and living room rug from Home Hardware
    • rug in guest bedroom was a gift from a friend in London


    • Oil painting downstairs from the Great Glebe Garage Sale in Ottawa (annual sale)
    • Living room: 4 maps are about 100 years old from The Packhouse Antiques in Farnham, Surrey, U.K. and show places where I’ve lived. Big brown frame with two men – “a gay interest” piece – from Cornerstone at Dundas and Keeele St.; photos of Brighton show the street where I went to University and lived on both sides of the street; Etchings of Farnham Castle, which is near where I lived in the U.K.; The rest are from St. Lawrence’s Market including fish prints in landing and horse prints in the dressing room
    • Guest bathroom: car prints from a Car Photography book, I used Ikea frames; photograph on the wall by the mirror from an auction at the Snap Photography Festival Auction
    • Guest bedroom: New Yorker covers from my birthday, a gift from my cousin.
    • Master Bedroom: cartoon from a magazine “Service Evolution” from The Packhouse Antiques in Farnham, Surrey, U.K.
    • Mirror on the landing an old frame from a junk shop – I sprayed it gold, used brown oil crayon to age it, and then put mirror in it.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Thanks, Will!)

Images: Rachael Grad

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