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(Courtesy of Nicola Betts)
(Courtesy of Nicola Betts)

An old money apartment for a financial coach Add to ...

Financial coach and author David Lester moved this past summer into an apartment in a converted 1875 mansion in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood. He had just returned from California, where he had been on an extended book tour for I (Heart) Money, a kind of self-help guide to respecting your finances. He went to view the unit in the stately Victorian, he says, “purely for curiosity’s sake” – it was rumoured to be haunted. But after laying eyes on its living room, a former billiards room with original wood panelling, he felt compelled to stake roots. “The details on the walls and ceiling are incredible,” he says. “The original owner spared no expense” – an approach that isn’t taken lightly by a man who respects his money.

The carpet

“My old modern furniture, which went perfectly with a loft, wouldn’t have matched this 19th-century home. Among the new purchases were two Persian rugs made in the holy city of Mashhad. Mashhad carpets are known for their central medallion and floral design. This one here is intensely colourful.”

The leather couch

“Now that I’ve moved into a traditional looking space, I can fill it with great pieces I have no desire of ever getting rid of, like this couch, which looks like something you might find in an old gentlemen’s club. It’s made of soft black leather with tufting. It can seat 50 for a party, but it is also good for one person reading a book or staring up at the ornate ceiling: It swallows you up.”

The art

“My friend just opened the Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto, which is where I got these works, my first real art purchases. They are by Douglas Coupland. I love the juxtaposition of video-game space invaders and Andy Warhol’s Stockholm Big Electric Chair series.”

The wood panelling

“It’s all original maple, dating to when the house was first built. Almost every day, l find another detail along the fireplace, the windows and the doors. The finials in the ceiling boggle the mind: Each one was made by hand. When people walk in, they look up, almost on cue, and then fall silent. I enjoy it each time.”

The stained glass

“It creates prisms that swirl about the room each day around 4 in the afternoon in the setting sun and again at night in the moonlight. It’s a great way to wind down a day: prisms and a glass of wine.”

The plant

“The plant in the corner is a money tree – surprise, surprise. I got the largest one I could find to compete with the height of the room. It is an incredibly robust plant, which is good because I tend to murder them, a skill I inherited from my mother.”

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