Jamie Alexander likes walking to work, so five years ago he purchased a 560-square-foot loft located near the Peloso Alexander interior-design business and retail store he co-owns and operates in Toronto's King Street East furniture district. A former concierge for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts who grew up in Moncton, NB, Alexander oversaw the four-month-long renovation that transformed his small corner of a former munitions factory into a well-dressed home to share with his hairdresser-husband, Joshua Breau, and their dog. The reno involved tearing down walls, which revealed a fireplace that now features prominently in the living room, Alexander's favourite room, where he likes to entertain. "We've had parties of up to 40 people here," he says of the fluid space that "people like to congregate in. Believe it or not, we have the room."
"I designed it and my husband hates it. It's a fairly firm sectional and I made it that way on purpose. I am not fond of plush seating. I don't want to sink when I sit. So this is more like hotel lobby seating and less like den seating. It's got cool metal legs and an overall low back with taller back cushions so it keeps a straight line. It makes the room look very open."
"Each August I celebrate my birthday with clients and friends, and each time everyone asks me what they can bring. One year I said the biggest gift they could give me was time, and this prompted many of them to give me clocks as presents. These are among the 30 or so I have in the apartment. They all work, but twice a year, when the clocks change forward or backward, I choose just one to reflect the right time. When people come over they never really know what time it is. I tell them that no one needs to be in a rush."
"That was a year in the decision-making. I'm a designer. I see a lot of wallpaper. If you look inside our company library, you will see we have about 300 wallpaper books, so choosing one presents a difficult design dilemma. I am always thinking a better one will be coming out. But then we were preparing for Christmas and my husband just said to me, 'Choose one.' So I had to make a decision. I chose this because of the greys and blacks, which [tie into] the room."
"There are two in the room, flanking the fireplace. Part of my personal design philosophy is that one wall in a room should have perfect symmetry to make a room feel larger. The matching mirrors accomplish this. These aren't mirrors for fixing your hair. They are mirrors you use for reflecting light."
"This is my pride and joy. It's by the Quebec artist Gisèle Boulianne. I found it in a gallery in the old part of Quebec City, my favourite place in all of Canada. When I saw it I knew I had to have it. It depicts a car going down a major street in a city. The city is not identified. It could be anywhere. I also like the scale of it. It's around 48 inches square. I've had it for some time but never had the perfect place to hang it. When I painted the fireplace black I knew I had the right background for it."
"I designed it and had it made at the Rug Company. They'll take any pattern you give them and carve it right into the weave. I knew I didn't want a lot of colour or pattern, so I chose an art deco theme with a circle on a circle on a circle. It creates texture."
"Josh selected these. I came home one day and there they were. He went to the purchasing department of the store I co-own and ordered them. He wanted something bold. And these two egg chairs in red wool are just that. People pull straws to see who'll sit in them, they're that cozy."
"It's my favourite thing in the room. Because I design furniture for a living, I like things that look architectural. We found this hidden behind crumbling plaster and then had it retrofitted to burn using an ecoflame made of ethanol. I could never design this, which is why I love it."