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Why Solange Strom loves her chic living room

Solange Strom's living room

Max Tanathornkosithgira

Parisian businesswoman Solange Strom moved to Toronto 20 years ago to marry a Canadian, Jon Strom. Since then, the dynamic entrepreneur, who introduced the French luxury brand L'Occitane to Canada, has had two sons, now teenagers, and has lived in two houses on the same Lawrence Park street. Strom, who is on the board of Toronto's Alliance Française, bought her current home with her husband directly from the builder three years ago. It didn't require renovations, but her furniture, done in the traditional Provençal style, did. Strom hired another transplanted Frenchwoman, Nathalie Thorel of Interior Affairs, to revitalize her old furniture and mix in new pieces to give her living room, her favourite room in the house, its feeling of chic. "I love this room because it holds a lot of memories," she says. "It has a little bit of everything I've accumulated during my 20 years in Canada."

The chairs

"These are bergères originally from the South of France, in Provence. They are a family heirloom and I've dragged them with me to every house I've owned. In my old house, they were covered in white linen and no one ever sat in them. But I saw a picture in a French magazine of bergères covered in lavender suede and knew that's what I wanted to make the chairs look more modern. I showed the picture to Nathalie and she helped me find the Alcantara ultrasuede fabric with which they have since been reupholstered. The lavender colour inspired the rest of the room and the whole house, in fact. Oh, and now that they've been updated, everyone sits in them."

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The rooster

"This is by Nova Scotia artist George Halverson. I bought it during my summer holidays at my parents' Nova Scotia cottage in 1990. I love the colours."

The painting

"This painting is by British Columbia artist Leah MacFarlane, a friend of mine. It is the second painting I have bought from her. I think she's marvellous."

The coffee table

"This was Nathalie's suggestion and at first I resisted it. I thought it was too modern. But now I love it and my boys say they want the whole house to be in this style. But I tell him it will have to be the next house. It is by Ligne Roset and I bought it at Kiosk in Toronto."

The carpet:

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"This is a custom-made rug by Modern Weave. I had to have it made to match all the living room colours."

The sofa

"This is by Flexform, called the Status. It came with two large matching pillows, which I had recovered in an aubergine fabric because I love that colour. So, apparently, does my puppy, Maxie, who is usually lounging on the sofa, nestled against the pillows, pampered like a princess."

The four watercolours

"These small watercolours I stole from my brother and framed. They deserved to be stolen from him. He thought they were terrible and was probably going to throw them away. He never knew I had them framed and that I have them in my living room." – DEIRDRE KELLY

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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