Five years ago, Avi Raphael's wife pursuaded him to move north of Toronto's St. Clair Avenue to a family-friendly neighbourhood for the sake of the kids. The side-split bungalow they purchased dated to the 1960s but was inhabitable when they first laid eyes on it. Raphael, however, values good looks – he is a partner in the fashion distribution firm Slavin Raphael, as well as co-owner of Tiger of Sweden's Canadian flagship, located on Ossington Avenue – so a renovation was in order. Originally, they had planned a small overhaul, concentrating mostly on the kitchen, but one day Raphael came home to find that his wife had taken the interior down to the studs. Raphael took it in stride and ended up contributing ideas for what he wanted to see in the house: a dining room big enough to hold the couple's extended families for Shabbat. "We're kind of traditional," says Raphael. "We eat together every Friday night and we needed a room that was big enough for us to get together in and catch up in as a family."
"It's from a company called Nuevo, located on Castlefield, and close to the Slavin Raphael office on Wingold Avenue. It's one of the pieces that we loved the minute we saw it. I could easily envision our family sitting around it. We were originally thinking reclaimed wood. But with three kids that's not really a good idea. A glass table you can wipe down quickly. The metallic base is what makes it stand out. I love the shine of it and the shape."
"Again, these are from Nuevo. They're white leather and easy to clean. My fear was that white and kids wouldn't mix but actually you can see what needs to be wiped down easily. The chairs are big and wide and comfortable and that's important because all the men in my family are huge. We range in size from six-foot-three to six-foot-nine. The metallic arms pick up the metal in the base of the table."
"I was walking down Queen Street West one day and walked into Commute Home, then my favourite furniture store, to look around. That's when I saw this sign and I just had to have it. The galvanized steel and pop of orange really caught my eye. I also loved that it said 'DRIVE IN,' and I thought that it would be a great addition to the dining room. But I will admit that I didn't think the wife would go for it. So what I did was I brought it home and I leaned it up against the wall from the floor and I let it sit there for three months until everyone got used to it. I then put it up on the wall and my wife couldn't be happier."
The light fixture
"This is also from Nuevo. It's abstract in nature and has a single Edison bulb, so the light it emits is not overwhelming. It's white on purpose so as not to compete with the other elements in the room. It compliments the DRIVE IN sign and ties the whole room together."
"This was a gorgeous gift from a friend who came to our home. I don't know who made it, but it is hand made, and of metal with gold leaf candle holders."
"These pine wood beams had been painted white by the previous owners. I guess in the 1980s that's what you did – you painted wood out and made believe it looked good. But we didn't think so. We kind of gasped when we saw them and I knew from the start that I'd be paying someone to scrape off that old paint, knowing that there would be some real wood lurking underneath. The effort was worth it. Just looking at those beams every day, which I think are so beautiful, brings me joy."
"This is a Geneva Sound System. I first discovered it at Ministry of the Interior, a home decor store that used to be on Ossington. They had one in their showroom and were always playing music on it. I had never seen a single-speaker system before. Then one day I walked into Bay Bloor Radio and there was a guy there with a remote in his hand playing the Beastie Boys at full blast. It was so loud but the sound was so beautiful and perfect, I just had to have it."