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The Globe and Mail

Why this is bar owner Toufik Sarwa’s favourite room

Jennifer Roberts/The Globe and Mail

As the owner of Toronto's Amber, the Yorkville bar where the fashionable have been partying for the past 15 years, Toufik Sarwa had always wanted to walk home from work. Seven years ago, the Syrian-born entrepreneur got his wish when he purchased a 1930s semi in the nearby Summerhill district. Since the home needed a little disco dust to make it inhabitable, he oversaw the renovations himself, working closely with a friend, interior designer Montana Burnett, to co-ordinate the furnishings. The living room, which opens up to a rear garden, is Sarwa's favourite space, precisely because it is light years away from the artifice of the night-life world. "It's an amazing place to be, especially at this time of year, because of all the colours and textures in the backyard," he says. "It's where I relax. When I'm not in my bed, I'm on that couch."

The couch

"It's based on a Minotti design I really liked but couldn't afford. I found a carpenter to make it for me."

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The mirrors

"I love these mirrors. They are from West Elm. I like that they have a beachy look. It was either hang art on that wall or those mirrors. The mirrors won out."

The lamp

"That's from Amber. Originally, there were two of them. The lamps used to sit on the bar. One day I came in and one was broken. I had to take the other one away and it sat in my basement for years until Montana said to put it in the living room. She said it would add a touch of Amber to my home. She was right."

The side tables

"These inlay mother-of-pearl tables match a mirror in the hallway. I had seen a mirror in Toronto with the exact same frame but it cost $10,000! I knew I could get the same thing in Syria for a fraction of the price. When I found the mirror in Syria, I also saw the tables and then wanted the whole set. My parents brought them to Toronto for me, travelling with them on the plane because they didn't trust they'd survive overseas delivery. I am not one for having a heavy Middle Eastern influence in my home. I prefer minimalist design. But these fit in while reminding me of my original home."

The ottoman

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"I also found this at West Elm. Montana and I wanted to play with textures and patterns so we put the ottoman on top of the zebra rug and next to the Syrian tables."

The rocking chair

"This is an original Eames plastic rocker. I found it years ago on Queen Street West in Toronto at a store called Insider. I got a great deal on it. I had fallen in love with the design in the 1990s when the Delano hotel first opened in Miami. They had these rockers in their lobby and I used to wonder if I could get away with walking out with one. They used to be hard to find. Only recently have they become more widely reproduced. When I found [a real] one in Toronto, I couldn't believe it. I bought it on the spot."

The vases

"These are from Decorium on Yonge Street in Toronto. I needed something to fill the gaps around the fireplace and then one day there they were: two vases of the perfect size."

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