Not long after he moved into his 650-square-foot condo eight years ago, Toronto interior designer William MacDonald began a renovation that saw him rip out the kitchen and rebuild it from scratch. The living room, on the other hand, was picture perfect. Overlooking Clarence Square, a tranquil, Henry Jamesian pocket of Victorian row houses shaded by century-old trees, the room neatly accommodated his prized possessions, including antiques he has owned since childhood. "The view is so calming," says MacDonald, whose Toronto-based business, WillMac Design, has completed projects from Ontario cottage country to South Carolina. "It's like being in the country," he adds of the space. "I hear birds or, sometimes, I hear nothing at all."
The Cane-back chairs
"These are reproductions from Elte in Toronto. There's a rustic feel about them, which I love. I like the cabriole leg and the open back, which is caned. It makes me think of French country."
"This is from Shiraz, in Persia. It's an antique from around 1800. I got it in New York and it's been with me a while."
"I love TVs. I always have one in my living room and it's always tuned into the fireplace channel."
"This is an original print by Eric Edson. It's the first piece of art I ever bought – I got it when I was still a student at Queen's University in Kingston. The cardinal red colour is very dramatic and contemporary. I gave it a traditional frame for contrast."
"A friend gave this to me for my most recent birthday. It came from a shop called Empire the Collection in Leslieville. I love flags and I love the Union Jack in particular. That's about as folk-arty as I get."
"It's from Pottery Barn and has a clear urn base with a brown silk shade, which is a bit unusual. The lamp is very versatile. It was in my bedroom and now it's here and it will probably go somewhere else one day."
"This is my childhood desk. It is English, made of mahogany and dates to 1805. My grandfather gave it to me. It has great sentimental value, but it's also very practical. The drawer pulls out and has a lid covering it, doubling its surface area."