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How an interior designer uses antiques to liven up his den

Mazen el-Abdallah's den

fred lum The Globe and Mail

For the past four years, Toronto interior designer Mazen el-Abdallah has lived in a downtown Victorian row house that he renovated himself.

"I was just starting up my design business, Mazen Studio, and wanted to create a real live-work space where I could work but also relax," the 33-year-old Ottawa native says.

He revitalized the space by opening up a second bedroom to the hallway to create a second-floor den furnished with vintage pieces and modern photography. It's easily his favourite room: "It's like a private cocoon in the middle of the house. I spend a lot of time here decompressing, reading, going through magazines and browsing auction sites for more furniture."

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The side board

"I spotted this rosewood credenza through the window at Zig Zag [on Toronto's Queen Street East]one night and rushed over the next morning to buy it. I had been looking for one for months, and this had spectacular lines to it."

The antique mirror

"I found it after brunch one morning and thought its proportions worked perfectly over the credenza. The dark blue with gold leaf complements the blue-black doors and brass accents in the house. I placed it across from the windows to increase the natural light."

The prints

"I bought these at [OCAD University's]graduation show several years ago. They're by a fantastic artist, Tek Yang."

The photographs

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"These photos, by artist Tricia McKellar, are of an abandoned water-treatment plant in Raleigh, N.C. I love the intensity of colour and texture. They're a great reminder of the effects of time on buildings."

The day bed

"This day bed was a housewarming gift from my friend Suzanne Dimma [editor-in-chief of House & Home magazine] I love the colour and pattern it brings into the room."

The leather sofa

"I spotted this antique leather sofa at Cynthia Findlay Antiques [in Toronto] The scale of it was perfect for the small room. I love the texture of aged leather and the sense of history it brings to a house."

The coffee table

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"This is a 1960s Karl Springer black lacquered Linen Coffee Table. It's four feet square and can hold all the books and magazines I go through."

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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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