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John Gerhardt's living room: traditional turned modern

John Gerhardt?s living room


After selling his Toronto house last year, Holt Renfrew creative director John Gerhardt downsized to a rented Rosedale apartment, moving there nine months ago with his partner, IBM management consultant Boris Masip, and only half of his belongings. "The rest of it went into storage while we shopped for a new home," Gerhardt says, adding that his experience in the place has proven "ephemeral but blissful thanks to some great moments."

Much of those transpired in the living room, his favourite for being  a traditional space that, with his judicious eye, he was able to transpose into something modern.

The carpet

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"This is by Bev Hisey, a Canadian textile designer living in Toronto. We are big fans of her work and thought the pattern had a Moroccan feel to it. Morocco is a very special place for us."

The mirror

"This is from L'Atelier in Toronto. As much as we love modern, we like to mix it with organic and rustic pieces or pieces with history such as this one. When we bought it, a friend asked if we were going to paint it. In a word: no. We paid dearly for every scratch, dent and imperfection."

The wooden sculpture

"This is actually a carved tree from Africa and was designed to be used as a ladder. Suffice to say it's a sculpture for us."

The coffee table

"We bought it at Roche Bobois after falling in love with the grain and also the shape - we call it the boomerang table. The contents on top are ever changing and are mostly treasures collected from our travels. The painted piece of wood is a marriage contract, written in Arabic, that we picked up in Marrakesh. Our trips to Iceland and Mexico are also represented on the table right now."

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The couch

"The sofa is from Montauk. We joke that it took us longer to find a sofa then it did to find a house, but that's not much of a stretch. It's a down sofa, covered in velvet, and has a bit of an Art Nouveau design to it."

The black and white chairs

"Both of these chairs were bought at Quasi Modo Modern Furniture in Toronto. The black wire one is a classic Harry Bertoia and the armchair is called a Papa Bear chair; it's by Hans Jorgen Wegner, the Danish furniture designer. We drove our friends crazy when we first got it. 'Sit in the chair, sit in the chair,' we were always saying. It is impossibly comfortable."

The artwork

"This a picture of model Kirsten Owen as shot by fashion photographer Chris Nicholls. We loved the subjectivity of the image. Everyone has a different interpretation of why her mouth is so agape. From what I understand she was only yawning."

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The light fixture

"This is from Flos lighting and was my first big purchase years ago. It reminded me of a kite. It is quite nimble in that it can be turned any which way. It looks as good on the ceiling as it does on the wall."

The mantelpiece art

"This is something I had to have. I bought it at a clothing store in New York. It's a foldout book, made of paper, that tells the story of Tom Thumb in illustration. There is a key for the symbols and no text, so you are to read it just by the illustrated shapes. I bought it years ago and am still in awe of the concept and the artistry involved in making it."

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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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