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Why pianist Christina Quilico is sitting pretty in her favourite room

When Ottawa-born concert pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico was just 14 years old, The New York Times praised her "Promethean talent."

Today – about five decades later – she continues to perform around the world, often rehearsing on her Steinway in the three-storey Toronto Victorian that has been her home for the past six years. Besides being a musician – next month she performs in Ontario and Newfoundland while on tour with Toronto Dance Theatre – the widow of the late Canadian opera star Louis Quilico is also an accomplished visual artist who decorated her main-floor sitting room herself, using a spare design and subdued colour palette to allow the original architectural details of her favourite room to sing.

"It feels light and airy," she says.

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The paintings

"These extremely large paintings are garage-sale finds. I'm a painter myself, having recently created some 50 paintings, all inspired by the music of Toronto composer Constantine Caravassilis, with whom I collaborated on a new CD coming out in January. But I tend to keep my own colourful pieces on the third floor. These are suitable for this room. I like their quiet colours and the vertical thrust of their imagery."

The love seat

"Originally the house had been decorated with all my Victorian antiques, paintings and light fixtures. My children felt it looked too much like a museum and felt uncomfortable. Last year, I sold most of my antiques and kept only a few things. I removed curtains, carpets and knick-knacks and went for a minimalist Swedish Gustavian look. This is from a set of three Victorian love seats I had. I painted this one white, much to the horror of some friends. It is covered in its original green velvet."

The tray

"This is from Teatro Verde, one of my favourite stores in Yorkville."

The coffee table

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"This replaced a very expensive and elaborate Victorian one I used to keep in this room. This coffee table was a street find by my daughter, who liked its mid-century modern shape. I painted it white. It stays until I find the perfect one."

The globe lights

"I found both of these at IKEA and they are really fun items. Every time I look at the one on the floor, I remember the difficulty I had in trying to put it together. One of my daughters eventually had to do it for me."

The floors

"The flooring is original pine, complete with a lot of knots. I love its less-than-perfect look."

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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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