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Why this is Bonnie Brownlee’s favourite room

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Brownlee

Bonnie Brownlee and her husband, Bill Fox, have lived in their Queen Street West condo in Toronto for the past 10 years. When it came to decorating the 3,300-square-foot space, Brownlee had little trouble: The former executive assistant to Brian Mulroney filled it with mementos from her time spent in the PMO and at Buckingham Palace, where she worked in communications following her nine years in Ottawa. Today, Brownlee is the executive director of marketing, communications and brand for CBC's English services division. Her office is just a short stroll from her home, where she likes entertaining her extensive network of friends and colleagues. "I don't cook, so we never gather in the kitchen," Brownlee says. "The living room is the hub of the home."

The cow

"This was actually a wedding present from Brian and Mila Mulroney. I grew up on a dairy farm. I don't collect cows, but this was kind of a joke on a joke. She's a beauty – we love her."

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The light fixture

"We bought it from a designer in Old Montreal, where we used to have a loft. Old Montreal [offers] nothing but the best of memories and this light takes me back."

The chairs

"These two wing chairs were basically the first pieces of furniture Bill and I bought. We got them in Ottawa in 1985 and they've since been recovered three or four times. They represent endurance and home for me. If those chairs are with me, then I know I am home."

The painting

"This is by the late Molly Bobak. It's just a pot of flowers, but I knew her and I loved her. I went to her studio in the Maritimes. She was pretty special."

The homemade artwork

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"The colourful long painting is a finger painting [done] by our grandchildren for my husband's 60th birthday. They surprised him with it."

The coffee table

"It is big on purpose because I like to put all kinds of things on tables – books and things with meaning to me. My British friends refer to them as my bits. Among them are tiny pieces of Limoges, which I love."

The carpet

"I've always tended to go for more traditional Persian rugs, but this is a zebra one and it changes the space completely. It mixes [the look] up and makes it feel more modern."

The glass ornament

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"I use this glass ornament as an ice bucket and for flowers. It's from Sarah [Ferguson, Duchess of York]. She bought it for my birthday many years ago at an antique show in the English countryside near her home, Royal Lodge."

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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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