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Why this is filmmaker Barry Avrich’s – and his daughter’s – favourite room

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

Soon after purchasing a century-old house in midtown Toronto 16 years ago, the filmmaker Barry Avrich, intent on watching movies at home, gutted the building down to the studs in order to replace the antiquated knob-and-tube electrical wiring with a system more befitting the 21st century. The resulting renovation produced a great room with a big-screen TV where the 51-year-old documentarian, best known for his screen profiles of media moguls including Lew Wasserman and Garth Drabinsky, recently previewed Red Alert, a nine-minute short making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7. Exploring the notion that redheads are a dying breed, the film was initiated by Avrich's ginger-haired 10-year-old daughter, Sloan, for whom the great room was designed by Toronto interior designer Colette Volk in collaboration with Sloan's mother, Melissa Manly. "It really is her favourite space," the Montreal-born director, whose next film project, to be made with legendary music producer Quincy Jones, will be about singer Marvin Gaye. "It's cool, it's comfortable, it's got surround sound. She thinks of it as her own movie theatre." Avrich breaks it down.

The posters

"These are Broadway three-sheets by the famous Broadway illustrator James McMullan and are all signed by him. McMullan was the official illustrator for Lincoln Center and these represent my favourite shows: Anything Goes, The Front Page and Paddy Chayefsky's The Tenth Man. My daughter also now loves Broadway and, if it were up to her, the posters would all say Wicked."

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The pink plush toy

"She's called Hippo, and my daughter does not go anywhere without her. They are fairly inseparable. When she was back from camp, it was a hello and a hug for the parents, then straight up the stairs to see Hippo. She's her favourite cozy movie companion, and I have to struggle for couch space."

The colour scheme

"Colette's vision for the room was something rich and warm and normally you don't think 50 shades of grey in order to achieve that. But we trusted her and as she started adding grey pieces, from the carpet to the flannel chairs, the room began to look warm, rich and contemporary."

The Lucite side tables

"I found them in a vintage store in L.A. and I use them to display Alexandra Von Furstenberg candy dishes, also made of Lucite."

The curtains

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"We wanted curtains that provided enough shade to watch films but also allowed us to take in the landscaping in the backyard. They were custom made using Pollack fabric from Primavera [in Toronto]."

The swivel chairs

"These are great because they're ideal for watching movies [on the big-screen TV, unshown, behind them] and then turning around to talk about them."

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this article, Colette Volk was incorrectly spelled. This version has been updated

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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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