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Inspiration points

The September CEO and founder Christine Carlton is photographed in her Toronto living room on July 28, 2017.

Globetrotting fashion executive Christine Carlton infuses her living room with a worldly spirit

A two-decade long career in fashion has taught Christine Carlton to stay true to her style. "I'm not a huge trend follower," says the founder and CEO of The September, an online shoe destination. "I like what I like, and I like being comfortable in my house." Carlton's Georgian home in Toronto's Leaside neighbourhood is a testament to her love of classic design. "I would say that I'm practical but stylish," she explains. "Nothing is too precious. It's also how I approach shoe buying. We don't stock 120 millimetre heels." If her living room were a shoe, it would be a slender but comfortable low-heeled pump, a feminine classic that's as versatile as it is chic.

When Carlton and her husband purchased the home a decade ago, they found its original living room a tad too small for a family of four that likes to entertain. So they built an addition and turned the old living room into the dining space. "I love the french doors here," says Carlton. "So many people said, 'Don't put your fireplace here, it's going to block the view of your garden.' Our house is Georgian, so I like everything to be very symmetrical. It just suited the space."

This year, she gave the room a makeover with help from interior designer Mia Parres. The two pulled inspiration from Carlton's years spent as a fashion buyer traveling between fashion capitals. "Between restaurants, hotels and designer showrooms, that's so much where my inspiration comes from," she explains. The idea for the custom-made two-tone drapes, for example, came from the Savoy Hotel in Florence, but she incorporated metallic linen inspired by the Kate Spade showroom in New York. And she made sure her favourite fashion textile-inclined brands were well-represented. "The pillows are Missoni and Etro. You just get enveloped in the brands that you work with."

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Despite being engulfed in high fashion, Carlton doesn't shy away from a good Ikea find, such as the slipcovered sofa. "I'm a big believer in high/low. I can wash it, which is a plus with two children and a dog," says the fashion executive. "It looks sophisticated and comfortable." The wrought iron coffee table, a gift from her mom, and the classic rattan chairs from Pier 1 Imports all add a French countryside touch to the space. Artist Lucie Leduc earned a spot above the fireplace with a joyful oil on canvas rendition of pink blooms. "She's a Canadian artist. Because I'm a founder of a Canadian company, I like to support fellow Canadians." The painting personifies Carlton's love of flowers, and she always makes sure to have fresh ones scattered around the house. "I like colour and light," says Carlton. "I want everything to be very warm and inviting."

Cushy seating aside, the most utilized piece seems to be the Beni Ourain rug from Morocco, a piece Parres chose for the space. "It took a bit of convincing, but as soon as we got it, everyone started lounging on it." The family's golden retriever Mohawk has taken a special interest in it. "Can't blame him," says Carlton. "It's really soft."

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