Art Deco Apartment

Two projects, ten years apart, for the same client who had a knack for collecting French Art Deco objects, paintings and furniture, were presented in this Project Porfolio to show how important it was to furnish a house or apartment in a consistent style as the architecture and how to build to suit the furniture and interior decoration. The first project was a house (see Forest Hill House).  The second project was a condo apartment in the Four Seasons Private Residences in Yorkville, Toronto.  The condo building was a showcase for high-end interior architecture where designers and architects would give anything to get a commission.  Our client’s collection of French Art Deco paintings and furniture was to be transferred to this apartment which was to be designed as a small art gallery for comfortable day-to-day living.  The space was to have that fin-de-siècle atmosphere that befitted the magnificent collection of Lalique glass and Ruhlmann furniture.

We have known the client since 1999.  When she decided to move into a condo from the house, she called us. We immediately started to work on taking a complete inventory of the paintings, furniture, art objects and accessories that they had and wanted to move to the apartment.  Dimensions were measured.  Photos and notes were taken.  And then everything went into storage and would not be seen again until move-in day.


On September 11, 2001, 9am, we were putting the finishing touch on the Art Deco staircase in a house we were building for the client. Two weeks later she moved in the house.
Eleven and a half years later, on March 4, 2013, at 5pm, we gave the same client the keys, the access cards and the garage-entrance remote control to the apartment we had just finished for her in the brand new Four Seasons in Yorkville, Toronto. The apartment had a panoramic view of the city with the major side facing east.

The Program

The client’s requirements were quite straight forward: this was to be her last move and I must fit all her furniture, accessories and paintings into the apartment. She was moving from a 460m2 house to a 220m2 apartment.

The client’s collection of 1920s’ Art Deco furniture from Buenos Aires was breathtaking. Her taste in art was also exquisite.

Our budget could not exceed 5% of the market value of the apartment. And we had six weeks to complete the project.

At the time of the signing of the design contract, the apartment was not yet drywalled. The partitioning and layout of the apartment were pre-configured.   No change could be made to the walls or ceilings.

The idea of the finished apartment being a perfectly fitted showcase for the collection of furniture etc. prompted us to consider each and every vertical surface (glass curtain wall included) in the apartment as a possible backdrop for the display pieces.

THE SITE : The View was one of the finest in Toronto, taking in the entire Rosedale Valley and the top-end residential neighbourhood of Rosedale, was totally unobstructed and especially compelling early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Motorized sun-shading were to be installed.

The Given – The apartment came with white painted walls, hardwood flooring & limestone flooring that were neutral in tone and pattern, adequate recessed lighting and switches, all electrical, mechanical and plumbing work completed, fully finished kitchen, a working fireplace, an unfinished powder room and two fully finished bathrooms.

Framing of the Views

Framed Views to be identified and determined –

    1. From room to room through openings
    2. From room to outside with the city as the backdrop
    3. Paintings to be framed by paneled walls
    4. Furniture item or group to be framed by backdrop or columns
    5. Objects to be framed by other items


Exposed Structural Columns – three columns were to be dealt with : one in the dining area and two in the living room.


The fireplace Mantel that came with the apartment was to be removed and a new full-height white marble mantel would be built. The ‘zero-clearance’ metal fireplace would remain intact. We would provide access door to the motorized vent for the fireplace chimney and incorporate the Art Deco bronze fire screen into the mantel design.

Custom Furniture

Upholstered Goods – we were to choose new fabric for the upholstered furniture on hand to be re-upholstered and custom make two eight foot sofas for the living room.   New sofas would be comfortable to sit in and to get up from, would have good lumbar support and the right seat height for the feet were to touch the floor when in the sitting position.


Wall Treatment – wall elements comprised interior partitions, structural columns, glass curtain walls & sliding door panels. We were to design a system that would tie together the disparate and various components together, visually and functionally.

The Art Of Collecting

There is something to be learnt from our client’s admirable system of collecting worthwhile objects. It is also about not collecting and hoarding stuff without value.  Please read about our collection of 1980s art objects.

Related Section : Condo Remodeling

Related Section : Design and Build