Inside An Antique Dealer’s Eclectic Victorian Home
A rarefied fantasia of modern and antique finds, beloved design shop L’Atelier occupies the ground floor of a storybook Victorian in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighborhood. Storeowner and designer Youssef Hasbani lives upstairs, and mixes wildly different styles in his home and shop in a way that somehow feels easy, and never fussy. “I have pieces that are not for the faint of heart,” says Youssef. Click through for a virtual tour of his showstopping space.
A persimmon-colored Danish chair brings a happy hit of color to the whitewashed space. “I don’t like a lot of Danish in one room,” says Youssef. “I like the chair and maybe one sideboard, but if you have too much of it, it starts looking like an office — too utilitarian.” The sculpture is by Carl Gromoll.
Youssef moved from Cairo to Montreal when he was 13 years old. The white metal spindles on the staircase are a valentine to the 1950s duplexes of Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood. “I always loved how the railings were angular and not just straight up and down,” he says. To add a natural element, Youssef wrapped the wooden handrail in hemp, a task that took three months.
A painting from Canadian artist Scott McEwan is an eye-catching addition above antique 18th- and 19th-century snuff boxes and shoes.
“A home has to be comfortable — it has to be a place where you can sit and have a conversation,” says Youssef. “It should also have a good sense of display.” The sculpture of Argentinian soccer player Gabriel Batistuta is by Brazilian artist Fernandez. Youssef cut down the legs of a vintage dining room table to create the coffee table.
“The sectional is vintage Paul Evans,” says Youssef. “I bought it in Florida about 15 years before Paul Evans was popular.” Sexy and low-slung, the charcoal sectional is striking against pale floors and gives the room a sense of expansiveness.
“I didn’t want the room to read as a kitchen,” says Youssef of the galley space. Open shelves display cookbooks, glassware, china and art, enhancing a sense of airiness. The shelves were made from a bamboo butcherblock counter he spotted and had cut to size at Lowe’s. Custom walnut brackets add contrast, while the warmth of the wood and bamboo bring a rustic element to the otherwise sleek kitchen.
“I love quartz and stone — anything natural,” says Youssef. Having jasmine at home reminds him of his childhood: “At our apartment in Cairo, my mom kept jasmine all the way along our balcony in big pots. I love the scent.”
Walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Snowfall White (2144-70) — a shade Youssef favors for its softness and freshness — allows other colors and textures to stand out. An Egyptian Revival marble mantel is a lively contrast to the rosewood and leather bookshelves.
A drawing from artist Jon Jarro (left) shares mantel space with a nude and a Jean Cocteau sketch that homeowner Youssef Hasbani discovered in Paris. “Drawings are my weakness,” he says. An unfinished Fabergé urn completes the vignette.
Youssef bought these African ceremonial masks from a collector in Charleston, South Carolina. Displaying them on the powder room’s white wall has graphic impact. “I like them all together,” he says. “They each have a different story.”
Upstairs, Youssef raised the ceilings three and a half feet to maximize space (the third floor was once a dark and uninviting attic). A sand-colored wool rug and an Hermès throw add cozy luxury. “I wanted a serene bedroom,” he says. A table lamp placed on the floor casts a soft glow, illuminating an unsigned oil painting.
“In Victorian homes, you always have a little window tucked under the peaked roof,” says Youssef. “It’s an area that nobody knows what to do with so I decided I would turn it into a shower.” Lined with white penny tiles, the shower feels like a secret, light-filled spa.
Youssef also decided that only the shower area would be tiled. “Keeping the wood floor throughout makes the room feel bigger.”