Inside A Museum Director’s Artful Living-Dining Room
Kelvin Browne, the director of the Gardiner Museum, tell us why this is his favorite room.
“Because most everything I own has a story associated with it, our living-dining room is like a novel. The plot unfolds with an assortment of furniture and art purchased with my husband, lawyer Michael Allen, for homes we’ve had over 28 years. The move four years ago from a larger apartment to here anticipates, as we meander toward retirement, increased time at our place in Cape Cod and somewhere warm in the winters.
It’s a one-bedroom apartment, less than 600 square feet, and the only place I’ve lived where I needed to measure everything and use a floor plan to make stuff fit. Nothing was bought specifically for it — it’s all recycled. It’s fascinating how pieces change in a new scale context. However, a worry about it being claustrophobic has morphed to acceptance of its coziness, and so we entertain — four guests at time.”
“The vintage waterfall coffee table designed by Angelo Cortesi for Fiam Italia can barely contain all the “smalls” we’ve purchased over the years, especially from the Gardiner Museum Shop. There was scarcely room in the apartment for the 17th-century shutter from a Mogul palace (left) bought in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, that we had mounted on a plinth.”
“Here is a closer look at the hand-forged garden cultivator, which delivers pleasantly creepy horror movie quality.”
“I like using large-scale or boldly colored objects in smaller spaces for dramatic impact; the charcoal drawing and antique rug balance the powerful, panoramic view of Toronto.”
“The 18th-century fauteuil, upholstered in distressed silk velvet, was one of the first purchases Michael and I made together and is next to one of a pair of Sonus Faber speakers that are a marvel of craftsmanship. Our toy poodle, Wolsey, approves of it, too.”
“A custom-made credenza designed by architect Andrew Jones sits below a photograph by Toronto artist Daniel Ehrenworth and is used to display a pair of Venetian glass lamps, four Ming miniatures and a 200 BC Han amphora. There are usually lots of white orchids, too.”
“These four Ming dynasty terracotta figures are likely 16th century. My fascination with Chinese antiquities started 20 years ago when Michael and I first visited Hong Kong.”
“The Qing dynasty parrots seem to be living in the bamboo grove depicted on the 18th-century Japanese screen behind them, and this feeling continues with sensuously shaped vintage chairs and industrial-style bronze candlesticks.”