It’s hard to believe, but this apartment in midtown Toronto’s recently retrofitted Imperial Plaza was once an unremarkable, white-walled office space. Its only saving graces were spectacular city views, 12-foot-high ceilings and the whiff of
Mad Men-era glamor that still clings to the fabled 23-storey former headquarters of Imperial Oil, built in 1957.
“It was just a white box,” says Toronto interior designer–architect
Dee Dee Taylor Hannah (right), seated on an extra-long sofa in the great room of the luxurious 4,500-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment she designed. She worked alongside her daughter, Rachael Taylor Hannah (left) of TH Curation, a Gen Z–driven capsule collection of luxury home products, ranging from bedding to towels to tableware and lighting.
Far from being intimidated by starting with such a blank slate, the pair was exhilarated by the challenge of transforming the apartment from bland to grand for a client with an appreciation for entertaining friends and family. That kind of transformation takes time. The space, which had been turned into a four-bedroom condo years before, had to be completely gutted then revamped, a process that started in 2019 and finished in 2021.
Scroll down to tour this opulent space!
A compact powder room in the front foyer swaps the predictable mirror above the vanity for a slab of tiger’s eye semiprecious quartz. For Dee Dee, the secret to converting this former office in an iconic building into a luxe residential apartment is in the layering of objets and art from around the world. “That’s when the magic happens.”
When there’s a dinner party, people feel free to move and mingle — sitting around the brass and malachite table in the great room, on the swing in the office, the banquette, the sofa, lingering by the fireplace. “One thing I learned years ago was that spaces should flow in a circle. There’s no dead end to this layout. It flows from room to room,” says Dee Dee.
Glamorous vintage movie star photos are a theatrical note in the TV lounge, which is outfitted with a custom channeled sectional. “The look I was after was a palette of old and new, sleek and ornate, old world European and contemporary,” says Dee Dee.
Every inch of molding, stone, baseboard, cornice, marble and mahogany paneling, roll of wallpaper, can of paint, piece of furniture and more chandeliers than you can count had to be brought up by elevator or lugged up flights of stairs. And yet, today, the home feels as though it’s always been here. Here, panels with 3D-patterned wallpaper flank a gallery leading from the office to the TV lounge.
In the lounge, graphic art is a dramatic counterpoint to the Deco-inspired mahogany-paneled fireplace. There’s some serious pedigree here: to create the look, the design team packed their bags, hopscotching from Parisian antique markets in search of French Art Deco–era club chairs to Kathmandu for rugs and Miami for contemporary art that would augment pieces the client already owned.
The breakfast room’s blue leather banquette is the perfect spot for casual meals. Doors lead to an outdoor terrace. Ironically, there’s no formal dining room here. “It’s a home designed for entertaining, but it’s not a conventional layout,” says Dee Dee. “It’s a space meant to be lived in, to be experienced.”
The white cabinets are all that remain of the former condo kitchen.
New blue cabinets and a marble-clad island add sleek storage space. The only ornamentation is a sapphire Murano glass chandelier.
Classic tableware makes even everyday dinners on the kitchen island feel special.
In the principal bedroom, with its soaring ceilings, Dee Dee added a soft rug and leather upholstery to bring warmth and intimacy. The use of color is also cleverly calibrated. Though a thread of blue runs throughout the home, creating a sense of continuity, there are bold swathes of green, gold, black, cognac and grey that don’t take a backseat to the breathtaking views out the windows.
The principal ensuite’s delicate 1930s sconces were found in Paris and contrast with the custom-designed mahogany cabinets.
A defiantly ornate Rococo mirror coexists with the marble walls, floor and vanity in the aptly named “wet room.”
Curvaceous blue Murano glass chandeliers dangle above the principal bedroom’s dressing room.
The guest bedroom’s streamlined bed and simple yet luxe linens create a peaceful setting. “I feel that color is meant to be explored, so we brought it into every room; there are no white walls,” says Dee Dee. Adds Rachael: “Rather than create a color scheme, we chose pieces for each room, then built the color palette around them.”
Iconic vintage French sofas and walls covered in blossom-patterned grasscloth create a comfortable retreat in a corner of the the guest bedroom.
A mix of elements creates drama, where a Deco-inspired sofa surrounded by gold wallpapered panels sits below a photograph of Kate Moss at Paris’s Brasserie Lipp by Arthur Elgort. “I believe in buying what you love,” says Dee Dee.“If you love all of these individual pieces, when you put them together, they symbiotically work.” Now, when you walk into the great room, it feels like a fabulous dinner party with a diverse guest list of people, each with a unique point of view. “And how much fun is it to invite a surprise guest who will elevate the conversation?” she adds.