For an inveterate collector — her daughter calls her a hoarder — Larysa Fenyn is remarkably restrained. Her basement has become a storage facility, albeit a neat one, and if you open any of her numerous cabinets or credenzas you’ll find row upon row of high-quality trinkets. But on the surface at least, her centre hall home in Toronto’s Royal York neighbourhood is carefully curated.
“I hate clutter,” she tells me as she leads me through her sunny rooms. On a sideboard stands a shimmering art glass plate and three shapely, black candle holders. Larysa has many others, some in teak, some white, but her display has been paired back to this. I admire her willingness to edit.
Earlier this year, Larysa launched online shop Modern Craze partially as a way to justify her thrifting addiction. “I can’t help it,” she says with a shrug, “I love beautiful things.”
Some of those things are by famous artists, designers and craftspeople — her dining chairs are Kai Christiansen originals — and some of them aren’t. Pedigree is not what drives her. The funky vinyl chairs in her living room are Canadian versions of the Carter Scoop Chair and on the other side of the room are some office-y 1970 tub chairs that recall Saarinen but are by SIMO of Waterloo, Ontario — no real value, just comfortable, great looking chairs.
“I’m not about names,” says Larysa. “I buy things that are beautiful, sometimes the piece has a name but often it doesn’t.”
Larysa’s real passion is Canadian studio pottery and she’s become a self-taught expert with a real knack for research. While tidying up the living room one day she placed a few pieces up out of the way atop an armoire and that’s where they’ve stayed, a lovely, no-fuss display.
In the dining room, a tray on her Danish buffet is laden with Scandinavian, teak pepper grinders in myriad shapes. It’s the most charming collection and one that has become quite valuable over the years – the pieces now sell on eBay for upwards of $300 each and Larysa has seen extra-special ones go as high as $600.
On the same wall is a print by Joan Miro, below, a prized possession Larysa purchased as a gift to herself upon landing her first real job, back in 1980. “We were poor,” she remembers, “living in a rental but I just had to have it.” Beneath the painting stands a no-name red metal sculpture beautifully styled with a fun 1950s planter and a sleek, ’50s Lytespan lamp designed by Gerald Thurston for Lightolier. High and low, side-by-side, that neatly sums up Larysa’s styling mantra.
Mid-century design wasn’t always such a fixation for the homeowner. In fact, up until about eight years ago, her personal style tilted towards Empire and Arts & Crafts. But after purchasing a cottage on Georgian Bay and kitting it out with 40s and 50s flea market finds, she discovered how much she loved the simplicity and clean lines. “My home started to feel dark and heavy by comparison,” she remembers.
Modern Craze has given Larysa an outlet for her collecting, a way to justify her treasure hunting. “For me it absolutely is not about the money,” she declares. “It’s the hunt that I love, it’s about finding beautiful things. I only sell when I get overrun and have to let go of stuff.”
My sincere thanks to Clare Somerville who kindly volunteered to shoot this house tour and did a beautiful job.