Sometimes the best way to revive a flagging relationship is to tear it all down and begin again. That’s what Sean Ward and Stephen Fillmore did last year after nearly 20 years together. They sold their terraced house on Toronto’s Berkley Street and each bought a place of their own where they could rediscover themselves and each other on fresh footing.
For new digs, Stephen chose a modern condo in the sky, a 750-square foot, 1-bedroom plus den on the 39th floor of the spanking new X Condominium, above. As befits his more traditional bent, Sean purchased a 1,300-square foot penthouse in a much older co-op overlooking a leafy park in the city’s prim Rosedale neighbourhood, below.
Stephen wanted practically nothing from the old address — some art, a few sticks of furniture and little else. That left Sean to cherry pick artwork and furnishings from what was a three-story, 3,000 square foot house. Predictably, there are now two storage lockers bulging at the seams containing the leftovers . . .
A decorator-for-hire, Sean had no trouble adapting Stephen’s contemporary, less-is-more aesthetic. The condo feels wee compared to Sean’s more sprawling layout but there’s an exuberance within the utility and Stephen is clearly at home in his more compact, less fussy surroundings.
The kitchen island pulls out to create a small dining table with stools at the ready.
Off the entry there’s a cozy den for TV and reading.
Sean’s influence is more strongly felt in the bedroom, which is more composed with layered side tables, lamps, artwork and rococo mirrors.
The living room view is framed by two perfectly transparent acrylic pedestals bearing antique Chinese ginger jars and below them, a collection of ancient Buddhas.
Artwork is grouped and stacked wherever wall space allows but display is a challenge in a condo where one side of the box is floor to ceiling glass.
Just a few blocks away as the crow flies is Sean’s leafy, maximalist aerie. His taste for old world etchings and fine antiques is leavened with a generous dose of abstract, modern art and splendid Christopher Spitzmiller lamps.
For a space with windows on only one side, the home feels surprisingly bright thanks to a north-western exposure that floods the space with indirect light. The newly-renovated kitchen off the dining room has no windows at all yet it also feels remarkably light thanks to the mostly white scheme and an abundance of reflective glass and potlights.
Sean indulged his love of unpolished marble with black countertops with pronounced white veining. The millwork — notice the moulding around the vent hood — is extremely well done.
Sean plans to wallpaper the bedroom, in the meantime he’s created a beautiful gallery displaying some of his most treasured art and mementos.
The view from the bed does not go to waste in this space, below.
And neither do the corners, which are just as carefully composed.
Back in the living room Sean’s talent for balancing volume is especially evident in the vignette below.
It’s been a year since the couple embraced the possibilities of being alone together and all indications are that the moves have been a healthy tonic. Sean’s decorating business is flourishing while Stephen, left, has taken on a new position as showroom manager of Rewrap Upholstery. Apparently a change really is as good as a rest.