327 Queen St. East, between Parliament and Berkley streets, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA. 416.778.6608. email: info@ethel20thcenturyliving.com
Hours: Mondays by appointment, Tue - Thurs: 12pm - 6pm, Friday: 2pm - 7pm, Sat: 12 - 6, Sun: 12pm - 5pm


Boxing up Christmas

It's the day after Boxing day, and that means it's time to clear out Christmas. We're not at all insinuating that you take down your twinkle lights, dismantle your tree and stow away your decorations till next year (that's done on New Years Day in our house, accompanied by a larger than normal hangover and larger than normal cups of coffee). Instead, it means Ethel is putting all Christmas decorations (vintage and new) on sale, so WE don't have to box them up and stow them away till next year. So if you didn't pick up any Whigby ornaments and cards, or vintage baubles and satin lustres, now's your chance. All Christmas merchandise is 50% off, so stock up for next year!
See you at the store!


Holiday Ethel

Well, it's Christmas Eve and we're busy helping all those last minute shoppers find vintage goodies for their loved ones. Whether it's a set of vintage cocktail glasses, handpainted ornaments (like the ones your Grandparents had!) or a pair of groovy 70's lucite candlesticks, giving vintage means you've put thought and love into your gift and we know the receivers will appreciate it!
We'll be closing early today so we can go home to enjoy some holiday cheer while we wrap our last minute gifts. We'll be closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day and back in the shop on Tuesday December 27th. Next week, we'll be open from the 27th to the 30th and closed on New Years Eve, New Years Day and January 2nd.
We wish you and your family lots of love, wonder and joy this Christmas and and much health and prosperity in 2012!
MERRY CHRISTMAS from your friends at Ethel!


Canadian Pickers in the house!

We got a phonecall from History Television last week, asking if we were interested in having the Canadian Pickers,
Scott Cozens (left) & Sheldon Smithens (right), come by on Monday to film an interview with Rogers Television in our store. Of course we were interested! We love this show as these two are not only funny but they really get into the history of their picks and do a lot to educate people about the vintage and antique marketplace. It's all about getting your hands dirty and putting in loooong hours if you really want to find the good stuff, something we know too well here at the shop!
Anyway, they were here this past Monday morning and were not only charming but also very interested in how I got into this game, and we swapped a few stories about some of the great stuff we've found over the years (and since have sold.)

The new season debuts January 9th at 10pm, on History Television.


New Modernism Magazine is here!

We just got the Winter 2011-2012 issue of Modernism Magazine in, just in time for Christmas!
Featuring a cover story on a funky "Lautner-esque" concrete shell house in Japan, there's also lots of great features inside, including a collectors guide to Charley Harper art, a profile of a Cliff May house, and a story on the British textile company, Edinburgh Weavers. Also in there are their regular listings of upcoming art and design shows. We also have a few Fall 2011 issues left so get them before they're all gone.
See you at the store!


Furniture under the tree

We try not to buy too much furniture going into the Christmas season as we find most people aren't going to put a danish teak dining table under the tree for their sweetie, but sometimes we just can't resist.
We just got in a near mint condition bedroom set in solid walnut. The headboard & matching footboard is a double (and comes complete with rails), and would be perfect for a smaller room.
Bedframe is priced at $195.

The dresser is 6 1/2 feet long and is in pristine condition.
Dresser is $495
UPDATE: Dresser has sold!
UPDATE: Dresser is back in store
(it wouldn't fit up the stairs in the home of the person who bought it!)
UPDATE: Dresser has sold (again) and DID fit up the stairs of it's new home so it's not coming back this time!
There are two matching nightstands (not shown) with some sun fading on the top surface, but otherwise in great shape. They're priced at $85 each or $150 for the pair.
UPDATE: nightstands have sold!

The matching desk is perfect for a small space. You can see the mirror for over the dresser on the right side of the desk. It weighs a ton (solid wood backing!) so we thought it would be safer not to hang it in the store.
Desk is $350, desk chair is $75. Mirror for dresser is $95.
UPDATE: Mirror has sold!
UPDATE: Desk has sold!
If you've got room for all 7 pieces (bedframe, large dresser, mirror, 2 night stands, and desk & desk chair), we'll sell it all for $1200.

We also got in this darling little vintage 50's chair that was re-upholstered in the 80's in this unfortunate fabric.
We would love to reinvent it with the help of Princess Perfect, but we'll sell it "As-Is" for $75.

Lastly, we got in this late 60's kitchen dinette set.
We normally don't go for the kitschy kitchen chrome dinettes, but we thought there was something elegant about this one, with the black tapered legs, brass details and highbacked chairs. Right now the table has the leaves out so it has a small round top, but with the leaves in, it sits 6. We're just waiting for the rest of the chairs to come in tomorrow.
Dinette set w/ 6 chair is $195.
UPDATE: Dinette has sold!

So if you love furniture as much as we do, and have room under your tree for a teak dresser or two, come by and check it all out.
See you at the store!


New Atomic Ranch is here!

We just got the Winter 2011 issue of Atomic Ranch in, and as usual, it's chock full 0' mid-century goodness! We're even quoted on page 68, in their Ranch Dressing section. We help a reader from Vancouver identify what turns out to be an Adrian Pearsall chair.
Other features include a story on Tucson's Indian Ridge neighborhood being named to the National Register of Historic Places (lets see if we can do the same for Don Mills here in Toronto!), and a profile of Hans Wegner, the designer of the Wishbone chair and PapaBear chair.
UPDATE: This issue is all sold out!
So come by the shop and pick up your copy. We also have a few copies left of the fall Modernism Issue!
See you at the store!


Kitschy Christmas!

We're still recovering from Holiday Wanderlust, and while all the cookies and cider were all gone by 9pm, the crowds stayed much later! The night was a total success and we were so happy to see so many people out supporting small businesses and sharing our Christmas cheer!
Cookies before the crowds came...they were all gone by 9pm!

We still have lots of vintage ornaments and Whigby ornaments left too, but if you're looking for something more kitschy, Ethel's your gal!

How about this vintage ceramic lamp with the original chartreuse 2 tiered fiberglass shade? Perfect for a rockabilly lounge, or film noir bedroom!
Lamp is $125

If you're going to a lot of holiday cocktail parties, then what about a set of vintage cocktail glasses for the hostess?
Set of 6 Pop Art Stars & Stripes - $30
Set of 6 Frosted highballs with red, white & blue straws, cherries and ice cube pattern - $30
UPDATE: Both sets of cocktail glasses have sold!

Or how about this decanter & shotglass set? Who said basketweave had to be granny?
Decanter set - $24
UPDATE: Decanter set has sold!

If you're the one throwing the cocktail party, then you need this vintage drinking game to get your guests in the holiday spirit!
Vintage "Bottoms Up" drinking game - $20
(Just make sure your guests are OK to drive after playing!)

For the gals (or guys) at the office, how about this pair of vintage 60's Pop Art coffee mugs from Japan, in electric green & blue? Their morning cup of coffee will never be so cheery!
Crazy Daisy mugs - $6 each.

If you're buying for a workaholic, then how about a vintage desk caddy? These cork desk organizers are very 70's executive. All you need is some thumbtacks, a wide tie and polyester suit!
Desk caddies - prices vary
UPDATE: desk caddies have both sold!

If you're shopping for a bookworm, how about a stack of vintage pulp novels? So trashy!
Pulp novels - $4 each or 3 for $10

If all else fails, you can stick with classic red and green.
Art glass, decanters and goblets - prices vary

So remember, kitsch is always good for Christmas!
See you at the store!


Keeping a green Christmas...

I received the email below from a very dear friend this morning and it really made me think why I am so proud to be an interior designer and vintage store owner.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Canadians with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of Canadian labor. This year will be different. This year Canadians will give the gift of genuine concern for other Canadians. There is no longer an excuse ......that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by Canadian hands. Yes there is!
It's time to think outside the box. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local Canadian hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Canadian owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down their credit cards on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Canadians with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the Canadian working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining Canadian pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging Canadian small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Canadians, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new Canadian Christmas. Spread the Christmas cheer here....

Buying vintage is a great idea in so many ways not the least of which is that your gift will have virtually no carbon footprint, will be unique and will tell the world you have great taste!
If your friends and family aren't comfortable living with vintage (and really, haven't we all worn handmedowns at least once in our lives?) then maybe they'd like some interior design help. We offer gift certificates for our design services as well as our online only Take-Out Box service. Check out our sister site to see how you can give good design for Christmas!
Or, come by the shop and talk to us in person. We love talking about design and are always happy to meet new customers and clients.

See you at the store!


Red and Green never go out of style!

We're almost ready for Holiday Wanderlust here at the store. We set up the Christmas window, and this year we decided to go a little more oldschool. Last year we did "I'm dreaming of a Pink Christmas" and this years theme is "I'm dreaming of Christmas past..."
We filled the window with vintage toys and games, and a gorgeous teak lounge chair, newly reupholstered in the Eames Circle fabric.
Teak lounge chair is $895
Games and toys - prices vary

The vintage aluminum tree is an Ethel classic, but instead of going mod like we did last year, we went traditional with red and green balls (and the odd turquoise one...Ethel's favourite colour).

We also set up our Ethel Design window to promote our interior design business.
Hanging those letters so they hang evenly was a challenge!

It is getting cold out there, and what's the best remedy for cold weather? A tiki drink to remind you of summer (or in anticipation of a tropical getaway planned for February or March?)
We just got in a whole box of vintage tiki mugs for all you tikiphiles out there.
Tiki mugs are $15 each.

See you at the store!


Are those Jingle Bells I hear?

Leslieville's Holiday Wanderlust, the annual kick-off to the Christmas season is almost a week away and we're busy getting the store ready for the festivities.
We've been getting out all the vintage Christmas ornaments and carefully unpacking them.
Vintage ornaments - prices vary

We also just got in our Whigby ornaments and boxed card sets.
They've added a Mountie, a Canada Goose, a Stubby, and a Polar Bear to the collection this year so come by and check them out.
Ornaments $16 each.
Boxed Cards $15 each.

We'll be putting in the Christmas window before the weekend but we promise to not start playing Christmas music until the night of the party!
So come by on the evening of November 24th and share some Holiday cheer. Who knows, maybe even Ethel herself will make an appearance!
See you at the store!


Out with the old.....

It's time to get the store ready for the holidays; and to make room for all of the lovely vintage goodies we have lined up for you, we need to find homes for some of our favourite pieces.
This re-upholstered Throne chair was the highlight of our "I'm dreaming of a Pink Christmas" holiday window last year. This chair is fit for a princess, or even Prince (the purple one!).
Originally priced at $2400, it's now on sale for $1800. Won't you give this mod, majestic, chair a home?

Check out this Italian chrome lounge chair and matching ottoman.

The chrome frame is oh-so-70's and the original navy blue corduroy upholstery is in great shape.
Originally priced at $1495, it's now on sale for $900.
UPDATE: Blue chair has sold!

So if you need something fabulous to sit on, come by and check them out!
See you at the store!


Ethel's been busy!

Things have been crazy busy around the store lately. We were at the International Homeshow for four days last week, promoting our new interior design business, Ethel Design. You may have even caught us on Breakfast Television a week ago! If not, here's the link:
(We're on at the very end of this clip)
I also was on Sun News, talking about our design menu. Click here to see me in too much TV makeup!

Anyway, we're back in the store now and getting ready for the holidays, and the annual Leslieville Holiday Wanderlust party! We're officially launching Ethel Design that night, so come by the store for some cider, homemade cookies, and of course, holiday cheer!

See you at the store!


Ethel Design is famous!

Our design business made it into our local Metro paper this morning!
Yup, that's us. Jordana Leventhal on the left and me, Shauntelle LeBlanc, on the right.
We'll be at the International Home Show at the International Centre (near Pearson Airport) next week, from Thursday October 27th to Sunday October 30th. We'll be presenting our "Take-Out Design box" on Saturday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm. Come visit us at booth 168 and we'll talk!
We've also added a link to the Ethel Design Inc. blog on our blogroll so you can follow our adventures in building our interior design business.
See you at the HomeShow and see you at the store!


Mid-Century doesn't just mean Mad Men

We hear the term Mid-Century Modern so often that it's easy to forget there were a lot of design styles from the mid-20th century. It's not always about Womb chairs and danish teak, you know!
One style often overlooked is Mid Century Modest (big shout out to Pam Kueber at Retro Renovation for introducing us to that term!). This refers to the more modest style of furniture that the average family lived with, usually smaller in scale to reflect the smaller houses from that period, and slightly more traditional. Not everyone lived in a post and beam ranch style in the 50's, although Hollywood would like us to think so.
We just got in this buffet and hutch pair that screams Mid Century Modest.

UPDATE: Hutch has sold! (buffet still available)
UPDATE: Buffet has sold!
Each piece is small, in comparison to the low, sleeker teak versions that were popular about a decade and a half after this set was made. However, we love the diminutive proportions of this set and think they'd be perfect in a small condo or in a typical Toronto bay and gable. Manufactured by McLagan in Meaford, Ontario, the buffet features a diamond hatch pattern on the central door and the hardware is sooo reminiscent of the late 40's. Don't you just love the Deco pulls?
Each piece is $495.

If the early 50's is too kitschy for you, then you'll love the pop of this Rosenthal tea set.

Designed in 1969 by Wolf Karnagel, the pattern is "Mondial" and the set features a teapot, sugar bowl, six teacups & saucers, a soup tureen, six double handled soup bowls & saucers and five bowls. We're not sure if June Cleaver would have such a fashion forward set in her sideboard, but we think you might!
Rosenthal Mondial tea set is $350.
UPDATE: Rosenthal set has sold!

So whether it's Modern or Modest, it's always Mid-Century.
See you at the store!


Red, Orange and Yellow aren't just fall colours!

Just got in three of these late 60's-early 70's pendants, in fiery orange, red and yellow textured acrylic. Right now they're pretty dirty and in need of a good cleaning, (and even have some dead bugs lodged in the seams and sockets), but otherwise are in fantastic shape. As soon as we have them all cleaned up and rewired, we'll post some pics. We think they'll look fabulous over a modern breakfast bar, or even in a shagadelic style rec room.
Come by and check them out.
See you at the store!
UPDATE: Pendant fixtures have sold!


Vintage Magazines for sale!

For all of you out there who collect the Atomic Ranch and Modernism magazines, we just got a few back issues in and they're for sale here at the store for $6 each. Some of the Modernisms are over 10 years old and have great pictures and articles and, of course, who doesn't love ANYTHING by Atomic Ranch?
So stop by and stock up on your back issues.
See you at the store!
UPDATE: All Atomic Ranch backissues are sold, but still some Modernisms left


Ethel Design is here!

As you know, we've been really busy around here lately. We are hard at work launching our interior design business, and of course, looking for fabulous finds to bring into the store!

We just got this vintage Coca-Cola sign, and while we usually don't do Coca-Cola memorabilia, we thought it was an excellent way to advertise our interior design services.

Our design services are based on a menu and the price depends on the size of your space.

We'll be posting about the Ethel Design Inc website as soon as it's up and running, which will have a more detailed version of the menu, along with our portfolio, but in the meantime, if you're looking for some interior design help, give us a call or drop by the store. We're your friendly neighborhood design shop and we're here to help.

See you at the store!


Ethel gets a facelift!

First of all, we apologize for the lack of posts this month. We've been sooo busy with our new design venture AND reconfiguring the shop so we have more workspace for our design projects. Yes, you heard it, Ethel Design Inc. is finally up and running and we're already on project #2 with our first client! We partnered with our friend (and former co-worker in another life) Jordana Leventhal and we spent most of the summer working on our business plan and design menu. We unofficially launched at the end of August and it's been full steam ahead ever since. As soon as the Ethel Design website is up and running, we'll post a link.

To accomodate this addition to the Ethel family, we finally reconfigured the store and set up our new (vintage) desks. Plus, I was tired of everyone asking if my prized baby blue 1960's Steelcase metal desk was for sale so we figured they wouldn't ask if I was actually working on it!

First set was to clear the area out where the new store desk would be set up. Then my husband hung vintage op art graphic wallpaper that we've been saving for a special occasion. I guess Ethel's facelift is a very special occasion!
Then we moved the old cash desk into place, and refaced it with more vintage wallpaper, this time a crazy daisy pattern. Don't you love how the turquoises, blues and greens all work together?

Finally, we moved Jordana's new (vintage) 1970's metal steelcase desk to her workspace in the back area of the store. That way, if she's kneedeep in design work, she'll have some privacy and I can stay upfront and help all the customers!

All these changes mean some of the signature Ethel pieces are for sale. Yep, that's right, the famous light fixture that used to hang over the cash desk is now up for grabs.
It's two pieces, a vintage industrial pendant from Norway and the mirror "halo" that hangs indepentently around it. We're hanging a $350 price tag on it.

We're also selling the vintage office credenza that was our back counter.
This credenza was made in Canada by Tempo, is 7' long, weighs a ton and has tons of storage. It's priced at $995.
UPDATE: Credenza has sold!

We're also letting go of the bright blue plastic pop mirror that used to hang behind the cash desk. This mirror was manufactured in Finland by Finnmirror and is very Verner Panton!
Mirror is priced at $125.

So come by to see all the big changes at Ethel and ask about our new Design Menu.
See you at the store!


New Modernism Magazine is here!

Just got in the Fall 2011 issue of Modernism Magazine, and it's packed full of vintage goodness, as usual!
This issue contains features on George Nelson, living in a Round House (I wonder if Chuck Norris lives there, due to his fondness for roundhouse kicks?), Mexican Deco graphics, and modernism in India.
So drop by the store and pick it up, and if you haven't grabbed the latest Atomic Ranch, there's still a few left.
See you at the store!


DIY Dining

Sometimes all it takes is a little elbow grease, a little love, (and maybe some help from some qualified professionals), and a sad, tired piece of furniture can be as good as new. Take this vintage 1960's walnut dining set for instance.
The chairs are solid with a graceful upholstered back insert, despite the not so fabulous striped tweed fabric.
This would be an easy fix by our friends at Princess Perfect Upholstery.

The table is sturdy, and has a gorgeous grain, despite the water damage due to being stored on it’s side in a damp basement.

The damage has caused some swelling and some of the veneer to lift, but this can mostly be remedied with a stripping, sanding glueing, clamping and refinishing. This set is a diamond in the rough and is waiting for someone to love it enough to polish it up and give it a good home!

Dining set (As-Is) $250

UPDATE: Dining set has sold (to an adventurous young lady who's going to take on the refinishing herself!)


Black and White world

Ethel loves old movies, especially film noir. Sometimes black and white can tell a story better than a riot of colour, even though a steady diet of grey tones can leave one a little cold. We love colour in the store but sometimes it's nice to bring a little of that black and white home.
We've had this vintage shelving unit in the basement at the store for a while, but only just have had the room to set it up on the shop floor. It was custom built in the 50's for the home of a toy shop owner by the same person who built the store fixtures for the toyshop. It's modular and has really nice brass door pulls, and we love the contrast of the black and white doors against the blondewood cabinet frames.

The unit sells for $1395.

Peeking out on one of the cabinet shelves is this framed 70's owl (are there any other kind?) in tones of grey, black and white.
This glamourous fellow would look perfect in a space filled with smoked glass coffee tables, lucite light fixtures and shag rugs.
Framed owl is $65

Check out this vintage 1940's black and white chalkware lamp with oversize whipstitched shade. It looks like it's from the set of a film noir, maybe on the end table in the living room of the femme fatale, waiting to be used as a murder weapon! It weighs a ton so it's heavy enough!
Chalkware lamp is $125

Speaking of lamps, we finally crossed a project off our store to-do list. With the help of HandyBro (my brother-in-law Paul), we were able to install this shelf to feature all of our lamps with no shades.
On their own they look sad and orphaned, but grouped like this, they look quite elegant, we think. Now all they need is someone to adopt them and find them some lampshades.

See you at the store!