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


Making room for Christmas!

You may be wondering about the lack of blog posts lately. Well, we have a good excuse. We're getting ready to launch our new website, which will include a new blog link (this blog will be archived). Don't worry, we will be posting information so everyone can follow us to the new blog. We don't want to lose our Ethel fans!
Also, we're getting ready for the Christmas season here at the store, which means we are putting some things on sale to make room for all the Christmas goodies.

We've had this walnut double bed frame in for too long. It's a nice solid frame, with headboard & footboard, along with the rails to hold the boxspring.
It was priced at $150 but it can be yours for $50
We'll even throw in the 8'X10' Flokati rug for an extra $20!

We love this vintage handcarved & hand painted riding elephant but since we're not running away to the circus anytime soon, we think its time for it to find a home. Wouldn't it look great under your Christmas tree for your little one? So much more fun than a boring old riding horse!
Originally priced at $350, it's now priced at $250

And while you're at it, you can pick up a copy of Ganesha's Sweet Tooth!
Ganesha's Sweet Tooth is $19.99

If you're having a lot of company coming for the holidays, you'll need more dining chairs.

This set of 4 vintage teak dining chairs was originally priced at $395, but they're on sale for $250
They even have new vinyl upholstery so no worries about sloppy dinner guests! 

Ethel really loves this pair of vintage pink & grey ceramic & brass lamps. We even had new shades made for them using matching vintage pink fiberglass with black swirls. Aren't they pretty? 
We especially love the brass ball frames and the gold flecks in the ceramic balls.
Originally priced at $300 for the pair, they're now $200 for the pair.

Speaking of pairs, we have this pair of classic 50's walnut end tables with a magazine shelf below. These would work in your living room or even as bedside tables.
Originally priced at $150 each or $250 for the pair, they're now priced at $95 each or $150 for the pair.

This kitschy vinyl chair is a vintage chrome frame with all new black & white vinyl upholstery. A perfect side chair for a groovy pad, dontcha think?
Originally priced at $495, it's now $350 

So swing by for some pre-Christmas deals and stay tuned for the website (and new blog) launch.
See you at the store!


Trying something new at Ethel

Sometimes you have to try something new.
While opening the store today, I overheard a conversation between two middle aged ladies walking by the store.
Lady #1: Do you want to go in there?
Lady #2: Hmmm...it doesn't look like there'd be anything that interests me
Instead of pulling a face at them as they walked away and letting this remark spoil my day, I called out "Come on in...you never know what you're going to find".
They came in (along with another friend, a nice gentleman who really liked the teak secretary desk) and were immediately charmed by Ethel. They were surprised at how far back the store goes (remember people, looks can be deceiving!) and were discussing the futile search for a footstool as they checked everything out.
Then they looked at all our wonderful cards and paper. Lady #2 said she likes to support local artists and Lady #1 mentioned how she used to buy all her cards at Arts on King, a now closed boutique not far from where I live. I mentioned that I knew that store and that I lived nearby, and it turns out we both live on the same street! After I told them our cards are all designed and produced locally, Lady #1 ended up buying three, 2 from Smitten Kitten and 1 from Whigby.
After a further discussion on where to get cufflinks for a daughter who has a french cuff shirt (I recommended Barbies Basement Jewellery and even showed them my pink poodle belt buckle made by them), they thanked me for calling them in, agreed that they should always be open to trying something new, and then were on their way.
It doesn't take much to change someone's perspective. I hope these ladies (and gentleman) enjoyed meeting Ethel and maybe they'll stop by again.
See you at the store!


Black & White Classics...

We always say life is too short for beige, but that doesn't mean we don't love the classic elegance of simple black and white.

Take this re-upholstered 50's chrome lounge chair. We had Princess Perfect do it in a harlequin pattern that screams kitschy 50's, but still has class.
Chair is $495

Another kitsch classic is zebra print. It can sometimes read a bit over the top, but we think it suits this gondola style sofa perfectly. A little bit of glam goes a long way!
Sofa is $1695

We went more "hollywood regency" with this swivel lounger. Originally in a worn out pea green textured chenille, we thought pairing basic black with contrasting white buttons and classic damask elevates the mid-century lines of this lounge chair to something more luxurious.
Lounge chair is $1295

Speaking of classics, you can't go wrong with Wassily. While this isn't an original, the leather & chrome are in great shape and this style goes from deco to disco!
Wassily inspired chair is $295

We just got in this pair of mid-sixties made in Denmark FDB Mobler chairs. Currently painted black, we think this pair was originally painted red due to some offspray seen under the seat.
Mobler chairs are $175 each
Black & white daisy canister set is $18

So remember, beige may be boring but black and white is classic!
See you at the store!


East End Rockabilly Weekend!

On Saturday September 22nd, we'll be set up at the 4th annual East End Rockabilly Weekend at the Dominion on Queen (500 Queen St. East, Toronto, Ontario). If you're a rockabilly fan, come by for some sweet tunes, dancin' and some of Ethel's kitschy goodness! Lots of vintage barware, tiki mugs from TikiFarm, and art by Rob Croxford to be had!
The store will also be open, as usual, but manned by my dear hubby Dave.
See you at the Dominion!


Finding good homes for vintage furniture....one sofa at a time!

Nothing makes us happier than to know that something we have sold is going to a good home. As we always say, we’re an adoption agency for furniture!

You may remember the case of the Purple People Eater. It was a huge purple sectional sofa we had in our old location a few years back. It was a gorgeous piece, custom built back in the 50’s for the original owner (one of the planners for Don Mills, Toronto’s most mid-century of mid century communities), and had been recovered a few times in it’s 50 plus years. 
Sofa in it's original Don Mills home

When it arrived in the store, it was sporting purple wool upholstery and looked brand new. We thought this monster would be around forever (which really didn’t bother us as it was sooo comfortable!) but we did sell it a few months later. The buyer was a client of our friend, Paul Dowsett, a LEED certified architect. His firm, sustainable.to is a green architectural practice, and focusses on providing sensible, sensitive and sustainable solutions for their clients. How appropriate (and green) is it that his client would buy vintage furniture!. His client decided to leave it in it’s purple glory which made us very happy as the wool fabric was in pristine shape.
Anyway, fast forward to yesterday, when I had an opportunity to visit the sofa in it’s new home. As you may or may not know, my husband is a columnist for the Globe and Mail (The Architourist) and he writes about architecture, specifically mid-century preservation, adaptive re-use and heritage topics. You can read all about the sofa’s new home in the real estate section of next Friday’s Globe and Mail (Friday September 28th), but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the sofa in it’s new home.

There’s also an epilogue to this story. After visiting the home and interviewing Paul’s client, it was late and we didn't feel like cooking so we went out to dinner. Our waitress recognized me and told me that she and her boyfriend had bought a yellow sofa from me a few weeks back. I totally remembered them, and the sofa they bought. They are now really enjoying the Keith Muller & Michael Stewart designed and Precision Craftwood manufactured Image Series 2 seater sofa and they watch tv on it all the time! 

See you at the store!


New Modernism Magazine is here!

We just got in the Fall 2012 issue of Modernism Magazine and, as usual, it does not disappoint. The cover story is on Canadian architect Arthur Erikson's 1964 house for painter Gordon Smith in Vancouver, which we're going to read immediately. Also featured in this issue are stories on architectural photographer Balthazar Korab, art glass in the World's Fairs, and lots more.
We also have a few Summer 2012 issues of Modernism Magazine left, so pick one up while you're at it!
See you at the store!


Social media madness!

We all know Ethel is a modern gal, but she's a busy one too, and sometimes it's hard for her to keep up with EVERY social media platform. She does have to take a break every now and then!
We'll always try to make sure we're reaching everyone, but sometimes it gets tricky to remember what we've posted where.
So if you don't see new items here on the blog, remember to check our Shopcaster page, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Ethel on Shopcaster
Ethel on Facebook
@EtheStore on Twitter
And don't forget to drop us a line every now and then. We love hearing from our customers and are always looking for feedback, new product ideas, your furniture wishlist (oh, wouldn't we all love a hot pink womb chair or set of 6 Herman Miller shell chairs in bright orange)or just what you love or don't love about Ethel. We happen to think she's perfect, but there's always room for improvement!
See you at the store!


New Atomic Ranch is here!

We just got in the Fall 2012 issue of Atomic Ranch, and as usual, it's chock full of mid-century fabulousness.
This issue features stories on houses in Sacramento, Dallas and Las Vegas, as well as an in depth profile of furniture designer Paul McCobb.
We also have three Summer 2012 issues of Atomic Ranch left, as well as a few Summer 2012 issues of Modernism.
See you at the store!


These are the people in your neighborhood....

We can’t believe that September is less than a week away! It feels like we JUST moved to our new location and here we are, over three months in our new home here in Corktown.
It’s been a busy three months too. Aside from the store renovations, we’ve been getting to know our new Corktown neighbors and introducing the neighborhood to Ethel.  We’re meeting lots of new customers that are so happy we made the move closer to downtown and a lot of our customers from Leslieville have dropped in to say “hi” and to tell us how much we’re missed in the old ‘hood.

We’ve seen a few new funky indie boutiques open up around us, like Even & Odd and Far Away Eyes. 

Even & Odd, at 356 Queen St. East (right next door to RedLine Coffee), carries a wide range of products, including decorative pillows, French made glassware, natural wood trim mirrors, custom salvage wood furniture, and carefully selected vintage pieces. Their overall aesthetic has a great rustic, industrial chic vibe which we think would appeal to the shabby chic set. You can check out their website here. http://evenandodd.ca/site/

Far Away Eyes, at 295 Queen St. East (right next door to Ontario Paint & Wallpaper), is a elegant little shop just opened by Katelyn Joliat, a local jewellery designer. Her shop features her line of jewellery, K8, as well as a carefully curated collection of tees by Adieu and No Lost Witches, as well as jeans by Courtshop. Along with these clothing lines, she also has vegan friendly candles by Modern Alchemy and all natural lotions by Toronto’s own Ella’s Botanicals. Far Away Eyes is a softer version of steampunk and we’re thinking we may just have to indulge in one of Katelyn’s bow shaped pendants from her K8 collection. Check out their website here. http://www.shopfarawayeyes.com/

Here at Ethel, we’ve also seen lots of furniture come and go, and we still have a few store projects to finish, like our custom light raft which we’ll use to suspend vintage lighting from. We also want to build a half wall in the back to allow us to have a more private work space when we’re working on client projects and even just to hide some of our messier furniture clean-up projects if we don’t have time to finish them.

We’re also thinking about the upcoming few months too, as we’re focussing on bringing in some new product lines that we think our customers will like. We have a collection of tiki mugs from TikiFarm coming in this week and we’re looking at at some tooled leather goods made by a local designer that we think our rockabilly customers will love. 

We’re also thinking of architecture and design related things, like vintage building toys, modern viewmasters and design books for kids.

Ethel will always be about vintage modern design but we don’t want to limit ourselves just to Danish Teak and Herman Miller shell chairs. Since there are so many talented people designing great stuff today, we'd be silly to stick our head in the sand! Over the next few months, we’ll be working on growing our business and hopefully our customer base too.

We hope you’ll agree that a little 21st century product in the store will be like a splash of soda in a glass of old scotch, or a vintage bangle bracelet with that brand new little black dress.

See you at the store!


Beautiful and sobering....

We recently acquired a set of 4 framed photographs for the store, and while the majority of the vintage art we sell usually borders on the kitschy, these are serious, beautiful and a little bit sobering.

These photographs are numbered silver gelatin prints and are part of a series of portraits done by Steve Morrison in San Francisco in the mid-1980’s. This series documents the beginning of the HIV epidemic and is inspired by 19th century medical photography.

The past is prologue. And if we forget our past, it will come back to haunt us.”

The photographs are $75 each


How much are those chairs in the window?

We're having an August "dog days of summer" sale here at the store, so we can clear some things out before our fall buying trips.

You all know this purple beauty! It's been our Christmas window star and a favourite of many of our customers. Well, we're ready to let it go to a good home.
Originally priced at $2400, 
this regal throne can be yours for $400!!!

We get so many comments on how comfortable this reupholstered vintage lounge chair is. Now you can experience that on a daily basis!
Originally priced at $795, take this baby home for $350!!!

Everyone thinks teak = mid century, but there was a lot of good design in walnut too.
Take this mid-fifties walnut sideboard & hutch. We love the Jetsons vibe of the pulls and the zoomy angles. The hutch is removable and has fixed shelves behind the centre door. The sideboard has sliding doors that reveal fixed shelves and a cutlery drawer.
This walnut beauty was originally priced at $595 
but can be yours for $350!!!

We've had these two vintage fifties blondewood, blue vinyl upholstered office/school chairs in for a while and now it's time to see them get out the door.
Originally priced at $150 each, 
you can have the pair for $50!!!

No one would ever mistake this 60's plastic shell chair for an Eames original,
but for only $10, who cares!

We'll be marking down a few more things this month, so stay tuned. 
See you at the store!


Road Trip!

Ethel is going on a short road trip this week, so the store will be closed Monday July 30th, Tuesday July 31st and back open on Wednesday August 1st.
She'll be online so if you have any questions, send us an email.
See you in August!


Are you an Ethel?

Are you an Ethel?
- Do you love listening to french yeye music, wearing too many bracelets and think the beehive hairdo is due to come back in style any moment now?
- Do you abhor beige in your home decorating choices, and prefer colour over bland?
- Are you a fan of Jonathan Adler and his devotion to Maximalism?
- Would you rather save up your pennies for that perfect Rosenthal teapot instead of getting take-out at Tim Hortons?
- Does the phrase "Crazy Daisy" mean something to you, other than the femme fatale on the Dukes of Hazzard having a bad day?
- Are you more Marimekko than Burberry? Do you prefer Pucci over Prada? Do you dream of wearing Vera Neumann instead of Vera Wang?
- Do you watch old movies for their set design and do you dream of one day owning your own 23 Beekman Place?

If you've answered "yes" to any of these questions....then you may just be an Ethel at heart! Admitting it is the first step, then the next step is coming on down to Ethel - 20th Century Living and celebrating your Ethel-ness....
Remember....Life is too short for Beige!!!
See you at the store!


Style North Loves Ethel!

We've been in our new digs for just over two months and things have been going great. And today, they just got a little better, thanks to a lovely write up on the StyleNorth blog.
Atomic Ethel on Style North
Blog author Chris Jones has always been very good to Ethel, shopping at the store, and writing about us when we were in our old location. Today, his post totally articulates who we are and what our Ethel manifesto is. It's about good design, affordability, and, of course...Life is too short for Beige!
Thanks Chris!


Swinging 60's disposable dollhouse!

Sometimes when we're shopping for the store, we find things we just can't part with. Take this vintage cardboard cut out dollhouse this past weekend that we found at the St. Lawrence Antique Market.
We have a weakness for vintage dollhouses, especially those that are more modern and less fussy. This one caught our eye with the bright mod colours and swinging 60's details, and the fact that it's cardboard and had NEVER been put together meant that it was in mint condition!
Designed by Maureen Roffey, a British illustrator, who also illustrated children's books in the same bright colourful style, this house epitomizes the fun pop sensibilities of late 60's swinging London.

Check out the fabulous mod colours and patterns!

The furniture has that wonderful Mod meets Victorian vibe. I bet a lot of British townhouses looked like this in the 60s.

We had tons of fun assembling everything ant putting it all together.

This may end up in the shop sooner or later. In fact, we'd love to find a modern version of this that we could sell in the store. In the meantime, we're going to keep it around for inspiration.
See you at the store! 


Happy Canada Day!

Ethel has decided to take a few days off in honour of Canada Day, so we'll be closing early on Sunday July 1st, we'll be closed Monday July 2nd and Tuesday July 3rd and back in the store Wednesday July 4th.
Ethel also has a small favour to ask. She wants you to celebrate Canada every day, not just July 1st. Being patriotic isn't just about waving the Maple Leaf and listening to Rush, it's also about supporting Canadian businesses. So please try to shop local and buy Canadian. Also,  drop by the store for a lesson on the history of Canadian Design!
Happy Canada Day everyone!
See you at the store!


Big Boxes that are "Made in China"

Look, we're not here to preach to you at Ethel, but a thought did cross our minds the other day while shopping at an aircraft-hangar-sized big box store.  While we don't normally shop at such places, this was a rare occasion where the convenience of their store hours won out over philosophy; in other words, we needed to buy a gift for someone (that wasn't something vintage!) and it was after all other stores had closed.

So we went in...and while it was a little scary not being able to see the other end of the store, what was scarier was just how many people were there.  Buying EVERYTHING.  Shopping carts full of shoes, milk, lamps, electronics.  Some buggies were parked outside of the internal fast food restaurant because the shoppers had gotten so hungry from trekking from one end of the store to the other, they had to stop for lunch!

Anyhow, the thought is this.  To each their own.  A family on a budget has to do what it has to do.  But  there are similar places, owned by Canadians, that would do the trick.  Keep the money in Canada, you know?  And if you want a different experience, where the furniture and lighting wasn't made in China, why not come to Ethel?  We can't possibly match the big box prices, but the things you buy here have a sort of 'built-in guarantee'.  What's that?  Well, we purchase most of our inventory from the original owners from the houses they've sat in their whole life: So we like to say "If it's lasted them 50 years, it'll last YOU 50 years."  And your money is going to a small business owner who has a passion for what they sell...and a mortgage...and a lease.

You don't even need to shop at Ethel, either.  If you find something at our neighbour, Upside Dive or AMA, or in Leslieville, our old stomping grounds, that's cool too.  Come in and tell us about your experience, and maybe we can talk you into a nice vase for that table you bought elsewhere ;-)


New Modernism Magazine is here!

We just got in the summer 2012 issue of Modernism Magazine and it's chock full of vintage goodness, as usual.
This issue features stories on the John Lautner Elrod House and the photographer who captured it's beauty 40 years ago, a gorgeous glassy experimental house designed by Allyn Morris, a post war development in Sheffield, England that is experiencing a rebirth of cool, and an absolute eye candy feast of mid-century Italian sports cars...vroom vroom!
Also included is Modernisms quarterly run down of modern design museum exhibits and art shows.
We also have a few Atomic Ranches left, as well as a couple of the Spring 2012 issue of Modernism.
So come pick up some beach reading before we're all sold out.
See you at the store!


Mod walls on a budget!

A few years ago I was in New York on a buying trip, and during some downtime, I took a walk in the Village. It was there that I saw an old refrigerator out for the garbage. Now this isn’t an uncommon sight but since I wasn’t expecting it, I saw it instead as an abstract piece of industrial design and got excited about the potential in all those vacuum formed shelves and pockets. It reminded me of the Uten.silo, designed by Dorothee Maurer-Becker for Ingo Maurer, Germany, and currently manufactured by Vitra. 
(While I love the Uten.silo, it’s ticket price of over $300 wouldn’t make it practical for store merchandising.) 
Instead, I thought, wouldn’t a bunch of these fridge doors look cool mounted on a wall with nifty vintage merchandise on them instead of jam jars, soy sauce and pickles? I filed that idea away to use when I finally got my own store.
Well, here it is, years later, and we finally got the fridge doors on the wall!

We originally were looking for groovy 50‘s or 60‘s fridge doors, with the individual egg pockets but they are so hard to find, so we went with newer ones, bought used from Queen St. East Appliances in Leslieville. Reggie, who owns the place, is a real character and thought my idea for using just the door liners was hilarious. We went with two refrigerator doors and one freezer door, all with the same zigzag pattern. He gave me a good deal, only $75 for all three doors, AND they all fit in our tiny car! 

After a really good cleaning (these were used fridge doors, after all!), removing the rubber seal and unscrewing the liners from the door, they were ready for mounting to the wall. After some tricky maneuvering with my husband’s iPhone level app and realizing we didn’t have enough drywall anchors, we finally got them up with the help of a New Zealander customer named Jeff, who was visiting Toronto on vacation and who was all too happy to help while his wife shopped (I gave them a discount on their purchase for their help!). Once they were all mounted, we filled them up with vintage cookbooks, deadstock wrapping paper and all kinds of other goodies.

We’re so happy with them, and we think they look very mod. And if you’re adventurous enough to take on the challenge, you can steal the idea for your own home. High design  using found materials is always a good thing.

See you at the store! 


New Atomic Ranch is here!

The summer 2012 issue of Atomic Ranch has just arrived, and as usual, it's chock full of vintage loveliness!
This issue features stories on a Lustron house (if you don't know what a Lustron house is, check out this link,...Lustron Houses, then buy the magazine!), a groovy addition to an already groovy house in Austin, Texas, a vintage style painted wall mural (think your best friend's basement growing up!) and information on lots of new stuff, like mid-mod style birdhouses, clocks and mobiles.
Come by the store and get your copy before they sell out.
We also have a few copies of the Spring 2012 Modernism Magazine left too.
See you at the store!


Ethel joins Shopcastr

You already know that Ethel has joined twitter, and we hope you're following us!
We've also joined Shopcastr, a local web company that helps get the word out about local stores and helps them showcase their products. They focus on small businesses, vintage, refurbished and handmade, so we're already fans!
We'll be uploading new and interesting things to our shopcastr site (http://shopcastr.com/ethel20thcenturyliving), as well as continuing to blog about the store, as well as posting on facebook and tweeting. Whew!
It's all part of Ethel's plan for world domination! (or at least, Corktown!)
See you at the store!


A Queen of many colours

We always knew Queen Elizabeth was Ethel's kind of gal!
Colourful Queen Elizabeth
While she could resort to being sedate and serious, the Queen chooses instead to be colourful and happy.

With only one outfit in beige in the last year, she truly lives by Ethel's motto.

See you at the store!


Sure, it's just a new template, but with Ethel's new Corktown digs and all, we thought it would be fun to ditch the old, darker look of the blog and replace it with this...what do you think?!?


Pop goes the lamp!

Look what we're bringing into the store tomorrow!
A pair of Glo-Up Collection table lamps! These were designed in 1969 by Douglas Ball and John Berezowsky for Danesco in Montreal, and they're made of formed acrylic. These lamps embody the spirit of Expo '67 and are a great example of 60's Pop design.

Light On!

Light off!

Lamps are $150 each or $275 for the pair.

See you at the store!