PHOTOGRAPHY HANS & ALAÏA FONK | TEXT HANS FONK
The terraces afford unobstructed views of the skyline of the Canadian city, Toronto. Indoors, timeless elegance prevails. This penthouse belongs to Ken and Renee Metrick, the driving forces behind the interior phenomena Elte and Ginger’s. They exchanged their house for a condominium, without downsizing. Their interior is a showcase for products they source and purchase world wide – literally. The interior has been designed with the bar as the focus of inspiration.
“I love classic films. I’m convinced if Frank Sinatra were still alive he’d like this apartment.” Renee Metrick feels at home in the Toronto penthouse belonging to her and husband Ken. It is situated in a striking project created by the architect Brian Brisbin, BBB architects, at Davenport Road in this Canadian city. The complex comprises seven units, each of which has been individually appointed by its owner.
Renee and Ken live on the sixth and top floors. Prior to that they were living in a traditional house in Forest Hill: a Tudor-style residence with Ralph Lauren ambience. It had belonged to Ken’s parents, who moved there in 1956. The fact that Renee and Ken decided to move house in 2005 was not so unusual. Though most people would opt for downsizing with such a move, they went for the exact opposite.
Added to which, the layout of the new property was radically altered. That was possible because the interior space was actually a completely empty ‘box’. Everything could be created from scratch – from floors and interior walls to bathroom fixtures and outdoor terraces. Renee: “We both travel an awful lot for our work, and in hotels it’s generally the ambience of the bar that we prefer. And that’s what we based our interior plans on. We were greatly inspired by the Park Hyatt Hotel, Place Vendôme in Paris. It has a sexy atmosphere.”
They called in the interior designer Brian Glückstein, also from Toronto, and together they set about creating an international feel, with the bar and the large kitchen-cum-billiard room and den as the two focal points. “Our kitchen isn’t a kitchen in the normal sense. Instead of a dining table we have a large pool table, and our books are kept in the upper, closed cupboards against the wall. In an alcove we’ve created a family den with a fireplace.” The kitchen is at the back of the house. From there, two doors access the formal dining room at the centre of the apartment. At the front are the living area and bar, with a staircase in between that leads to the top floor. Large sliding windows open onto the outdoor terrace affording views over the entire city as far as Lake Ontario.
The top floor houses the master suite with walk-in closet, a large bathroom and a sitting room. The bedroom opens onto a large roof terrace, complete with hot tub and cascade. Altogether the condo has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. The ambience the Metricks and Brian Glückstein have created is one of understated international chic – applied throughout the apartment. Furniture, accessories, bathroom products and hardware were sourced from their own stores, Elte and Ginger’s. Elte is undeniably a company of consequence in the North American high-end interiors sector.
The head office is in Toronto where a new showroom was recently opened across the street from Ginger’s – also a brainchild of the Metrick family. The renovation took two years and was designed by Burdifilek. The various products, including furniture, rugs, carpets, accessories lighting and beds, all have distinct spaces of their own. There is an Elte Café in-store. Apart from their own products, Elte also sells brands like Ralph Lauren, Thom Filicia, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Silk Orchid rugs, Second Life rugs, Cisco, Dwell Studio, Designers Guild, Mia & Finn and Vi-Spring. This truly is a family business, established in Paris in 1919 by Léon Tenenbaum. He went to Canada in 1940 and started importing rugs with a view to bringing an unparalleled range to Canada. Meanwhile his grandson Ken Metrick, and Ken’s wife Renee now run the business; their sons Jamie and Andrew are also active in the company.
The search for unique interior products world wide has expanded into a veritable art form on which the Metricks appear to have the patent. Although rugs continue to be a mainstay of the business, the range of furniture, fabrics and accessories has grown explosively over the years. The Metricks also own the Ginger’s store specialising in bathroom products, sanitaryware and architectural hardware. Ginger’s represents a variety of brands, including Waterworks. The Metricks regularly use the apartment at Davenport Road for entertaining. The parties are an opportunity for them to show off Elte and Ginger’s products to best advantage in a home setting. Here, architects and interior designers can have a good time while getting inspiration.