Looking for a bright idea to energize your home? Architectural Antiques can drag your pallid pad out of the dark.
The family-run business was started 35 years ago as a more traditional antique store before making the switch to home lighting in the mid-1980s. It recently moved to its current location after 15 years in Westboro.
Upon entering the Spruce Street shop, a customer might be shocked by sensory overload: from traffic lights, to vintage fixtures, to everyday objects repurposed as lamps, the Little Italy store has something to dazzle even the most discerning home decorator.
Store manager Annette Doucher says her father, David, pulled from his background in architecture when he founded the business in the mid-1970s.
“At that time, people were looking for more architectural items. When we began it was more big windows, doors and mantels. It was a lot of large-scale pieces to lug around,” she says with a laugh.
The move to focus on lighting was as easy as flicking a switch, Doucher says, as they simply changed to suit customer demand.
“Over time we realized that people were looking for certain things and we needed to start reproducing and provide what people were looking for,” she says.
Her parents still run their flagship Toronto emporium, Victorian Revival, and have no trouble locating obscure, sparkling objects to showcase in their stores. While the majority of their wares are sourced from North America, Doucher says, they occasionally purchase lighting fixtures from Europe.
The business is more than just fixtures, however. Architectural Antiques also offers rewiring, refurbishing, refinishing services for lighting, as well as custom work.
“We can take whatever a customer wants and turn it into a lamp,” Doucher says. In-store examples of this custom-fit creativity include a twinkling tuba and an overhead pool-table light fashioned from pool cues.
For the trendsetting homemaker, Doucher says she has noticed a resurgence in industrial-style lighting.
“We have a lot of new-style items in addition to vintage, but I see a lot of demand for industrial. That has become the big thing in Ottawa,” she says. “There’s a demand for reproduction of industrial fixtures. That’s where the trend is going.”
In-stock items range from a $5 bulb to a high-end fixture salvaged from an abandoned theatre. But Doucher says that if you’re looking to add brilliance to your home on a budget, an exposed filament bulb can do the trick for cheap.
“Filament bulbs are becoming really popular, as an exposed bulb takes any fixture and dresses it up,” she says. “It makes any lamp more interesting.”
With the economy as unstable as a flickering bulb, one might think the future of such stores would look dim. But, Doucher says, while the business of antiques has always ebbed and flowed, Architectural Antiques manages to sidestep economic woes because of their unique stock.
“For that certain niche that we do cater to, I don’t know if it will ever die,” she says. “There will always be someone who is looking for that special item — and we will have it.”