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Sitting easy: chic, comfortable outdoor furniture

I’m by no means a minimalist, but when it comes to outdoor furniture, I like simple, unadorned pieces that don’t compete much with the beauty of Mother Nature.

Unfortunately, I’ve found far too many modern designs to be uncomfortable — too hard, too angular, and too much focus on  form over function.  When contemporary pieces are easy to sit in and dine at, they typically come with a heftier price tag. I’m actually okay with that. I think it makes economic and environmental sense to spend more to get really well-designed outdoor pieces executed in durable, weather-resistant materials. They’ll last longer and be less of a hassle to maintain. And that, my friends, will make summer all the sweeter.

Great design and functionality certainly come together in the high-end outdoor furniture, umbrellas and accessories at Jardin de Ville, whose downtown store and north Toronto summer showroom I recently visited.  If there’s a poorly designed easy chair between the two locales, I, (who am short, squat, and notoriously difficult to seat happily) did not find it. Every single one I sat in felt perfectly proportioned for lounging, chatting, or reading — whether by a lake, in a backyard, or on a balcony.

I also really liked the daybed designs with high enough backs to make it comfortable to sit upright in them, preferably with books and magazines and newspapers strewn about. Relaxing in one  would combine two of my favourite things – reading in bed and sitting under the sun.

There are dining, coffee, and end tables in teak, aluminum, wrought iron, stone, and tempered glass, and loads of sleek dining chairs. The extendable table I thought was a gorgeous powder-coated aluminum was actually high-pressure laminate which staff explained, if scratched, can be fixed with a warm iron and piece of cloth.

There are dozens of sets to choose from, but staff at the pop-up location noted that more and more  homeowners are choosing pieces from complimentary collections to avoid an overly matched look.

Most of the pieces on the floor are inventoried at a Montreal warehouse, and delivery takes about a week, unless you choose one of the few special items, in which case you can expect delivery in  eight to 12 weeks, at the outside.  Cushions on the mostly white, black and grey furniture are shown in those same neutrals, but custom covers can be made — also in Montreal.  Normally, I would always choose neutrals for outdoor pieces, but I did love the  metal pieces – in a very terrific red –  that I spied just before leaving the building. I’d especially love them as accents (see my Insta post).

Another reason to have Jardin de Ville on your design radar? It’s a Canadian retail success story with an interesting past. Its roots were planted in the early 50s when Carmen Bourque took a vacation to Florida, where modern design was being enthusiastically embraced. (West Palm Beach and Miami would have been emerging as style influences.) Inspired, Bourque’s husband suggested that running an outdoor furniture store might be a pleasant past-time for Bourque —  when she wasn’t looking after her six children, that is.

Good call. As it turns out, Bourque had an exceptional eye for design and a good head for business. Since opening a small shop in Montreal, the company has grown to become an industry leader in both design and retail of high-end outdoor furniture. There are four showrooms in Quebec, one in Toronto, and one in Fort Myers, FLA, with such European brands such as Cane-Line, Solicanada, Manutti,  and Roda, as well as several exclusive lines.  More on Ms. Bourque here – and here’s a great piece on vintage outdoor furniture.

A sister company called Cusini Design makes outdoor pavilions and textiles, manufactured in Mirabel, QC for sale throughout the world.  The company remains family-owned and run.

Jardin de Ville’s downtown Toronto showroom has been open since 2011. The 20,000 square-foot summer showroom is at 1400 Castlefield Ave. The space is open 10 – 6 Monday to Friday, 10 to 5 on Saturday and noon till 5 on Sunday.

NOTE: I was compensated for this article and the Instagram post, but neither were reviewed by, or approved of, by Jardin de Ville. Opinions are my own.



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