The Thornton-Smith Decorating Company

I recently wrote about the dining set I inherited from my parents.   The table, 6 chairs and buffet are mahogany with a French polish finish.  My mother steadfastly protected the beautiful sheen of that table and buffet. i.e. “Get your sticky fingers off that table!” (I heard that a lot growing up!)  Along with the china and silver, the buffet was the place where my mother stored her ‘important papers’.  So when I inherited the mahogany dining set I also inherited my mother’s decorating history.  Underneath the drawer liners were the receipts and invoices of many of the furniture pieces my parents had purchased over the years.  My mother took her interior decorating seriously.  She did a lot of research and inquiry before making any purchase.  In the late-1960’s my mother decided that what the living room needed was 2 occasional chairs.  So she began her research.  That research took her to The Thornton-Smith Company; Furnishers ·Decorators· Designers located on Yorkville Avenue in downtown Toronto.  Thornton-Smith was a legendary Toronto design influence that helped to single-handedly define Toronto interiors for nearly a century.  Thornton-Smith sold custom furniture, fabrics, rugs, drapery; decorated the Royal Alexander Theatre, parts of Massey Hall, the former Walker House Hotel, the Senate Chamber in Ottawa and painted stencil decoration for many Ontario churches.  For my mother Thornton-Smith provided her with 2 bergere-style chairs.  But this was the late 1960’s, long before technology, so before my mother purchased her chairs her initial inquiries, received via Canada Post, were artist sketches of the different chair designs.  From these various sketches my mother decided on 2 of the chair styles.  The first chair she chose was the chair I wrote about last April .  I have recovered and re-stained the chair but the style is the same.  The 2nd chair I also still have.  I like to think that I not only inherited 2 nice chairs but a piece of Toronto decorating history.

Here is the original envelope my mother received.  Note the date stamp – Nov. 18, 1968.

Here are the artist sketches of the various chairs my mother received. The first photo is the original sketch of my purple chair.  The 2nd photo is the original sketch of my other chair my mother purchased.

All images via Modmissy

2 thoughts on “The Thornton-Smith Decorating Company

  1. Missy, what a great historical story of your mom’s findings. It is wonderful that you have restored and found a place for these great pieces that your mom searched endlessly to purchase!

  2. Who knew your mom was such a visionary and so ahead of her time? Interesting to see the original sketches, learn the history and see what you have created. You have certainly inherited her “design” gene! By the way, love the new Mod Missy picture in front of the Toronto skyline–don’t know when it started, but just noticed it.

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