Solutions: Toronto inspires with love, locks

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

While many head straight for the beach come summertime, a metropolitan setting can provide a fresh perspective from an artistic standpoint. Since I struggle with extreme heat, a lively city is a dream getaway for me, especially when the weather cooperates as it did during a recent trip to Toronto.

It had been years since my last stop in this friendly Canadian city, and I appreciated it even more this time around. Studying the impressive architecture and scenic neighborhoods from an informative bus tour was among the many highlights.

Whether it was the creative dishes we ordered in the restaurants or the humor in places like the eatery called Fred’s Not Here (which is even more amusing when they answer the phone) and a sign I read that says Sorry We’re Open, there was always something worth observing.

In a historic part of town known as the Distillery District, we went to a clothing store with colorful glass bottles attached to a metal grid that covered the entire ceiling.

This striking display reminded me that we’re often so focused on our flooring and walls that we tend to neglect what’s above us.

The nearby restaurant where we had dinner was meant to resemble a residential loft, which it did with enormous black and white images that stood out against the worn brick walls.

In the same neighborhood, I admired the love locks similar to the ones in Paris that became too heavy for the Pont des Arts bridge. In Toronto, the installations are situated in a tourist-filled alleyway with one shaped like a trunk and another that spells LOVE.

A similar concept would make a fun three-dimensional scrapbook at home with items like wine corks that visitors sign and place in a bowl or sticky notes with messages from your guests that you display on a bulletin board.

Whatever you decide, the repetition of shapes and the sentiment behind them make a statement.

Later in the week, we stumbled upon a classic Italian cafe perfectly situated between our two stops, the Bata Shoe Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum where we saw the brilliant Chihuly exhibition.

When my latte arrived at the cafe, it too was a work of art. Between the lovely mug and the foam heart, it was almost too pretty to drink. The fact that it tasted great was an added bonus.

Though both museums would inspire me in different ways, each one demonstrated that displays can stretch an object’s original beauty even further, like a pair of pink ballet shoes positioned on a stand as if the ballerina who wore them was still dancing, and the ingenious ways the dazzling glass creations by Dale Chihuly were arranged.

On another day we stopped by the quintessential town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, while on our way to Niagara Falls, which was reminiscent of the places in Northern Michigan with charming shops and restaurants.

On the way home, I experienced the magnificent view of Detroit from Windsor, which is always a welcome sight to see.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at