Toronto is Canada’s culture capital and largest city. The various neighborhoods are an eclectic mix of Victorian homes and modern, Scandinavian-style lofts. There is no one defining decorating style in Toronto. That means that an interior decorator has to be well versed in it all!
The diversity of neighborhoods stems from a wide-range in income and cultural traditions. Toronto’s known worldwide for its multiculturalism! So how can you make sure that you can become the best of the best in such a dynamic city?
Besides honing in on your craft through interior decorating courses, you need to be diligent in your research. Don’t waste time advertising to a demographic or a location where they won’t respond to you! So where should you focus your attention? Here is an in-exhaustive list of some popular neighborhoods in the six that might need your services… keep reading!
The average person who lives in the core is in their mid-30s. This highly educated and young population loves functionality and convenience. The highest earners usually reside in the center of Toronto. Such a densely populated core means an upswing in high-rise condos (near King Street or at Harbour Front).
Depending on the tastes of the client, you’ll likely work with someone who wants a hip and modern decorating style. Lots of neutrals with pops of color in art pieces! You’ll have to be good at working with relatively smaller spaces. Expect floor-to-ceiling windows in these upscale living spaces. Ensuring these identical-looking properties reflects the unique interests of your each one of your clients will be your biggest challenge.
There is a higher percentage of 45-54 year olds in this area. You can expect plenty of single-person households or couples without children residing in this historic district. Cabbagetown has a high concentration of homeless shelters to the west- and south-ends of its boundaries. But affluent property owners and those from the nearby gay village also share the neighborhood. As such, the average household income is $151,990.
Although originally the home to poor Irish settlers, the ‘70s saw the effects of gentrification. To fight back, residents started up initiatives to restore the Victorian-style housing. Now the neighborhood is home to “one of the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in all of North America”. Although the Victorian Bay-and-Gable or Romanesque style dominate the exteriors, the insides are another story. Industrial chic and effortlessly urban interiors, anyone? This may well be one of the most interesting neighborhoods to work in!
One of the most expensive areas to live in in all of Canada. This area is where you can expect “old money” families to reside. 25% of the population are over 65 years old, compared to the city rate of 16%. Over 30% of residents in Rosedale make over $200,000. One census tract within the area has an average income of $419,676! If you’re setting your sights on decorating mansions, look no further. This is the area for you!
These multi-million dollar homes boast high-style finishes and lots, and I mean lots, of wood. Some homes have vaulted ceilings to elevate traditionally styled homes. Others are pushing the boundaries of modern design. If you work in Rosedale, paying attention to the little details will afford you success. Luxurious designs mean your suppliers must be the crème de la crème. If you don’t know where to get bespoke (custom) furnishings, you need to get your head in the game!
Although a generally wealthy neighborhood, the vibe at The Beaches is a 180 from Rosedale. This East-end neighborhood boasts a laid-back lifestyle. The origin of the name comes from the 4 beaches in the area. The boardwalk is beautiful, and the cute shops at Queen Street East give you the best of both worlds—city liveliness and beach-side relaxation.
Inspired by the greenery of the parks and sand and water of the beaches, interiors of these homes invite nature inside. Lakeside properties orient around the blue waters. Expect windows as the focal point in these family-oriented homes, allowing plenty of sun to flood the insides of the residences. You may be an interior decorator, but many spend money on their back patios and gardens. Socializing within the tight-knit community is impressive, so familiarize yourself with furniture and decor that bring people together. Unique, non-functional décor pieces suitable for a gallery don’t belong here!
Key Interior Decorators to Note
Toronto is home to a few prominent interior decorators.
Laura Stein Interiors: As soon as you click on her website, you know that you’ve entered a completely new level of interior decorating. Decorating with cheap materials that won’t last long isn’t what you’ll get with her services. Her philosophy? High quality materials and design! She’s also embellished with many national and international industry awards—including a prize in the 2016 International Design and Architecture Awards in London, England. Not to mention the 8 Gold Awards for interior decorating from the Canadian Decorators’ Association. All her room transformations look like they were taken right out of a magazine!
Jane Lockhart Interior Design: Everyone in Toronto’s interior decorating and design scene knows who she is. Jane’s an award-winning interior designer who’s been in in the business for 25 years and hosts the W Network’s Colour Confidential. She’s also the instructor for QC Design School’s Color Consultant course! Her brand and design firm are so successful that she’s launched two lines of furniture—all made in Canada! For inspiration, check out her website for all the jaw-dropping renovations and transformations she’s executed over the years!
Average Salary of an Interior Decorator
In 2015, the average median income in Toronto was $78,280. Compared to the rest of the country, 10.5% of Torontonians earned over $100,000 a year (as opposed to 8.7%).
An interior decorator can expect to make an average of $38,000 a year in Canada. In Toronto, depending on your experience, location, and range of services, you could make around $200 an hour! Of course, you aren’t going to be working a 9-5 job. Don’t expect to earn that much 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. However, there is lots of room to grow.
You could also charge between 5-10% of the total decorating job. These projects range widely in cost. Sometimes you’ll decorate an entire multi-level mansion, and other times it’ll be just one room. You could book back-to-back jobs or work overlapping timelines if you work hard and attend to what your clients want and need.
In such an eclectic city, you can’t afford to not listen to your clients. The neighborhoods are so strikingly different that chances are, your clients will be, too. Making sure you decorate to your clients lifestyles, tastes, and needs will help you become successful quickly. Especially in smaller neighborhoods, word of mouth can carry your name and reputation far.
Where would you start your business in Toronto?