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Internationally acclaimed interior and product designer, TV personality and Home Design Ambassador for Canada’s most iconic retailer, Hudson’s Bay, Brian Gluckstein is not only a lovable household celebrity known for interiors that are at once decadent and down to earth – he’s also a legend. Though he launched his design firm more than 30 years ago and has enough material to fill 20 times, he waited until now to release his first book, The Art of Home. But when Brian signs on to any project, he takes his time to consider every detail. So much so that he’s never felt the need to redesign his own abode. “I’ll refresh, add and remove pieces, and restyle surfaces,” he says. But he has never overhauled his whole house. “I get it right from the start.” And that’s exactly what he wanted to achieve with his book.
Interested in design from a young age, Brian attended an open house on his own at around 16 years old, taking home the brochure. “It was a very grand place – I can’t believe they gave me the time!” he says, recalling the time in his life when he wanted to be either an interior designer or a pediatrician. Of course, decor edged out medicine, and Brian followed his sister’s footsteps to design school. “When I got there, I knew I’d made the right choice.” And that brochure? He’s held on to it for more than 40 years.
Whether it’s a huge Christmas-slash-Hanukkah party with an elaborate buffet and the kind of informal atmosphere that sees everyone chatting in small groups all over the house or a more intimate sit-down affair, Brian’s holiday hosting rules stay the same: Strike a cozy festive vibe (he favours nutcrackers, glass vases full of ball ornaments, magnolia garlands and twinkle lights); invite a good mix of people (and engage each and every guest); have more than enough food (even better – offer take-home bags!); play nostalgic holiday music (Christmas carols from old movies); and, of course, hope for snow!
Design tip: “For a perfectly monochromatic palette, 75 percent of the room should be the starring colour and 25 percent should provide contrast,” says Brian. “Any more, and the space risks not being monochromatic; any less, and it risks looking boring,” says Brian.
You heard it from Brian first: Antiques are affordable right now. “Often, they’re less expensive than modern reproductions,” says the man who loves to mix eras. “It’s shocking!” Brian frequents the websites of dealers like Christie’s – the Interiors auction in particular. “It’s fabulous because the items are vetted but not valuable enough to be in their main auctions,” he explains. “The pieces aren’t period per se; you might see a reproduction of something from the 1600s, except it was made in the 1800s, so it’s still a great antique with a lovely patina.”
Books in the bathroom? You bet! “I love to take baths and I love to read, so the book-lined shelves are perfect for me,” Brian says of the display in the show-piece bathroom in his Toronto home. Paired with the armchair and wall panelling, the room feels more like a living area, and indeed, during parties, Brian often finds guests chatting here.
From sophisticated and elegant to cute and kitschy, Brian’s holiday collection — the Glucksteinhome Christmas collection — offers chic options to suit any kind of decor. Traditional? There’s a nutcracker for that. Scandi country? Menagerie ornaments. Cozy contemporary? Check out the faux fur stockings. Or mix them all together for a layered look and deck your halls in a style worth singing over.