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Introducing: CB2, a middle finger to all surrounding furniture shops on Queen West (also, it used to be the Big Bop)

CB2, 651 Queen St. W. (Images: Fraser Abe)

Nothing seems to get Torontonians going like an American chain finally opening its first Canadian store here (take that, Vancouver and Montreal). So naturally, the feverish frenzy surrounding the opening of CB2—Crate and Barrel’s younger, hipper sister—wasn’t unexpected. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the new arrival for well over a year, so we took it as no surprise that on the Sunday we visited, hundreds of shoppers enjoying the unseasonable weather were crowding the space, taking seats on virtually every couch in the place (Morba who? Design Republic what? Urban Barn where?). The space is a far cry from previous tenant the Big Bop, and the landlords have completely renovated the exterior—there’s no more hideous does-it-contain-lead purple paint, and the brick has been beautifully restored and cast aside a heck of a lot of glass. Mid-century modern furniture rules here, for prices slightly more affordable than fellow mid-century modern purveyors Design Within Reach. Get the lowdown on CB2’s penchant for shockingly bright colours, our favourite items and some scratchy sheets in a gallery after the jump.

We loved all the grey pieces, like the Joe chair ($169), ideal for dining rooms or workspaces without Aeron chairs; the supremely cozy Uno left- and right-arm sofas ($1,199); the Flex sofa ($1,199), which expands into a sleeper bed for two; and the Avec sofa ($1,399), with a high back and arms. For those looking for more Emerald City technicolour, there’s the lobster lacquer shop chest ($499), a forest-green Curtis rocker ($349), the Orange Crush–coloured Parlour chair ($799) and even a headache-inducing iteration of the Parlour chair with bold swirls of colour ($899)—but the latter seems like a purchase you might regret in a few years (in fact, you’ll probably regret it after five months). Those looking for last-minute gifts will also find plenty here in the housewares section—our favourite was the Ernie cast-iron cheese cutter, a hefty little device sure to make quick work of cutting even the hardest Parmesans ($7.95). And though we loved the patterns on the bedding (especially the crossword-puzzle-like grid block), the organic cotton and 250-thread counts did little to make the sheets feel less than scratchy. People looking for a step up from IKEA (and a much shorter commute) will flock here, and while CB2 can’t promise meatballs, it’s only steps from 416 Snack Bar. Mini Big Macs are so much more elegant anyway.

CB2, 651 Queen St. W., 416-366-2828, cb2.com

Take a tour of Toronto’s first CB2 and see how it restored The Big Bop »