By Aprille Janes
Special to The Toronto Sun
If you spend any time at all with Brent Myles, you'll recognize a man who loves what he does. His enthusiasm for his work and the care he puts into it can't be overlooked.
Myles is an interior designer and contractor who loves the hands-on aspects of his career. Some customers only know him as a designer, while others know him strictly as a contractor. He shifts easily between either profession or combines them as needed.
"When we do the initial walk through of a customer's location, I'll mention that I'm an interior designer. They may start asking questions such as 'Do you think we should do this?" and "How would this look?' So I mention that I can do their drawings as well. But they make the call as to whether they want me to do this or not. I have the best of both worlds."
Interior Designer and contractor Brent Myles recently finished work on The Harp and Crown pub in Pickering, as seen in these before and after photos. What Myles likes best is the hands-on aspect of his career.
Myles arrived in Toronto from Montreal in 1977 with a computer background, but felt he didn't want to see another computer. He hooked up with a contractor doing renovations in Cabbagetown and took a job as a labourer.
"I grew up with this. My father had all the tools in his workshop in the basement, so I think that's why I wasn't intimidated by going onto the job site."
While he was working on home renovations, the need for stained glass windows arose. "My father knew a guy who taught me, so I told them I could do their stained glass. I got more contracts from that and it seems like there's not a street in Cabbagetown that doesn't have one of my windows."
When business got slow in the early '80s, he went back into the technology field with Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. and spent 10 years working as a manager and later as a consultant. At the same time, he purchased a home in Riverdale and started renovating.
"I'd leave work at 3:30 p.m. and work on my own place until 10 p.m. or so every night ... I had a truck, so I'd buy materials at lunch and go home with a truckload after work.
"All the while I knew in my own head I wasn't staying (at AECL). I wanted to be my own boss. I went to Ryerson University and studied interior design and architectural technology and loved it."
When Myles formed his company, M Works, he was successful from the start. M Works offers quality workmanship and is known for its close attention to the finishing details.
"In the mid-'90s no one was doing additions but I always had somewhere to go. I maintain it's because I have a good relationship with my customers and I really try to take care of them. I believe no job is too small to care about; the small ones lead to larger ones. I've repaired some rotten boards in a deck and ended up building a home gymnasium."
His company recently completed work on the principal's residence at Branksome Hall private school in Rosedale. Built in 1860 by William Jarvis, the home needed a kitchen to accommodate modern entertaining. However, the addition had to blend with the existing structure.
The result is a beautiful mix of old and new. Doors were custom crafted to match the original doors. Old wiring was updated. A small, dark kitchen was replaced with a bright room filled with modern appliances, cherry cabinets, limestone counters and a tumbled marble backsplash. Outside guests can mingle on a cedar deck. But the exterior details merge with the original home.
As soon as the Branksome job was complete, Myles went right to work creating drawings for a two-tiered deck and hot tub to be built overlooking a ravine. In the past he's converted a Hungarian restaurant into an English pub and created another pub out of empty space, complete with oak paneling and a fireplace.
"I can remember driving into the office and just dreading it. Since I went into this business I've never been sorry."
(Aprille Janes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a freelance writer based in Port Perry, Ont.)
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