Monday, 8 December 2014

'Tis the Season to Decorate

The design business knows no breaks, not even for Christmas!

We've been busy all year working hard to get client's properties in top shape, so it would be wrong to ignore the Christmas tree that will be the crowning glory of the spaces, for the next month at least.

Given the task, I chose to make every tree unique - from classic to whimsical for children and adults - every tree has been well curated for the spaces.

I had elves help out with putting up the many thousands of ornaments on the tens of different trees for the lobby spaces. Rule of thumb - 100 lights per foot of tree, and to get a full look, estimate 40 ornaments per foot of tree, depending of course on how wide the tree is.

I decided to use the traditional ball ornaments as my base, however to garnish the trees, we added special accent ornaments that would catch the eye and tie in the colours of the balls. Kids trees were given more of a jolly flare, hung with decorative plushies and shimmering lollipops.

With now close to forty trees completed, tree trimming is a breeze, although the planning process is a little tedious it's all worthwhile in spreading the Christmas spirit.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Room with a View

How do you begin with a room that's so... uninspiring?

Before - too many columns!
First of all, we had to take care of the bones of the space, which meant opening up walls and adding some architectural details. The room had a lot of potential, as there's a great view of the lake. Once we removed the columns, dated features and mounds of mirror, there was a blank slate to start over with something more up-to-date.

We created distinct spaces for lounging, dining, and cocktailing!  Added in some practical finishes such as durable vinyl plank flooring and a 15 ft long bench, again in vinyl, for lounging and easy clean ups.

I chose neutral colours for the basic finishes and furnishings to evoke a tranquil, almost zen theme, with small pops of colour sprinkled around in the accessories. The inspiration for this room was taken from this  Robert Allen flower print fabric - reflective of the lake, lush trees and flowers that can be seen out of the atrium in the summertime.
Before - kitchen
After - kitchen

Now it seems much more spacious and accommodating for a party - and it's just as beautiful as the view of the flora and fauna outside!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Playing around with colour

This was a fun and easy project for me...since I've got a large family, it's almost intuitive to design for children.

The project was to convert this custodial storage room into a playroom for this large building, filled with families with small children.

After re-locating the janitor's closet, we were ready to begin on the new playroom.

This room ended up being filled with several colourful custom pieces: a  fun sized and cutely cut green laminate activity table, library grade furnishings, and bright rubber tiles arranged to resemble the marshy water colours of this friendly forest theme.

The wallpaper was made from a hand-drawn vector file. The birch trees sketched in a Bill Watterson-reminiscent style, add a whimsical touch to the room. 

The large windows made this an ideal space for daytime playing.

One of the main features of this room was an alphabet wall installation. The key is to have a variety of textures and patterns, to make it diversely appeasing to the eye. My intern and I scoured numerous  stores, some online, and were able to find and create a playful array of letters that worked with the colour scheme; some of them were items loosely resembling the alphabet letters, some of them deco-podged, some painted onto canvases,  and some cleverly matched up to their phonetic sounds. i.e. The Y was wrapped in yarn, the S is made from a s-s-snake, and well... who do you see when you look into that letter fixed onto a mirror? U! 

We continued this fun and playful colour scheme to the bathroom, using wide tiles to make a vibrant feature wall around the toilet and vanity. Plus, the fixtures are toddler-sized, perfect for tiny hands and toilet training.

Now all the kids in this building have a modern, yet practical playroom, full of vibrancy and fun!

Sunday, 8 June 2014


My initial thoughts for the design of this boutique building was to go English Country. It is a beautiful property in a quiet area of Toronto that has the elegance and charm from the outside - lush gardens and well manicured lawns - but it desperately needed some help on the inside.

With dated and lack lustre finishes my jumping off point was the fanciful wallpaper that has the design of a residential paper, but not often found in a commercial vinyl. Then we laboriously worked on enhancing the unique oval corridors with a custom designed signature carpet. Manufactured in Denmark by Ege, we anxiously awaited its arrival over a few months, and was absolutely overjoyed with the results. The carpet is divine, couture and so beautiful that you're afraid to walk on it.

We also added wainscoting, crown moldings, created custom cast bronze suite signage and every door was changed out to house beautiful polished gold hardware.

The corridors are now an elegant welcome as you step out of the elevators. I love the transformation with this project!...and the residents are all over the moon with it as well!


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

From Hum Drum to Wow


One of my recent renos of a residential building had me updating the upper and lower lobbies and the administration offices of two sister buildings. Originally equipped with little to no seating, tired finishes and dull lighting I decided to keep things neutral and focused on natural elements. The terrazzo floor in the upper lobbies were in perfect condition and were to remain, so I used that as my jumping off point and created warm neutrals in the space.

The lower lobby/ mailroom sometimes doubles as a party area, so flexible seating was added along with custom cabinetry, for easier maintenance. It needed to be a little more utilitarian, since it is used as a pass-through for underground parking, however it has the same elegance as the upper lobby. The feel walking through now is much more inviting. 

Lower lobby / mail room 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

More of Miami

Here are just a few of the other sites that were jammed into my Miami schedule.

The newly opened (December 2013) Pérez Art Museum Miami was designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the same Swiss firm that created the "House of Cards" parking garage which is cited for its architectural bravado.

Their design for the museum includes a library, an auditorium, classrooms, art and digital media workshop spaces, and a café. The entire structure sits on an elevated platform below a canopy, both of which extend far beyond the museum's walls, creating a shaded veranda and plazas.

Surprisingly, Ai Weiwei: According to What? was in exhibition - it was a treat to see it again - it featured all the pieces that were exhibited in Toronto in 2013, with the exception of Bowls of Pearls, two giant porcelain bowls filled with freshwater pearls - it was well guarded. 

Pedestrian Entrance to PMAM: Reminiscent of Antoni Gaudi's Serpentine Bench Twists

I also toured the grounds of Vizcaya, the estate home of John Deering, of the farm equipment legacy. 
The home was constructed from 1910 to 1916 with additional building until 1922. The Villa Vizcaya is distinguished for its Italian Renaissance inspired Mediterranean Revival architecture, its huge Italian Renaissance revival gardens, and sumptuously designed interior architecture not to mention all of the art pieces housed within - it is the closest thing to Italy, in North America.

A peaceful retreat away from the main house

A breakfront created to welcome visiting boats

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Docking in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is home to South Florida's "powerhouse port", Port Everglades, and is one of the most diverse seaports in the United States.

Quick trivia! Do you know which day of the week  Florida sees it's highest water consumption?

...every Sunday, as cruise ships prepare for the week and fill their ships.

Port Everglades is one of the top three cruise ports in the world and being just 45 minutes from Miami, I jumped at the opportunity to have an exclusive tour of one of the newest ships, Royal Princess.

It has been a while since I last set foot on a cruise ship, so I was eager to soak in the details of luxury that every cruise ship exudes with their decor. The Royal Princess is aptly named as it was recently christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge in June 2013.

She made her U.S. debut at Port Everglades on October 27 and will take more than 3,560 guests on 7-day cruises to the Caribbean.

The Royal Princess was a feast for the eyes... from the floors to the ceilings and everything in between! Each piece of furniture on the ocean liner reflects the majestic design of the space - the clean lines and unique shapes add distinction and refinement. The high, elaborate ceilings and the many crystal light fixtures give a spacious and airy feel. They also compliment the intricately patterned carpet and marble floors; each area of the ship has its own distinctive arrangement of color and form. With so many beautiful elements on board, luxury was definitely felt throughout the ship.

The Enclave Spa - An extravagant space for almost every type of treatment

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Miami's heat : Art Deco revisited

With the dreaded chill of Toronto's winter, I decided to forego the annual New York jaunt and instead booked a ticket to sunny Florida for my inspiration trip this year. Not wanting to simply sit on the beach, I had a rigorous schedule to see what Miami's design scene had to offer - I've never explored Miami in this light.

I started with the revived Miami Beach and toured the various Art Deco hotels of South Beach in the evening - admiring the buildings with their stunning neon lights and brilliant color combinations. The strip was alive with musicians and laughing crowds.

I went back during the day to soak in a few more interiors and was fortunate enough to get a tour of the National Hotel (1677 Collins Avenue), currently under construction. They recently restored the two-story lobby, where reproductions of the original furniture and light sconces can be found. The guest rooms have also  been meticulously designed to have the original feel of the era. The 205 ft long pool, (not from the Deco period) in the back is impressively 'Miami'!

The journey of walking through the lobby of the Delano was also quite spectacular; designed by famed architect Robert Swartburg in 1947 and renovated by Philippe Starck in 1994, the Delano is the tallest building on Miami Beach. Its charm is found equally in its grand structure and its intricate details: between each column in the lobby is a secluded seating area each to its own, dimly lit comfy casual hideaways.

Miami is also embodied in these large scale (approximately 6' high) art pieces by local artist Havi Schanz, exhibited in the Carlyle Hotel.

There's so much to share about Miami, I'll have more posts in the coming weeks.