Modern Rustic Loft

You know you're a designer when....

an empty room makes you squeal with joy!

That's what happened when I first saw my client's loft.  
Not just any loft, but an authentic schoolhouse built in 1894 that was converted into 66 unique apartments - featuring a towering 22 foot ceiling with timber beams, exposed brick, vaulted ceilings, a skylight and an open railing across the top floor bedroom.

Here's the before.  

Only the kitchen was installed when my client took possession of the 1100 sq. ft space.   
There's a bedroom and bathroom in the upstairs loft.  
 We had medium-tone hardwood floors throughout and creamy vanilla walls to work with.

This is my client's first home that she could decorate any way she wanted.  
She liked all the rustic elements that came with the space but wanted to ensure it was still very comfortable and a modern space for entertaining.  

The crazy thing about this cool space is that it lacked two very important elements,


There were only 2 hall fixtures in the whole place, along with the bathroom and under cabinet lighting in the kitchen.  So, that was a big priority!

Also, this client is a Fashionista, 
so we started in the bedroom by expanding the closet doorway to allow her to take advantage of the 10 foot height of the space.  The closet doors were removed and the opening raised 3 feet higher (they would be draped for privacy instead of getting custom made larger doors).  By not removing the center piece of drywall, we saved the expense of having to repair the floors and it allowed us to mount a new closet light switch on the outside center wall as well.


We also opened up the space under the stairs to create a huge 6 foot storage closet and extra crawlspace under the stairs landing.  This is where the luggage and seasonal items get stored. 

I created a floor plan that allowed for 3 distinct zones
Entertaining/TV watching
Work space / home office
Dining + Kitchen Area

Once all the structural and electrical needs were addressed, we focused on creating a comfortable space that was part rustic, part chic and very unique.

Reclaimed wood dining table with a metal base is accented by black Eiffel chairs with chrome legs.
The old bronze "sticks" pendant over the table is pretty huge and is a statement piece that can be seen from anywhere on the main floor.  I was ecstatic when I found the dramatic artwork hanging in the background and knew it would be perfect for this space and the client's style.

Cozy curved back sofa and an over-sized reclaimed wood coffee table with huge drawers provides great storage.  The huge window's frames were painted black to work with the space.

I created an 8'x8' chalkboard wall to help ground the office space as well as for function.
The framed picture is a wallpaper print I found of statistics formulas via Spoonflower.
(the homeowner is working on her PhD in Statistics - fun, right?!)
I'm still looking for a nice saucer to put under the concrete plan pot.

Love these asymmetrical steel mesh pendants over the kitchen island.
Staircase railings and posts were painted black to play up the architectural feature.  

Custom made live-edge shelves were installed between the pillars for more display. 
I found the perfect vintage red cabinet for added storage and a splash of colour.
We will be adding a mirror on the back wall behind the shelves and removing the coat rack that's there now.

 I framed some vintage magazine ads and created a gallery wall on the staircase landing.  
Some small mirrors with metallic frames add a little bit of sparkle and add light to the space.

A view of the dining space from the staircase landing.  

The view of the art and live edge desk from upstairs is even more dramatic against the black chalkboard wall.

A little Yves St. Laurent clutch and Jimmy Choo heels for extra glam styling (client's own).
I told you she was a Fashionista!

The vision for the bedroom upstairs was a bit more edgy than downstairs.
I found a cool wall mural of Torn Advertisements that created a dramatic backdrop for the bed.

For a bedside table, I found a wooden vintage school desk with black iron base that fits perfectly.
I had sleek metal sconces attached to the wall for night time reading.

Organized and filled closet space.  
Custom drapery panels in a black & white stripe on a simple iron rod keeps the room tidy.

We went for a "Rocker Glam" vibe with this vanity table.
The chrome sconces are not only very retro-cool, 
but they are practical when putting on make-up here.

This was a very fun project that came together in record time.  
It helps to have an easy-going client with a great sense of style; a reasonable budget that aligns with the requirements, and my skilled trades to help with the technical details.

Next project is the builder's basic powder room. 

Living Room for Entertaining

When I first met this client at her midtown home in Toronto I knew that her space was not a reflection of her personality at all.  She's a busy family physician who loves to golf, travel and entertain regularly.  But, her living room was lackluster and hardly being used. She also loves art ... which is why she called me.

She was looking at making a major purchase in original art and wanted to know how to decorate her space not only to show off her colourful 40"x60"purchase, but to make the space more inviting, more interesting and definitely more sophisticated.

Here's what the living/dining room looked like BEFORE:


beige walls
bad furniture proportions
poor layout
dismal lighting
no pizzazz!!

I knew what to do with the layout right away, but the colour scheme was going to come from the diverse selection of ART

The original horses and east coast red farmhouse paintings were destined for the living room.
Marilyn was going to be in the glamorous dining room, already decked out with a modern crystal chandelier.
There was also a series of nautical photographs of my client's east coast home town that were grouped together in the family room.   Artwork all sorted out, on to the furniture.

We decided to keep the fairly new slipper chairs and have them recovered.  
I also took the black striped side cabinet to get a fresh coat of paint and some new blingy hardware.  
Here's the before shots of both with the client's mirrored coffee table that was also staying.

I wanted a streamlined sofa to be placed on the longest wall that would accommodate the two largest pieces of art.  So I selected this piece with a cushion back and a narrow sculpted arm in a navy blue chenille fabric.

Now I had the opportunity to bring in two more chairs that were a bit more sculptural and add some sophistication to the space.   
 I chose a dark peppercorn finish for the wood with a powder blue velvet for the fabric and pewter nailheads.  This chair is one of my favourite pieces in the room - and there are two of them! 

I wanted the pillows to bring in the colours from the artwork... pumpkin, gold, turquoise and cobalt.  So I came up with a fabric scheme to complement the upholstery fabrics selected.

It started with this textile festival ...

and was narrowed down to this final selection of 50 shades of blue, 
golds, and a bold hit of pumpkin orange in a floral medallion pattern. 
A geometric art silk rug sits in the background.

Once all the main piece were selected and fabrics for pillows and drapery chosen, we moved on to the accessories and I found some fun pieces that my client loved

Here's a closer look at the custom drapery in a luxe silvery chenille fabric with 6" fabric banding 
to match the pillows on the chair... so yummy!  
Client already had the custom roman blinds in a graphic silver & gold pattern, 
so I worked with them when choosing drapery fabric.

The final reveal comes in two parts
Part one - without drapery 
(note to self: don't order them so close to the holidays!)

It's amazing what a bit of paint and some new hardware can do for your dated furniture!

Part two - some new pillows added but without the rug 
- it was accidentally soiled by the family dog the night before I arrived for the photo!

Love ending the post with these gorgeous chairs!

My client has been entertaining a lot more since this room was completed.
Just goes to show that living rooms can be transformed for contemporary, real-life living!

Interior Design Show IDS 2014

I love the annual trek to the Interior Design Show in Toronto to see what's new in the world of interiors and what some of my favourite suppliers are showing.  This year seemed to grab me as an exceptionally creative one; maybe it's because of the long cold winter we've been having so far - but I really enjoyed the vast range of colours, the myriad of textures, and the evolving organic shapes as I moved from booth to booth. 

Here is a showcase of some of my favourite things from IDS 2014.

Beautiful photographic images on traditional furniture.
Introducing Montreal artist and furniture designer Corinne Campenio.   
Born in the South of France, Corinne's travels are the subject matter of her creative works as she transforms her images into works of art on chairs, pillows and benches.

The good news is that she has just opened a showroom in Toronto so you can see these pieces first hand.

With no need for an introduction, well established LLADRO, the Spanish luxury porcelain brand since 1953, continues to thrive on its innovative heritage by expanding into unique product lines that explore function and whimsy for a new generation.  

The matte and high gloss pieces in black, white and gold from the Naturo fantastic line would be striking statement pieces on a coffee or dinner tabletop in any home.  I love the organic shapes and fluid textures of these handcrafted pieces on their own or as a collection.  I can picture any of these pieces used in a  contemporary or traditional setting.
Naturo fantastic

Also from Lladro, I couldn't miss the striking and intriguing porcelain characters from The Guest line.  Created by Jamie Haydon for Lladro Atelier and given unique personalities by cutting-edge artists invited to make their mark, these pieces are sure to promote smiles if not curious conversation at your next dinner party.  These are designs truly fitting the mandate of  "a world of new experiences in porcelain".

The Guest

When it comes to lighting, there is always an opportunity to make a statement and elevate a space with so many creative options out there.   It's a weakness of mine when it comes to sourcing, I have to restrict the amount of time I spend because I could look at light fixtures for hours.

Two standouts at the show for me include AM Studio of Toronto
These simple glass pendants are so striking when you hang them in multiples at various heights.  This effect can be used in almost any room: in a corner over a side table, kitchen island, bedroom or dining room.

the sleek linear ceiling fixture at top of picture is called   Manhattan - Flying Lines from AM Studio

A group of 15 leading edge Quebec designers joined forces and formed a collective to exhibit their unique lighting and furnishings and QC Design was born.  Always original and often eco-friendly, some of these artists have already gained critical acclaim and continue to promote the creative culture of Quebec's product design scene.  I love to see emerging artists receive good exposure, go Canada!
via QC Design

Kitchen and Bath 
I love to design these spaces because good design can really change how people live and enjoy their homes.  Once thought of as purely functional spaces, the kitchen and bath industry has literally exploded with hundreds of vendors and products that continue to surpass our expectations of what these spaces can be. 

Cranberry Hill Kitchens caught my eye with the huge statement range hood, the interesting door treatment (intricately carved but only on the bottom third), and their use of mirrored inset panels with vintage hardware.

Blanco is always innovating and I loved their new Modex sink in Cinder Silgranit with colour-matched Blanco Alta dual spray chrome/cinder faucet (shown below).   This one also has built-in butcher block.
So chic, low maintenance, and extremely durable - everything you want in a kitchen!

via Blanco

How beautiful and sophisticated is this bathtub!  Have you ever....?   I love the contrast of the white acrylic tub against the reclaimed wood backdrop wall.  
Personally, I would love to see this tub floating in the middle of a huge luxurious bathroom,
or set against a wall of high gloss black and mirror mosaic tiles.

Tomlin Group - Acryline tub
 On the opposite spectrum, also from Tomlin, is this beauty in a stainless steel exterior with a mirror finish.
I would classify this tub as rustic-glam!  The vintage faucet is a really nice touch.

Tomlin Group - Slik Portfolio

Also in the Slik Portfolio is this beautiful vintage shower door enclosure in polished chrome, 
it really adds to the vintage vibe of the black and white space, and much more stylish than a solid glass door.

VINT - Main Product Image
via Slik Portfolio

Another established name in bath products is Fleurco, predominantly known for their shower doors.
They recently launched an integrated shower base with seat incorporating shelves for storage inside and outside the shower. I think it's going to be a big hit with both designers and contractors because it's easy to install, it's very functional and looks great too!

via Fleurco

Sometimes you want a unique vanity for your luxe bathroom but don't want to wait the required several weeks or have the funds for a custom designed piece.  
Along comes Bloomsbury Fine Cabinetry to provide an option that gets you the best of both worlds.  
They produce limited editions of semi-custom vanities offering a custom look without the price tag.

White quartzite countertop and hand-forged iron door handles give this little vanity a luxe look for less.

If you want something really different, and your wallet is bulging, check out Unik Stone bathroom fixtures.
Stone BathOak, Steel and Stone Bathroom Vanity Unit - LVM-001-S
Made of one solid piece of limestone, these products are both solid and seductive - not to mention heavy!  The oak drawers add interest and warm up the sleek chrome legs while adding function.

And finally, the miles of tiles from various suppliers are always fun to check out.  
It's amazing how they can transform a space - just consider it the jewelry! Here's some of my favs.

One of the other unique features of this year's IDS was the use of experiential displays.  There were a few vendors that provided a walk-through experience of the their products in a multi-sensory and all-encompassing way, through the use of interactive product displays, mixed media presentations and with help from some very well outfitted salespeople!  

A memorable venue that stood out for me was Korhani home.  I've seen their entertaining runway shows at Fashion Week in Toronto where models strut the runway in floor coverings made into extreme fashion.  
  But this was their first time at IDS and they made it a true experience with a 3 minute walk-through with live, animated broadcasts coming from still mannequins with "digital faces" dressed in various themed rugs.  

The mannequins are wearing designer RUGS!

I always leave the show wanting more and carry off a bag full of product info that I explore later.  

The best part however, is the creative stimulation that every designer needs and being in an inspiring environment that encourages me to keep pushing the creative envelope and expanding my horizons for the next project!  

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