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!  

Decorating with Blue

I must say that I haven't used a lot of blue in my own decor except for the Tiffany blue accents in my office.  

So when my client asked me to zhush-up her already lovely living room, my first instinct was to ramp up the intensity of the blues she loves to add some drama to the space while still keeping it very sophisticated.

As you can see from the Before shot above, the floors are a beautiful dark hardwood, the trim work and paint colour is classic, and the shapely ceiling is a great feature - but the room is relatively "boring" according to my client and really wasn't comfortable for entertaining.  

So the challenge was to create an inviting space that would accommodate several people at once for drinks before and after dinner but also to function as the spot for their upright piano (off to the right side of the above photo) and as a quiet, weekend reading spot.

One of the other key issues that makes this room "not quite right" is the scale and proportion of the furniture.

All the furniture, except the sofa, was purchased for a previous, smaller home.  The accent Persian rug (below) is a sentimental piece for the client, so we are keeping it and using the colours as a jumping off point for the room.  We'll place a much larger, wool sisal rug underneath to help visually expand the space, keeping the Persian as a focal point on top.

The coffee table is also too small and will be replaced with a larger one.  
The settee is going to another room, and we'll bring in two larger chairs and some side tables to accommodate the long, narrow room.

This was one of the inspiration images that really spoke to my clients in terms of the feel for the room.

Blues and Browns ~ Quatrain wall brackets

They wanted to keep a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces; some sparkle with their existing crystal sconces and aged finishes like antique brass and weathered silver; luxurious fabrics, and artwork that creates interest but is complimentary to the colour palette in the rest of the room.

So once the floor plan was done, I started to pull fabrics for the upholstery and pillows.
Here's the fabric scheme we landed on

The damask and leaf patterns are from Joanne Fabrics as are some of the blue/green velvets.

We are adding two of these modern wing chairs that will back onto the dining room

with the sage green velvet on the front and the damask on the back - can't wait to see it!
(a similar pattern is on the dining room end chairs in a gold fabric) 

The clients existing tufted arm chairs will get a big beauty boost
upholstered in this gorgeous cerulean blue velvet - YUM!

I also found this great fabric that will be used for a couple of pillows.  The client has an affinity for French decor and loved it as soon as she saw it.

The other big change in the room will be larger scale art pieces.

We'll add something colourful above the sofa working within the colour palette 
but adding some depth and interest to the well-lit space.

Here's a few pieces we're considering:

I think I see an image of a person in this one - do you?

 Decorating with art really takes a space to another level (as I've noted in another post here).

Given the main purpose of the room is to entertain, a place to store and mix drinks was key.  I looked at open bar carts, but this room really needed a larger piece to sit next to the sofa instead of an end table.

We're going to use this antiqued mirrored cabinet and then glam it up with styling... 

gold gold everywhere on the bar

glamorous bar carts - cocktail trays1.jpg

Mad Men drinks tray

Oh, the beauty of filled crystal decanters at the office!

And on that note, I'm suddenly feeling thirsty.

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