Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Monthly Archives: January 2015

Custom toss cushions add so much personality and colour, and transform your space.

“It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress.” – Dorothy Draper

I often lovingly refer to accessories as the “jewelry” of the space.  It’s the often the last thing to go into the space, although I always have the accessories in mind as I am developing a client’s design concept.  It’s the jewelry because it’s those beautiful fabrics that are the showstoppers in the room.  Much to the client’s shock, they are also often quite expensive.  It’s the conversation that I almost always have when they say, “How much for that cushion?”….This is where trust comes into play.  I promise my clients that they will not be sorry.  That this will be worth it.  That they will love it. That the room is naked without accessories.  After all, you would not leave the house without makeup or jewelry, would you?  Then we have a good laugh, and I know that they still do not believe that a few simple cushions will actually do anything, but they trust me.  At this point in the project, they know that I have not steered them wrong yet.

Quite often the fabrics that I select for window treatments or toss cushions, or side chairs are the really special ones.  The spectacular colours, patterns and textures that may not be suitable for a large sofa or for heavy wear.  They are the “bling” of the room, and what can transform a room from simple to stellar.  It’s where a client’s love of purple can be showcased – while they may not want a purple sofa (I would LOVE a purple sofa!), they are thrilled with a purple chair or a purple cushion.  It’s also where we can pair interesting colour combinations that are showcased by beautiful fabrics.  You may not think that purple, turquoise and orange look good together, but as you can see in the above photo, once we pull these fabrics together – those colours look like perfection.

Green pillows from Primavera

Gorgeous green velvet from Primavera Interiors.

Just look at these gorgeous green velvet cushions!  They are just yummy!  And look how they completely transform a classic grey sofa.  The sofa on it’s own has beautiful lines and is lovely on it’s own, but it looks plain and unfinished.  The green adds a pop of life, gives the sofa a stylish edge and certainly adds some needed glamour with the colour and the beautiful texture of the plush velvet.  Pair this with some gold accent tables and you have instant gorgeous!

It’s these finishing touches that make the space.  The cushions, the art, the books, the lamps, and the collections from our client’s lives that make up a completely finished space.  It is what brings a space to life and gives us a clue about the the people who live in it.  Accessories should absolutely enhance the space and make it beautiful, but should also reflect the personalities of the clients, almost like a visual history for everyone who is in the space to enjoy.

masks in foyer

Art can define a space.

For this client, their collection of South West art and these masks specifically, were very important to them.  They were symbols of their travels and of their deep affection for that part of the world.  In this foyer space, I paired a natural hide and kept the side chairs simple, so that what is showcased is the collection.  Without the masks, this would be a boring and empty space.  In this instance, I did not have to create the “bling”, it was supplied by the client and creates and showcases the personality and mood of this part of the home.

“Have nothing in your home that you don’t believe to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Accessories provide that little additional “something”.  Sure a sofa or a chair or a table can be stunningly beautiful on their own, no question.  But it’s the accessories, the added “bling” that give a space something special and unique.  They emphasize that each home is different, and can help to illustrate the personality of the family that lives within that space. Accessories are what gives a home it’s life, and it does not hurt that they are beautiful too.  So, add those finishing touches!  Trust me, you will love it…..Bring on the “bling”!

graphic diamond

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes… January 25, 2015

Cliffs of Moher

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.” – Bob Proctor

Change can come in many different ways in our lives.  It may come quickly and forcefully or creep in slowly.  And even though change can often be difficult, many times it is often for the best.  Accomplishing anything in life requires significant change that pushes us beyond our comfort zones.  Many times, the only way to improve things is to for ourselves to undergo a difficult change.  You need to change anything that is holding you back from accomplishing your big dreams….Sometimes you just have to jump first and think about it later….That is how my January has been so far!  It has been a whirlwind of new possibilities, changes, and opportunities, that I surely would have missed had I actually stopped to think.

In the last month, I have reworked my business model, joined the dreaded FB, stepped up my Instagram postings, signed up for seminars and classes, been asked to teach a course, and started two new projects with two more waiting in the wings.  I have said “yes” to what I would have normally said “no” to, and “no” to what I normally would have said “yes” to! And amazing things have happened as a result.  Kind of like “If you build it, they will come…” only better!

Having said that, I know that change can be very scary for clients.  But it does not have to be.  Change does not have to be a negative, it’s just something different. That’s what I am there to show them.  I try to take my clients as painlessly as possible, through the design process.  I’m not saying that there is a wee bit of pain & discomfort involved – sure there is!  But, a good designer will take the client through that with a sense of humour, keen professional knowledge, and confidence that it will all be fabulous in the end.  That is what I provide for my clients.  I know that a huge part of a renovation is a leap of faith, and there are many decisions to be made before any work even begins.  But, it is all part of the process, and part of a bigger picture.  I go through a very detailed process and check list with my clients to ensure that the renovation process goes as smoothly as possible.  By being both organized AND understanding of what the client is going through, we navigate these big changes together.  And of course, there is trust.  My clients trust that I will make everything beautiful for them.  That the empty and ripped open shell of their former home will come back together better and more spectacular then they could have imagined.  And it does.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

Renovation is the ultimate in change for a client.  Many times they have to move out while the work is going on.  They are often nervous, especially if they have never renovated anything before.  Some have even tried to micro-manage my contractors, in the attempt to gain a tiny bit of control over their project. (This is never a good idea, and never ends well FYI) I am on site often, not only to check on the progress of the project, but more than often to hold my clients’ hands.  It’s okay, I am happy to help navigate them through this unfamiliar territory.  It’s always a wonderful experience when the client watches all of the hard work and planning, turn into their beautifully finished home.

So, my advice for the first month of this new year, is just to jump right in!  It might be scary – new opportunities can be, but they often yield enormous rewards.  You will never know if you don’t try, and change is just change.  So enjoy the ride! Jump in with both feet and experience new challenges, joys and possibilities.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra

tile samples

I have to admit, 2014 was a pretty great year.  I had some fabulous projects that were completed, I worked with some amazing and talented contractors and trades, and I even met some wonderful new Designers, colleagues, and suppliers.

I completed two very large, full-scale condo renovations, an entire home renovation & remodelling project, countless kitchen and bathroom renovations, a basement reno, and many, many design projects involving some fabulous lighting, hardware, carpets, flooring, artwork and furnishings.  It was busy, and it was wonderful!

I learned a lot in 2014.  I learned to be even more precise and exacting with clients and trades.  Sometimes, no matter how many times you explain something, they simply cannot visualize what something will look like.  On certain occasions, I practically had to create full-scale mock-ups of designs and ideas!

I joined Twitter in 2014, and I really love it.  Shocking, I know!  I have met some really great people and had some truly wonderful experiences – all because of information that I got from Twitter!  Fantastic!

I had to fire my first client in 2014, after over 20 years as a professional Designer….it was not fun, or pleasant, or easy.  But it was necessary.  I also worked with uneducated, incompetent tradespeople in 2014.  That may have been even worse, because it affected the finished projects and even though these people were hired by the clients, it still made me feel incredibly angry. In fact, those experiences made me rethink my entire business model, my brand, and my own process.  To say that now that is a “work in progress” would be accurate….I am now finalizing some little details – more to come on that!  But that whole experience made me decide to dream bigger and aim higher.  So that is what I am doing.  Making Limoncello out of lemons!

Dreaming Bigger

What does that mean?  Different things to different people. To me, it means working with clients, suppliers and trades that have the highest of standards, like me.  Clients, suppliers and trades that want and demand excellence.  That is what I am all about.  And I have met some great people this year who think as I do, and will work with me to achieve just that.  I am very excited about my big plans for 2015!

I learned it is okay to say “NO”.  Not everything is for everybody, and it is not personal.  Not everyone can be a good working fit, and this is critical for a project to run smoothly.  If it’s not a fit, that’s okay, we simply move on and find someone who IS a good fit…..

Looking forward, I am very optimistic about 2015.  I am using the momentum from the past year to propel me into a year of new possibilities, changes, growth, and success.  I am making a point of trying new things, having new experiences, and being adventurous!  This life can be really boring and dull, if you let it OR it can be full of exciting opportunities!  That’s what I choose.

Happy New Year!  All the best for a happy, healthy, prosperous and successful 2015.