Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Monthly Archives: March 2015

graphic diamond

Colour your World… March 31, 2015

resin piece at PI Fine Art by Norm Stelfox

Large scale resin-coated piece from PI Fine Art, by artist Norm Stelfox.

“Life is about using the whole box of crayons” – RuPaul

When I walked into the gallery to meet my client, this was the first thing that I saw….

WOW.  I was in love….And these aren’t even my “go-to” colours!  I had been under the weather for a couple of days, and this piece made me instantly happy.  Why?  Because colour makes us feel things.  Colour can absolutely set our mood and evoke an emotional state or a reaction.  I’m sure you have used the expression “feeling blue”…that is because certain blues can sometimes be associated with melancholy. ( I’m not sure that I totally 100% agree with that – I tend to find blues very calming and relaxing.) This piece, also having a high-gloss resin coating,  jumped right out at me.  It is bright and happy and joyful.  Red is considered a stimulating colour, and the purple in this piece also has a lot of red in it.

This piece also reminded me of all of the colours of flowers that I love in the summer…


Toronto Flower Market

See the similarities??  I took the above photo at the Toronto Flower Market last summer.  These flowers just made me so happy.  Yes, because I love flowers, but also because of the riot of colours all in one place.  All of these beautiful colours, occurring in nature together, intense and glorious and vibrant.  It’s funny because I didn’t even realize until I saw these two photos together, how much they resemble one another!!

Maybe that is what it is – admiring the beauty of nature…  and wanting to bring that beauty into our homes.  I do think that living in Canada, where we are completely void of vivid colours outside for almost 6 months of the year, I think it is critical that we surround ourselves with it in our interior decor.  I honestly do think it’s like the equivalent of Season Affective Disorder – when you have a lack of any colour in your home!  I could not live without colour, and for my clients, I cannot design without colour…

Kappa, Miami Florida

Painting by Kappa, Artist in Residence at Gallery 212 in Miami, Florida.

Okay, yes I love a good monochromatic colour scheme as much as anyone….When I walked into the 212 Gallery in the Wynwood Design District of Miami, and saw the above painting, it took my breath away.  Yes, it did!  I sat and looked at it and spoke with the artist for about 15 minutes, and he graciously allowed me to photograph it.  I adore this piece – and at first it does not look like there is any colour, right?

Wrong.  There is so much going on here – I could easily build a room around this painting….I see white, cream, greys, black, gold and tan.  There is actually a lot of colour here, just not big bold expressions of colour, like in the first photo.  I am actually working with clients now, and while they do not have this painting, I did use it for the inspiration for our colour palette…

fabric samples

Fabric inspiration – monochromatic with a twist…
fabrics by Meredith Heron for Joanne Fabrics and by Robert Allen Fabrics

While we are predominantly using the taupes, creams, greys and blacks for our larger upholstered pieces, we are also using reds and golds to add even more colour.  What makes this colour scheme work is the textures and layering of similar shades of colours.  Fabulous textiles by Meredith Heron for Joanne Fabrics, as well as from Robert Allen Fabrics.  So while on the surface, there appears to not be much colour – there really is.  And so now you know that monochromatic does NOT need to mean boring, and there actually ARE many colours present even in something that we call a “monochromatic” scheme ….

“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Cori Halpern Interiors - High Park Kitchen - teacup

Client’s own vintage teacup and saucer.

I often get asked, “Where do you get all of your ideas?  Where does your inspiration come from?”  The honest answer is that inspiration can come from anything and from anywhere.  Sometimes, when trying to get a client to focus in on their “Wish List”, we discuss what we are going to fall IN LOVE with…

It is my theory that you have to fall in love with something as a springboard to the project. That something can be as small as a vintage teacup as in the above photo.  I adore the very unusual colour combination of this teacup and saucer. For this client’s kitchen, we used a combination of charcoal grey, soft grey, yellow, cream, and white as their colour scheme.


Neutral backdrop is used to showcase the client’s beautiful carpets and art collection.

Very often, what you fall in love with is a carpet, or a piece of furniture, or fabric, or artwork.  In the above photo, the client had a very beautiful collection of Persian and Turkish area carpets.  They were all in predominantly deep rich shades of red – which was our jumping off point for this complete condo renovation project.  They also had an extensive and fabulous art collection which we also wanted to showcase.  Given the crazy architectural details of this condo space, I chose to create a dramatic, but very neutral backdrop, so that what stands out in the space are the amazing colours of the artwork and the area carpets.  I also added black and grey furniture pieces as punctuation to the space, and to ground the furniture within all of the colour surrounding it.


Artwork as inspiration.

And then, there is artwork.  Something that I love working with.  To me, a space is naked without some kind of artwork in it.  When we started, my client had absolutely nothing else in this space except this magnificent piece by Nicole Katsuras, a Toronto artist whose work I totally love!  I am constantly inspired by artwork and the artists that create it.  Our goal in this space was to have furniture pieces that could live in the space with the painting and yet, not be overpowered by the size and intensity of the artwork.  We chose large neutral chairs and a sofa, in addition to the cocktail table and two skirted benches (not pictured) – all with modern traditional lines.  The carpet is actually quite traditional in it’s design, but actually the colours are contemporary and more muted versions of the colours in the painting.


Fabulous fabrics.

We then took those colours and had the best time with gorgeous and luxurious fabrics.  They are what totally makes this neutral sofa into something fabulous. I don’t “match” the fabrics to the artwork, but they are “inspired” by it.  It becomes a feeling, a mood, a way to tell a story… This space is fun, happy and fresh.  It is where a young family lives and celebrates and plays.  And that is exactly what was on the client’s “Wish List” – they wanted a space that reflected who they were, as well as a space that would grow with their family.  The inspiration came from what they fell “in love” with – the painting.

Inspiration of course can come from anywhere.  Inspiration is whatever makes you feel like you are at peace and comfortable in your space.  It’s what puts a smile on your face, it’s what you cannot live without, and what makes you happy every time you are surrounded by it.  The exciting thing is that there are so many amazing people and places and things to see and do and experience, and I never get tired of looking for and finding my creative inspiration.