Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Category Archives: Architechture

close-up detail artwork by Erin Loree

Artwork makes me happy, like this stunning close-up detail of painting by Toronto artist, Erin Loree. Photo: Instagram @erin_loree 

It’s been a little nutty! We all get busy. So busy and caught up with work, with family, with the business of everyday life, with the craziness of what is going on in the world, that we sometimes forget to stop and just breathe for a minute. And sometimes we just forget to appreciate the beautiful that is all around us. Oh – and we forget to take time to write a blog post!

It’s been a while….I cannot believe how delinquent I have been in my blog posting!! That is just the kind of spring and summer it has been. So busy with work, clients, and designing wonderful spaces that I too, have forgotten to take time to write, to post, to pause, to breathe, and to appreciate beauty.

It has been a whirlwind of a spring and summer! I completed some wonderful projects – our Cedarvale Kitchen Project and our Benvenuto Condo Project. I am deep into our Sanibel Family Room Project, our Palace Pier Condo Project, and our York Mills Reno Project. And, I have just begun on our Bungalow Reno Project, and our Luxury Commercial Project. I have designed countless pieces of custom furniture, window treatments and millwork. I will be participating for my second year in the Furniture Bank fundraising event gala, The Chair Affair. So busy? You bet! And it is amazing.

I think as a Designer I think I take beautiful things for granted – I purposefully try to surround myself with fabulous-ness every day! I just realized how fast this time has gone by, and how I need to actually take some time and do a few things that are not work related ….

Chihuly Exhibit at the ROM

Magical Chihuly Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, “Laguna Torcello”. Spectacular glass sculpture.

 

Glass Sculpture Dale Chihuly exhibit at the ROM

Sleek drama meets nature. Chihuly glass sculpture with Birch tree logs from Ontario. Stunning.

Realizing how hectic my work weeks had become, I decided I needed a breather. And nothing makes me happier than leaving my surroundings and immersing myself in beauty. Beauty in a museum, a gallery, on a vacation, a change of scenery. What do they say – “Change is as good as a rest”….? I agree.

Two weeks ago I visited the Chihuly Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, a spectacular installation of glass sculpture. Absolutely magical! I was dwarfed by the scale and size of this amazing exhibition. I actually left feeling lighter, happier, inspired. Fantastic, whimsical beauty.

 

Lawren Harris exhibit at the AGO

Beloved Canadian artist, Lawren Harris, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. “Icebergs, Davis Strait”.

Another weekend, another art exhibition. It is clear that my soul is recharged by taking the time to experience something beautiful, something inspirational. I am truly a lover of galleries, museums, artwork, art shows, exhibits – I especially love a great vintage market or antique fair. Anything or any place where I can find something interesting, inspiring and beautiful.

Last weekend was the Lawren Harris exhibit at the AGO. Curated by Steve Martin, it was a magnificently detailed showcase of Lawren Harris’ paintings, featuring the earlier and lesser-known works as well as his more famous pieces. I loved seeing how his earlier city paintings of Toronto in the 1900’s transformed into his famous northern-inspired works of the 1920’s that we all know and love, and that are synonymous with Harris. The most perfect colour palettes. I didn’t want it to end….

 

Art Gallery of Ontario, architect Frank Gehry

The only thing more beautiful than the artwork is the AGO building, designed by the brilliant Frank Gehry.

One of my favourite spaces in Toronto is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). I never get tired of it. I could go every weekend and see something different, and be inspired every single time. Beloved Canadian architect, Frank Gehry is a genius and transformed this space into something that is absolutely breathtaking. It is easy to experience beauty here in this place. I could just sit here for hours….

 

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

And then there is my happy place – Ireland. Beautiful beyond belief. Photo by: Zev Skolnik “Cliffs of Moher”.

And while I cannot go there every weekend (I wish!), I often think back to my trip last year to Ireland. Magical, colourful, and everything that I had always dreamed it would be. It is truly my happy place. A vacation (even a mini-vacation) can be the perfect place to find beauty, relaxation and rejuvenation. Just looking at this photo lowers my blood pressure…..pure bliss.

Sorry for the lapse in writing these posts. Life and work can sometimes get in the way….And while I am still trying to dig my way out from under piles of fabric samples, technical drawings, proposals, and paperwork, I will make certain to try and balance it all out.  I watch the news and see the political craziness going on and it makes me sad to see such ugliness in the world.

Now, more than ever, it’s so important to take a minute (or more than a minute) to recharge, to refresh, and to nurture the soul. To be kind to one another, to feel the light. For me, it is taking time to simply experience a little bit of beautiful.

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Contemporary Transitional Responsive Home designed by Bobby Berk.  Photo courtesy of Pardee Homes.

As a Designer, it’s my job to be concerned about the aesthetics of a space. But that is not the whole story. Because when good Design meets cutting edge Innovation, the results are not only exciting, they are transformative.

Fortunately for me, I have seen some incredible state-of-the-art technology on my recent trip with Modenus, to KBIS2016 in Las Vegas with BlogTourKBIS. What an opportunity! Truly fantastic to be able to see what is on trend for 2016 in terms of technology and innovation for the kitchen, the bathroom, and the entire home.  Total game changers!!

Before the KBIS2016 show began, we were treated to a tour of three different specialty builder show homes. The first two were the Responsive Homes built by Pardee Homes, and designed by the very talented Bobby Berk.

Contemporary Farmhouse Responsive Home Outdoor patio at the “Contemporary Farmhouse” Responsive Home.  Photo courtesy of Pardee Homes.

 

Contemporary Farmhouse Responsive Home kitchen

The Kitchen, Great Room and Dining Room all have access to outdoor living space. Photo: Pardee Homes

These two incredible show homes were specifically built and marketed for the Millennials now entering the housing market. These Responsive Homes are focusing on great design, high-tech amenities, multiple connections to the outdoors, outdoor living spaces and nearly net-zero solar power. The floor plans are unique and customizable, and the spaces can adapt as the homeowner’s living needs change.

Contemporary Transitional Responsive Home kitchen

Fabulous kitchen in the “Contemporary Transitional” Responsive Home. Photo courtesy of Pardee Homes.

Located in the Inspirada Community in Henderson, Nevada (just outside of Las Vegas), both Responsive Homes are incredibly innovative and are equipped with electronic controls for temperature, lighting and home automation. The homeowners can easily manage the home’s energy use and comfort from anywhere via tablet or device.

 

The next spectacular show home we were privileged to be invited to, was The New American Home, built by NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), Designed by Element Design Build. This home was built to showcase and demonstrate the most innovative concepts, materials, designs, construction techniques, green building standards, and energy efficiency, with the goal that these ideas can be used and incorporated into any home, and that they are equally as important as the aesthetics of the space.  It is the official showcase house of the annual International Builders’ Show.

Butlers pantry at New American Home

Stunning and modern, this Butler’s Pantry features appliances by Thermador. Photo: New American Home

New American Home NAHB bedroom

One of two Master Suites in the New American Home. Each comes equipped with a full coffee & breakfast bar. I would seriously never leave my bedroom….

The New American Home is also showcasing their innovative design and technology by utilizing energy efficient appliances, low VOC paints and adhesives, chemical-free wood cabinetry, a whole-home automation system, lighting control systems, dual flush toilets, low-flow shower heads & faucets, native & drought tolerant plants, and a weather-sensitive irrigation system. Amazing!!

 

All of the appliances in the New American Home kitchen and Butler’s Pantry were supplied by Thermador, an iconic American appliance brand, showcasing the wide array of innovative cooking, cooling and cleaning appliances and how they can be personalized and customized to each home owner’s style of entertaining.

Thermador – I think it’s more like Therm-ADORE!! I was so impressed by this brand’s level of creativity and innovation!  I have never been more excited by a dishwasher in my entire life! I so love how Thermador has been able to completely and fully integrate all of their appliances, so that they appear SEAMLESS in the kitchen area.  No tell-tale framing around the refrigerators or dishwasher!

Thermador blue light dishwasher

I mean, how sexy is this dishwasher with that blue light?? Perfectly integrated Thermador Sapphire Dishwasher.

The Sapphire Dishwasher also has a flexible third rack and storage options, as well as a unique 20-minute cycle. This dishwasher can be also be fully customized to reflect whatever design aesthetic I am looking for, with innovations to enhance the experience of entertaining, ideal for clients that love to host friends and family.

 

Thermador kitchen

I love how the refrigerator and freezer are completely concealed! Photo courtesy of Thermador.

 

MicroDrawer Microwave

A brilliant way to save space with the built-in MicroDrawer Microwave. Photo courtesy of Thermador. 

Thermador (seriously Therm-ADORE!) is celebrating its 100th birthday, and this year is launching some truly groundbreaking appliances. Thermador has provided a number of unique ways to not only save space, but to also provide personalized, high-performance, luxury, and innovative products for my clients.  From the 60″ Pro Grand Range Collection, to the Frameless Freedom 36″ Induction Cooktop, and the Masterpiece Series Steam and Convection Oven and Warming Drawer, as well as the Wine Reserve Refrigerator, and Under Counter Refrigeration, the entertaining possibilities are endless!!

 

 

TOTO Neorest bathroom suite

Beautiful TOTO bathroom suite showcasing the NEOREST Collection. Photo courtesy of TOTO.

You may think that there is not a whole lot to get excited about when it comes to toilets….but you would be wrong.  Here comes the “potty talk”!! Seriously, I have never wanted to learn so much, or been so impressed with toilets as I am with the TOTO Neorest 750H toilet.  Literally, an “intelligent” toilet!! Winner of the iF International Award for Design Excellence, this toilet has IT ALL.  Intuitive sensor operation with automatic open/close AND automatic flush, integrated personal cleansing system, warm air dryer, heated seat, in-bowl catalytic deodorizer, as well as energy and water-saving features.  It also has what has to be the coolest toilet innovation that I have ever seen – the Actilight Cleansing Technology. Not only is the bowl of the toilet coated in titanium dioxide (making it nearly impossible for anything to stick to the bowl’s surface), but there is also an integrated UV light in the seat lid that is activated when the lid is closed, creating a “photocatalysis” and thus breaking down and virtually eliminating all organic substances that could be in the bowl!! WOW! This results in a toilet that remains incredibly clean and fresh for MONTHS at a time.  NO TOILET SCRUBBING, people!! Can you imagine??

Neorest 750H TOTO toilet

Close-up of the NEOREST 750H toilet by TOTO. Planet-friendly innovation with a 1-gallon “Tornado” dual flush system. Photo courtesy of TOTO.

I mean, who wouldn’t love a toilet that has its own remote control?? Truly the Bentley of all toilets…TOTO has created the NEOREST Collection as an example of TOTO‘s Total Design. The perfect blending of ultra high-efficiency, ergonomic and inclusive design features, and an elegant sculptural form with clean, simple lines.

Distinctive luxury, indeed.

 

I don’t know about you, but my mind was blown by these ingeniously designed and brilliantly engineered products and spaces. Every one of them impeccably showcased innovation, design, luxury, stellar performance, and superior attention to detail.

It’s so exciting!! Truly groundbreaking. How fabulous to be a Designer and have so many possibilities that we can now use to make our lives, and the lives of others, more intuitive, more comfortable, and more integrated. How wonderful that this new and revolutionary technology can also be design-forward, luxurious, distinctive and also good for the planet. Brilliant!

Design + Innovation = Magic

 

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Artwork by Toronto Artist, Erin Loree.

Mondays…how to make them something to look forward to??  I have decided to create “Colour Me Mondays” and write a blog post on Mondays about colours that are giving me inspiration, thinking about, wishing for, or that I am working with or wanting to be working with…

Today it is Navy.  I am definitely feeling “In the Navy” these days….it is my newest neutral of choice.  Now, those that know me well will know that I am absolutely a “green girl”, and I have actually often found that most people are either “blue people” OR “green people”.  It is not often that people like both.  Kind of like “cat people” and “dog people”….Of course, there ARE people who like both colours – and I certainly fall into that category.  Navy is a true classic.  And of course, it looks great with green!  One of my favourite colour combinations of all time is navy and kelly green….LOVE!!  Like I said, navy is a real neutral and looks fabulous with most other colours.  In the stunning painting by Toronto artist, Erin Loree that I have featured above, she pairs pinks, greens and yellows with various shades of navy blue.  This piece makes me feel happy, energetic, and bold – all at the same time.  I think because navy can be all of those things, as well as a perfect grounding for more vibrant colours.

navy blue/white wallpaper by Thibaut

Wallpaper by Thibaut.

Another classic combination is navy and white.  Always timeless, always fashionable, always crisp.  And you can certainly add any number of other colours into your navy and white scheme….I adore these navy and white wallpapers from Thibault. How great would this be in a powder room?

Navy is also a great option if black is too harsh.  Some of the most beautiful shades of navy have a gorgeous blue-black shading to them.  It makes it so interesting and unexpected.  Nothing will ever replace black – navy is not the new black, but navy can be just as spectacular and dramatic.  I was recently in Ireland and the UK (more postings on that later!!) and walking in London, I spied this beautiful working class row house dating back to the 18th century.  Yes, the door and the shutters and trim could easily have been black and still been stunning, but it was the perfect shade of the blue-black that really caught my eye…

18th century row house, London

18th Century row house, London, England. Love the deep orange brick colour with the blue-black trim and door.

So yes, now that I am currently obsessed with navy, I tend to see it everywhere!  I think that it is also because navy is such a classic, we also tend to see it in fashion as well as decor.  It never goes out of style.  In fact, what keeps navy current and “modern” is the other colours that we pair with it.  Navy and white goes without saying, is always a good idea, but now we are seeing more navy and brown, navy and oxblood, navy and green (also always a classic!), and navy and blush.  We are even seeing navy with other blue tones.

design by Todd Romano, Elle Decor IG

Stunning design by Todd Romano, taken from Elle Decor IG. Navy Library in a NYC apartment.

And I HAD to grab this screen shot from Elle Decor’s IG account, showing how amazing navy on navy on navy can work.  I am completely IN LOVE with this room, and I especially love the contrast of the tan leather chairs.

So you can see, navy does not need to be dark or gloomy or boring.  Navy is smart, exciting, versatile, chic, classic, sophisticated, sexy, dramatic, modern, traditional…..I could go on and on.  Navy can be everything.  So I am beyond happy to actually be using navy on my current Cricket Club Living Room Decor Project!! Navy is my current “Colour Me Mondays” colour obsession.

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Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland. Pre-12th Century.

I absolutely love to travel.  I love everything about it.  In addition to being a Designer, I am also a huge history/architecture buff.  I have always been fascinated with stories from the past, so give me a foreign country and some ancient architecture with a good story attached, and I am in!!  Love it!  I am completely amazed at how these beautiful and magnificent structures could not only be designed and built, but how it could all be done BY HAND!  And how most of these buildings have stood the test of time, sometimes hundreds of years later, only for me to travel thousands of miles to admire them.

Here is the thing though….although it may seem normal for people who travel to take photos, I tend to take A LOT of photos.  And photos of unusual things.  I see beauty in some unusual things, that most people would just walk by….

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Library, Long Room, at Trinity College. Dublin, Ireland.

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Floor to ceiling jam-packed with hats! All sizes, all colours! Dublin, Ireland.

To me, there is a similarity in the beauty of these two photos….above, the tens of thousands of books stacked row upon row in the magnificent Long Room, at the Library at Trinity College.  And then, I walked across the street and into this little shop, Kevin & Howlin, and saw hundreds of hats, of all shapes and sizes and colours, and bolts of Irish tweed fabric – also stacked row upon row…

I also tend to take tons of photos of architectural detailing that I find unique and interesting.

wrought iron detailing, London, England

Wrought iron detailing, London, England.

I have dozens of photos of wrought iron, from all across England!  Of course, as you can imagine, my obsessive need to capture all of these beautiful and special moments tends to slow down the journey for everyone around me!  I am constantly catching up with my traveling companions, and they are constantly waiting for me! #DesignerProblems
I think as a Designer, my eyes see things or parts of things, that other people may not notice.  I do see the big picture, but I also tend to see all of the little bits that make up that big picture.  I marvel in the details.  I ask A TON of questions! I get fixated on the fact that most of what I am looking at was not created by a machine, but by someone’s own hands.  In Europe, everything is so well documented, that it is easy to find out about their famous architects.  I learned a lot about Charles Barry and Christopher Wren, while I was in England…

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Ceiling detail of the Divinity School at Oxford University, England. Construction began here in 1423.

I mean WOW!  No words to describe the intricate detailing of this space…

So as you can imagine, I am constantly looking up, and around, and not particularly looking where I am going….#DesignerProblems

I am also ALWAYS the one to stop (and make everyone else stop) and hang out of the window to get a shot.  Yes, I am that crazy person by the side of the road – always.

One of the biggest issues that  people have traveling with me though, is my need to photograph every cool and interesting bathroom.  Yup!  I love a well-designed bathroom! I did manage to stop myself at a very posh restaurant in Edinburgh called The Secret Garden, at the Witchery. Very fancy (I was completely under dressed!) and stunningly beautiful, while I stealthily took discreet pics of the historic dining space, I did restrain myself and did not bring my camera into the bathroom.  Which I totally regret, because it was so gorgeous!!!

ceiling detail at the Secret Garden Dining Room, The Witchery, Edinburgh

The Secret Garden Dining Room at The Witchery, Edinburgh, Scotland. Ceiling detail is painted in the traditional Scots vernacular style based on the famous Rossend Castle.

The above shot was taken in the Secret Garden Dining Room…..yet again, I am looking up.  You just cannot take me anywhere!!  Thankfully my darling hubby is used to my antics and nothing fazes him.  So if the Dining Room is this gorgeous – you can imagine how nice the bathroom was!!

Suffice it to say that when I travel, I am like a little kid on Christmas – I just do not know where to look first.  So I look at everything.  I not only photograph every tiny little detail that I see, I also snap the bigger image, too.  And I take my time.  Time to enjoy, to savour, and to truly SEE and absorb what the big world has to show me.

It may not be easy to travel with me, I need to stop often, to ask questions often, and to be totally aware and thankful for my surroundings.  I need to joyfully memorize each moment and every detail.  It is all a part of my full experience. Is this high maintenance?  Maybe, but I am totally okay with that.  #DesignerProblems