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2017….What A Year!! December 30, 2017

Cori Halpern Interiors Best Nine of Instagram 2017

My “Best Nine of Instagram 2017” photo collection. What an incredible year!

Well that certainly flew by quickly! I cannot believe that another year has come and gone, and we are now at the end of 2017. It was an extraordinary year for me personally and professionally. A year of so many adventures, milestones, incredible projects, wonderful happenings, and of course – the unexpected.

We started last January off with our daughter leaving for a 4-month adventure in Asia and a sewage back-up in our basement and laundry room, immediately following her departure. What happened next was a surprise renovation of both our basement and laundry room. Apparently it was a huge success, as many of my Instagram followers absolutely loved those posts and it appears more than once in my “Best Nine of Instagram 2017” photo collection!

Cori Halpern Interiors - Laundry Room

Love how our fabulous laundry room renovation turned out! So colourful, glam, very efficient, and I wish I had done it years ago!

Thank you so much to Grohe Canada, Saltillo Tile, and Bilbrough & Co. for all of your generous support. After such an “icky” start to this project, I truly adore this space!

 

Project-wise, we also started the year off in full swing with both our Chaplin Estates Project and our Almond Avenue Project. Both of which were year-long projects, and are almost complete now. We will be photographing them (along with my laundry room!) in early 2018. Both of these projects had so many layers, custom designed furniture, built-ins and lighting, as well as some fabulous wallpaper and fabrics. It has been a pleasure and I am almost sorry that they will be completed soon…..

Cori Halpern Interiors - Chaplin Estates Project chair and toss cushion

Close up detail of the wing chair and toss cushion in the Living Room at our Chaplin Estates Project.

 

Cori Halpern Interiors - Almond Avenue Master Bedroom

Detail photo of the custom walnut headboard and bedding at our Almond Avenue Project.

 

In addition, we also finished our York Mills Reno Project, our Sanibel Family Room, our Palace Pier Condo Project, our Cedarvale Kitchen, our High Park Kitchen, our Stewart Street Condo Renovation, our Beach Condo Master Ensuite, and our Project Plumbstead. All turned out beautifully, I am so proud of each and every one, and will hopefully be working with several of these clients again in the near future. Maybe even in 2018!!

 

This was truly a milestone year for me (very B I G birthday!!) and we celebrated by travelling to some incredible places.

This past summer we went to Newfoundland, and it was an unbelievable highlight for me. I instantly fell in love with this absolutely beautiful province. I do have a NewFoundLove for Newfoundland, that is for sure. And of course the cherry on top of this sundae would be our stay at the Fogo Island Inn. Hubby and I are currently plotting how we can get back there, and how soon….quite possibly the most magical place I have ever been to.

Cori Halpern Interiors -Sunset at Fogo Island Inn, NL

Such an incredible adventure! No wonder an image of the Fogo Island Inn made my “Best Nine of Instagram 2017” too! Bucket List – check.

 

Cori Halpern - Trinity, Newfoundland

Cori Halpern - icebergs in Twillingate, Newfoundland

Handmade summer quilt and bedding at Fogo Island Inn NL

Magical images from Newfoundland – unbelievable scenery in Trinity NL, gigantic icebergs in Twillingate NL, and the most fabulous mixture of colour and pattern at the Fogo Island Inn.

 

Nothing gets my “creative juices” flowing, or gives me inspiration like travel does. That’s why I couldn’t pass up a trip with my honey to Rome and Amsterdam in the fall. Two of my favourite cities, and places that I could go back to over and over again. We visited some old favourite haunts, and discovered new sights as well. There is something very special about visiting Europe, and I will take every opportunity that I can to travel there! The colours, the culture, the history, the art, the architecture, and of course the food!

Cori Halpern - Rome, the Vatican

Cori Halpern - fruit stand Castel Gandolfo, Italy

Cori Halpern - exploring the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, Italy Memorial plaques

I love Rome…..above – views at The Vatican, a fruit stand in Castel Gandolfo, and the memorial plaques in the Jewish Ghetto.

 

Cori Halpern - Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Cori Halpern - vintage antique Dutch plates, Amsterdam

Cori Halpern - 17th century Canal Houses Amsterdam, the Netherlands

I think I could honestly live in Amsterdam. An incredible city, very special to me. Above photos – looking up at the Rijks Museum, exploring the antique shops in the Nine Streets, and perfect 17th Century Canal Houses.

I truly think that I was rejuvenated from all of this travel. It definitely gave me a renewed focus on the kind of Designer that I want to be, what I want the spaces that I create to look like, and how to best to reflect both my design aesthetic as well as my clients’ needs. Let’s just say that the world needs more colour, baby!!

To say that I am grateful would be a huge understatement. I realize that the word “blessed” get massively overused, but in this case it is true. I have had an exceptional 2017, with both personal and professional accomplishments that I am very proud of. I’m going into 2018 and a brand new year with new goals and aspirations. Goals that were only dreams a few years ago, but are now real and attainable. We have exciting new projects lined up that I am so excited about. Some great projects that we will be photographing and updating our website and portfolio pages. My business will be growing and moving. Yes! All good things to look forward to in 2018.

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year. All the very best in 2018!!

Cori Halpern Interiors - fireworks Happy New Year 2018

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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

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.

CondoKitchenTable

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.

LRChairsWholePainting

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.

pillows

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.

Antique teacup and saucer

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to be invited by my good friend, and fellow Designer, Suzanne Davison, to a lovely afternoon of High Tea at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.  It was a charity event, hosted by Homefront Magazine, for Canada Cares, an organization that supports professional and family Caregivers, and recognizes the importance of caregiving to both the quality of life and the well being of our communities.  There were a number of well known and respected people from the Design Community there – suppliers, Designers, and media.

One of the suggestions was that guests could bring a fancy teacup for “show and tell”.  Well lucky me – I must have 50 fancy teacups and saucers.  Some from my grandmother, some from my great-Auntie Bea, some from a family friend.  All beautiful and special to me, and I love them.  I love their unique personalities, their colour, and their simple, elegant beauty.  So, of course I was going to bring one, but which one?  I was disappointed when I saw that my favourite mint green and gold beauty had a chip in it – couldn’t bring that one!  So, I selected a very ornate cup and saucer.  I have no idea why – but this one was truly special.  It was from my grandmother, who died the year after I was born.  I didn’t know her, but have heard that she was a fabulous hostess, baker extraordinaire, and loved a tea party.  So that seemed like a great match.  It would be like she was there with me…

So, my tea cup and I found our seats,  and had a lovely afternoon.  Everyone was invited to come and tell the stories of their tea cups.  We went to stand at the front of the room with our treasures, and one by one, each person told a little story.  Well – each story was more exciting and exotic than the next.  I didn’t have a story!  The other ladies from my table and I exchanged glances….we had not much to tell, but we listened intently to the story about the set of cups and saucers given to an Italian mechanic from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and passed down to the great-niece that was at the podium.  We listened to the published author, who was photographed in her teacup on the cover of her latest book.  And lastly, we listened to the beautiful elderly lady, who was helped up to the podium, as she told the story of how her teacup escaped from Nazi Germany.  We immediately sat down, and applauded this elegant lady’s story, unanimously giving her the prize for the best story.

I thought that was the end of it.  Apparently not.  Two very distinguished ladies from Wm. Ashley’s were also there – seriously judging the teacups!  They ooohed and aaahed over my cup and saucer, examining it, and asking me it’s provenance.  I told them that it was my grandmother’s, but that was all I knew.

After walking around the room, they were ready to make the announcement.  The two ladies stepped up to the podium and announced that after much thought, that there was one very special teacup in the room.  One that stood out from all of the others.  And then they pointed to mine!  I was so excited!  Not only because I have never won anything before, but because it was my special teacup!!  It’s funny, because I had really put so much thought into which one I would bring, and here it was – winning a prize!

The prize itself was lovely (a gift certificate to a hair salon, and a book), but the actual winning was more exciting.  The ladies photographed the teacup and came back to fawn over it a little more, telling me that it was hand painted and admiring the workmanship.  I then wrapped the cup and saucer up very carefully, in my grandmother’s vintage Irish linen napkins, and put them into the little fabric bag that I had transported my treasures in.

On the way home, I thought about my grandmother.  How excited she would have been to have her teacup win a prize.  How beautiful the cup and saucer really were, how special and unique.  How it’s beauty and design have stood the test of time, and is still timeless, decades after it was made.  That is the thing about good design, and about classic and interesting pieces.  They can be appreciated, and used, and loved for many years, by many generations.