Cori Halpern

Cori Halpern logo

Design that brings your personal style to life.

Category Archives: Artwork + Artists

Cori Halpern Interiors -Sunset at Fogo Island Inn, NL

The unmistakable silhouette of the Fogo Island Inn at sunset. Even more beautiful than I had dreamed….

It all actually started in May 2016. I started thinking about where I wanted to travel to celebrate my milestone birthday in 2017, so I started doing a bit of reading and research. So many exciting fabulous places in the world to see and explore! I then realized that I really wanted to explore my own country…I had been to the Canadian Maritimes many times, but never to Newfoundland. And since it was built in 2014, I have been completely obsessed by the amazing Fogo Island Inn – the architecture, the remote location, the incredible landscape, the design creativity and the story behind the legendary Inn. So it was settled, that is where our adventure would take us….Also on my bucket list were whales, puffins, and icebergs, and the best chance seeing these would be if we were in Newfoundland in late June/early July. With only 29 rooms total available at the Inn and since we wanted to be there during the Summer Season, I began planning this incredible trip more than a year in advance.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Ferryland Lighthouse NL

Driving the coastal Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula, we stopped and had the most amazing picnic at the Ferryland Lighthouse.

 

Cori Halpern Interiors - Newfoundland coastline at Ferryland

Sea and sky meet the rugged Newfoundland coastline. So beautiful, and so vast….

We arrived in Newfoundland at the end of June 2017 and began our adventure. Even better was that we were joined by our very close friends, which made the trip even more fun! More laughs, more crazy, more funny stories that we will be telling for years to come. I thought that if Ireland and Muskoka had a baby, it would look like Newfoundland…. blue ocean, unbelievably vast open spaces, rocky cliffs, green fields, dense boreal forests, and the most incredibly nice people I have ever met.

Canada Day was extra special this year, and to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary, we drove to Cape Spear – the most eastern point of North America. Then it was off to the legendary George Street, (most bars per capita in the world) where we got “Screeched In” and became honorary Newfoundlanders. So much fun!

Cori Halpern Interiors - Cape Spear NL

Cori Halpern Interiors - St. John's NL colourful row houses

 From the historic lighthouse at Cape Spear to the colourful row houses in St. John’s, Newfoundland is truly fascinating with something special everywhere you look….

I did not expect such an explosion of colour. Everywhere. Everything in Newfoundland is colourful, and everything is painted (or wallpapered, which I also LOVE!!) in glorious mismatched technicolour. Colour combinations that you would never in a million years expect, but it all works in perfect crazy harmony. At first glance it feels like someone bought a bunch of paint on sale, and just went to work with whatever they had on hand. But look again, and you will see how absolutely wonderful these unusual colour combinations can be. I know that I was definitely inspired to “think outside the box” and put colours and patterns together that I otherwise may not have.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Beautiful Trinity NL

Beautiful Trinity NL as the sun is beginning to set. A picture postcard town.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Colourful Quidi Vidi Village NL

So colourful in Quidi Vidi Village. Seriously – turquoise and hot pink!  Added bonus – excellent local beer from the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company.

Cori Halpern Interiors - classic green, Library at Fogo Island Inn NL

Classic “Newfoundland Green” in the Library at the Fogo Island Inn. All painted by hand. Everything constructed locally with love.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Chicken Coop, Port Rexton NL

Seriously, this is a chicken coop!! How gorgeous is this?? Port Rexton NL

In truth, I could write a novel about my “NewFoundLove” for Newfoundland. In fact, I reserve the right to share another post about this with you, because I truly feel that I have not even barely begun to show you how incredible this place truly is….we were there for 12 days and it was not long enough. I would go back tomorrow (but I would bring warmer clothes!).

But, my novel would not be complete without several chapters devoted to the Fogo Island Inn. I will try my best to give you the “Coles Notes” version. Suffice it to say that this was a big Bucket List item, and it did not disappoint. I still dream about it. I will go back. I probably think about it at least twice a day, every day. I am still obsessed, and meeting the Innkeeper and founder of the Inn, Zita Cobb, was truly a thrill – she was incredibly gracious and lovely, by the way.

Together with her brothers, she created the Shorefast Foundation, which operates the Inn as a non-profit enterprise, putting every cent of profit back into the local community. The Inn has breathed new life into a once fading community by providing employment to local residents first as craftspeople in the building of the Inn and all of the furniture, lighting, and decorative items, and continues to this day with many locals serving as community ambassadors and guides to guests of the Inn.

Canadian architect, Todd Saunders, who is now based in Norway but grew up in nearby Gander NL, was hired to design several free-standing artists studios in addition to the Inn. It is truly spectacular, with the floor plan as an asymmetrical “X” shape, and each of the 29 rooms facing the North Atlantic Ocean. Each room has a wood burning stove, large windows that open to catch the ocean breeze, and beautifully locally crafted furniture. The “stilts” that we have come to associate with the Inn are reminiscent of the local fishing shacks on the island, but also achieve the more important function of supporting a structure that creates minimal impact on the rocky shoreline and ecosystem.

The dining room, with it’s high ceilings, is at the corner of the Inn facing west, overlooking the ocean as well, so that every guest can see the sunset at dinner time. When we were there, we were lucky enough to see the armada of icebergs floating by…

I have never seen anything as magical as the sun setting from this very spot.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Fogo Island Inn Exterior

Fogo Island Inn NL  Just spectacular. My photo cannot truly capture how special this place really is….Architect: Todd Saunders

Handmade summer quilt and bedding at Fogo Island Inn NL

Cori Halpern Interiors - Dining Room at Fogo Island Inn NL

Sunset at Fogo Island Inn NL

Everything at the Fogo Island Inn is magical…Everything is made and sourced locally, by the community. 

It is now very clear to me that this experience cannot possibly be summed up in one post….so there will have to be a sequel!!

Newfoundland has changed me. It has inspired me. It has made me slow down and think. It has opened my eyes to a place that feels special beyond words. I am still in a state of disbelief that I found all of this magic in my own country, when it truly felt like a different planet. I am so incredibly thankful to have had this amazing adventure.

If you have never been, you must go – but please take me with you.

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.

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…

IMG_3346

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