Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Category Archives: Flowers + Nature

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.

"Calypso" collection of Sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabrics from Thibaut Design

Fabulous colour & pattern from the “Calypso Collection” of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics from Thibaut Design. Photo: Thibaut Design

It’s SPRING!! Well, okay almost. It’s ALMOST spring!! At least here in Toronto, we have had an incredibly mild winter (I really can’t complain too much this year) – I mean my trees have buds on them, and it is February! But thankfully next week is March.  I cannot believe it, and I am so excited.  I know it is very un-Canadian of me, but I detest the winter, and usually spend all of it willing spring to hurry up and get here. And now it is almost here – in about 24 days (give or take…) And while I hear that the weather may turn a bit nasty over the next few days, the fact remains that March is just around the corner and that means that I have already started imagining that spring has sprung…

In Canada, it is very easy to tell when spring has arrived. The first day that it hits about 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 degrees Farenheit) you will see us in shorts and driving our convertibles with the tops down.  Seriously, this is 100% true. The other thing that we do is plant lots of containers with beautiful, colourful, frost-tolerant plants and then start shopping for our outdoor furniture. I love it!

Calypso Collection from Thibaut indoor/outdoor fabrics


Outdoor fabrics from Thibaut Design’s new “Calypso Collection” are a perfect way to say “Hello Spring!” Photo: Thibaut Design

Now is the perfect time to think about and plan for a beautiful spring and glorious summer. I have always said that your outdoor space should be treated like another room in your home, and it is very often the most “unused real estate” that clients have.  Backyards are not just for the kids, or for a swing set (do people still have swing sets??) or for storing unused “stuff”.  Backyards and outdoor spaces are for living in, and for enjoying the great outdoors.  After all, here in Toronto we spend at least 6 months of the year inside. For those of you lucky to have a climate where you can be outdoors all year long – I am extremely jealous!! We cherish our warmer months –  so why not spend that outside?? I have a few ideas on how you can make that happen….

Furniture. Get something fabulous. Decorate your outdoor space and treat it as if it were another room in your home.

Turquoise Palace black wire ottoman

close-up white wire ottoman Turquoise Palace

Unique and intricate black and white wire “Willow Weave” indoor/outdoor ottomans from Turquoise Palace. Photos: Turquoise Palace

Turquoise Palace Density table and accessories

Stunning bronze “Density” table and colourful accessories are perfect for your outdoor space, from Turquoise Palace

I adore the unique indoor/outdoor furniture and accessories made in India and sourced by my friends at Turquoise Palace. With the vibrant colours and truly interesting shapes and designs, it’s a perfect way to add something special to your outdoor living space.


Responsive Home by Bobby Berk & Pardee Homes

Spectacular outdoor furniture and living space at the Responsive Home designed by Bobby Berk. Photo: Pardee Homes

Responsive Home by Bobby Berk outdoor space

Even this small-scale covered outdoor space is beautiful! Responsive Home designed by Bobby Berk. Photo: Pardee Homes

There are so many different ideas and choices for outdoor furniture! It’s come a long way since our parents put a picnic table and a sandbox in the backyard for us! Although, picnic tables are actually making a huge comeback so if you see a fabulous one, feel free to use that too. Outdoor furnishings have become more durable, lighter weight, easier to maintain, and more colourful. It is so fun and so easy to experiment with new textures, patterns and shapes. Televisions, fireplaces, fire pits, and water features are all popular elements to also add to your outdoor living space.

One of my favourite trends when it comes to outdoor living, actually involves the indoors too. Bringing the indoors out – or bringing the outdoors in.  However you see it, technology by companies such as NanaWall can create a whole “new dimension of air and light” to your space. NanaWall is a system of glass walls and panels that can fully open up a space to the outdoors, creating a wide opening and completely transforming the room. The barrier of a traditional wall can be fully removed, and all of the sights, sounds, light, and fresh air from the outdoors creates an incredible living and dining experience.

Responsive Home by Bobby Berk - contemporary farmhouse dining area indoor/outdoor

Responsive Home by Bobby Berk Contemporary Transitional dining indoor/outdoor space

Sliding glass panels bring the outdoors in, expanding the entire living & dining spaces. Responsive Homes in Henderson, Nevada designed by Bobby Berk. Photos: Pardee Homes

Incredible!! NanaWall glass wall panels are energy efficient, easy to operate, durable, and give you a clear view when they are open or closed. How fabulous is that? I love this idea – just imagine the back of your home completely opening out onto your outdoor space, patio, or deck. Amazing!

An easy way to start getting ready for spring, is to take a look at all of the fabulous new outdoor fabrics that are available. So many beautiful options are being shown now – in so many different colours, patterns and textures. Solids, stripes, prints, geometrics, and florals – all in beautiful bold colours, all on trend for spring and summer, and all are a perfect way to create a dynamic and luxurious outdoor living space.

Close up Thibaut Calypso peony/turquoise outdoor fabrics


How gorgeous is this peony/turquoise colour combination from Thibaut Design’s outdoor collection? Photo: Thibaut Design

Now these fabrics just make me so happy. They just scream “SPRING IS HERE!!” I love it.

So let’s get ready for spring – trust me, it is not too early!

Whether you are thinking of renovating, remodelling, refurnishing, or reupholstering – there are so many ways to live beautifully and experience the Great Outdoors.

Hello Spring? I am SO ready!

Formal gardens at Kylemore Abbey, Ireland.

Magnificent formal Victorian Gardens at Kylemore Abbey.
Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is a no-brainer for me. My absolute favourite colour is green. All shades of green, from deep British hunter green, to muted olive green, bright kelly green, fresh apple green, vivid chartreuse green – and everything in between. I do not discriminate! I love every tone and variation….it makes me feel alive, and maybe because it occurs in nature, it makes me feel relaxed. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to spring, when everything is bursting into colour, and out from the dullness and drab dirty whiteness of winter. When I see those first little green buds, I am giddy with excitement with the thought that soon everything will be green.
I think that being a redhead helps – I look great in green! I do believe that there is the perfect shade of green for everyone….although, I do find that many people tend to shy away from green. They have visions of bad Eighties seafoam green flashbacks, or worse – bad nineties sage green flashbacks. There are many classic shades of green that can suit any interior. It’s not only about the colour, but also about what I put with the green that makes the interior outstanding.


Fabulous upholstered green headboard with bold black and white.
IG photo by Preston Konrad at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh, PA.

I LOVE how this perfect kelly green is paired with bold black and white patterns. How vibrant! How graphic and modern and fun! Can you imagine how you would feel walking into this hotel space? This space has so much positive energy, you couldn’t help but be happy here…The green adds an unexpected freshness to this colour scheme. I also love how the turquoise lamp adds another layer and something special to this room.


One of my favourite projects! Lytton Park Kitchen Photo: Stephani Buchman

One of the reasons that this interior works, is that the spring green chair fabric is paired with the gorgeous Robin’s egg blue print on the roman shade and toss cushions. Both look great against the deep, rich colour of the beautiful hardwood. We mixed texture, pattern and colour, along with the contrast of light and dark, to create a dynamic space. This kitchen feels fresh and light, creating a feeling and the illusion of spaciousness. One of my favourite kitchen projects!

emerald green leopard print fabric

Beacon Hill Fabrics, emerald green AND leopard print! GASP! LOVE IT!!

After all of the rain that we have had here in Toronto, making everything so lush, and after my recent trip to Ireland, I am definitely inspired by green! Now, I just have to find a place to use this…..

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