Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Category Archives: Livingrooms

Wilsonart black and white Solicor specialty laminate

Wilsonart® SOLICOR™ is a specialty laminate created with a solid color core – eliminating the troublesome “brown line” of traditional laminates. Photo: Wilsonart

I am still so full of inspiration from my recent trip to Las Vegas for KBIS2016, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, as a part of the Modenus BlogTourKBIS. An incredible experience and a Designer’s paradise in terms of creative inspiration, innovation, and invention! So many new products, new suppliers, and new ideas for me to explore and discover.

Something that was also a wonderful surprise was just how many venerable and trusted brands were also represented at KBIS2016. Fabulous products by design darlings Karastan, Wilsonart, and Wood-Mode Fine Cabinetry were on display, and ALL had completely reinvented existing ideas and were showcasing some of our new designer favourites. It’s not often that you can get me all excited about flooring, or laminate, or even cabinetry – but I was blown away by what I saw, and super impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of these brands!

Wilsonart-28 copper shelving/Tori Aston & Modenus

Beautiful Wilsonart Quartz Collection – perfect for countertops! Photo: Tori Aston Photography & Modenus

Wilsonart-27 copper shelving close-up/Tori Aston & Modenus

Perfect copper metallic done in laminate! Amazing.  Photo: Tori Aston Photography & Modenus

Wilsonart is one of those long-trusted and favourite brands that every Designer has used.  Founded in 1956 in Temple, Texas, by the end of the 1970’s Wilsonart Laminate had become one of North America’s leading brands of decorative laminates. It was fabulous to see how creative and innovative this brand has been in actively developing new and exciting products that are not only practical, but gorgeous as well. I am totally in love with the Decorative Metals Collection, which are actually pure metal surfaces with a sturdy laminate backing. These copper shelves are truly stunning. Also, they have done a fabulous job developing their Wilsonart Quartz Collection, as shown in the top photo, an engineered stone that is perfect for countertops.

As much as I LOVE the way that Wilsonart has showcased the metallics (love the bronze, the copper, and the gorgeous pewter!!), I do have a soft spot for the new Retro Collection….

Wilsonart Retro Boomerang Collection

The new Retro Renovation Collection featuring the classic boomerang design was introduced at KBIS2016. Photo: Wilsonart

Wilsonart introduced seven new classic retro colours in this boomerang motif, designed to emphasize the small-scale, tone-on-tone, abstract pattern in popular colours from the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s. My favourites are the pink (First Lady Pink) made popular by Mamie Eisenhower in the 1950’s, and the green (Delightful Jade), inspired by vintage jadeite milk glass – which I collect and adore!


Another long-time favourite for me is Karastan.  A trusted and beloved brand, a designer staple for sure. Karastan was founded in 1928, and their innovation made the production of stylish, high-quality carpets affordable to the consumer. It was actually American retail icon, Marshall Field, who pioneered the technology that could make elegant, machine-made carpets and rugs, that became known as the Karastan brand. Fascinating!!

So how would Karastan impress me at KBIS2016? I was excited to find out…

Karastan at KBIS wool wall to wall carpet

Beautiful wool carpet in stunning patterns and elegant colours. I LOVE the Scottish Highlands & Southwick Gardens Collections.

Karastan Scottish Highlands image

Wool is beautifully soft to the touch, and I love the subtle hint of tartan in the Scottish Highlands Collection. Photo: Karastan

This collection is made out of 100% New Zealand wool, which is not only soft and comfortable, but also durable and easy to maintain. People get nervous when you say “wool”, but honestly I love the natural beauty of it. It is super easy to care for, wears like iron, and cleans up like a dream, AND it’s perfect for our Canadian climate. With as many as 8 elegant colour ways, and Karastan‘s “A Cut Above” Program,  I could very easily also use the Southwick Gardens or the Scottish Highland Collections as bound area carpets – they are that lovely! Great colours, patterns and textures. Love, love, love! Thank you, Karastan. Yes, very impressed indeed.


Now you may think that when it comes to cabinetry, you have seen it all.  Well, then you have not seen the glorious finishes from Wood-Mode Fine Cabinetry. So creative, so innovative, and such a great use of mixed media and materials! Like I said, it takes a lot to impress us Designers, and believe me, Wood-Mode Fine Cabinetry did!

Yardley CloseUp Wood-Mode photo

“Yardley” Style recessed inset doors with mirrored stainless steel drawerheads. Photo courtesy of Wood-Mode Fine Cabinetry.

Gorgeous and unique finishes and combinations of finishes is what Wood-Mode was expertly showcasing at KBIS2016. This stunning breakfront is made of rift-cut white oak and then sandblasted for a more “weathered aesthetic”. Add in the stainless steel inset drawers, and it is the perfect blend of traditional meets industrial. The finished exterior done in Matte Shale with Graphite glaze also makes this subtle grey-washed finish perfectly on-trend.

Westchester Detail Wood-Mode pic

Close-up of Wood-Mode’s “Westchester” Style vanity. Beautiful design in the stepped mullion detailing. Photo: Wood-Mode Fine Cabinetry

I love all of the little brilliant extra touches in this vanity. The classic Bright White opaque finish, the antique mirror inserts in the door front, and the graceful arcs of the stepped mullions and crown moulding. Classic and elegant, the antique mirror adds that extra bit of sparkle and glamour.

I think my favourite from Wood-Mode had to be the “Brookhaven” freestanding island done in a spectacular Agate Blue Opaque finish.

Agate Blue Opaque finish Wood-Mode island

This colour is completely swoon-worthy! Insanely in love with this sophisticated, soft, blue-grey finish.

I made a bee-line for this showstopper as soon as I saw it at the Wood-Mode display at KBIS2016. Immediately and totally in love with this subtle colour! This “Brookhaven” freestanding island, with the “Tribeca” recessed inset door, has the spectacular Agate Blue Opaque finish.  A lovely, watery, blue-grey colour. A perfect solution for those not sure if they want bold colour in their cabinetry, and also works beautifully in combination with classic white as a subtle accent piece. Beautiful face-framing and base detailing, makes this an exquisite and elegant piece of cabinetry.


These beloved brands all brought their “A-Game” to KBIS2016 with innovative, creative, and compelling new products and ideas. I’m so happy when a reliable, quality brand can keep surprising me with fresh and exciting designs.  So a very big THANK YOU to Wilsonart, Karastan and Wood-Mode Fine Cabinetry.  Thank you not only for continuing to be trusted and reputable, but also for your inspiration, imagination and ingenuity.

graphic diamond

Chair Affair – My inspiration September 16, 2015

black and white and green

Inspiration. I have always loved the dynamic and graphic design details of black and white.

Chairishco IG inspiration photo green sofa

Love this IG shot from Chairishco.  Bold black and white geometrics next to the brilliant green velvet.

I cannot believe that September is halfway over already!  Wow!  The summer seemed to fly by, although I did manage to truly pack a lot in….It was so great to catch up with friends, hang with my hubby and our kids, soak up the sun, and even get a couple of glorious sailing dates on the lake.  Brilliant!

It has also been an incredibly productive summer project-wise.  We are in full swing on several bathroom projects, and are in the proposal stage for a few other really great and interesting spaces.

I am truly excited about the upcoming Chair Affair event on October 30th, to benefit The Furniture Bank.  I have finally nailed down my fabric choices……Woohoo!

Fabric Samples for Chair Affair

These beauties are my final choices for my Chair Affair chair! LOVE!

Being exposed to so many beautiful fabrics everyday, I will admit it was very hard to narrow down my choices for The Chair Affair.  The theme this year is “From my home, to your home”, which is pretty broad and all-encompassing.  It could be anything!  So, I interpreted that to be “a few of my favourite things”….I adore the black and white, my favourite colour is green, I love the classic geometry of a lattice pattern, and I have always been obsessed with toile and chinoiserie prints.  So here it is! I have been able to use all of these fabrics (okay, two of them are for a toss cushion, but it is still a part of the overall design!) in one place.

green headboard with black and white

More black and white geometry mixed with my favourite green. Just makes me happy…Photo taken at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh by Preston Konrad.

It’s hard sometimes to find inspiration for things.  In this case, I just went with what makes me happy.  It’s also hard when there are no “client requirements” to consider – just my own creative energy.  What a wonderful experience it has been!  I am loving this.  And I have been truly lucky – so many of my wonderful suppliers have either donated or greatly reduced the costs of their fabric, as to help me achieve this vision that I have in my head…The fabrics are now on the way to my brilliant upholsterers,  Steve and George at Regency Upholstery, and soon there will be a chair to unveil! I am so excited!

Thank you so much JFFabrics, Kravet, Robert Allen, Primavera and Regency Upholstery, for your kindness and generosity.

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.

leopard print fabrics

So many beautiful ways to use a fun animal print!

I would do just about anything for a good animal print!  I love them!  Different colours, different textures and patterns, but still, animal print.  Cheetah, zebra, leopard or ocelot – adore them all.

For me, they invoke a classic elegance about them.  And the best part is that you do not need a lot.  Just a little touch of leopard will instantly elevate any space and give it that extra “something”.  It’s all a part of layering pattern, texture and colour into a space to make it special.

What can a little animal print do?  In a traditional space it can liven it up, give it a little “boost”, and make it seem a bit more fun, like it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Adding a bit of whimsy is always a good thing…

In a more contemporary space, it adds a little something unexpected.  A little nod to a classic pattern.  In a more contemporary space, I will often change up the colour of the print – greens, reds, blues – all look amazing as a leopard motif.

North Toronto LR - benches

We used a pale Robin’s egg blue and bronze zebra-inspired print on these skirted benches.

In this classic contemporary living room, we used a beautiful fabric – a zebra print!  It brings a wonderful texture to otherwise plain skirted benches, and is so much fun.  It actually doesn’t really even look like an “animal” print in the traditional sense – but I know it is!  These clients loved it when I showed it to them, and were excited to use something so fun and different.

“Decorating with a little leopard”, is my mantra – there is always room for an animal print!

Ocelot print tufted & fringed ottoman

Tufted and fringed ottoman with an ocelot print in a more traditional space.

In this more traditional space, we still went for fun with this gorgeous Cowtan & Tout ocelot print fabric.  We even added the bullion fringe and tufting details.  Go big, or go home!!  The client loved this little detail so much, that we made another similar ottoman for her pied-à-terre in Manhattan.  It was the one thing that she absolutely had to have in her second home, even though it was a completely different design concept and style of decor.  See, animal prints go with everything!

So, if you are looking to add that little extra special detail, that extra special “something”, you cannot go wrong with an animal print.  Don’t want to commit?  Do a toss cushion or a chair seat, or a small ottoman.  It does not have to dictate your entire design concept or colour scheme.  It will add that element of fun and unexpected whimsy to your space. Animal prints are luxurious, on trend, unique, special, and classic all at the same time.  So try it!  Everything is always better with a little leopard in the mix.