Cori Halpern

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Category Archives: My Inspiration

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.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Laundry Room counter

It all began on a very cold winter day in January 2017. It was actually pouring rain, to be specific….we had just taken our daughter to the airport when we noticed a very strong odour coming from the basement. It was then that we knew. It was the worst case scenario. Sewage backup. Yup, you heard me – sewage. The most disgusting thing I could think of, was now pouring into my laundry room, aided of course by the torrential rain. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

Now just to back up (no pun intended) and give you a wee bit of history….

We have lived for over 20 years in a home built in the early 1920’s. We have loved this home, raised 2 children in this home, have amazing memories in this home, and have renovated much of this home. We have actually done our basement and laundry room a couple of times. Anyone who lives in an older home knows and loves the charm, quirks, character and “issues” that go along with living in a house that is almost 100 years old.

This time, the issue was that the 100 year-old clay pipes that lead into my house had simply crumbled. The only fix? Ripping open my basement and laundry room walls and floors to fix it, install new sump pump, new back flow valve and new drains. Perfect…..just what everyone needs – a surprise renovation!!

Warning – the following photo contains graphic images!

Cori Halpern Interiors - laundry room flood damage

No words. Except for “EEEEWWW”…..resulting damage the night of the flood.

 

Well if you know me, I very quickly tried to make lemonade out of my new lemons. I knew that the entire laundry room would have to go (the entire basement too for that matter!), regardless of what insurance would pay out. I looked at it as an opportunity! Especially after my wonderful hubby calmed me down and made me a cocktail….I knew exactly where I was going to start…..

Cori Halpern Interiors - cocktails and flooring samples

Along with my much needed Manhattan, came out the flooring samples! At the time I was deciding between these two….

 

Then I had an epiphany. In January shortly after this all happened, I went to the Interior Design Show in Toronto, and I saw the most amazing faucet. The Essence Pro faucet by Grohe Canada, was so fun, so unique, so totally cool, that I knew I wanted it for my laundry room! Exceptional performance, flexibility, and look how gorgeous she is….

Cori Halpern Interiors - Grohe Essence Pro faucets IDS

I took this as a “sign”….and instantly fell in love with the Essence Pro Faucet by Grohe Canada as displayed at IDS 2017.

 

And while it was definitely the classic case of a designer being the absolute WORST client ever, things finally got underway. I was inspired and motivated! I wanted all of the things that I never had in my former laundry room! I was going to have space and a place for everything, Caesarstone countertops, a deep sink, good lighting, and easy access to cleaning supplies and my machines. And of course, I was going to have wallpaper! I mean shouldn’t everyone have wallpaper in their laundry room?? I actually thought it would be the perfect way to camouflage the weird bumps and nooks and uneven walls in my laundry room. And it worked!!

Cori Halpern Interiors - laundry room close-up

Absolutely LOVING this combination!! Wallpaper designed by Miles Redd for Schumacher from Bilbrough & Co. (available through Cori Halpern Interiors)

 

It’s taken a while of course….life and work can get in the way. I have had some incredible people, friends, and suppliers, help me out along the way. A huge thank you to Kerth Alexander and AMS Trades, Saltillo Imports, Cera Gres, Grohe Canada, Canaroma, Toronto Custom Concepts, Drapes & More, and Bilbrough & Co.

Cori Halpern Interiors - Laundry Room

Bliss….almost too nice to actually do any laundry in. Seriously.

 

In addition to the matte black cabinetry and Caesarstone countertops, we also reconfigured the opening of the laundry room, allowing full and easy access to the laundry machines. No more twisting into a pretzel to open and close the washer and dryer!

Laundry rooms are honestly just as important, and contain just as many elements as most kitchens, in my opinion. Cabinetry, flooring, backsplash, countertop, storage, lighting and plumbing, just to name a few things….So let’s give the humble laundry area the attention and respect that it deserves!  And truthfully, based on experience, if you absolutely MUST do the laundry it’s WAY more fun to do it in an awesome laundry room!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

graphic diamond

2016 – A Year in Review… December 31, 2016

Happy New Year - Cori Halpern Interiors

Happy New Year!! Farewell 2016, and what a fabulous year it has been….

Wow. That went fast….and what an incredible year 2016 has been for me – both personally and professionally. I may be one of the few people who did not think that 2016 was the worst year ever. While I am still recovering from and trying to come to terms with the political craziness in the world, and while I am deeply saddened by the loss of some of my childhood icons, 2016 was indeed a fabulous year for me.

It began with a bang last January, when I was so fortunate to be able to go on Modenus BlogTour to Las Vegas for KBIS2016. What an incredible opportunity and experience! The friends, colleagues, and connections that I made on that trip will stay with me forever. Thank you so much Veronika and Modenus for an amazing adventure!!

Right on the heels of KBIS2016 was Toronto’s own IDS (Interior Design Show). So much inspiration, and so much support and encouragement from my Design Family. A wonderful show, and I am so looking forward to this year’s upcoming event!

I attended some incredible Toronto art events as well this year. I am a huge fan and supporter of my local artists and artisans. The Artist Project, The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, and Art Toronto, were just a few of the amazing shows that I was fortunate to attend (and purchase art!!).

artwork by LB St. Jean - Cori Halpern Interiors

Alas, I did not purchase this beauty by Canadian Artist, Louis-Bernard St. Jean, but The Artist Project was an incredible Toronto art event.

 

2016 was also a year of incredible growth and amazing projects for Cori Halpern Interiors. Projects with amazing clients who challenged me as well as trusted me, to create their dream homes.

Cori Halpern Interiors Dunblaine Master Ensuite bathroom artwork and tub close up

Our Dunblaine Master Ensuite was a highlight, and just one of our fabulous projects of 2016. Photo: Stephani Buchman Photography

 

We completed work on our Dunblaine Master Ensuite, on our Beach Condo Project (and have begun more work on Phase 2 of our Beach Condo!), our High Park Kitchen, Rosedale Office, Cedarvale Kitchen, and Palace Pier Condo, just to name a few. We are still busy with our Almond Avenue Project, our York Mills Reno, our Chaplin Estates Project, our Sanibel Family Room, and our Project Plumbstead, with other new projects coming in the first quarter of the new year. We have been busy!! It’s wonderful.

custom design Cori Halpern Interiors

Everything is custom designed for my clients, and each space is unique and one-of-a-kind. Photo: Angelina Aristodemo for Weaver & Loom

 

Because I know that I am one lucky girl, I need to devote some of my time giving back within my community. If you have followed my blog, or my social media posts, you know that I am a huge cheerleader for The Furniture Bank in Toronto. They do amazing work for so many people, and volunteering there is one of the true joys of my life. Being able to give people a fresh start and make their house into a home, is an incredible feeling. Yes – in a way, it is totally selfish, as I do feel like I am the one who is getting so much from this experience….I have met some truly inspirational people – both as clients who come to The Furniture Bank, as well as the staff and volunteers who work there.

I was honoured to be a featured Designer at this year’s Chair Affair fundraising event gala. LOVED how my chair turned out!!

Chair Affair 2016 - Cori Halpern Interiors

I adore this fabulous leopard print fabric!! Thank you to JF Fabrics for all of your support! Photo: Larry Arnal

Thank you so much to JF Fabrics, Drapes & More, Kravet, and Regency Upholstery, for all of your support and encouragement. So happy that my chair found a home, and that the money raised from its sale furnished the homes of 3 families. Yay!!

So thank you all so much for making 2016 such an unforgettable year! It definitely had it’s ups and downs, but the highs far outweighed the lows.  I am so fortunate to have some of the most amazing people in my corner, cheering me on.

I wish you all a wonderful 2017, and may your year ahead be filled with joy, laughter, health, happiness, and love. Be kind, give more, create beauty, keep learning, and enjoy the small moments.

Happy New Year!!

 

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.

La Cornue black & gold range at KBIS2016

The most spectacular black and gold range from LaCornue, as seen at KBIS2016 on Modenus BlogTour.

In all honesty, I had not really ever given kitchen appliances much thought. I mean, I knew a little about certain brands, and I certainly knew how much I disliked my own dishwasher, and how seldom I used my microwave. I knew which appliances “looked” nice, but I really had no “education” when it came to kitchen appliances – and I certainly had no emotional attachment to anything in particular.

Then came the Modenus BlogTour and my trip to KBIS2016 in Las Vegas. What a game changer!! A total and COMPLETE eye-opener! All of a sudden, I was literally drooling over ranges like this stunner from LaCornue (the Giselle Bundchen of ranges) and trying to figure out if I actually had one, could I bring myself to cook on it…?

The best thing about BlogTour was how much I was able to learn.  I witnessed such incredible innovation and technology in products that we all use everyday, and that can make our lives so much easier. Amazing developments in cooking technology from Thermador, like their patented “Star” burners, their revolutionary steam oven, and the space-saving microwave drawer.

Thermador patented Star Burner

Thermador’s patented Star Burner has over 50% more surface area for faster cooking time. Photo: Thermador

What I also loved about the Thermador gas cooktops, was the “ExtraLow” Simmer setting. Brilliant! This is a setting on the gas cooktop that can be set even lower than the traditional “low” setting on most burners, allowing for perfect cooking of delicate sauces, melted cheeses, or even for sweet treats and sugar syrups.

Even after KBIS2016 was over, I decided to continue my research on appliances.  I had a number of kitchen projects in the works, and I wanted to be educated so that I could help advise and guide my clients in to making the best decisions for their kitchen renovations.

With the help of my dear BlogTour friend, Sarah Walker, we hosted a Lunch & Learn at Luxe Appliance Studio in Toronto for a fabulous group of our designer friends. Luxe is the home of Thermador, Bosch and Gaggeneau brands, and is a beautiful cooking studio, where a chef will demonstrate the various appliances and technologies while cooking a wonderful meal for you and your guests.

Cori Halpern & Sarah Walker at Luxe Appliance Studio

Sarah Walker and I making the perfect chicken to cook in a Thermador Steam & Convection Oven. Photo: Luxe Appliance Studio

We had such a blast! So much fun cooking with friends, and the very talented Chef Marco – who put up with us!

We had a wonderful afternoon, and were able to be hands-on with many of the appliances including the sleek and modern Bosch glass-fronted refrigerators (amazing!!) and the mind-blowing Bosch dishwashers.

The signature Bosch dishwasher comes in a variety of finishes, and can also be panel-ready to match your kitchen cabinetry. It is virtually silent, has flexible and adjustable dish and cutlery racks, and NO BOTTOM HEAT ELEMENT!! I love that! That means that plastic will not melt when you put it on the bottom. Also, it has a small removable filter, so that the food gunk does not get continuously swished around in the dishwasher – you simply remove and empty it after the cycle is done.

Bosch dishwasher

Gorgeous Bosch dishwasher. Sleek design with controls at the top and flexible racking system. Photo: Bosch

Never in my life did I think I would get so excited about dishwashers and refrigerators! I love to cook, but up until now I thought more about my appliance just “doing the job” and didn’t realize how our kitchen appliances can do so much more than that for us.

By using fully integrated and panel-fronted refrigerators, we not only can save space in our kitchens, but they blend in seamlessly, making our space feel luxurious, more custom, and (especially in smaller kitchens) much larger. New appliance technologies allows us to now fully customize a kitchen, not just try to fit and arrange appliances that are too large/too small into the space. Thermador does this beautifully with their many custom range options and their Freedom Refrigeration Collection.

 

MicroDrawer Microwave

How brilliant is this MicroDrawer microwave from Thermador?? Perfect space-saver! Photo: Thermador

Obsessed with this microwave drawer! This would be perfect in a kitchen (meaning my kitchen) where I only use my microwave for reheating my tea that I am constantly forgetting about….It is the only drawer that can be installed perfectly flush in any standard depth cabinetry, and is actually surprisingly large at 1.2 cubic foot capacity.

 

Perlick 18"deep Signature Series Sottile Beverage Center

This is the perfect small space beverage centre at only 18″ deep! From Perlick, the Signature Series Sottile bar fridge. Photo: Perlick

This bar fridge is going to be perfect for the small butler’s pantry in our new Benvenuto Condo Project! Everything one could want in a small beverage centre, and brilliant when you do not have the standard 24″ counter depth that most bar fridges require. My clients will be thrilled with this option!

 

I have also been to a seminar at the GE Monogram Design Centre in Toronto, where we were treated to the launch of a new freestanding GE French-door refrigerator in a stunning matte slate grey finish. Also introduced was a new top-loading washing machine with a very retro vibe. One of the trends that GE is focusing on is “Intuitive Technology” where everything in the home will be connected via the internet, and will be able to communicate with one another through voice activation or on your smartphone or tablet. Fascinating!

GE Appliances Monogram Design Centre, Toronto

The GE Appliance Monogram Design Centre in Toronto. A fully working kitchen showcasing their high-end product.

 

I think at this point, I could write a book on my new love affair with kitchen appliances….and I have not even started on the laundry room! I encourage everyone to find out about the newest innovations in appliance technology.  There are truly some fabulous products in the marketplace that can make our lives more efficient, give us better cooking performance, more space in the kitchen, and save us time, energy and effort. The only downside, is now I need to toss ALL of my own appliances and go shopping….The things we do for love!

 

 

"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!

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.

Responsive Home Proofs-40

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

 

BlogTourKBIS

Looking forward to #BlogTourKBIS and KBIS2016 – Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.

I’m gearing up to leave on Sunday for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show – KBIS2016 in Las Vegas, and I could not be more excited! Thousands of exhibitors, suppliers, designers, and industry leaders will be there to showcase what is new and innovative in the kitchen and bath industry and in design trends for 2016. I am so fortunate to be a part of Modenus – The Design Directory’s BlogTourKBIS team that is heading to Las Vegas to preview all of these fabulous products.  We will be networking with suppliers, meeting industry influencers, attending workshops and seminars – all to see what is amazing for the upcoming year.  I will be posting on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as well as posting to my blog, about all of the spectacular innovations in kitchen and bath design.

Much of my design work involves kitchen and bathroom renovations. It’s a big investment on so many levels, and I always try to make the process enjoyable for my clients. Both kitchen and bathroom environments have to not only be completely 100% functional, but they also have to be well designed, ergonomic, easy to maintain, durable AND beautiful. They are both the kinds of spaces that get lived in and used every single day. Both Designers and Clients want to see the newest, the most efficient, the most innovative, and the coolest products out there.  New technology is enhancing our designs everyday.  I am so looking forward to seeing first-hand at KBIS2016 new and creative product ideas, and to learn about new product and technology innovations that I can bring back to my own clients and design projects.

Thank you so much to our wonderful sponsors: KBIS, Modenus, TOTO, Mr. Steam, Karastan, Top Knobs, Wilsonart, Wood-Mode, Blanco, and Themador. I am so excited to see what fabulous products you are showcasing for 2016!

Blanco sinksI love an oversized single sink! Elegant AND practical. Photo courtesy of Blanco.

I love to cook and be in my kitchen, so I am really excited to see what Blanco is showing for 2016. How elegant is this sink and faucet? Gorgeous! A sink and faucet are incredibly important to any kitchen renovation, and have to be both functional and practical as well as stylish. Looking forward to seeing you, Blanco!

 

modern Wood-Mode kitchenBeautiful kitchen by Wood-Mode.

Looking forward to meeting you Wood-Mode! With so many styles of cabinetry, I am very excited to see what you have to showcase for 2016.

 

Mohawk Flooring laundry room

What’s new for 2016 from Karastan and Mohawk Flooring? Can’t wait to find out!

I did so many bathrooms for clients in 2015, and I am really looking forward to seeing what our sponsors Mohawk Flooring and Karastan are showing at KBIS2016. I am always looking for what is new, what is trending, and what the newest designs are for my projects. I know I will come back with some fabulous ideas!

 

Mr. Steam showerHow fabulous is this steam shower from Mr. Steam?? Turn your bathroom into a spa….

I am really excited to meet our sponsor, Mr. Steam.  So many of my clients are looking for their bathrooms to be a spa-like retreat, and a steam shower can do just that! With so many features, you can now go to the spa without ever leaving home! Love this….

 

Wilsonart countertopNot your grandma’s laminate countertop!! Photo courtesy of Wilsonart.

Wow! Look how much countertops have changed!! Looking forward to seeing all of the innovative products showcased by Wilsonart at KBIS2016. They have both solid surface and laminate products, and I cannot wait to see what I will be using in my kitchen projects for 2016.

So much to see and do at KBIS2016! Excited to meet everyone from Modenus BlogTourKBIS, and thrilled to be included with such a talented group.

Las Vegas – here we come!

fireworks

Farewell to 2015 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

This time last year I made a resolution.  For the first time in a long time it was not to exercise, read more, or lose weight.  I vowed last New Year’s Eve that I would say “YES”.  Actually, to be more specific, I resolved to say “yes” to the things that I would normally say “no” to and “no” to the things that I would normally say “yes” to….What exactly did that mean??

I was unhappy. I had zero reason to be unhappy, but I was unhappy. I have a beautiful, wonderful and loving family, a home, and good health.  But my work and my day-to-day life was making me crazy. After I attended the 2014 Interior Design Master Class, I had so many “lightbulb moments” and I knew I had to make changes. I realized that part of my unhappiness was that I said “yes” to all of the wrong things!! “Yes” to the wrong types of clients, the wrong types of projects, and that my shyness and my saying “No” to things put me on a back burner – and not in a good way. I realized that I was not doing anything that I actually wanted to do! So I decided to get out there and say “YES”!!!

So a huge THANK YOU to Wendy Hicken and IDMC for putting me on that track a year ago.  I am forever grateful!! XO

Reinvention. Renovation. Rejuvenation. These words would be my new mantra. This is how I would focus myself for 2015.

Lytton Park Family Room

Custom sectional in Lytton Park Family Room – photography by: Stephani Buchman

And what a year it has been!! Beyond fabulous, and anything I could have imagined for myself. I had professional photos taken of my work, I launched my new website, I got involved and started volunteering for The Furniture Bank, which I love.  I was also very lucky to be involved in their charity event gala fundraiser The Chair Affair. Through that I also met some wonderful people, that I truly now consider friends.

I travelled. I celebrated. I joined. I went to industry events. I was active on social media. To all of these things I said “YES”!

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. I had wanted to go my entire life and travelled there in May 2015. YES!!

I went out, attended focus groups, met colleagues, attended showroom open houses, went to new product launches, introduced myself to new people, caught up with old friends.  Yes. Yes. Yes.

What did I say “no” to? “No” to clients that wanted me to work for free.  “No” to people who only actually wanted my trade discounts. “No” to projects that were not right for me, or prospects that I knew would not be a good fit for me. “No” to anyone who did not value me. I said “No” to ideas that would not be right for the brand I was now developing, cultivating and nurturing.

Reinvention. Renovation. Rejuvenation.

Reinvent myself. Be who I want to be, and who I am meant to be.

Renovate my business model, a complete overhaul.

Rejuvenate my soul. Be creative again. Love the process.

And then something amazing happened….

Modenus BlogTour KBIS 2016

Modenus BlogTour KBIS 2016 in Las Vegas!

I was asked by Modenus – The Design Directory, to join a group of Designers, Bloggers, and Influencers from all over the world, to participate in their BlogTour at KBIS in Las Vegas in January 2016. I am so honoured and thrilled and excited to be invited. I am so looking forward to meeting the incredibly talented people that are included in this group. I am eager to learn from them, as well as to see the innovation and new products available to the Design Industry.

I said “YES”.

It’s funny because my husband just bought me Shonda Rimes’ new book that she just released, called “Year of Yes”. It seems like we both had the same idea!!! It is wonderful, by the way….

So HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! And while 2015 was truly a spectacular year for me, I am looking forward to 2016 and all of the possibilities that it will bring.

Because I will continue to say “YES”.

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