Cori Halpern

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Design that brings your personal style to life.

Category Archives: Pillows + Accessories

"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…..

Totally inspired by this pillow in rose gold metallics by S. Harris with copper velvet on the reverse side. Screen shot from Little Design Co. IG.

Totally inspired by this pillow in rose gold metallics by S. Harris with copper velvet on the reverse side. Screen shot from Little Design Co. IG.

I never used to be a “pink gal”.  I’m still not really….but a couple of years ago, I came across this colour that I affectionately called “Dirty Ballet Pink”.  Sounds crazy, I know.  And then, I became completely obsessed with it….It is actually known as “Blush” – I still like Dirty Pink better…..

I am totally in love with this colour for many reasons.  It is not so pink that it is too girlie, or too Pepto Bismol, yet it is feminine enough that it is still pretty.  It looks fabulous with my other obsession – Rose Gold, as shown in the above photo that I screen shot from Little Design Co.’s IG account, and that I built an entire Living Room colour scheme around.  Blush pairs so well with grey, navy, black, blue-grey, lavender, green, olive, camel, cream, and even brown.  There is something so neutral about this colour that anything that you put with it, instantly looks sophisticated and well, pretty.  There are so many shades and variations on blush that the possibilities are endless…


Brainstorming fabric ideas for Cricket Club Living Room Project, Toronto ON.

So I guess you can call Blush/Dirty Pink a pastel.  Although so many people have bad ’80′s flashbacks when I say that, so I hesitate to use that word….but it is a pastel.  And as you can see, it looks amazing with other pastels.  This is an example of a brainstorming sessions for my Cricket Club Living Room decoration project in Toronto.  We are not using all, but we are using a lot of these fabrics, paired with a stunning navy sofa.  Pics to follow soon!

Artwork by Santa Fe artist Jim Rabby

Original artwork by Santa Fe artist, Jim Rabby.
Lovingly displayed in my client’s Toronto Living Room.

The above piece is one of my all time favourite paintings.  It is by Jim Rabby, and is a focal point in my client’s Living Room in their Toronto condo.  I stop and admire it every time that I walk by it. The colour is what gets me….that beautiful combination of blush, smoky purple, blue, magenta, cream, and green….it is so vibrant, it reminds me of a sunset, and all of the hidden colours that only an artist can see and capture on canvas.  These are not normally colours that I gravitate towards, but seeing them together in this painting is simply inspirational.  It is easy to see how an interior space could easily be designed using the colours in this painting as a jumping off point.  And easy to see how I have fallen completely in love with these Blush tones….


Flower arrangement courtesy of Flower Factory IG.

It seems that I am a “pink gal” after all….I adore this flower arrangement from Flower Factory!  All different shades of pink and blush.  If you think about it, you can use blush with any of the colours that you see it with in nature – that is always a great rule of thumb.  ”If it grows together, it goes together”….I often think of nature for colour inspiration.  Blush is the beauty in a dusky, purple and blue/grey sunset.  Or in a bridal bouquet, where there is just a hint of colour.  Or in the photo below, the blush colour tulips bring out the freshness of the green colours used in this kitchen.


Lytton Park Kitchen. Photo by Stephani Buchman.

This is a favourite shot of mine, by the very talented Stephani Buchman. I absolutely love how these tulips look in our Lytton Park kitchen. The Blush colour is so subtle, yet when it is paired with another more intense colour they bring out the best in each other…

I think that is what I love the most about this versatile colour.  It is somewhat of a chameleon – and there are so many versions of Blush.  It does not have to be super “pinky” sweet, but can still be feminine and lovely.  It can soften other more intense colours around it, and it can be incredibly neutral, too.

Blush is a colour that makes me happy, that makes me relaxed, that makes me dream of flowers and sunsets. So yes, I guess officially that makes me a “pink gal” now.

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.

Custom toss cushions add so much personality and colour, and transform your space.

“It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress.” – Dorothy Draper

I often lovingly refer to accessories as the “jewelry” of the space.  It’s the often the last thing to go into the space, although I always have the accessories in mind as I am developing a client’s design concept.  It’s the jewelry because it’s those beautiful fabrics that are the showstoppers in the room.  Much to the client’s shock, they are also often quite expensive.  It’s the conversation that I almost always have when they say, “How much for that cushion?”….This is where trust comes into play.  I promise my clients that they will not be sorry.  That this will be worth it.  That they will love it. That the room is naked without accessories.  After all, you would not leave the house without makeup or jewelry, would you?  Then we have a good laugh, and I know that they still do not believe that a few simple cushions will actually do anything, but they trust me.  At this point in the project, they know that I have not steered them wrong yet.

Quite often the fabrics that I select for window treatments or toss cushions, or side chairs are the really special ones.  The spectacular colours, patterns and textures that may not be suitable for a large sofa or for heavy wear.  They are the “bling” of the room, and what can transform a room from simple to stellar.  It’s where a client’s love of purple can be showcased – while they may not want a purple sofa (I would LOVE a purple sofa!), they are thrilled with a purple chair or a purple cushion.  It’s also where we can pair interesting colour combinations that are showcased by beautiful fabrics.  You may not think that purple, turquoise and orange look good together, but as you can see in the above photo, once we pull these fabrics together – those colours look like perfection.

Green pillows from Primavera

Gorgeous green velvet from Primavera Interiors.

Just look at these gorgeous green velvet cushions!  They are just yummy!  And look how they completely transform a classic grey sofa.  The sofa on it’s own has beautiful lines and is lovely on it’s own, but it looks plain and unfinished.  The green adds a pop of life, gives the sofa a stylish edge and certainly adds some needed glamour with the colour and the beautiful texture of the plush velvet.  Pair this with some gold accent tables and you have instant gorgeous!

It’s these finishing touches that make the space.  The cushions, the art, the books, the lamps, and the collections from our client’s lives that make up a completely finished space.  It is what brings a space to life and gives us a clue about the the people who live in it.  Accessories should absolutely enhance the space and make it beautiful, but should also reflect the personalities of the clients, almost like a visual history for everyone who is in the space to enjoy.

masks in foyer

Art can define a space.

For this client, their collection of South West art and these masks specifically, were very important to them.  They were symbols of their travels and of their deep affection for that part of the world.  In this foyer space, I paired a natural hide and kept the side chairs simple, so that what is showcased is the collection.  Without the masks, this would be a boring and empty space.  In this instance, I did not have to create the “bling”, it was supplied by the client and creates and showcases the personality and mood of this part of the home.

“Have nothing in your home that you don’t believe to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Accessories provide that little additional “something”.  Sure a sofa or a chair or a table can be stunningly beautiful on their own, no question.  But it’s the accessories, the added “bling” that give a space something special and unique.  They emphasize that each home is different, and can help to illustrate the personality of the family that lives within that space. Accessories are what gives a home it’s life, and it does not hurt that they are beautiful too.  So, add those finishing touches!  Trust me, you will love it…..Bring on the “bling”!