Cori Halpern

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Category Archives: Travel

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.

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Artwork by Toronto Artist, Erin Loree.

Mondays…how to make them something to look forward to??  I have decided to create “Colour Me Mondays” and write a blog post on Mondays about colours that are giving me inspiration, thinking about, wishing for, or that I am working with or wanting to be working with…

Today it is Navy.  I am definitely feeling “In the Navy” these days….it is my newest neutral of choice.  Now, those that know me well will know that I am absolutely a “green girl”, and I have actually often found that most people are either “blue people” OR “green people”.  It is not often that people like both.  Kind of like “cat people” and “dog people”….Of course, there ARE people who like both colours – and I certainly fall into that category.  Navy is a true classic.  And of course, it looks great with green!  One of my favourite colour combinations of all time is navy and kelly green….LOVE!!  Like I said, navy is a real neutral and looks fabulous with most other colours.  In the stunning painting by Toronto artist, Erin Loree that I have featured above, she pairs pinks, greens and yellows with various shades of navy blue.  This piece makes me feel happy, energetic, and bold – all at the same time.  I think because navy can be all of those things, as well as a perfect grounding for more vibrant colours.

navy blue/white wallpaper by Thibaut

Wallpaper by Thibaut.

Another classic combination is navy and white.  Always timeless, always fashionable, always crisp.  And you can certainly add any number of other colours into your navy and white scheme….I adore these navy and white wallpapers from Thibault. How great would this be in a powder room?

Navy is also a great option if black is too harsh.  Some of the most beautiful shades of navy have a gorgeous blue-black shading to them.  It makes it so interesting and unexpected.  Nothing will ever replace black – navy is not the new black, but navy can be just as spectacular and dramatic.  I was recently in Ireland and the UK (more postings on that later!!) and walking in London, I spied this beautiful working class row house dating back to the 18th century.  Yes, the door and the shutters and trim could easily have been black and still been stunning, but it was the perfect shade of the blue-black that really caught my eye…

18th century row house, London

18th Century row house, London, England. Love the deep orange brick colour with the blue-black trim and door.

So yes, now that I am currently obsessed with navy, I tend to see it everywhere!  I think that it is also because navy is such a classic, we also tend to see it in fashion as well as decor.  It never goes out of style.  In fact, what keeps navy current and “modern” is the other colours that we pair with it.  Navy and white goes without saying, is always a good idea, but now we are seeing more navy and brown, navy and oxblood, navy and green (also always a classic!), and navy and blush.  We are even seeing navy with other blue tones.

design by Todd Romano, Elle Decor IG

Stunning design by Todd Romano, taken from Elle Decor IG. Navy Library in a NYC apartment.

And I HAD to grab this screen shot from Elle Decor’s IG account, showing how amazing navy on navy on navy can work.  I am completely IN LOVE with this room, and I especially love the contrast of the tan leather chairs.

So you can see, navy does not need to be dark or gloomy or boring.  Navy is smart, exciting, versatile, chic, classic, sophisticated, sexy, dramatic, modern, traditional…..I could go on and on.  Navy can be everything.  So I am beyond happy to actually be using navy on my current Cricket Club Living Room Decor Project!! Navy is my current “Colour Me Mondays” colour obsession.

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Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland. Pre-12th Century.

I absolutely love to travel.  I love everything about it.  In addition to being a Designer, I am also a huge history/architecture buff.  I have always been fascinated with stories from the past, so give me a foreign country and some ancient architecture with a good story attached, and I am in!!  Love it!  I am completely amazed at how these beautiful and magnificent structures could not only be designed and built, but how it could all be done BY HAND!  And how most of these buildings have stood the test of time, sometimes hundreds of years later, only for me to travel thousands of miles to admire them.

Here is the thing though….although it may seem normal for people who travel to take photos, I tend to take A LOT of photos.  And photos of unusual things.  I see beauty in some unusual things, that most people would just walk by….

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Library, Long Room, at Trinity College. Dublin, Ireland.

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Floor to ceiling jam-packed with hats! All sizes, all colours! Dublin, Ireland.

To me, there is a similarity in the beauty of these two photos….above, the tens of thousands of books stacked row upon row in the magnificent Long Room, at the Library at Trinity College.  And then, I walked across the street and into this little shop, Kevin & Howlin, and saw hundreds of hats, of all shapes and sizes and colours, and bolts of Irish tweed fabric – also stacked row upon row…

I also tend to take tons of photos of architectural detailing that I find unique and interesting.

wrought iron detailing, London, England

Wrought iron detailing, London, England.

I have dozens of photos of wrought iron, from all across England!  Of course, as you can imagine, my obsessive need to capture all of these beautiful and special moments tends to slow down the journey for everyone around me!  I am constantly catching up with my traveling companions, and they are constantly waiting for me! #DesignerProblems
I think as a Designer, my eyes see things or parts of things, that other people may not notice.  I do see the big picture, but I also tend to see all of the little bits that make up that big picture.  I marvel in the details.  I ask A TON of questions! I get fixated on the fact that most of what I am looking at was not created by a machine, but by someone’s own hands.  In Europe, everything is so well documented, that it is easy to find out about their famous architects.  I learned a lot about Charles Barry and Christopher Wren, while I was in England…

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Ceiling detail of the Divinity School at Oxford University, England. Construction began here in 1423.

I mean WOW!  No words to describe the intricate detailing of this space…

So as you can imagine, I am constantly looking up, and around, and not particularly looking where I am going….#DesignerProblems

I am also ALWAYS the one to stop (and make everyone else stop) and hang out of the window to get a shot.  Yes, I am that crazy person by the side of the road – always.

One of the biggest issues that  people have traveling with me though, is my need to photograph every cool and interesting bathroom.  Yup!  I love a well-designed bathroom! I did manage to stop myself at a very posh restaurant in Edinburgh called The Secret Garden, at the Witchery. Very fancy (I was completely under dressed!) and stunningly beautiful, while I stealthily took discreet pics of the historic dining space, I did restrain myself and did not bring my camera into the bathroom.  Which I totally regret, because it was so gorgeous!!!

ceiling detail at the Secret Garden Dining Room, The Witchery, Edinburgh

The Secret Garden Dining Room at The Witchery, Edinburgh, Scotland. Ceiling detail is painted in the traditional Scots vernacular style based on the famous Rossend Castle.

The above shot was taken in the Secret Garden Dining Room…..yet again, I am looking up.  You just cannot take me anywhere!!  Thankfully my darling hubby is used to my antics and nothing fazes him.  So if the Dining Room is this gorgeous – you can imagine how nice the bathroom was!!

Suffice it to say that when I travel, I am like a little kid on Christmas – I just do not know where to look first.  So I look at everything.  I not only photograph every tiny little detail that I see, I also snap the bigger image, too.  And I take my time.  Time to enjoy, to savour, and to truly SEE and absorb what the big world has to show me.

It may not be easy to travel with me, I need to stop often, to ask questions often, and to be totally aware and thankful for my surroundings.  I need to joyfully memorize each moment and every detail.  It is all a part of my full experience. Is this high maintenance?  Maybe, but I am totally okay with that.  #DesignerProblems

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Well, I am off on an adventure that has been a long time in the planning – 25 years to be exact!  I am leaving tonight for a trip to Ireland, England and Scotland WOOHOO!!  My husband and I are off to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and we could not be more excited.   I have wanted to visit Ireland for as long as I can remember, and we figured that we had to see a wee bit of England and Scotland while we were already “in the neighbourhood”….

I think that travel is also essential for the creative soul.  It gives us a chance to recharge our batteries, be inspired by other cultures, embrace new ideas, and to discover things that don’t exist in one’s own hometown.  I cannot wait to see the colours of Ireland – yes, I am fully prepared for the rain, but it will not “dampen” my spirit.  I am way too excited!

We will be gone for a while – it’s not easy to take that much time away from work, but I know that I will come home feeling inspired, rejuvenated, energized and ready to dive into the many projects that I have scheduled for this coming summer.  Travel is always a good thing, and as I have gotten older it is something that I try to do more often.  Who doesn’t love a great adventure??

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes… January 25, 2015

Cliffs of Moher

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.” – Bob Proctor

Change can come in many different ways in our lives.  It may come quickly and forcefully or creep in slowly.  And even though change can often be difficult, many times it is often for the best.  Accomplishing anything in life requires significant change that pushes us beyond our comfort zones.  Many times, the only way to improve things is to for ourselves to undergo a difficult change.  You need to change anything that is holding you back from accomplishing your big dreams….Sometimes you just have to jump first and think about it later….That is how my January has been so far!  It has been a whirlwind of new possibilities, changes, and opportunities, that I surely would have missed had I actually stopped to think.

In the last month, I have reworked my business model, joined the dreaded FB, stepped up my Instagram postings, signed up for seminars and classes, been asked to teach a course, and started two new projects with two more waiting in the wings.  I have said “yes” to what I would have normally said “no” to, and “no” to what I normally would have said “yes” to! And amazing things have happened as a result.  Kind of like “If you build it, they will come…” only better!

Having said that, I know that change can be very scary for clients.  But it does not have to be.  Change does not have to be a negative, it’s just something different. That’s what I am there to show them.  I try to take my clients as painlessly as possible, through the design process.  I’m not saying that there is a wee bit of pain & discomfort involved – sure there is!  But, a good designer will take the client through that with a sense of humour, keen professional knowledge, and confidence that it will all be fabulous in the end.  That is what I provide for my clients.  I know that a huge part of a renovation is a leap of faith, and there are many decisions to be made before any work even begins.  But, it is all part of the process, and part of a bigger picture.  I go through a very detailed process and check list with my clients to ensure that the renovation process goes as smoothly as possible.  By being both organized AND understanding of what the client is going through, we navigate these big changes together.  And of course, there is trust.  My clients trust that I will make everything beautiful for them.  That the empty and ripped open shell of their former home will come back together better and more spectacular then they could have imagined.  And it does.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

Renovation is the ultimate in change for a client.  Many times they have to move out while the work is going on.  They are often nervous, especially if they have never renovated anything before.  Some have even tried to micro-manage my contractors, in the attempt to gain a tiny bit of control over their project. (This is never a good idea, and never ends well FYI) I am on site often, not only to check on the progress of the project, but more than often to hold my clients’ hands.  It’s okay, I am happy to help navigate them through this unfamiliar territory.  It’s always a wonderful experience when the client watches all of the hard work and planning, turn into their beautifully finished home.

So, my advice for the first month of this new year, is just to jump right in!  It might be scary – new opportunities can be, but they often yield enormous rewards.  You will never know if you don’t try, and change is just change.  So enjoy the ride! Jump in with both feet and experience new challenges, joys and possibilities.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra