Design Inspiration

Design Inspiration

Today’s Design Inspiration is from designer Santiago Borray who says: “Design is like a mom, nobody notices her when she’s around, but everybody misses her when she’s not.” So true!

Shows + Finds >> Miles + May

Screenshot 2015-02-03 09.14.56Last week I was in Toronto for the 2015 Interior Design Show. It was whirlwind tour complete with a conference, supplier meetings, attending the Opening Night Party, show and trade talks as well as investigating new suppliers at a variety of stores and showrooms in Ontario.

One of my favourite furniture lines from the trip was from Miles + May Furniture Works.

The company is based in upstate New York and creates modern, handcrafted furniture from reclaimed, recycled and non-commercial sources.

I loved the dove-tail joinery on the drawers, the beautiful patina on the wood. The pieces they were showing at IDS were gorgeous.

This is the company’s A-Line server, which was my favourite piece in their show booth.

Technique >> Tips to assess a room

Screenshot 2015-01-27 12.58.18When I start working with a new client it’s often because they cannot decide where to start on a project. They know what they like and do not. They may have seen a few design elements or furnishings they love, but the process of deciding what to do next gets overwhelming.

Inspiration definitely figures in when deciding how to approach the design of a space, but there are also things that I do every. time. I go to a consultation appointment.

Great spaces are as much about a disciplined approach to design as they are about big ideas. Here are the tips to assess a room and the five things I am looking at when I advise clients how to proceed.

1/ Lifestyle

I ask a lot of questions about who lives there and what they like and need to do on any given day. What does their home need to support? What do they wish could happen, but are not set up to do?

I am also very specific. If a client likes to host parties, I want to know the average number of guests and whether it’s sit down or buffet. Those details change everything about what is suitable for that client.

They also make it possible to set an objective for the design so that everyone is working to the same goal.

2/ Layout

The shape and configuration of the rooms or room we are considering is also very important.

I am looking for traffic flow, scale, storage opportunities and view corridors. The layout also tells me important things about how sound flows through the home and the way the spaces currently — or could — flow together.

3/ Features

Most homes have existing architectural features and finishes that can lead the design, unless we are starting from plans.

I always note the details of these features such as window style, trims, flooring, railings and any existing millwork. The scale of these features is also important.

When I have a good understanding of what currently exists, I can make recommendations that will let any new design elements flow together to give a cohesive look, or what needs to change if a client wants a new direction.

4/ Materials

This is an important factor, but probably the least important because usually it’s easiest to change.

If a client has specific pieces of furniture, art or decor that they love, it’s important for me to know so we can make a plan for them.

I note the fabric, colour, size, metals, woods or stone that is in the space so that it can be repeated, amplified or downplayed as required.

5/ Lighting

One thing many clients overlook is the type and direction of their lighting. I am watching for access to natural light and direction (i.e. north, south, east, west), ambient lighting and task lighting. This is so important because it sets the tone and mood in a room.

Once all of these elements have been considered I can make recommendations on what to do in a space so that it flows together, makes a client feel at home and looks amazing.

Happenings >> Best of Houzz 2015

Screenshot 2015-01-19 21.43.46Guess what? I opened my inbox yesterday to find the sort of message that just makes a person happy.

I was voted Best of Houzz 2015 in both the Design & Customer Service categories by the readers. If you don’t know houzz it is a comprehensive resource for homeowners seeking information and ideas on all things home remodelling and design.

My work was voted most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users and so I am very flattered.

Receiving recognition for my design work feels pretty good, but I am really thrilled that my customer service stood out.

You can check out the shiny new badges and the reviews and portfolio that won at

Design Inspiration >> Frank Lloyd Wright

Space Art Quote


The Design Inspiration for this week is from architect Frank Lloyd Wright who said: Space is the breath of art. I agree. It’s the punctuation of design. What do you think?

Shows + Finds >> Escape Pendant by LZF


I’ve been working with a fun-loving couple who want to infuse ethically-sourced and environmentally sensitive choices into their home.

There is a lot to understand and learning about the available products and what it takes to manufacture them has been interesting for me.

One of the choices we are moving forward with is a pair of these Escape pendants over the dining table. They were designed by Ray Power, an Irish designer.

The criss-cross pattern on these contemporary lights will cast gorgeous light and shadow in the dining space and set the tone for the room. I recommended my client’s use two to balance the length of their dining table.

LZF Lighting in Spain manufactures the lights. All of the company’s veneers are forested under environmentally sustainable guidelines, and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Happy Holidays

Screenshot 2014-12-10 11.28.11We are off to enjoy family and friends this holiday season. The blog will be back the week of January 5. In the meantime, we want to wish you and your family the very best of the season!

Shows + Finds >> Rubik Console

Rubik Console


Redford House designed the Rubik console with form and function in mind. Behind the six doors, this functional mid-century, modern style cabinet has three storage compartments with adjustable shelving to maximize storage space.

I’m excited to be using this piece in client’s home. We’ve chosen to go with white doors and a washed grey case (the console is available in 26 different finishes).

Would you use this piece in your home and what function would it serve?

Design Inspiration >> Alexander McQueen

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.18.46 PM

Project >> Refined Living + Dining Room

IMG_7090I received the images from a photo shoot last week at one of my favourite recent projects. I’ll get the whole gallery loaded on to the website soon, but wanted to share a sneak peak of some shots I took that day.

These clients have such an elegant, clean style and it was so fun to work with them putting together their living room and dining room.

A big part of this project was the lighting. The home was built in the thirties and some of the lighting added over the years was not terribly respectful of the existing architecture and home.

We spent a lot of time looking for the right lighting and while our final picks do have a contemporary sensibility they could be mistaken as original to the home. The burnished brass and warm bronzes in the lighting also inspired a lot of the palette for the project.

The couple wanted a calm, inviting space where they could relax, but also entertain their friends for dinner parties. We set up the living room to draw people in when they enter the house and made sure the table could expand to seat eight when required.

A layered palette of neutrals was key to getting a calm energy and we and played around with the client’s existing art and collections in the styling to give it a bit of punch.

Storage was a major requirement for this client because older homes tend to be a bit short on it. We focused on furnishings that would provide that functionality for them.

The Bernhardt console with the antique brass base and carved silver doors that we placed in the living room is my favourite piece.

What are your favourite elements in this design?