A Stunning Lobby Transformation Into A Functional and Modern Interior

Every now and then a project comes along that we know will be challenging but we cannot wait to roll up our sleeves and figure out the best way to approach the design and provide the client with the best option possible for their needs.

Interior Designer: Vitorhya Shields, ARIDO
Team Members: Marley Roppolo, Intern ARIDO; Amanda Tsui, Intern ARIDO
Design Firm: Shields and Associates Interior Design Consultants
Photographs: S+A
Contractor: HiTower Contracting

This beautiful lobby at 140 Simcoe is one of those projects. The high traffic lobby at this upscale condo building in the heart of downtown Toronto needed an upgrade for several reasons. With 50% Airbnb rental units, luggage rolling in or out, and a large volume of deliveries each day we had to rethink the entire layout of the lobby and reorganize it for better security, flow of visitors and deliveries, and storage of luggage and packages. The existing space was dark, heavy and dowdy; nothing like a modern building should be. The aesthetic we were asked to create was a fresh, bright, modern, energetic vibe with a vision for low maintenance and longevity of materials.  

The security desk was removed and a new one was built in the optimal location for the guard to be able to follow everybody coming in and out while never missing a package delivery. The concierge can even retrieve stored packages without losing sight of the entry and elevators. The desk is also large enough to accommodate two staff at the busiest times of day and year. 

The security desk was designed with a dropped counter for barrier free service. The transaction top, guard side monitor wells and movement spaces all accommodate barrier free height and space requirements and under the building code. 

One of the biggest challenges of this project was moving the security desk while keeping the security systems intact throughout the process. The second major challenge of renovating a busy lobby is keeping the traffic flowing while safely removing all the existing floor tile. We worked with our clients to communicate the process and daily schedules to the condominium residents to reduce surprises and keep everybody informed about all the inconveniences. 

We collaborated with the building security company to keep all the cameras and enter phone systems operational, with Canada Post for relocating the mail room and new mailboxes, and with the contractors for all the daily materials deliveries and garbage removal within a tiny loading space. This is one of our incredibly successful projects combining effective function and gorgeous aesthetic. 

Staying Organized – And Other Ways To Keep It Together

Feeling stressed because you’re surrounded by stuff? That stuff can actually make you happy if it’s efficiently and artistically displayed.  And when organized properly, you can grab and go.  Technology has helped reduce or eliminate the need for some stuff, like books and record albums, but we still need to store the items that we do collect.

Storage, home organization or space solutions – whatever you call it – has become a science using the latest technology. For example Richelieu has teamed up with Panasonic to create revolving closet systems and shelves that pull down and return pneumatically, providing innovative ways to make our lives easier.

 START RIGHT – GET ORGANIZED

Whether you’re living in a tiny studio or a mansion, many of the same rules apply when it comes to getting organized: 

  • Purge: Get rid of things you don’t need or that don’t give you pleasure in some way.
  • Learn to make sacrifices:  In a small or large space, every object matters.  Real estate is expensive and learning how to use that real estate, means making choices and focus on priorities.
  • Inventory items that need storage and display:  Determine what type of storage or shelving you need and house them accordingly.  Make this scientific by knowing how much linear and square footage space is required.  
  • Design and plan:  Plan where these items are going and then find the design solutions you need to maximize and beautify your space.
  • Planned properly you can achieve maximum benefit in any space.

 DIVIDE AND CONQUER

Storage is divided into three categories: 

  1. In sight and in mind. Open shelving allows us to see what we own, defining our unique personalities. Free standing or bolted to the wall, shelving is simple.  The structure itself can be a design feature, elevating your simple objects into things of beauty. 
  2. Out of sight and out of mind. Closets or storage rooms are enclosed empty spaces.  You can add rods or shelving to suite your requirements.  People are now choosing to turn closets into dressing rooms, enclosing items in cabinetry and revealing only what’s most precious and notable through glass cabinets.  If you own shoes, purses, belts or ties that are beautiful and cost a pretty penny, then why not put them on display like an art object in a glass case?
  3. Combining in and out of sight. Say we’ve opted for open-plan spaces instead of separate rooms for our functions. Even kitchens are now blended in, requiring special thinking on how to manage all its requirements.  While one-room living reveals all, do we really want to show off everything? 

Storage credenzas, shelving and wall units can act as free-standing room dividers to delineate space.  One company that provides unique items is Design Within Reach (DWR).  It is a go-to destination for design sophisticates.  Their variety of cabinets and shelving units are real designer heirloom classics that can make space efficient and extra special.

CUSTOM VS. STANDARD

Each home is unique, not only in structure, but also in the personality and vision of its owner. While standard shelving and storage units are available at most home store, and while you can hack Ikea, it is best to give your storage needs the attention they deserve. Investing in custom built-in storage solutions will enhance the value of your house, much like investing in kitchen or bathroom renovations.

Knowing that everything is in its place and there’s a place for everything helps liberate us from our stuff.

And, that makes all the difference in the world.