This luxe home mixes casual with refined details

This new build construction of a 15,000 square foot family home for long time empty-nester clients was a rare opportunity. Having lived in this country acreage north of Toronto for over two decades and accustomed to an upscale lifestyle, the design team aimed to create a refined, yet comfortable abode.

Interior Designer: Neil Jonsohn
Design Team: Shauna MacLeod, ARIDO
Design Firm: U31
Photographer: Gillian Jackson

The foyer is a bold welcome to the home, with extensive marble detailing, including a staircase clad in marble, combined with a custom bronze railing. An abstract sculpture of falling leaves commissioned by artist Dennis Lin, is integrated with ambient light and suspended through the curving staircase, adding unexpected contemporary glamour.

Moving beyond the formality of the front rooms, spaces at the back take on a more casual atmosphere, allowing for daily routine and entertaining. Incorporating white oak and durable porcelain flooring with contemporary furniture forms, Murano light fixtures and a mix of current and antique rugs, the daily areas are at once comfortable and rich in traditional reference.

The kitchen facilitates the owner’s love of and expertise in cooking, featuring an oversized stainless steel hood surrounded by carved limestone. Stained sycamore and off-white lacquer cabinets, semi-precious quartzite countertops and stainless steel detailing create the chef’s dream.

Drawing inspiration from the lush back garden and pool cabana, the inclusion of floor to ceiling windows across the entire back of the house, offer stunning views, while providing an abundance of natural light to the communal kitchen, family and garden rooms. The injection of colour, particularly shades of blue and red, two of the owner’s favourites, ebb and flow throughout the home.

These communal zones are kept light with soft whites and greys, and animated by pops of colour and beloved travel artifacts. For instance, an oversized brass Moroccan vessel, crafted with patterned cut-outs, is transformed into a glowing wall sconce, displayed above the garden room’s fireplace mantel (pictured above).

Private areas are infused with delicate, silvery-blue-grey tones for her, including silk wall covering, while his are characterized by a more robust flavour: walnut wall panelling, black and gold accents and heavily veined caramel and black marble. Vaulted and cove ceilings are intricately detailed throughout, accentuating the 10′ and 12′ ceiling heights.
The balance of rich, warm materials: marble, stone, leather and variety of sumptuous finishes expresses a relaxed luxury that the client was delighted to see achieved.

This gorgeous house has so many dream home features

When the client approached us for the interior design of their new-build residential project they had one clear request: an industrial style family home inspired by New York lofts and warehouses.

Interior Designer: Connie Braemer, ARIDO
Design Firm: Connie Braemer Design Ltd 
Photographer: Erik Rotter

The goal was to design a home with the space and durability to withstand the client’s three growing boys, with a contemporary and refined version of the client’s industrial aesthetic. As an avid cook, they also requested a professional grade kitchen integrated in the house,  around which various family activities could take place. 

The finished space includes a basement with hockey room and wine cellar, a large open concept main floor, second floor with a master bedroom retreat, and a third floor office. An exterior pool cabana was also designed using reclaimed shipping containers. 

One of the main challenges was selecting finishes that would handle the rough and tumble of growing boys, while suiting the aesthetic vision of the project. To provide durability without sacrificing the aesthetic goals, materials such as concrete, walnut, steel, reclaimed wood, soapstone, and classic subway tiles feature predominantly throughout the home. The blend of textures and unique qualities of each material lend to the warehouse inspiration, however their refined application results in an elevated, contemporary design. 

Chefs kitchen with large butcher block island and walls lined in white subway tile.

The kitchen was placed centrally, and was divided into zones for different preparation needs, storage, and socializing. Counter seating in the kitchen bridges the prep area with the dining area, which is adjacent to the kid’s work space. A towering three-sided fireplace clad in hot rolled steel connects the kitchen to the family room, decorated with family pictures and cookbooks on one side, and the TV and birch logs on the other. 

Family room with wood floors, large white sectional and eye-catching red sliding door.

The client sought to personalize the home with intimate design details,  such as the red brick wall at the entrance, a nod to southern Ontario’s architectural history, custom schoolhouse doors, a blackened wood ceiling, and a giant red barn door. In a poured concrete floor five pebbles were specially placed representing each member of the family. 

Kitchen and dining room with dark, poured concrete floors and a wood ceiling.

While the house was designed primarily with family in mind, areas such as the master ensuite and third floor loft are small retreats for the parents. The overall  industrial style is present in these more elegant spaces through black steel framing and hardware.

Interior design is key to expressing the brand experience

The design for Picnic Food’s first street-front shop had to reference previous iterations, in subterranean concourses, in a refreshed experience.

Interior Designers: Ashley Rumsey, ARIDO; Stanley Sun, ARIDO

Design Firm: Mason Studio

Design Team: Marti Hawkins, Intern ARIDO

With more expansion in mind, an adaptable design needed features that would be both easily replicable as well as physically identifiable as key symbols of the brand experience. Repeated linear woven wood textures recall textiles commonly associated with picnics and become an iconic design element for future locations. The communal dining table returns on a trestle base while the lime and watermelon brand colours are present via with greenery in terracotta pots.

Each room in this Markham hotel was designed for openness and flow

With the base building already constructed, mechanical, electrical and plumbing of suites already laid, the design team had free rein to propose a fresh update to the room standards of the Marriott Markham.

Interior Designer: Erin Cram, ARIDO

Design Firm: Quadrangle

Design Team: Caroline Robbie, ARIDO

As a hotel primarily serving guests travelling on business, most of the rooms are king sized rooms. However, each suite demanded custom measurements, so the design team simplified the millwork to a modular kit that could be tailored to each layout.

One design element they eschewed almost completely? Drawers! Instead, the desk in each room extends as a long counter, where guests can store suitcases, in an open shelving system, instead of a typical closet with doors. With this revamp of so many familiar elements, the balance of the room is shifted to have a more continuous flow. Even the artwork is stitched into the design, and tailored within the millwork.

Connectivity, evolution of radio and employee engagement informed the design of this radio floor

With radio and communications innovation being a foundational characteristic of their company, the client continued to think outside the box when relocating their radio studios to the second floor of their Bloor Street location. The space bridges the gap between two campus buildings and combines three functions: radio studios, workspace and an employee cafe.

Open employee cafeteria space with pale wood floors and a accent wall with company history.

Interior Designer: Laura Jones, ARIDO
Design Team: Adriana Pietropaolo, ARIDO; Sharon Turner, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Project Photographer: Tom Arban, Karl Hiplolito

The design team created an isolated raised floor system that protects against vibrations from the TTC route located below, and exterior wall and window treatments mute day-to-day sounds of the surrounding urban environment. Two high-tech radio studios are positioned as focal points in the space, inspiring interaction while still providing necessary privacy for radio talent with tinted windows. The adjacent agile workspace is designed to support a 24-hour work day for employees.

The cafe space is designed as a connecting boulevard with the café on one side, and the studios on the other, continuously inviting and engaging its users. With an acoustic operable wall, the centre performance lounge lends itself to performances that can be broadcast via the studios or opened to the cafe for a public performance. Neutral, fresh and contemporary architectural finishes were selected to accentuate the public-facing radio studios and additional acoustic elements were incorporated into this vibrant space.

The new staircase connects the ground floor to the second floor, something the client requested specifically, enhancing and facilitating the user experience through the space while engaging them with a display of the company’s radio artifacts. The three spaces are tied together by repeating angular elements inspired by radio waves and the use of copper accents that recall radio batteries.

The space is used throughout the day for planned and spontaneous meetings and the renovation of the studios has provided one of the most technologically advanced radio spaces in Canada. In fulfilling the client’s needs, the designers created a lively, dynamic space that has quickly become the most popular spot on campus.

Designing healthcare spaces for kids: Introducing a sense of exploration and curiosity

What’s it like to design a healthcare space for children? Is it possible to infuse that space with imagination and whimsy, while simultaneously following the practical rules of a healthcare setting, such as infection control, times of operation, and safety?

Interior Designer: Laurena Clark, ARIDO

Design Firm: Stantec Architecture Ltd.

Photographer: Richard Johnson

These are the questions that inspired Stantec’s designers to take a unique approach to the redesign of the Women’s Auxiliary Volunteers (WAV) PlayPark at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. The PlayPark is a volunteer-run space for the siblings of young patients who are at the hospital for treatment. Over the years, the much-loved PlayPark had become outdated. Stantec’s designers were tasked with not only updating the look but upgrading the space to be more functional and accessible.

Two of members of the PlayPark design team — interior designer Laurena Clark, ARIDO and architect Olivera Sipka — sat down to discuss their approach and provide advice for others designing similar spaces.

What was different about the SickKids PlayPark, compared to other projects that you’ve worked on?

Laurena: As designers, we always empathize with, and put ourselves in the position of, the people who will use the spaces we design. But with this project, we realized we needed to get to an even deeper level of emotion. SickKids provided us with touching information—like quotes from kids that have loved the space over the years—that made us more emotionally attached. One young man, who is now in his 20s, wrote about how he was so young when his brother began a stay at SickKids, and this young man felt so lost. Both of his parents were busy with his brother’s care, and the young man never got to see his friends. But he had the PlayPark. He wrote about what a joy it was to visit the PlayPark at such a gloomy time in his life. So, redesigning a space that makes such an impact on the lives of young people is a tremendous responsibility. And my kids are the same age as typical PlayPark visitors, between the ages of 4 and 9. So, on an emotional level, that also impacted my design approach.

Reception desk and entry at SickKids PlayPark with coloured circles in random organic patterns.

Can you talk more about your specific design approach for this project?

Laurena: We were doing so much more than designing a “space.” We were creating an experience for those kids and families. We added zones inspired by nature—like a lake, canyon, and hills—so we could bring a park setting to kids that are inside for long periods of time. Also, the PlayPark isn’t just a space that has a certain function. Most of the spaces we design—such as waiting rooms, for example—have specific functions in mind. And, while a waiting room might have some toys and games, those are isolated activities. As soon as you walk into PlayPark, you’re intrigued to explore. We also had to include so much more depth in the design and the activities available because many kids come to the PlayPark for extended periods of time—days, months, even years. We had to pack a lot more in than you might find in a typical waiting room where a child may only visit for a few hours at a time.

Can you tell us more about the zones inspired by nature? What does that look like?

Laurena: We created a forest landscape in the central open space, which features trees made of thick resin panels to create a “leafy” canopy. The tree trunks are a perfect place to wind through on a tricycle. We added a quiet “cave nook,” with fiber-optic twinkling lights in the ceiling, to create the sense of sitting beneath the stars. This is a space where kids can sit quietly when they might not want to engage. It was important to us that kids have choices as they go through a difficult time. The art studio area features a meadow theme with a giant LED panel of tall grasses with lights overhead that look like fluffy clouds. The performance space is designed with curves to suggest hills, with an organic-shaped seating nook and original illustrations.

What’s your advice for others designing a space for children?

Laurena: Open communication. Create an environment of trust and respect so team members feel comfortable throwing ideas out, even if they’re not perfect.

Olivera: It’s about listening. Make sure you listen to kids’ experiences. While working on this project, we listened to children, parents, and even teenagers who used to visit the space when they were younger.

How did you get into the child-like mindset necessary for PlayPark’s redesign?

Laurena: I just had to shut everything off. For healthcare projects, we’re so used to working within the confines of budget, time, and cleanability. So, I had to stop thinking about all the practical things that block ideas from coming freely.

Can you think of something from your own childhood that you brought to this project?

Laurena: I have lots of memories of exploring freely as a child, such as exploring outside, or looking through my mom’s closet and playing dress-up. So, I wanted to bring a feeling of exploration, as well as surprise. During a visit to PlayPark, my kids loved looking through the cupboards and finding the toys that were in there.

Every surface has storage behind it. That alone is an element of exploration. This contrasts with a lot of other pediatric spaces, where you see toys everywhere. It feels busy, and it’s almost overstimulation. Whereas at PlayPark, you have a clean, bright, airy space, and you can interact with surfaces in different ways. All the clutter is hidden. And there’s that element of surprise, as kids discover what’s behind each door.

Do you have any final pieces of advice to offer someone approaching a project like this?

Olivera: Don’t just focus on technology. When designing for kids, we often tend to look at new technologies, such as interactive screens. But with this project, the focus was on play. It turned out to be more of a whimsical place, where kids have opportunities to be themselves.

Laurena: It’s possible to create a fun space while simultaneously working within the confines of a hospital. We designed PlayPark to hospital standards, in terms of infection control. We used all the same materials that other healthcare spaces use—like rubber floors and solid surfaces—and we considered cleaning, like you would in any other area of the hospital. Everything was wipeable. You can utilize those materials in a way that creates an environment that doesn’t look institutional.

This post originally appeared on Stantec.com’s Ideas Blog. The PlayPark project also recieved an Award of Merit in the 2018 ARIDO Awards.

Three different moods for three distinct spaces at Victor Restaurant

Interior Designer: Allen Chan

Design Firm: DesignAgency

Photographer: Lisa Petrole

Hotel Le Germain Mercer Street in Toronto invited the design team to transform its on-site restaurant, Victor. With the multitude of surrounding condos, this district is quickly becoming a neighbourhood in its own right – within five years, almost 40,000 people will live within a two-block radius- and Le Germain wanted Victor to become a destination for morning coffee, business lunches, and late-night dining.

Before, the space had no connections with the street, and the only entrance to the restaurant was through the lobby. The design was dark, uninviting, and lacked flexibility, and the venue only functioned as a nighttime establishment.

With the redesign, Victor has a distinct and cohesive brand identity. Now, a highly fluid space comprises a dining area with leather banquettes, a chef’s table in a side alcove and open counter beyond, an intimate bar-lounge, and a cafe with communal harvest table – all of which meld and transition seamlessly into the hotel’s lobby, which the hotel also redesigned to complement the new hospitality space.

Custom-designed specialty lighting was central to setting a new ambiance – one that is approachable, universal, and versatile enough to attract both hotel guests, daytime business visitors, corporate event attendees, and special occasion groups taking part in the city’s adjacent entertainment district for concerts, theatre, screenings, and more.

To impart a sense of vitality and character to the restaurant, the design team hung a custom-designed chandelier of brass tubing, strung with white globes, layered and rotating at different angles. The eye-catching fixture swoops above diners and is visible from the street, drawing interest from passersby. It glows in contrast to the gravel-grey ceiling, and visually drops the ceiling height to a more intimate level.

Photographer: Lisa Petrole

Entering the intimate lounge, hanging wall lights made from brass tubing and white globes maintain a connection to the feature chandelier in the dining room. LED-lit shelves are artfully decorated with crystal, silverware, and bronze and gilt chargers, and deco lamps line the bar to give extra lighting for guests. Even the inevitable television monitors disappear into smoky mirrors when not in use.

In the cafe, a bright palette creates an airy, daytime feeling. White marble counters and a fluted barista station with a glass display case heighten luminosity. Discreet rows of pendant lights hang over the harvest table and add to the guest experience.

Photographer: Lisa Petrole

Throughout, fabrics and materials were chosen for their ability to absorb and reflect light, including bronze accents, natural stone, warm wood shelving and millwork, plus playful patterned concrete tiling in the cafe floor, soft sage green tabletops, and serpentine banquettes upholstered in tufted, peacock-blue waxed leather.

An urban oasis in the Beaches

Just a few blocks from busy Queen Street East, on a tiny corner lot, the clients engaged the design team to create a serene oasis which felt sophisticated and urban, with the comfort and coziness of a cottage.

Interior Designer: Cathy Garrido, ARIDO

Design Firm: Altius Architecture Ltd.

Photographer: Arnaud Marthouret

The main living spaces are situated on the ground level as the owners wanted to see what is happening around them and feel part of the action as passersby head to the beach and surrounding amenities. From the second floor, the owners needed a more private dwelling, with separation from the bustle around them, especially in the master bedroom. There, they wanted a private space to relax that also had extensive windows and light.

The clients had several must-haves for the rooftop space, an exercise pool, outdoor kitchen and barbecue area, and entertainment areas which didn’t interfere with their private space. Although they entertain often, they emphasized the need to maintain distinctly private family areas in the dwelling. The owners also had an art collection that needed spaces and rooms with simple backdrops in which to best show it off. In terms of interiors, they had a bright but warm space in mind, simple but with interesting details.

In the finished home, interior and exterior flow together, with windows south, east and west, and generous balconies. Sunlight floods in, while balconies provide shade from the hottest sun. Wood soffits and siding add a natural, modern beach house feel.

The ground floor has a strong connection to the busy street. The second floor has a quiet family room and an outdoor balcony where the owners spend their leisure time in the evenings. The master suite on the third floor has an outdoor terrace overlooking Kew Gardens, and provides privacy and quiet for relaxing and recharging, despite expansive surrounding windows.

The rooftop has the desired exercise pool, outdoor barbecue, and kitchen. Stairs from second-floor balcony enable entertaining without cutting into private space and provide special access to late-night swims and sunsets over Toronto from the master suite. When trees are in full bloom, the rooftop is a forest treehouse instead of a city home.

Interiors are completed in a bright palette. Gas fireplaces and lower ceilings provide cozy space for both entertaining and family time. A plaster tile creates texture through the stairwell, and hidden lights add drama. Custom grey-stained oak cabinetry wraps the entryway and kitchen and hides a powder room. Large walls on the north side provide optimal surfaces for hanging art.

The home has a simplicity that feels warm and inviting and creates a feeling of intimacy and coziness. It is the perfect oasis in the city for its owners.

History and place dictated the eclectic redesign of an East End icon

The new Broadview Hotel has come a long way from its former lives as a factory, a boarding house and then “Jilly’s” – an infamous seedy nightclub. Now, the landmark in Toronto’s east end is a chic 58-room boutique hotel boasting a restaurant, cafe, an indoor/outdoor event space, and a rooftop bar.

Interior Designer: Allen Chan, ARIDO
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Worker Bee Supply

The building’s historic architecture, its varied uses over time, and the surrounding neighbourhood character inspired the design team to explore and reference its different phases and styles. They mixed styles and periods to reinforce the eclectic layers built up over time, using an array of bespoke finishes, furniture, and lighting, mixed with a pastiche of industrial, vintage and contemporary pieces. Furniture and lighting by Canadian designers including Coolican & Company, Anony, were incorporated along with custom art from a local curator.

Elegant bar area with stools and gray marble flooring.

A magnet for both guests and neighbours, the airy ground-floor cafe invites guests to sink into leather banquettes or gather at the white marble and brass bar under a halo of pink neon – an installation by the son of the creator of the original Jilly’s sign. Custom-designed wallpaper replicates designs found during demolition, and an “eroded” floor mixing wood and tile nod to the building’s history. The main-floor restaurant has the richness of a classic tavern, with surprising elements like drapery with lemurs smoking hookah pipes.

The guest rooms, the most spirited spaces of all, mix Victorian-style floral wallpaper and upholstery with deep blue ceilings, red velvet drapery, brass lighting, and even a brass rail to create a playful, modern boudoir ambience.

Bedroom at the Broadview Hotel with maroon curtains and lush white bedding.

The hotel’s treasure is found in the building’s tower, where guests find an intimate space for private dinners. The exposed brick and wood beams of the tower’s vaulted ceiling contrast with wood dining tables, leather chairs, vintage mirrors and a symphony of chandeliers – a magical space unlike any other in the city.

Interior dining room with decorative chandeliers.

The hotel has won numerous awards and the seventh-floor restaurant/bar has been voted one of the top patios in Canada, delighting guests with its stunning 360-degree views. With the redesign, the hotel is now a key catalyst in Toronto’s eastward expansion.

Symbolism reigns in this Dubai Museum

Situated on Dubai’s waterfront, the Etihad Museum honours the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) conception story. Comprised of the curving Pavilion above ground and a subterranean Museum, the building is adjacent to the historic Union House, where the nation’s Constitution was signed in 1971.

Interior Designer: Chen Cohen, ARIDO

Design Firm: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Project Photographer: Victor Romero, Felix Loechner

The museum makes an impact with its unique scroll-like form which mimics the parchment paper of the UAE Constitution. The Pavilion’s entry features bronze metal text of the nation’s founding philosophy that seems to rise from a page of marble. Rows of embossed bronze columns recall pens in motion, referencing the signatory act that formalized the Emirati unification.

Marble covered entry to Etihad museum with diagonally leaning columns.

A grand staircase and ramp that echo flowing lines of Arabic script takes Pavilion visitors underground. Once descended, visitors encounter the familiar circular form of Union House through a curving foundation wall, clad in dune-like carved stone. This familiar element becomes the central organizing feature of the museum, a constant reference point for visitors as they navigate the massive permanent gallery and its surrounding spaces.

The flow of movement is further highlighted by billowing white ceiling planes that represent the rippling patterns of the Bedouin winds in the desert sand. Movement is further accentuated by carved wood columns throughout the space.

Marble and white exhibition area with white curving walls.

The museum houses permanent and temporary galleries, a theatre, event spaces, and archival facilities, and the design team placed these rooms strategically, as they have no need of natural light. Meanwhile, two spacious sunken courtyards and four large skylights connect to the ground level plaza, flooding the sub-terranean classrooms, research library, administration offices, prayer rooms, and café with natural light and prevent visitors from feeling stuck underground.

Cafe space at Etihad museum, with view of open courtyard.

The design team worked to ensure the museum is a space that represents the UAE’s past while creating a site for learning and exchange in the present, and progress in the future.