How a Team Mentality Benefits Your Project

This is where it might start to sound very Utopian, but if you stick with me, you’ll see why a team environment gives you a better project and a better process (which is the biggest asset of all). Any beautiful end product can be tarnished by a bad experience getting it accomplished.

Here at Sanura Design and around the company we keep in the design community, Team is the word. The best projects have everyone involved from the beginning.

“But, Melissa” I hear you ask “I watch a lot of HGTV and love Pinterest and everyone I know just hires a contractor for their project, who gives a price and gets the work done.” That is certainly one way to approach things. That sort of process is first of all unfair to the contractor- what on earth are they pricing anyway? You have no design in place, they have no idea what the finishes are, and if you have a more extensive renovation happening, they don’t even know what all the work will entail.

Well, when I put it that way, it’s seems a bit silly to ask them to price it out without a design. But the alternative is a bit silly as well.

Let’s say you really want an accessible spa bathroom. We come up with a bright, warm material palette that’s classic and we pull together some fancy renderings to present the design. The presentation above is beautiful and everyone is incredibly excited to move forward. But wait, no one involved the contractor in the process, so we find out that we just doubled our original budget with the complex tile layouts and the sheer amount of tiling in the bathroom. But you just fell in love with that design- that is where heartbreak happens in the process and you would be justified in losing trust in your designer.

Aforementioned accessible spa bathroom.

That is why its important that our contractor or builder is involved in our process from the beginning. We run ideas by them first to see how it will impact the budget- and make sure our ideas are practical. You see that beautiful arch above the tub? Maybe that’s going to costs us thousands of dollars due to the complexity of the construction/difficulty tiling the surface and a regular arched top would save us those thousands and still be in keeping with the design- a great relationship with our contractor means we find these things out before we present the design to you.

They are also our partners in coming up with solutions. We work with professionals that first ask “how do we solve this?” and work with us to come up with solutions.

This is an invaluable attitude during the design phase- and it makes for a much better construction process. Because I’ve included the contractor throughout the process they’re already familiar with the design- and are able to make suggestions to ease the construction process. On our part, designing the project before construction begins means the contractor already has a full set of instructions and drawings (including all those materials and fixtures) so that a smooth construction timeline can be planned- and the budget can be finalized before any work starts.

It’s much easier to massage the budget before anything has been dug or demolitioned or materials/fixtures have been special ordered (and can’t be returned). Also- it makes it much easier for the contractor to stick to the budget.

This also goes for other consultants. Remember that accessible spa bathroom? Maybe you have complex health issues or are planning ahead? That is when we bring in a consultant like an Occupational Therapist, who works with us to ensure the solutions and overall design enables you to move forward with a full life and incorporates any limitations and goals you have. Having a consultant on the team from the beginning and throughout the process means even after they do a customized assessment and we all get a detailed report, we can still count on them to assist in designing custom solutions. This is how we ensure things are designed specifically for you and your needs throughout your project.

So, Go Team!

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What We Really Do: Drawings Edition

Sure, you need drawings for a renovation (or maybe you didn’t know that?), but what are they really?

Drawings are an opportunity to try out the design and work out the kinks in a project before it’s built.

There I said it. Shortest blog ever!

Ok, ok, so maybe you have some follow-up questions to that. If you didn’t know you needed drawings to do a renovation (assuming you don’t need a permit- because we’re not going to entertain the idea that you’re passing up the opportunity to protect your biggest investment– for some of you literally- to save a bit of time or money). “But my brother did a renovation and his contractor did the renovation without hiring a designer and it worked out fine.”

Let me ask you some follow-up questions for your brother: Did everything come out right the first time? Did it come out exactly as he had expected? Even better one: How many times did he get a call from the contractor to make a decision or come show them how he wanted something done?

Hmm. So maybe didn’t come out as well as we’d all like? This is not the contractor’s fault. Read that over again, please. They are not clairvoyant, nor are they typically trained in any way to be a decorator or designer, or interior designer. This means someone needs to tell them how they want things, and if no one writes any of that down, it needs to ALL be conveyed in person, which is a LOT of time. You might already know this if you’ve DIY-d a renovation without some kind of professional help.

So maybe these drawing things are starting to make more sense?

I can tell the best contractors immediately when I meet them and we discuss construction drawings and how we do them at Sanura Design (and how a Registered Interior Designer is trained to do them, period). We usually bond over having to construct something with no drawings and some gestures or being asked to help design a space with the clients when it isn’t what they signed up for.

So what’s our special sauce? It’s actually really simple if a lot of hard work and experience.

We document everything. I’m not exaggerating in the least- a master bathroom project might have 7 drawings attached to it. That sounds like a lot, but it’s amazing for the contractor (and honestly if I wanted to spend most of my day on a job site, I would have become a contractor)- they know exactly what tiles we’re putting in where, how the tiles are laid out, where the plumbing fixtures are going, where to install the bathroom accessories, all the details of the custom millwork, where to hang the mirror, what lighting fixtures are going in and exactly where to install them, and the list goes on!.

An example of how detailed our bathroom drawings are above- we draw the actual tile layouts to any difficulties with installation or tile size can be discovered in advance

Imagine how easy it is to price a project when you know exactly what’s going in- and typically this means better pricing for the homeowner. You know exactly how much your project will cost before anything is ordered and anything is demolished or constructed.

Remember when I said drawings allow Interior Designers to test out ideas and work out the kinks in advance? They also allow us to change the scope of work/design to suit your budget better without wasting time and money during the construction process. Drawings also enable us to collaborate with contractors during the design process to get budgetary feedback and their expertise.

So hopefully you’re coming around. Congratulations! Now you’re well informed enough to decide if you need to hire an interior designer or if you’re happier doing this yourself. That’s always my goal!

And if you just decided you’d rather not take on the full-time job of managing and designing your own renovation, you know where to find us!

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What to ask before hiring an Interior Designer

At my firm, Sanura Design, we love educated clients- and curious clients. An integral part of our process is ensuring our clients have all the information they need- and that includes knowing the design process, permit process, construction process, and everything in between.

So… what do you need to know before you hire me or another design professional?

1: Personality isn’t everything- but fit is really important

Interior design is an incredibly personal job- especially when designing your home. As your interior designer I know things like: what’s in your bedtime table, how you arrange your undies, what you have for breakfast, and your morning bathroom habits. Most of which I bet your friends don’t know. That means when you search for an interior designer you’re searching for someone you can be open with, and work with in their professional capacity. How do you know your interior designer is right for you (after checking qualifications, experience, etc)?  How do you know you’ll be friendly with someone?

2: Are they qualified?

Have a good look at what you’d like to accomplish for your project and what your goals are. Are you simply freshening a space by changing furniture, paint colours, lighting fixtures? That’s something you can hire an interior designer OR decorator for. Are you moving walls, changing your HVAC, electrical, etc, adding an addition, or generally altering your actual home in some way? That’s where you need a qualified professional- a registered interior designer is a regulated profession in Ontario where you know exactly what we need to know to earn our title of “interior designer” and we answer to our organization when we aren’t standing up to our code of ethics. Other design professionals do have extensive experience in renovations and may have a comprehensive skill set, if you hire someone like this the next step will be a very important one.

3: Check their references

Whether you’re hiring us, another registered interior designer, or another design professional, a very important step is asking for and checking a few references. You’re looking for past clients that have undergone similar work to your project, and a bonus can sometimes be hearing from other professionals, like contractors or consultants. You want to have a personal conversation with them and get a good idea for what their experience is like, exactly what the person you may be hiring did for them and what challenges came up. You need to check multiple references as this gives you a much fuller picture of who you’ll be working with.

4: Are they insured?

That’s their problem right? Professionals who do good work don’t need liability insurance- they never get sued.
Incorrect! Liability insurance isn’t just to cover a professional from unhappy clients, it’s also to cover the project from unforeseen circumstances- like a defective product, an incorrectly installed finish, or the incorrect product being installed (among many many other things). Mistakes happen, even with the best professionals, and true professionals carry this protection for themselves, their employees, and their projects.

5: Do they have a contract?

Contracts are incredibly important to your renovation. Both your contractor AND your interior designer should have detailed contracts for you to sign. For an interior designer they should include things like: fees/payment schedule, scope of work, details for breaking the contract, and clarify each sides responsibilities- to name a few. These contracts protect YOU the most- and I can’t emphasize that enough. If something goes wrong during the project and you didn’t sign a contract- you have no options and no protection. The longer and more detailed your professional’s contract is, the more confident you should feel in hiring them. This means they’re openly laying out exactly how they work and ensuring you understand the full process before you sign up for a project with them. A good professional is also always willing to go through their contract with you in detail to help you feel more comfortable.


Whew! That was a technical one. I’m sure I missed something (we don’t want an essay on the subject!), but it will serve as a great rule of thumb to ensure you get the right professional for your project.

Do you have any questions on what the qualifications of a registered interior designer ARE or would like to find one in your area? Check out the ARIDO website.

If you want to chat with us about your project and see if we’re a good fit for you? Get in touch with us.

This post first appeared on Sanura Design | Full Service Interior Design.

Hiring a qualified Interior Designer

Getting started with a renovation, whether it’s for a home or a commercial project, can be daunting. It can feel like there’s too much advice out there, and not enough information. To minimize risk and save money in the long run, get started with a Registered Interior Designer from the start.

Take your time

To ensure your project is a success, take time to carefully review and explore your options. Think about what your priorities are for the project, your needs, budget, timeline, and style. When you have a list of what you need, you can reach out to qualified Interior Designers for your project.

A Registered Interior Designer will assist in managing your project right from the start and will explain the design process, their work schedule, and ask you in-depth questions about your needs. Before hiring and working with an Interior Designer, you should feel comfortable with the individual and their approach to the project.

An important piece of a successful project is a focus on quality in the selection process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their past projects, technical competence, methodology etc. Often, an interior designer will bring their portfolio, or send you links to some of their previous projects and will always be pleased to share about their experience and past work.

Consider your needs

As a client, you can be open with an interior designer about what your needs are. It’s okay to have a finished project in mind, the interior designer is there to bring your vision to life in a way that considers your needs and budget. You have a list of features you want or don’t want in a finished project.

Quality-based selection involves comparing candidates based on such criteria as:

  • Have you worked on similar projects in the past? Tell me about one or two.
  • Tell me about some of your recent projects.
  • Do you work with a team? Will you be my main contact for the entirety of the project?
  • Do you know contractors or construction teams? Do you have preferred contractors?
  • How do you plan out a project? What do you think is a reasonable timeline for this project?
  • Other factors like an interior designer’s creativity, vision or innovation can be important factors for a client.

All Registered Interior Designers must know the Ontario Building Code (OBC), an interior designer’s understanding of the Code can come in handy when your project has very clear needs and hazards.

Check References

Asking for references of past clients is also a great way to gain a better understanding of a qualified Interior Designer’s work. Questions like, Were you happy with the final project? Was a timeline given to you accurate? Would you work with the Interior Designer again?

Taking some time to do this groundwork before signing a contract and spending money on a project can prevent headaches and added costs down the line.

Get it in writing

A Registered Interior Designer will always set out the work to be completed in a written contract and make sure you understand the details before signing and starting work. Take the time to review the contract and language before signing anything, and you can even have a lawyer review it as well. Avoid individuals who insist on working with cash or a handshake agreement, as you have no method of recourse if the project hits a snag.

You can always find a list of qualified Interior Designers across Ontario with the BLOG//ARIDO Directory.

What are Registered Interior Designers qualified to do?

The work a Registered Interior Designer completes will differ from project to project. Remember that an Interior Designer is different from an Interior Decorator.

An Interior Decorator may style a space to make it look fashionable and beautiful, a Registered Interior Designer will address form and function in a project and consider your vision, your lifestyle, and your budget.

A Registered Interior Designer is qualified to create designs for an interior space, apply for a building permit, create plans for plumbing, electrical, space planning and more. Anyone can call themselves an Interior Decorator, which does not require the same level of technical training.

In Ontario, the title ‘Interior Designer’ represents an educated professional who has met the high standards for education, work experience and examination to gain Registered Membership, as defined by ARIDO.

Some examples of the work an Interior Designer can complete for you:

  • Apply their knowledge of interior design, sector and economic trends, legal and regulatory requirements to the design of your interior space
  • Prepare preliminary design concepts that are functional, meet your budget, and are aesthetically pleasing
  • Develop and present final design recommendations
  • Prepare working drawings and specifications for interior construction, space planning, materials, finishes, furnishings, fixtures, and equipment
  • Prepare contract documents and administer bids on behalf of the client
  • File for the required Building Permits with the local authority
  • Collaborate with other practitioners who offer professional services in the technical areas of mechanical, electrical, and structural design as needed
  • Manage the interior design process, including strategic planning, project planning, budgeting, and schedules
  • Understand, document and analyze your needs and goals as their client
  • Review and evaluate construction during implementation and coordinate completion of project with consultant team
  • Complete a final walk-through with the client to ensure the project is completed properly

The Project Team

Interior Designers may also work as the Lead Consultant or Project Manager for the project on your behalf. They are trained and experienced at retaining and working with other consultants or suppliers who may be required to complete the project:

  • Act as Project Manager on your behalf to manage the project teams through all phases of the project
  • Advise on the branding and communications of the features of a space
  • Undertake feasibility studies on potential facilities and coordinate with real estate professionals where needed

The list of specialists an Interior Designer may retain, or assist you in retaining, includes:

  • Accessibility consultants
  • Acoustical consultants
  • Architects
  • Art consultants
  • Audio visual/technology solutions consultants
  • Building code consultants
  • Communications, branding, and graphics consultants
  • Contractors and/or construction managers
  • Cost consultants
  • Filing and record systems suppliers; storage and display systems suppliers
  • Furniture and fixtures suppliers
  • Lighting consultants
  • Market analysts
  • Mechanical, Electrical, communications, and/or Structural Engineers
  • Merchandising and visual display consultants
  • Real estate consultants
  • Relocation consultants and moving companies
  • Security consultants
  • Signage and/or wayfinding consultants

Cooling Off In The Hot Days Of Summer

You’re hot, you’re cranky, you’re sweaty. What are you going to do for relief? Other than the obvious answers – hang out by the pool, at the mall with igloo temperatures or at an outdoor cafe with an iced drink – sooner or later you do have to go home. Here are my go-to suggestions for cooling off in the summer – indoors.

Dress To Refresh

Composite image of three bedrooms with cool cotton sheets.

Create a summer look by dressing your sofas and chairs with linen slipcovers. Linen has natural wicking abilities that pulls moisture away form the skin. Used for centuries in hot climate countries. It also has natural anti-bacterial qualities.

Image of three sofas with cool white slipcovers

Cool Off With Fans

Living through a hot summer without air-conditioning seems impossible, but you’ll still feel the humidity at some point. Many people don’t like the recirculated air from air conditioners, or the high energy bills that come with cranking up the air conditioner 24/7. For immediate relief have the fan directed toward your body or your feet! I find that a fan at my feet seems to cool off the rest of me. Ceiling fans such Casa Blanca, are romantic looking, create air movement that cools you off by evaporating the sweat from your body. More evaporation means a cooler human.

Cool To The Touch

Enjoying a cool, sustainable home might be right on the counter or under your feet. Stones such as granite or marble located on tables, counters and under your feet are cool to the touch. Why? They have a dense structure that absorbs heat from warmer objects. This heat dissipates through the stone quickly and it feels cold. Stone is virtually indestructible, which makes it ideal for high-traffic areas in your home. Requiring little or no refinishing or replacement or maintenance.

Make It Dark

Shutting your blinds and curtains all the day will help block the sun’s rays. Close all windows the night before and through the hottest part of the day. Closing blinds is especially necessarily if you have south-facing window walls. No matter how much air conditioning you have you’ll feel the heat and be blinded by the glare of the hot sun. Turn off the lights. Light bulbs, even environmentally-friendly CFLs and LEDs give off heat if not directly than their electrical housing and transformers do. Take advantage of natural light as much as possible, and keep rooms cool after dark by using lights minimally or not at all. A great reason to have dinner by romantic candlelight.

Sleep In The Lower Level (aka The Basement)

Basements make for a great summer residence. Since warm air rises and cool air sinks, this lower level makes for comfortable sleeping. Finishing off the basement is a worthwhile investment. The lower level is usually 10 to15 degrees cooler than the upstairs part of the house.

Composite image of three interior designs for a basement.

Psychologically Speaking

Cool colours – blues, greens and white – can promote your brain’s capacity to visually cool off. Blues in particular remind us of the sky and the cool wet seas. And green, the colour of nature, always brings up thoughts of spring. Embrace the summer and enjoy your home whether it’s located in the sky, on the ground, or by the water.

And ask yourself: How are you going to create a cool summer mood for your home?

This survivor-led project inspired a new phase of ARIDO’s charitable work

In 2018, ARIDO worked with BridgeNorth as our charity partner for the 2018-19 ROI Project. BridgeNorth exists to address and prevent the unique problems faced by survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. BridgeNorth provides programs to assist with their departure and transition from the sex industry by offering direct service to women, girls, and families affected by the sex industry.

Human trafficking is unfortunately widespread in Canada, with Ontario acting as a hub for the rest of the country, where two-thirds of human trafficking violations taking place here. The average age of young women who are lured and groomed into the industry is 13 years old and 93% of survivors are Canadians.

This project focused on the improvement and refresh of the head office located in York Region. This project was hugely moving and inspiring for the association and every person involved. Unlike previous ROI projects, the design team balanced the creation of a secure environment for clients attempting to exit a trafficked situation and the creation of a more secure space for existing clients. Details as minute as the furniture selection and placement were carefully considered by the design team, to try and prevent triggering of clients. New lockers let clients and staff feel agency and ownership of the space, as well as security of their belongings.

The addition of a shower allows incoming clients to bathe in a dignified and secure environment, something survivors of human trafficking are denied daily, while the creation of a fully functional kitchen provides a space to host cooking classes and offer new life skills to clients, helping them find secure employment outside of the sex industry.

“As designers, our job is to assist clients in creating a space for them that changes or helps the way they work and go to market. In this case, it has been an incredible experience to see and understand what design could do to impact a human experience and to directly impact the clients for the betterment of their lives. Aesthetics assist in the “feel” of the space, but the functionality of the space allows BridgeNorth the tools to reach many more people and help them with their next steps. We have been honoured to work on this project and be witness to this positive change.” Lead Designer, Lucia De Biasio, ARIDO, LDB Design Inc.

“This project has left a lasting impact upon ARIDO, our members, and our industry partners. It has led the ARIDO to shift our ROI objectives from improving an interior environment for a charitable organization to creating greater social impact by means of the Interior Design community. We are now focusing our efforts on leveraging our community and resources to provide a platform for the voices of trafficked Ontarians and raise awareness of this growing crime.” ARIDO Executive Director, Sharon Portelli.

The project would have not been possible without the generous support of ROI partners: Flat Iron Building Group Inc., Brigholme Interiors Group, Mohawk Group and Office Source + SCI Interiors

It was also supported by: 3form, Three H Furniture Systems, AMJ Campbell, Benjamin Moore, Camino Systems, Caplan’s Appliances, CaTech, Choice Office Installations, Daltile, Division9 Commercial Flooring, DPI-Construction, Doner Turrin Inc. EurOptimum, Four Seasons Drywall, Inc., G&P Millwork, Group Lacasse, Haworth, The HIDI Group, HiTek Window Film Solutions, Honeycomb Engineering, Horizon Mechanical Contractors, Impact Electrical & Mechanical Ltd, Keilhauer, Levey Industries Inc., LightArt, Liteline Corporation, Panolam Surface Systems, Paul DaCunha Architect Inc., PowerOp Electrical Contractors, Salex, Shoreway Flooring, Spec Furniture, Trillium Group, POI Business Interiors, Steelcase, Ultimate Decor Ltd.

ARIDO would like to express our deepest gratitude to the support of these companies and their staff, as well as the following people who were part of making the project happen.

Design Team
Lucia De Biasio, LDB Design Inc
Sakshi Kapoor, LDB Design Inc
Leah Watling, LDB Design Inc
Sojung Yoo, LDB Design Inc
Paul Da Cunha, Paul Da Cunha Architects

Fundraising and Donor Procurement Team
Mahesh Babooram, Office Source
Dayna Bradley, Brigholme
Lisa Gushue, Mohawk
Chelsea Powell, Flat Iron
Susan Quinn, Mohawk

Project and Construction Management
Carolyn Brown, DPI Construction Management
Elvio Di Simone, DPI Construction Management
Kevin Minnes, DPI Construction Management

Pre-Programming
Donna Dolan, Kearns Mancini Architects
Jordan Fang, ARIDO Intern Director
Karin Karak, K2 Designworks

Photography
Yianni Tong

Resources about Human Trafficking:
Human trafficking services and supports (Ontario.ca)

Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010
Hotline Website

Do we really need a Building Permit?

As an Interior Designer, I hear it time and time again…

“What? A building permit! Do we really need one? But it costs so much money!”

The simple answer is yes, you really do need one, but not for the reasons you may think.

The main reason for a building permit is not a money grab or a way to keep people employed. The real reason is to protect the public. To protect us in the event of a terrible catastrophe where there might be a fire or disaster. This is such an important issue that seems to be frequently overlooked.

On average each month I typically hear one or two stories about those who do not want to start the process of obtaining a building permit. As a Registered Interior Designer of ARIDO, a Building Qualified Interior Designer and Project Management Professional (PMP), I must uphold the integrity of the regulations created to ensure the safety of the public.

And I we do this by ensuring my clients and the public is aware that there is a process in place established by the provincial government which I must follow. As to the cost, there is a small fee, consultant costs, and some guidelines regarding a Permit Submission that your local Registered Interior Designer can help you follow.

Here is an easy Three-Step Guide to get you started in obtaining your building permit for your corporate premise, a back to base building landlord project, or when renovating your home:

1. Hire an Expert

A Registered Interior Designer can make this frustrating experience a breeze for you. They can provide you with information on upfront costs for the creation of the drawings required, confirm if engineering drawings are needed, advise on consulting fees, when an architect may need to be engaged, will follow up with the City to ensure the timelines are staying on track and advise on the permit costs. The money and time spend doing this early will save on potential insurance claims and will protect you or your employees later.

2. Apply & Wait

The Registered Interior Designer will apply for permit on your behalf ensuring all the proper paperwork is completed, will answer the city’s questions and after four (4) weeks for a typical Corporate Interior Retrofit project. Et Voila! You have the City’s approval to start construction! (Occasionally, we may experience longer wait times than normal but a Registered Interior Designer can advise you of potential delays in the process, especially if they have experienced them recently.)

3. Permit Received & Safety Established

Once the city provides the Building Permit, a Contractor with a WSIB & Insurance in place can begin construction, in collaboration with your prime consultant, your Interior Designer.

I look forward to continuing to see that safety is top of mind for everyday corporate, landlords, and homeowner decisions.

What is a qualified Interior Designer?

You wouldn’t get dental work from someone on the street, nor would you get just anyone to help you in a divorce. So why would you hire an unqualified person to complete your interior design project?

The Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) is the professional association representing Interior Designers in Ontario. Only Registered members of ARIDO are authorized to use the designation ‘ARIDO’ and the title ‘Interior Designer’ in Ontario. ARIDO ensures that Interior Designers are highly trained through a rigorous process of education, experience and examination.

All Registered Members are required to:

Complete Education and Experience Requirements
To become an Interior Designer, students must follow a rigorous path of education in a four year Bachelor of Interior Design degree.

Supervised Work Experience
Graduates then must complete a minimum of 3,520 hours of supervised work experience under a qualified practitioner.

Examination
To complete their qualifications, Interior Design students must pass the NCIDQ examination, the National Council of Interior Design Qualification, which is the industry’s recognized indicator of proficiency in interior design principles.

Maintain professional liability insurance
Because of the responsibility of their profession, Interior Designers must maintain professional liability insurance, just like doctors, engineers and other titled professions.

Participate in ongoing regular professional development
As a practising Interior Designer, Registered and Intern members must regularly complete professional development with specific requirements on learning about Health and Safety, the Building Code, Accessibility, Occupational Safety, and Health administration.

Comply with a professional code of ethics and standards of practice
ARIDO’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice outline how Registered Interior Designers must comport themselves in their work, on issues like contracts, maintaining confidentiality, and other matters that protect the public.

Comply with the Ontario government’s qualification and registration requirements under the Ontario Building Code
In addition to the above requirements mandated by ARIDO, qualified Interior Designers are trained in and have extensive knowledge of the Ontario Building Code. The Ontario Building Code is the legal framework that governs all building in Ontario. From renovation of existing buildings to new builds, every building in the province must comply with the laws that are set out in the OBC. Because of their work to build and renovate interior spaces in Ontario, Interior Designers must have a strong and current knowledge of the Code.

You Want an Interior Designer Who Tells You “No”

Hello! This is a “choose your own adventure” of an article. You can watch the video below, or if you prefer reading it you can also scroll below that to read the article. Enjoy!


…And why the best designers know that your happiness is more important than our portfolio.
Opinion alert! That last part of the statement is purely my opinion (and the opinion of interior designers, decorators and stylists I know and admire), but it’s an important distinction.

Let’s start with that title up there. What do you mean I want my interior designer to tell me, “No”? I thought I wanted a designer I get along with?

Yes, but that’s a subject for a future blog post! This is right along those lines though. Isn’t your real best friend the one that tells you that you have something in your teeth, or your shirt has ridden up on the back, or quietly tucks your tag into your shirt? A really great relationship with your designer also means they care enough to tell you when your choices are the best for your design or your home.

Why? Here at Sanura Design, our reason stems from a deep reason- I want you to love your space so much it makes you happy every time you see it. I’m not doing my job if you just get the picture you pointed out in the magazine.

A prime example can be seen above in our material palettes. These are all for our beloved Project Christiani in South Mississauga. Our client had visions of neutrals throughout, and immediately said she didn’t like wallpaper (and had visions of that awful 70s wallpaper that made us all hate wallpaper). We pushed her boundaries and put unexpected things in front of her- she ended up falling in love with two wallpapers, one for the powder room, and another a blue textured beauty that was installed in her office. We also found out a deep regret (after getting to know her), was a simple orange leather chair she passed up at a store years ago. She STILL thought about it.

You guessed it, we paired that orange leather chair with that blue wallpaper (well the image above is spoilers!), and she loves that space (paired with great wood textures). We never would have gotten to that design had I just taken her word for it and not pushed her a bit to show her a few things.

Here’s a little peek at the office:

So, we care about our clients, but what does that have to do with saying no? Well, this subject came up unexpectedly after we made a visit to our favourite showroom to choose cushions for our client’s sofa.

We had gone through the cushions to see what the client liked, and when she paired a few together that really didn’t go with the design vision, I told her so. I didn’t just say “no”, I told her why it didn’t go and suggested something that would go better. We ended up with a couple of great cushions for the sofa.

Our next visit, we discussed that exchange and my response was- isn’t that what she’s paying me for? It’s my job to tell her if what she’s picking out doesn’t go with the overall design. We’re never rude, but wouldn’t you rather I tell you the cushions don’t look that great, then me be too shy to say anything and your friends and family tell you they don’t look that great?

All that said, here’s where this article’s title comes in. In the end, if we explain why it’s not right for the space (providing there isn’t any safety concerns- those are different!), and you still just love it. Ok, let’s use it. Even if this makes for “bad portfolio photos”, your happiness as my client is much more important than my photos. We’ll then look at integrating that into the design, and as long as you love the space- it doesn’t matter what I think.