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.

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. 

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?

Client’s dreams of Parisian boho chic achieved in this New York loft

Restrictions abounded in this New York renovation project after the client purchased a 3,100 square foot loft in Soho, New York. With a move-in date four months away, strict condo rules and the New York Building Codes dictating that the project was ‘Decoration’ not a renovation, this left no time to apply for permits.

Interior Designer: Eric McClelland, ARIDO

Design Firm: Fleur De Lis Interior Design

Photographer: Scott Morris

It did allow minor changes to electrical, plumbing fixture updates, cabinetry updates, and painting. After agreeing on a clear budget with the client, the design team created concept plans, furniture and lighting layouts, and set to work on the client’s vision of a melange of Parisian bohemian chic, striking the balance between traditional and modern.

The client wanted the main areas to accommodate large catered events, and a clear division of public and private space, as well as a home office space, and provisions for their extensive artwork and antique book collections.

Since major structural changes were impossible, the design team created millwork elements in whitewashed black oak to give the loft an old-world atmosphere. A panelled fireplace complete with cornice becomes a focal point for the entertaining space, while the millwork in the kitchen highlights the 15-foot ceilings. A third millwork element, replete with a library ladder for the client’s antique book collections, was placed adjacent to a newly created den. Lacquered millwork in Bermuda blue gives the space a completely new look, while a custom teal velvet sectional, antique Murano chandelier and antique Parisian rug complete the space.

The kitchen is an elegant prep space, with a giant slab of marble creating an eye-catching island. Overhead, vintage glass lanterns enhance the client’s desired bistro atmosphere.

A cooler, subtler palette, with a mixture of old and new elements, continue the boho feel in the bedroom. Updated with new lighting, new vanity, vintage chrome shelving and hand dyed fabric for roman blinds, the master bathroom extends the lush atmosphere.

After four months, the client was left with a sophisticated space that alludes to the old modern charm of a Parisian loft, with all the convenience of a modern New York condo.

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.

 

History Repeats Itself

Everything ‘old’ is new again on this recent condo project by Vitorhya Shields, ARIDO and her team. They were approached to renovate the lobby of this downtown Toronto condo. It had great bones, with a classic upscale 1970’s look, limestone walls, and a linear metallic ceiling in bright gold.

Interior Designer: Vitorhya Shields, ARIDO
Team Members: Marley Roppolo, Intern ARIDO; Amanda Tsui, Intern ARIDO
Design Firm: Shields and Associates Interior Design Consultants
3D illustrations: Design Solutions
Photographs: S+A

The client’s three major issues were a set of stairs leading to a raised seating area, storage space for resident’s deliveries, and the lack of security equipment space. The older professional demographic also wanted to retain the existing architectural elegance while updating to a more modern take on the original. It was quite a list of challenges.

Vitorhya Shields, ARIDO and her team completed the space planning, design, construction drawings and project management of the whole project including mail room, security area and elevator lobby.

The new finishes integrated so well with the existing conditions that it is impossible to tell they weren’t originally placed together in the first place. The new and the old blend together harmoniously, making the space feel more modern and elevated.

The security desk now accommodates the agent and all their equipment as well as a barrier free counter which blends in to the new design. The entire back wall behind security is made of lockable doors for small package storage which flip up and the mail room was turned into large package storage by installing new front mounted mail boxes. The stair was removed to make the whole lobby accessible.

We couldn’t have done it without the help of BLT Construction, who did a wonderful job with the security desk and elevator feature wall using Formica laminate and solid surface. Beautiful new pendant lights in gold by Lumens and of course Olympia Tile for matching the limestone where it needed repairing.

This project is also featured on our Instagram account @shields_interiors, as well as on our website www.saidc.ca

The Art of Living Big in Small Spaces

City living has always been known as “tight” and “small” living, but not this time around. We call it “the art of living big’, no matter how small the space is. A space is a space, whether big or small, but the design is what introduces an element of fun and creativity.

At Sansa Interiors, we gave this project a soul by creating a way of being. We observed our clients and studied how they move, we found out their interests, their favourite colours, and their top travel destinations. We then took all of that and tailored it to a simple and clean dream apartment.

Our focus was to bring in subtle tones and finishes throughout the space with pops of colour. We experimented with manipulating positive and negative spaces to create a flow from one corner to the other.

The home office showcases the contrast between the clean white walls and the soft yet bold blush pink gallery wall and adjacent furniture. The furniture selection is very minimal and does not interfere with the ambient flow, instead, it helps create a successful grounding experience.

Some of the requirements we were given:

  1. Home office for two people
  2. A reading nook
  3. Clean/simple kitchen
  4. A place to retreat at the end of the day

Design Tips for Living Big:

  1. Mirrors near windows
  2. The more plants the better!
  3. A subtle colour palette with accent pieces to bring in pops of colour
  4. Minimal furniture
  5. Bring in your personality, via art pieces or woven pillows

Photography by Bruno Belli.

Dark and light mingle in this modern residence

When this prime lot in a busy Ottawa neighbourhood became available, an astute developer snapped it up, envisioning a luxury home designed with a minimalist aesthetic, superior millwork, and an elegant bearing throughout. The developer engaged the interior design team to bring their vision to life, and make use of the existing grand footprint, incorporate a modern aesthetic and technology, and ensure functionality and flow.

Interior Designer: Serina Fraser, ARIDO

Design Firm: Clear Interior Design

Project Photographer: Urzula Muntean Photography

This upscale neighbourhood is known for its sweeping lots, with grand houses set well back from narrow laneways, surrounded by mature trees and gardens. To attract potential buyers, the client requested a design that would respect the neighbourhood’s history while being firmly rooted in the present. A Zen aesthetic, superior finishes, and integrated technology were all must-haves.

Upon entering, the foyer and dining area are separated by an L-shaped divider that forms a central core in the open plan. On one side, a sleek bench provides a welcoming seat in the entryway, and on the other, a double-sided fireplace creates a cozy nook. This core promotes a natural flow between the kitchen, dining room, and living room.

These spaces laid down the Zen palette that combines white oak floors and millwork with a neutral foundation of greys and whites. The kitchen has a ton of storage options with cabinetry that reaches the impressive ceiling heights. With that in mind, custom millwork and furnishings were designed to be scale-appropriate in the calming white oak.  

The main-floor fireplace divider is a bold statement against the white oak, clad in black marble to boost drama within the calm space. The designers repeated these bold black finishes in the bathrooms, adding a punch of drama to the small spaces.

With a modern edge, the staircase is simultaneously a focal point and blends into the surroundings. The riser, tread, and stringer extend the Zen palette, while a side view reveals the separation between the two key volumes and the graceful connection between the glass rail and stringer. Additionally, lush velvet drapery and textured accent walls are complimented by simple wall planes, revealing a richness amid a minimalist canvas.

Technology is integrated seamlessly throughout the design. Lighting, window treatments, temperature controls, security systems, and efficient, tech-forward devices are coordinated throughout to establish a secure, sustainable home.

The success of this sophisticated residence has resulted in an alteration to the developer’s business model to focus solely on custom high-end homes