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.

 

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

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.

A serene condo in Toronto’s bustling downtown

When purchasing this 1,205 square foot condo, steps away from Toronto’s downtown core, the client imagined a highly customized, open space that buffered the hectic city environment with serenity and calm. In the interview with the design team, the client specifically asked for a lot of concealed storage, a large home office, and a sophisticated design suitable for entertaining.

Interior Designer: Mini Ryu, ARIDO

Design Firm: Ryu Design

Project Photographer: Margaret Mulligan

Interior Designer Mini Ryu modified the layout of the space, removing a powder room to increase the size of the office space while respecting the client’s budget.

The centrally located kitchen makes a natural gathering place for guests, with warm oak flooring underfoot, and sleek white lacquer cabinetry that provides the requested concealed storage. Opposite the kitchen is a curved wall of windows, that lets natural light flood into the space. The design team carefully planned the placement of furniture, lighting, and accessories to create harmony on this curved line. A dark, smoky glass coffee table, warm accent fabrics and a collection of interesting accessories add warmth to the space.

A home office off the front entrance of the unit is partitioned with white translucent glass offering privacy and visual interest with shadows and silhouettes, while allowing natural daylight to penetrate.

In the bathroom, warm earth tones, and varied textures of wood balance the modern, clean lines of white millwork, geometric shapes and abstract art. Baked ceramic pieces are scattered across a wall like leaves from a gentle breeze, adding to a spa‐like peace at the end of a long day.

Each of these elements from the design adds up to an effective balance of functionality and style with modern, natural and rustic elements executed in visual harmony.