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.

A Space Built on a Collaborative Approach to Design

In embracing post-pandemic design requirements, our client, International Research Development Centre (IDRC), assembled a group of employees to work closely with LWG to create a successful change in management narrative through design – conceptually, functionally and aesthetically. This group was called Mwanzo, a Swahili term meaning new beginnings.

Interior Designer: Bryan Wiens, ARIDO
Design Firm: LWG
Photographer: Kevin Belanger

The project was an opportunity to create a space that welcomed employees back to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic. An opportunity to work closely with the IDRC was embraced to ensure both a sense of ownership and a reflection of the values and focus in the work IDRC does both locally and internationally. As an organisation that champions research and innovation alongside those it works with, this collaborative approach was vital. 

An opportunity to create a professionally designed space intentionally reflecting the IDRC’s requirements and allowing them to be a central player in the process, and project’s success…..what a wonderful and collaborative design methodology!

The vernacular of weaving was a key element in many features of the design. Applying the idea that good design is like a well woven fabric, each thread important and critical to the overall success and resulting in unified design solutions. Combining good design with an international development awareness of the universal use of woven materials across cultures, many features reflect this concept. From functional to decorative elements, design and meaning intertwine to create a visually holistic representation of the client’s work.

Materials and design features were thoughtfully used to enhance this concept. The collaborative work zones and display areas encompass millwork constructed to resemble an abstract weaving pattern. Textiles, including fabrics, wall coverings and carpet, mimic basic woven looks, plaids and suited jacket materials. Lighting incorporates fabric textures and intersecting patterns, resembling weaving in a variety of contexts.

Taking colour and pattern to build a world of whimsy

Our clients, a young fun couple, loved the layout of their new condo located in the epicentre of culture and nightlife in downtown Toronto, but they were not in love with the boring and cookie cutter basic finishes, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. They were looking to add colour, pattern, and personality with mid-century modern touches throughout the entire interior. This is where we came in with plans to create a more functional interior, one that is joyful and whimsical, and, most importantly, feels like home.

Interior Designer: Cori Halpern, ARIDO
Design Firm: Cori Halpern Interiors
Photographer: Virginia MacDonald

Colourful living room area with plenty of pattern and texture along with mid century modern touches like the freform coffee tables and contrasting lounge chair. The room is surrounded by city views.

Even before they were in possession of their new condo, we got to work and started thinking about the finishes, bold colours, and patterns along with the mid century modern touches that would reflect the couple’s joyous personality.

Our starting point in terms of design and colour scheme was the stunning colourful fabric we used to dress up the endless floor to ceiling windows on all sides. The lively pattern on the fabric recalls colourful tattoo art that adds movement into the space and serves as the perfect colour inspiration for the rest of the interior.

The foyer was turned from an empty, bland space to a welcoming one, with a sunny yellow console table and a small gallery wall that adds character while  hiding the electrical box.

Foyer with bright lemon yellow console table against the light blue walls with a small gallery wall
Vanity in the powder room, with gold details and teal coloured cabinets and armoir, while the whimsical mermaid wall paper dresses the walls

The little powder room located off the foyer was originally combined with the laundry room, which was aesthetically not pleasing and not functional at all because both areas were really small. The main goal here was to make it feel like one unified space as opposed to two separate rooms, which we achieved with custom millwork, leveled ceilings, better lighting and keeping the machines enclosed behind doors. With the addition of luxurious finishes and whimsical details, this space now has a magical feel.

The basic, super modern original kitchen needed to be gutted and reconfigured into a space that will become the heart of the home, the star of the entire space. Right from the start, we all gravitated toward teal as the new colour for this dream kitchen.  We wanted to create a seamless look by painting the bulkhead and the range hood in the same colour as the kitchen cabinets, and decided on a panel-ready, or built-in, 36” fridge,  so the eye can travel through the space easily and seamlessly. 

We designed a significantly longer and deeper island with more functional storage, which was possible because the clients didn’t want any seating at the island. By not placing the sink or stove on the island counter, we created a full run of counter space and maximum flexibility to use as they please, depending on the occasion.

Teal coloured, fluted kitchen island with smooth top counter surface displaying large bright yellow flowers in a vase, and seamless cabinets in teal on the wall. Sculptural golden light fixture is above.
Teal coloured, fluted kitchen island with smooth top counter surface looking onto the living room area and city views out the floor to ceiling windows

The curved edges on the fluted kitchen island create a more inviting and traffic friendly space, while softening up the otherwise square edged, boxy floor plan.

One of the challenges in this condo was not being able to move the junction boxes in the dining, kitchen and living room areas, which meant we had to make all the light fixtures in these spaces work together and complement each other. We chose a unique piece by a local Canadian manufacturer, a stunning sculptural light for the kitchen, and a quiet, mid-century Nelson pendant for the living room.

Colourful dining, kitchen and living area in bold colour combinations inspired by the lively pattern on the window drapery

In this room, it was all about the mix of fun modular pieces that add flexibility. The custom-designed freeform walnut cocktail tables in a natural stain finish add to the MCM vibe and can be configured in multiple different ways for maximum flexibility and functionality. The space is kept modern and fresh by the lounge chair in graphic black and white patterning which harmonises with the cozy textured rug underfoot. 

The primary bedroom is dressed in softer blush hues and a beautiful floral wallpaper to create a romantic atmosphere the clients wanted in this space.  Originally, the bedroom and ensuite entry sliding doors were flimsy and provided no privacy. So we added new sliding doors and hardware that were completely custom designed and then supplied and installed by a local Toronto company. They resemble works of art while creating more privacy and sound absorption for anyone using the space.

Romantic bedroom space with floral wall paper, mid century modern furniture and elegant drapery

The stunning blush pink sliding door leads to the ensuite bathroom, which was originally very dark, with dark wall tile, and very little lighting. Our solution was to play with the surfaces and brighten the space up by using reflective tile that brightens and reflects back the light, and better, more functional lighting.

We injected so much life and joy into this previously empty interior, to reflect our clients’ personalities and create a home they feel and look good in. It was important for them to have a lot of colour and pattern, with custom and unique pieces and mid-century modern touches. And we delivered. The entire space is now infused with pattern, colour and whimsy, and is also a more personalized, functional and liveable home.

Why hire a Registered Interior Designer?

I’m Sonia, the Founder and Principal Registered Interior Designer at Sonia Rose Design. The Interior Design profession is still quite young and this industry is often misunderstood. So, I’d like to take a moment to provide my best answer to the question, ‘Why hire an Interior Designer’? My hope is that by the time you are done reading this, you will understand the benefits of hiring an Interior Designer and how our role comes into play in your next project!

Let me start by defining the differences between an Architect, Interior Designer and Interior Decorator…


Interior Designer Vs. Interior Decorator Vs. Architect

A question I hear time and time again is ‘An interior designer is the same as an interior decorator right?’ This is a common misconception, there are certainly overlapping skills, and each profession has a place in our design industry, however, there are fundamental differences between them. I have listed out the main skillsets (amongst many) each profession offers below for full transparency:

Architect – specializes in the design of the structure of a building (exterior) and has extensive knowledge of building practices and code. They must have knowledge of safety regulations, legal requirements, permit submissions and policies. They are also capable of designing the interior.

Interior Designer – I like to refer to my profession as Interior Architecture rather than Design, because we specialize in the interior ‘Architecture’ of a building, and consider a broad range of factors including both functional and aesthetic aspects. These include items such as; functional space planning, building code knowledge and execution as well as design theory and practices.

We take the exterior building envelope into consideration with all of our designs and will work with the Architect (if one is onboarded / required) to ensure the interior speaks to the exterior. We are also trained and capable of ‘decorating’ the interior environment. See below for a breakdown of the differences between ‘Designers’ and ‘Registered Interior Designers’.

Interior Decorator – specializes in the decoration of an interior and their primary focus is on the aesthetic aspects within a building or room. Projects that don’t require structural work or repairs are typically a good fit for an interior decorator.

It is important to understand what you are looking for and hire someone with the pertinent skills to execute your project effectively. Often all 3 professions are hired for a complete new build project.

When selecting a designer for your project, ask yourself these four questions to help you decide what type of design professional(s) you will need to hire!

  1. Is my project an aesthetic facelift?
    • Hire an interior decorator or interior designer
  2. Is my project an interior renovation?
    • Hire an interior designer
      • Your interior designer will let you know if you need to hire any additional consultants, such as an architect, structural engineer, etc.
  3. Is my project an interior renovation and exterior upgrade?
    • Hire an interior designer and architect
  4. Is my project a new build?
    • Hire an interior designer, architect and potentially an interior decorator

What is a Registered Interior Designer?

There are ‘Designers’ and there are ‘Registered Interior Designers’ like myself. ‘Designers’ could be anyone from a decorator to a home stager or stylist, it could also be someone who studied and received a degree in interior design, but hasn’t yet taken the exams to call themselves a ‘Registered Interior Designer’.

Those of us who have chosen the route of becoming a ‘Registered Interior Designer’ have undergone extensive training after graduating from the bachelor of interior design program. We have in depth knowledge of design elements and principals, building code, construction methods, functional space planning and project coordination.

The process to becoming a Registered Interior Designer has a number of steps. After earning a Bachelor of Interior Design degree (BID), we are required to write and pass three separate exams to earn the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification, the North American standard of qualification for interior designers.

With this certification, we obtain extensive knowledge in building systems, codes, construction standards, contract administration, professional practice and project coordination. We then become Registered members of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) and optionally Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). We are then able to proudly call ourselves ‘Interior Designers’!

So Why Should I Hire an Interior Designer?

Research & Guidance

Your interior designer is there to manage the project from start to finish, coordinating with yourself, onboarded consultants and contractor. We help you set goals and expectations for your project and define a clear path in which we will move forward. Interior designer’s are responsible for coordinating your budget, timeline, interior architecture (space planning), specifications, etc.

It is the interior designer’s job to maintain a smooth process and keep your project on track with the estimated timeline and alleviate you from the many day-to-day questions that come with any interior renovation.

Design Expertise

Interior designers are able to effectively communicate their designs through a multitude of mediums, such as; inspirational imagery, sketches, 3D views, rendered elevations and plans, and the list goes on. Our knowledge of materials, finishes, equipment and, in particular, lighting, is an important aspect to consider when thinking about hiring an interior designer.

We have been trained to understand lighting levels, colour temperature and lighting types to effectively illuminate your space to create that ‘wow factor’. Throughout our professional experience, we have gathered information about manufacturers that back their product and are worth the investment, and we have made connections in the industry to provide you with expert suggestions to create your dream interior.

Technical Skills & Documentation

It is incredibly important to have a complete and accurate set of drawings to pass along to the contractor and subtrades when construction commences. Interior designers have been trained to effectively communicate design and construction details with the trades and provide a comprehensive drawing package to allow the initial design concept to be executed properly.

These drawings are coordinated with all pertinent consultants to ensure the information presented aligns. Without a tight set of drawings, there will inevitably be chaos!

When to Hire an Interior Designer?

The earlier the better. Interior designers (like myself) are able to offer valuable insight in terms of interior planning in relation to the building envelope. If you are working on a new build, it becomes even more important to include us in the beginning , at the same time you are hiring your architect and contractor. By allowing all consultants to coordinate with one another at the start of a project, the risk of error and missing information will drastically decrease.

For example, working on the exterior planning in tandem with the interior planning allows room to make changes as needed prior to the construction on site. This provides an opportunity for all consultants to coordinate items such as; column placement, ceiling heights, window and door locations and dimensions, locations of plumbing, HVAC, etc. If these elements are not properly coordinated, it can have a dramatic effect on the interior layout and function of the final space.


An interior renovation is a large investment of both your time and money, however, having the right people by your side will make all the difference. The key takeaways are:

  1. Start by investigating your project needs in order to select the appropriate design professional
  2. Interior Designers will answer your day-to-day programming needs and more with our niche knowledge in functional space planning and code
  3. You can trust us to guide you in the right direction in terms of the finishes and materials selection and overall design concept
  4. Interior Designers will provide you with a complete and accurate set of working drawings for effective communication to the contractor on site
  5. Always bring an interior designer in at the beginning of your project!

Best of luck in planning your future project and I hope to hear from some of you as you embark on your exciting journey!

For more articles like this one go to Sonia Rose Design blog.

Contemporary elegance decorates this Annex Victorian townhouse

This perfectly located, century old, Victorian Annex townhouse was a lovely home for a family of four. The home had a lot of charm with original hardwood flooring, door trim detailing, and plaster details from the original construction, but was in need of a refresh. The goal was to minimize the Victorian design while still maintaining some original details and provide a cohesive design which joins the history with bright, elegant, and modern touches. 

Interior Designer: Alison Brandt, ARIDO
Interior Design Firm: Studio Brandt
Photography: Luke Cleland

The clients asked for a refreshing change in their home with new flooring and trim throughout the main floor as well as a new kitchen and a dining room update.

One of the main challenges in this townhouse was maintaining straight lines throughout due to the age of the home and small size of the existing rooms. We brightened up the interior by choosing herringbone oak floors for the living and dining areas, and marble tile for the new kitchen.

This being an old, Victorian style home, the walls needed to be straightened with new drywall and plaster. Some of the original crown mouldings were painted, and some were replaced with matching moulding. We installed new picture frame panel mouldings, new elegant 12″ high baseboards, and new door casings.

The kitchen was completely redone with brand new white cabinetry dressed up with elegant brass hardware. The brass hood and Calacatta Monet marble countertop and backsplash with a vibrant marbling add another dimension of luxury and elegance to this room. 

The dining room was the jewel box where the family loves to entertain so we made sure to add interest with moody wallpaper, painted brass paneling, and a brass display cabinet.

We created the perfect balance of old and new, by adding contemporary touches that work perfectly with the remaining charming Victorian style details throughout. This design approach helped us achieve a cohesive design and create a comfortable, warm and inviting home full of unique features.

A holistic design approach that serves up a warm and relaxing atmosphere

Located on Kerr St. in Oakville, Wet Coffee is a café that embodies “coffee culture” and exceptional service. Founded by a young businesswoman passionate about great coffee, Wet Coffee brings a slice of Toronto’s inviting café community to downtown Oakville.

Designer: Jude Kamal, ARIDO

Design Firm: Sansa Interiors

Photography: Sansa Interiors

When approached with the dream of creating a welcoming space where community and coffee thrive, we immediately jumped at the opportunity. We specialize in utilizing nature-inspired elements and holistic design to enhance customer experience, making Sansa Interiors the perfect fit for this project. With neutral tones and a focus on natural materials, our design creates an inviting and relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee, catching up with friends or doing work.

The rounded counter with wooden slat detail in the base is on the left as one walks in and the seating with tables is on the right

Our client has traveled the world in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee and has honed her skills in sourcing the best beans, understanding how they are harvested and processed, and knowing the optimal temperature to serve a fresh cup. She believes that coffee tastes best when wet-processed, which requires attention to every step after harvesting.

Simple seating area along the wall of the cafe as one walks in, with plain walls behind and simple white pendants. The comfy coushins bring in a calming colour palette

Inspired by the natural beauty of the coffee bean, and the intricate process of creating exceptional coffee, our client built her café’s brand around the beverage’s natural elements such as the soft curves of the bean, hand-made excellence, and a deep respect for nature.

By creating a cohesive brand identity for Wet Coffee café our team designed a unique and inviting space that reflects the client’s values and vision. Using the Wet Coffee logo as a starting point, we crafted a warm and welcoming café that emphasizes community, natural materials, and biophilic design principles.

A wall of merchandise including coffee beans and some clothing items
A little cozy lounge area at the very back of the store with furniture in blush pink and colourful abstract art on the walls

The key element of the design is the rounded main bar with natural wood detailing, which welcomes guests and guides them through the space. The colour palette, curved and organic forms, live plants, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows all contribute to creating a sense of calm and connection to nature, inviting customers to enjoy a cup of coffee and community experience.

Our focus on minimalism and neutral design elements not only creates a visually pleasing space, but also enhances the overall customer experience by putting the focus on the café’s specialty: exceptional coffee. The clean and simple design also allows unique features to take center stage and attract customers who appreciate this design philosophy.


cafe interior design in oakville

The final outcome of the project was a stunning design that seamlessly blended functionality and aesthetics. Our team successfully delivered on the client’s dream of creating a playful and welcoming space reminiscent of Toronto’s bustling café scene.

The result was a rich, layered design that was both visually appealing and highly functional. This café is now an inviting Oakville destination for locals and visitors alike. We are proud to have played a role in creating this unique space and can’t wait to visit and work from it ourselves.

Great design is part of the mezze at this middle eastern restaurant

The Tabule family of restaurants is made up of 4 uniquely designed venues specializing in Middle Eastern Cuisine. We were tasked with tackling the redesign of the quartet’s flagship location in midtown Toronto. When the client approached us to redesign their midtown location, they knew they wanted something brighter, airier, and fresher. The midtown location was their first restaurant, and it was in need of an aesthetic overhaul to create a modern and sophisticated atmosphere where their delicious dishes could play a well-deserved starring role.

Designer: Jude Kamal, ARIDO

Design Firm: Sansa Interiors

Photography: Bruno Belli

Interior of the entire Tabuleh Interior with the focal point being the bar at the end

Using the design of the other three locations as a jumping off point, I worked closely with the clients to convey their vision, delivering a cohesive new design that reinvigorates the restaurant. The focal point? An impressive new bar to anchor the design and invite guests into the bustling dining room. 

Our design approach for Tabule Midtown was to create a modern and sophisticated space that is evocative of traditional Middle Eastern and Lebanese aesthetic without being too literal. To accomplish this, we opted to avoid overusing traditional Mediterranean shapes in favour of more modern interpretations of the colour palette, materials, and overall vibe of the space. 

Original Artwork with Lebanese motifs decorate the plain white walls throughout

While developing the concept for this restaurant, we really took inspiration from the food. We immediately envisioned the dishes boldly standing out on the plate, surrounded by a simple, elegant and sophisticated design. Putting the food at the forefront and creating an area where people could sit back and enjoy it, was the true driving force behind the new Tabule. 

Middle-Eastern food is all about gathering, sharing, and spending time with people you love and care about. We took this as a way to make the space work from day to night and for any occasion, any gathering and any family or couple looking for a beautiful space and tasty food.

We executed this vision by striking a fine balance between bold and vibrant elements and upscale elegance, suitable for midtown Toronto. We also took a cue from the restaurant staff, who are artsy, cool, and unique. While imagining where we could push the design, we took inspiration from their effortless style. 

Another dining area with soft green upholstered benches along the white walls with simple white tables and light wooden chairs in front of them and greenery hanging from the ceiling

Our team made the decision to start by defining a palette of colours and finishes as inspiration, which helped to give us a better sense of the interior’s potential. We landed on a palette of neutral tones and natural materials, with a hint of pattern, to give the space the cohesive look that the client was after. We all fell in love with a serene combination of greens, blues, and neutral tones – with plenty of greenery mixed in – to give life and texture to the newly designed interior. 

The focus behind the restaurant’s interior revolves around sourcing local materials, items and artwork from BIPOC female run businesses in Toronto & GTA. Tabule’s style is a balance between our clients’ brand which is a hip Lebanese restaurant with good food, plus Sansa Interiors‘ interpretation of what it could be. We wanted the space to feel very bright and airy, as if you are sitting in a lovely breezy courtyard in Beirut.

A detail of the beautiful geometric pattern and oval mirrors adorn the wall behind the seating benches
Beautiful colourful artwork decorates the walls

We also learned so much about Lebanon from this project. The country has a very distinct style of vintage pop art, landscape paintings, and textile crafts that really spoke to us. Through their art, you can feel how proud Lebanese people are of their country and the colours they use are really inspiring. We incorporated Fairuz (who is a lebanese singer) into a large piece of art that’s hanging on the wall, with her music playing in the background. It gives diners a taste of culture through art, music, and the overall ambience of the space.

These thoughtful touches help the design feel more connected to its purpose, and make it feel authentic. It’s those little moments that help tie the design back to the culture, but in a fresh and exciting way.

The final result of Tabule Midtown’s redesign is a sophisticated and modern space that brings out the spirit of Lebanese food in a simple and elegant way. We couldn’t be more proud – or ready to dig in for a delicious bite!

3 Reasons to Hire a Registered BCIN Interior Designer in Ontario

Are you thinking about renovating your home or making an addition? 

It can be challenging to decide whether to take on the design yourself, hire a contractor or a professional designer.

Many people think that they need an Architect or an Engineer to help them with the drawings and permit application. Still, another class of designers can assist you and help you with all the details of your project: a Registered Interior Designer.

Here are three reasons a Registered Interior Designer is the perfect fit for your next major renovation project:


Whenever a homeowner wants to construct, demolish, or renovate, almost any change to an existing building requires a permit from the City. And when a permit is required, permit drawings are needed.

Homeowners can choose to take this task upon themselves; however, if they do, they are taking on all of the project’s risk and liability if something goes wrong. Also, there is a ton of details and coordination that needs to go into drawings for permit application. So even if you know the construction, knowing design and drafting is an entirely different matter. 

A Registered Interior Designer is qualified to create construction drawings and file for building permits on your behalf. Since you need drawings to apply for your permit, why not work with a registered, insured, and educated professional?



In 2006 Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing issued Bill 124, allowing licensed designers to streamline the building permit process across Ontario. 

A Registered Interior Designer can help you with any project you are planning to do in your home. They can help design and construct a one-storey residential house and up to three storeys, with a building area of 600 square meters (6458 square feet) or less.

Compare to the architects, an interior designer is looking at the building from inside out, thinking through all details and functionality of the space. Working with an architect will be a different experience where some important aspects might be left off for the construction phase, for the owner and a general contractor to sort out.

Of course, the choice is personal, but having a Registered Interior Designer on board will provide you with all the necessary expertise and knowledge at a much better price.



Design and construction are stressful and time-consuming processes. They bring many changes to your day-to-day lifestyle. Therefore having a detailed and coordinated set of drawings is much safer when construction kicks into your door. A well-drawn and thought-through construction set of drawings will save you, the homeowner, time, money and frustration.

Having experience working on small to mid-size projects, a Registered Interior Designer creates easy-to-read drawings. A general contractor and trades get all their information on the same page; nothing is left for them to assume. Therefore, there are no surprises for the homeowner.

A complete set of drawings always includes details and information about materials, finishes, schedules and construction details. A Registered Interior Designer ensures that the end result matches the signed design concepts presented to the client in the first stages of the project. 

In case you are planning an update or renovation that involves construction or demolishing, a Registered Interior Designer may be the best person to help you, and save you time, money and worry. If you are not sure how to go about hiring a Registered Interior Designer, we have plenty of resources and tips about Interior Design!

Vibrant energy flows through this bright office interior

Three key design intentions were established early in the process for the new Canadian Headquarters of this Malaysian state-owned energy company in Calgary, Alberta with the fluidity of the nearby river as the main inspiration. 

Interior Designer: Jerilyn Wright, ARIDO

Design Firm: Jerilyn Wright & Associates Interior Design Consultants Ltd.

Photographer: Caleb Salomons

First design consideration was to create a clean, crisp, vibrant space to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. Secondly, it was important for the design to speak to the importance of the company’s major position in the energy marketplace. Third, we had to do so subtly. Overall, the design is a bold and commanding representation of inspiration.

The design was carefully applied to a standardized set of floor plans as well as the central reception and meeting spaces. These areas of the interior were intentionally stacked over two floors to ensure views of the adjacent river were available from all guest spaces. Using the river view as inspiration, our interior designer created a design solution based on the fluidity of liquid.

Movement and fluidity relate specifically to the company’s core business of transporting natural gas across land and sea. This inspiration was expressed through expansive amounts of windows, reflectivity, daylight and views, stacked ripple glass feature wall, and the bold, immersive expressions of blues, teals and whites signifying river and ocean waters.

Two twisting ribbons of steel that form a dramatic stairwell to the guest spaces above the reception area becomes the centrepiece of the space. This staircase is self-supported from the two 19mm thick, plate steel ribbons. Even though the process of designing and creating this centrepiece was quite elaborate, it was definitely worth the effort. It was formed in Quebec, fully assembled in a local manufacturing facility, then disassembled, transported to site, re-assembled and site finished, requiring a full automotive grade paint booth to be built within an operating office tower.

The concept of movement is applied with bold brushstrokes and balanced with an overall minimalist and more subtle aesthetic. We used a neutral and restrained palette of nature-based materials and employed symmetry-based planning of the interior.

We added custom graphics throughout the space, taking industry related images and editing them until they appeared abstract (and more liquid) in appearance, further reinforced the main inspiration for this office interior.

An Interior Designer’s Guide To The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

Our summers are short. From March through to July and into November, an outdoor kitchen allows us to share our food experiences with family and friends extending our outdoor playtime. More people are choosing to invest in their homes and backyards rather than vacationing elsewhere.

Before planning and spending on this space, ask yourself some simple questions:

How much time do I want to devote to maintenance? What’s critical-to-have, must-have, and nice to have? Knowing this will save you a lot of grief and disappointment.

Critical To Know

Safety first! Make sure you meet your region’s building and fire codes. There’s a difference between a code for building a house and a code for preventing open flames, and in-and-near a building. They are two different things. Protect combustible materials.

Choosing Cabinets and Materials

Cabinets and counters need to be corrosion and weather resistant, low maintenance and made with stable materials. ALL materials expand and contract with temperature change and moisture. The sun fades colours and natural materials breakdown over time. There are 3 types of cabinetry-based kitchens for outdoor use: HDPE/Polymer, Wood and Stainless Steel.

Polymer: Waterproof, sun-safe, available in a variety of solid colours, lower maintenance, plastic, and of variable durability.

Wood: Flexible design requires some maintenance, most affordable, and it is not fire-resistant.

Stainless Steel: Heat and fire-resistant, non-corrosive, easy to clean, available in powdered-coated colours. It does need to be covered up to protect it from soot, soil and environmental pollution.

Things to Consider

Appearance: What do I want to see when I look outside my kitchen window? Choose your landscaping and furniture for that perfect outdoor style.

Clean-Up: Install a sink with water. You may not want to use your indoor kitchen to clean greasy, sooty stuff. Plan ahead for plumbing.

Heating and Electrical: Layer your heat sources. Consider heat lamps, fire pits or a built-in infrared heater. Make sure you put in multiple outlets that meet the fire code pertinent to your municipality. Plan ahead for electrical.

Shade: Create shade from the sun and protection from the rain with pergolas, retractable patio covers or tents.

Stay Cool: Cool yourself off with fans, misters or rugs to shield you from the hot floor, and use light-coloured furniture.

Layout and Seating: Transition your rooms with removable screens, doors and walls. Offer a variety of seating – low Muskoka chairs, chaise lounges, stools and benches.

Storage Space: The ultimate amenity. Think of what else needs to be stored – like equipment, furniture, sports and hobbies. You don’t want to run back and forth from the house or garage to the outdoor living area.

Small Spaces – Condo Balconies and Terraces

Electric grills make outdoor eating possible despite strict fire and safety codes. Brown Jordan has fully assembled kitchens for terraces, to be lifted by a crane, or custom units transported by a service elevator.

Nice To Have And Trending

Specialty right-sized appliances replacing mammoth grilles. These can include: Argentinian grills, smokers, side burners, pizza ovens, fridges, dishwashers, beer on tap, espresso machines, ice makers and Kamado-style grills (a.k.a. “ eggs”). Lighting schemes, TVs and sound systems can also be a great addition. Treat this space as another room of the house.

Adding Value To Your Home

Outdoor kitchens seem to be replacing the pool as an add-on feature. It increases your competitive edge when selling because people will imagine themselves having great times in their new backyard.

Good design blurs the lines between the indoors and the outdoors. What creative ways do you use to create your very own private outdoor oasis?