What your designer is dying to know before your renovation . . .

We use the word ‘intuitive’ in our firm description very deliberately.  I believe there is an instinct in what we do as designers; in knowing exactly what a space, a client, a custom piece needs.  That said, we aren’t mind-readers.  Here are a few things you should definitely share with your designer to ensure a successful renovation.

Full Scope

A bright living room designed by Maia Roffey.

photo credit: Scott Norsworthy

If you are planning to renovate in phases, it is very important to share that information.  Your designer can help you establish a master plan and recommend the order to undertake the changes.  Once, after gut renovating three floors of a house in Playter Estates, my clients told me they would also like to do their 2nd floor guest bathroom.  It had a unique layout with a sink in an anteroom that led to a full bathroom beyond.  Because we had just finished renovating the room below, we were stuck with the existing drain locations.  While I am very happy with how the space turned out, if I had known about this room ahead of time, we would have relocated the toilet stack while we were working on the floor below.

Long-Term Plans


photo credit: Stephani Buchman

Your plans for the future are also important to discuss.  If you only intend to be in the house for a few years, resale value will play a vital role in decision-making.  For this home in the Beaches, we knew from the outset that our clients intended to move on within five years.  With that in mind, we stuck to a clean and minimal design, avoiding anything too personalized or trendy, and kept a careful eye on the budget.  Our changes were so effective that the clients were able to move up the real estate ladder more quickly than expected and sold within the year – for $335,000 more than they had paid.



photo credit: Scott Norsworthy

At our initial consults, potential clients are always apologising for the state of their homes, “Don’t mind the toys.”  “Sorry, we can’t fit anymore in that closet.  I’ll just hang your coat here.”  But we really don’t mind.  A clear idea of how you are living informs the design process.  Don’t try to gloss over the issues you need resolved in your home.  For this family of four in Summerhill, the parents wanted an elevated space, but they were also very realistic about their desperate need for more toy storage.  Because we knew this, we incorporated an upholstered bench and wall-to-wall custom bookshelves to provide ample hiding spaces to keep things tidy.



photo credit: Stephani Buchman

I will never understand when a potential client will not disclose their budget. I think there is a fear that we will set out to spend all of it – and then some!  (I always picture this nefarious designer twirling the ends of her mustache and laughing “mwahahahaha.”)  Budgets are a reality and we are here to help.  This project in Lawrence Park hit snag after snag as we uncovered the inherited issues of a previous renovation.  Our budget was stretched thin, so rather than use a pricy wallcovering in the powder room, we swapped it out for a chic metallic paint.  Nobody would know that wasn’t the original design.

Downsizing let this Toronto mom build the loft of her dreams

The kids are off to college, starting their careers and their own lives, leaving behind the family-sized home that’s served its purpose but is no longer of much use. So, what’s the point of keeping this large home?!

Jan Brown, Principal Designer at c3d Design found herself in this very situation in 2013. Her kids had flown the coop and it was time to move the once “Basement Design Studio” to its own dedicated location and downsize her own dwelling space in the process. Meghan Kennedy of Kennedy Sisters Team (Royal LePage) assisted Jan in finding this two-storey corner loft unit in vibrant Bloor West Village. The unit consists of a wonderfully-sized kitchen, large living space, two bedrooms, study, loft, and two bathrooms. It fit all the criteria Jan was looking for and she decided to make the move.

One of the main features Jan wanted in her new space was a polished concrete floor. We did this by removing the existing engineered hardwood floors. This was a sleek and contemporary look that could really work well, creating a great juxtaposition with the more traditional forms and textures of her existing furniture. This also made sense, so Jan wasn’t purchasing new furniture for every space and meant she could keep some of her treasured antiques.

We built walnut millwork framing the kitchen area, allowing for extra storage space as well as open shelving to showcase Jan’s collectibles from her travels. The walnut finish was carried through to the lower millwork to provide a sense of warmth in the space. Jan loves to cook, so we went for an affordable quartz product from Caesarstone that would be durable and easy to maintain. We introduced a custom backsplash which was a combination of onyx mosaic from Cercan Tile and marble subway tiles from Saltillo Tiles which added notes of femininity and luxury to the kitchen without having to break the bank.

We showcased the two-storey windows flanking the living room with a gauzey soft wool drapery. We love the look of mixing various pieces in the same colour and shifting textures – it creates a cozy setting yet allows for more than enough seating when hosting a party or when the kids are back in town for the weekend. While the ground floor living space remains more of a cocktail lounge and hang-out space, the upstairs loft space was transformed into an intimate TV room for more quiet relaxation.

It is crazy to think almost seven years have passed and this space still exudes beauty and functionality. The kids love this city getaway and Jan loves this space she calls home!