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.

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 modern take on classic design creates a tranquil oasis in this new build 

Located in Southern Ontario, this 2,100 square-foot new-build bungalow boasts a spacious open concept layout that will serve its owners as their forever home.  Our clients were looking for a timeless, modern take on classic design that was light and bright but warmed up with wood, organic materials, and natural textures.

We didn’t want to get caught up in anything trendy so all excess details were stripped away to achieve a clean, cohesive, and outright relaxing feel to this home! 

Designer: Nicole de Vries, ARIDO
Design Firm: Maison Blonde
Photographer: Brad de Vries

Our clients wished to have a functional layout for cooking and hosting, which led us to design a bright, open concept kitchen with tons of counter space. Timeless, high quality, and neutral finishes, as well as mixing old and new elements, brings longevity to the space and will make it enjoyable for years to come. The thoughtful simplicity and clean lines will keep the space feeling calm and ageless.

The centerpiece in this kitchen is a stunning island with a polished and beautifully veined quartzite slab that ensures easy maintenance and durability. The slab rests on a custom solid white oak island with 50 cubic feet of storage hidden behind six doors, keeping seasonal items handy for the owners.

White Cle tile is carried from the far left side of the kitchen all the way across to the storage cabinets and up to the underside of the hood and shelves. These unique, handmade tiles add organic texture in the space, with their variation in size, colour, and contour. 

The hutch cabinets on the right side of the kitchen feature a full walnut interior for a dramatic surprise once the doors are opened to make the morning coffee! And there is an added bonus in this corner of the kitchen; the custom built-in furnace vent to warm chilly feet while waiting for the coffee to brew.

Throughout the space we used unlacquered brass fixtures and hardware to add a sense of timelessness to the project. The special thing about them is that with time they will develop a natural patina, adding warmth and longevity to the surfaces. We also chose antique brass and ceramic pendants, a modern take on a classic that won’t go out of style.

The walk-in pantry, a Maison Blonde classic, with an arched entrance, open shelves for storage and display, and full cabinets on the left provides even more storage for the owners. We lit up the shelves inside with a clear glass globe pendant to add some sparkle to this nook. The lower cabinets along the back wall are only 12” deep, which makes them perfect for canned goods and makes for easy access without having to shuffle the cans to see what’s in the back. So convenient!

In the living room, we designed a custom fireplace as the focal point, along with inset cabinetry and open shelving on both sides to contrast with the natural black granite stone. 

We carried the unlacquered brass details into this room as well, by dressing the built-in cabinetry in stunning hardware to add a warm and inviting feel in the space. The shelves above are styled with decorative accents complemented by a picture light in brass finish.

The bright walls in this room are complemented by the symmetrical white oak built-ins and the fireplace, while the warm toned flooring perfectly accents the furniture, decor, and ceiling beams!

We created a relaxing and tranquil feel in the ensuite and powder room by placing bright shaker style bathroom cabinets dressed in unlacquered brass hardware to add warmth. The ensuite features face-frame cabinetry with custom, apron-front quartz counters while the elegant wall sconces in brass finish help carry that unified look throughout the entire home.

By using a lot of natural stone, aging brass, textures, and wood to add warmth we made this newly built bungalow into a tranquil oasis for our clients with a cohesive, clean and relaxing feel throughout the entire house. They fell in love with their new home so much, the client cried tears of joy for a month after the reveal!

A blend of modern and rustic chic decorates this Niagara-on-the-Lake home

Charlie’s house was in need of a complete update, from redesigning  the exterior facade, to creating a more functional interior layout. With the help of all the trades we included a second floor addition and opened up the interior space  to allow more natural light.

Aesthetically, it was important that we balance urban and rustic elements without losing the charming Niagara-On-The-Lake ‘feel’, and incorporate some of the client’s existing furniture and art pieces into the design to create a warm and inviting haven for the owners.

Interior Designer: Tracy Clipsham, ARIDO
Design Firm: Liv 4 Design Inc.
Photographer: Kelly Horkoff

Charming Niagara-On-The-Lake style exterior of the home, and a Vespa parked in front

By adding a covered front porch, squaring off the existing bay window and removing the half circle transom window from the second floor, we increased the visual curb appeal of this home. The new exterior finishes compliment the charm of Niagara-On-The-Lake that the homeowners were very fond of. Besides adding to the curb appeal of the home, the newly added covered porch protects the homeowners from the elements when entering and leaving the home.

Spacious modern Foyer separated from the office space by a glass wall with modern black detailing

Indoors, our design solution created a blend of modern and rustic style the clients gravitate towards. The new layout on both the main and second floor have visually opened up the space and have increased the functionality of the square footage. 

By taking out dividing walls between the living and dining area, and replacing the wall between the office and entrance foyer with a modern glass partition and door, we managed to really open up the space. This design solution allowed the light to stream into the previously dark and confining entrance and entire main floor to create a bright and airy space.

Light filled, open living room with a fire place as the focal point and furniture around it, with vaulted ceilings above

The original compartmentalized floor plan did not compliment or emphasize the existing half-cathedral ceiling. Once we opened up the living space by removing walls, the vaulted ceiling became a celebrated feature of the home.

Moving the laundry up to the second floor allowed us to design the client’s spacious dream kitchen with a large island topped with a durable engineered quartz,  ample seating, and of course, tons of storage. Specifying the hickory engineered hardwood flooring throughout, not only added the rustic elements the client was looking for but it also created fabulous acoustics for our client when playing the banjo!

Open concept kitchen, featuring a large Island with seating, beautiful light woode flooring throughout
White kitchen with a wooden hood above the range

The second floor addition above the garage was designed to blend seamlessly into the rest of the home and the new finishes updated the look of the home while maintaining the chic and tasteful Niagara-On-The-Lake Character. 

On the second floor, the main bedroom and small ensuite were at the front of the house while a family room with a balcony overlooking the yard was at the rear of the home. There was also a guest bedroom and bathroom in this area. 

Modern ensuite with a shower and free standing tub and a statement light fixture above it

The main bedroom, with accompanying ensuite, was moved to the back of the house, which now provides private access to an existing balcony overlooking the home’s backyard. The new addition above the garage became the guest room with an improved ensuite. 

The area that was once a main bedroom turned into the perfect spot for a media room that looks down onto the main level living space through a glass railing. This feature allows for another opportunity for natural light to flow throughout the home. 

Media room is a cozy area that also features a custom made shelf to display fun antique items

We wished to add to the vintage feel by decorating the space with  several antique pieces throughout the interior. An antique bar cart given as a gift from a family member has the perfect spot below an art piece from the clients’ collection. The  art collection was strategically hung in a gallery format in the living room and throughout the home. 

The dog enjoys a nice, warm spot by the living room bay window with seating

The homeowners just fell in love with their renovated home. This quote from our clients best describes the success of this project. “Tracy has the ability to look at a raw space (in our case a very dated, somewhat compartmentalized home we purchased in 2017 with a challenging half-cathedral layout) and imagine the possibilities. The result is a fully transformed space that we LOVE. It’s unique, interesting, beautiful and functional – a seamless blend of the modern and rustic styles we gravitate toward. The real tell is in the details; the design is about fluidity – accents and themes that carry from downstairs to upstairs, room to room, interior to exterior”.

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!

Glam-living in the heart of Yorkville

Our clients wished for the design of their small condo apartment interior to capture their style, reflect the luxury and elegance of the lavish Yorkville neighborhood, and to inject playful and fun elements without sacrificing sophistication.

Interior Designer: Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO

Design Firm: PULSINELLI  

Photographer: Steve Tsai

Our designers were challenged with creating an open concept interior with optimal circulation throughout the entire space of this corner unit with full-height windows, which was difficult to achieve in the limited square footage available. Another challenge was to create sufficient storage without sacrificing the luxury theme of the interior.

At the entrance, sculptural brass-shelving units are the elegant displays for the owner’s beloved dinosaur collection. A tall mirror provides elegance and the illusion of widening the space of the narrow foyer. Soft shadow patterns of brass and black pendants create a mystical atmosphere that adds drama to the space.

Off-white wood floor and textured kitchen cabinets were selected to brighten up the interior and create the impression of an open space. Meanwhile brass floating wall-mounted plates placed throughout add to the fun yet luxurious theme of this Yorkville condominium.

Black natural stone tiles in the bathroom surfaces as well as black kitchen countertop and backsplash perfectly complement the brass elements throughout the space. To add softness to the overall design and keep a unified aesthetic throughout, the upper kitchen cabinets were clad with faux-leather panels to match the leather furniture in the living area.

Living room showing black elegant furniture and gold accents on the wall and on the lamps, with night views of Toronto

The clients asked us to create abundant storage, as well as provide solutions to reduce sound transmission in between condo units. We included slide-out trays in kitchen and bathroom cabinets to create smart storage. A king size bed, with drawers all around, adds additional storage to satisfy the requirements. However, in order to accommodate the king size bed, we had to turn the swing door of the bedroom into a sliding door.

Sound transmission problem was solved by adding 3D textile wall covering on non-woven backing in the bedroom. In addition, a full width area rug in the bedroom and living room, combined with silk window drapery, increased sound absorption. 

At night, a soft swing on floating outdoor chairs accompanied by LED mood lights, provide the perfect outdoor space for this young couple to enjoy by themselves or with company and take in the stunning views of the city.

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?

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?

Contemporary and rustic create a perfect balance in this ‘modern barn’ retreat

Our clients approached us with a vision of a serene retreat from the city in the heart of Muskoka. They wanted a space to reflect their contemporary aesthetic and suit its natural surroundings at the same time to provide a warm and inviting space for family and friends.

Interior Designer: Azen Bongard, ARIDO

Design Firm: Studio 8 Design Inc.

Photographer: Kevin Bongard

Predominantly white kitchen with grey lower cabinets and upper white cabinets, and a wooden island in the centre. There are industrial elements like the black metal windows, ceiling pipes and pendants above the island.

Our design inspiration for this property came from the raw, barn-like architecture of the space, and the beautiful natural setting that surrounds the cottage. We came up with a concept of a “modern barn”, a space that balances rustic and contemporary elements, and feels connected to the natural world.

Main living open concept area encased in large windows showing views of the woods on all sides. The seating is concentrated around the huge grey brick fireplace

The site being on a ridge required the cottage to be wide and not deep, which became a design feature that allowed for every room in the house to have stunning views of the water. Since the main design objective was to create a space that felt comfortable for clients’ family and friends, something unique yet not impersonal, the family room was designed to feel expansive, with privacy from the front entry with custom barn closet doors separating the foyer from the family room. Maximizing the stunning views in the family room, while also being able to gather around the TV together without sacrificing the serenity of the room was important to our clients. This was achieved by designing a custom cabinet with a TV lift to allow the TV to disappear.

Large serene neutral bedroom with accents of wood, and a contemporary four post bed in the centre, with natural materials throughout
Beautifully serene guest room showing custom barn door cabinetry to hide TVs and provide storage and natural materials throughout
Large bathroom with natural finishes throughout, wood ceilings, granite floors and stunning feature wall. Standalone tub is by a large floor to ceiling window.

It was important for the clients to have two master retreats, and to be able to accommodate overnight guests comfortably, so our design team created three guest rooms complete with ensuites and ample storage space for all of their guest’s belongings,  decked with custom barn door closets. To make this a true retreat, a climate controlled custom glass walled sauna and shower providing views to the outside was built in the space, making it usable year round.

custom glass walled sauna and shower that allow views to the outside

A mix of contemporary, rustic, and natural elements creates a most serene and inviting retreat that feels one with nature. The black industrial windows with discreet blinds maximize views, while black metal hardware and lighting add a modern flair. Twig chandeliers, natural finishes such as granite feature walls and floors, wood architectural details, and furniture in linen and wool, create a truly original and unique interior that mixes natural beauty with modern details.

Bringing the outside in made this home feel liveable yet contemporary

The clients purchased this home mid-construction and were excited that it was an eco-friendly build using insulated concrete form construction and radiant floor coils as the sole heat source. They loved the views of the water on each of the three levels, and the adjacent tree-lined neighbourhood.

Interior Designer: Azen Bongard, ARIDO

Design Firm: Studio 8 Design Inc.

Photographer: Azen Bongard

With a floorplan considerably smaller than their previous home, their main concern was feeling cramped as a family of four. They also needed the home to accommodate their family business, which added to the space constraints.

The client’s other concern was that the design of the home not be too cold and modern. They had seen many new homes that felt sterile and impersonal to them, and they envisioned a space that was contemporary, yet livable and warm.

Photographer: Azen Bongard

In order to visually enlarge the space, the design team maximized the indoor/outdoor connection with large windows, backyard access from the ground floor, and lush plants around the space.

Minimal blinds let in an abundance of natural light, while guard glass with little hardware lets the light flow throughout the space, and the elegance of the double high space over the kitchen is emphasized by a custom sculptural light fixture which also draws the eye upwards. A barn door and wooden bar-stools soften the modern angles of the home, while the natural oak of wide planks underfoot enhances the connection to nature.

Photographer: Azen Bongard

The aesthetic even spread to the storage solutions, where extensive built-ins in each of the rooms were created to stow clothing and clutter away.  

The design team mainly used natural materials such as wood, concrete, brick, rope, undyed wool and felt in order to create a warm, contemporary aesthetic. Each are eco-friendly options, which also emphasize the natural colour palette, while the team chose throws, pillows and carpets with lots of texture, to emphasize the handmade, human connection.