Inspiration was locally-sourced for this luxurious downtown Toronto condominium

Situated at the intersection of Toronto’s landmark financial and heritage St. Lawrence Market districts, 88 Scott was an opportunity to create a standout, luxury downtown residence. 

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

Design Team: Neil Jonsohn, ARIDO; Christianne Barbuto, Intern, ARIDO

Design Firm: U31

Photographer: Jac Jacobson

Standing proud at 58-storeys, this condominium is anything but meek. The towering neoclassical-style structure demanded an interior as impressive as its presence at the corner of Scott and Wellington. The design was largely guided by our client’s directive to take a ‘Canadian Moderne’ approach which involved looking to Canada’s natural landscape for inspiration. The result is an urban oasis that’s rooted in references to nature. 

The experience begins in the 1,500 square foot hotel-style lobby where dark and light coexist to create a dramatic statement. We established a warm and engaging entrance by combining textured and polished stone backgrounds with walnut-paneled walls and screens. Guests are welcomed by Euro-inspired seating that encourages lounging and a double-sided “Ocean Black” slate fireplace that provides a cozy spot for escaping the cold. The fireplace serves as the focal point of the space and overall, contributes to the grand, sophisticated flavour of the lobby.

With the executive demographic target purchaser in mind, we designed a 1,800 square foot business area adjacent to the lobby. This zone contains private workstations, a boardroom, and a lounge for the convenience of residents.

An extensive amenity program was the key to cultivating a luxury lifestyle for 88 Scott’s residents. The amenities are located across the building’s sixth and 46th and 47th split levels (spanning 10,400 square feet total) and include everything from wellness-oriented offerings to entertainment-geared experiences. The sixth floor consists of a fitness centre and a social area featuring a sophisticated party room complete with a kitchen and bar. Unique art pieces animate key areas of the party room: a geometric wood ‘stack’ installation emphasizes the grand fireplace while hand-crafted coffee tables complement lounge seating arrangements.

In the 46th and 47th split level ‘Sky Lounge’ and private dining room, we created a vibrant urban atmosphere by incorporating large windows that frame views of Toronto. By day, the space is bright and airy, while by night, a moodier atmosphere emerges as skyscrapers and Lake Ontario glimmer in the distance. The ‘Sky Lounge’ interior features a combination of raw textures (seen in the wood floors and stone fireplace surround) against more glamorous, fabricated finishes (seen in the mirrored ceiling and lush upholstery fabrics). 

One of the main challenges of designing 88 Scott was delivering a high-end yet cost-effective result. For instance, the lobby chandelier, which was originally quoted from a European manufacturer, had to be substituted by a local supplier to accommodate budgetary constraints. Fortunately, the final result achieved the sumptuousness we had envisioned. 

Challenges continued as the building’s heritage designation required us to leave architectural elements, like windows, untouched. Since we couldn’t alter the imperfect window openings and sill heights, we added white sheer drapery throughout the lobby to disguise the irregularities. 

Since the project’s completion, residents have been taking full advantage of the condominium’s many offerings. The building’s lobby is much more than a spot to wait for an Uber: residents regularly spend time in this space catching up on emails and meeting up with friends before they head out on the town.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

A desert oasis in Scottsdale

This private residence is situated on prime five-acre property in one of Scottsdale’s premier desert estate communities. Surrounded by mountains to the north, east and west, and vast views of central Scottsdale and Phoenix to the south, the original home was one of the earliest built in this heavily architecturally-controlled community.

Interior Designer: Wayne Swadron, ARIDO
Design Firm: Wayne Swadron Interiors Limited
Project Photographer: Roehner + Ryan

The home’s architectural styling was ‘Tuscan’ in character, although the interior finishes had been updated just prior to the client’s acquiring the property. The design team reconfigured and re-modelled the existing structure and landscape into a contemporary desert oasis while respecting strict local architectural regulations.

With grand design gestures commensurate in scale to the sprawling (largely one storey) structure, the encouragement of the clients, and the monumental contributions of a fabulous local team, the designers achieved all their goals of creating a home replete with contemporary luxury, incorporating design features that promote indoor/outdoor living, while simultaneously respecting the realities of the extreme desert environment.

This home is a marriage of minimalism and tradition

An elegant residence located in Mississauga made for an interesting project for our design team. Our clients had different views about how their home should look and feel, one wanted a modern and minimalist space, while the other was set on more traditional styles that reflected their current home. Our clients needed to feel at home in their new space, so we aimed to find the common ground between their different styles as it was paramount to the success of this project. 

Interior Designer: Dana Kosich, ARIDO 

Design Firm: Hiatus Design Ltd 

Design Team: Kelly Breiter, Intern, ARIDO Project 

Photographer: Dana Kosich, Eric Malinski

The overall design for the project was influenced by the minimal exterior created by the architect and setting the tone for the design vocabulary in the interior. This compelled us to keep ornamentation to a minimum and respect the architecture while maintaining a warm and inviting atmosphere. In an effort to appease the client’s differing views, it was important to strike a balance between minimalism and tradition.

A significant interior element included a staircase located in a prominent area by the architect.  We needed the stair to be sculptural and worthy of its position in the home. Following, the lighting had to be handled with the utmost care to acknowledge the minimal design approach. Decorative lighting was kept to a minimum and one of the goals was to have the surfaces glow so that the effect of the light was appreciated without seeing the fixture itself.

Basic functional requirements like the front hall closet, elevator, and powder room door were elevated to an artful experience. The foyer amenities were completely concealed within walls paneled with warm wood. A floating stair provided a sense of weightlessness and became a focal point, while our use of ceiling coves and recesses concealed the sources of illumination, so surfaces appeared to glow. 

We designed a welcoming, open kitchen with a long island and integrated table for large gatherings. This was accompanied by a balanced use of wood and stone that created a sense of warmth. Large expanses of windows and lack of wall surfaces made it difficult to find a TV location, so a custom automated TV cabinet was designed using a motorized lift. We reworked the plans to include separate bedrooms, closets, and en-suites as this was important to the clients. This created smaller spaces which made detailing even more important to the success of the project. 

To allow for large parties, the lower-level recreation/theatre room was outfitted with another kitchen. A dual-sided fireplace separates the games room from the home theatre, which reinforces a sense of coziness. The retractable movie screen was carefully situated between the mechanized fold-away doors. This clever placement allowed the screen to serve the room and retract when not in use, preserving the views. The projector along with dinnerware was strategically hidden in a wall of sculptural millwork. Custom-designed furniture provides ample seating for guests while the wine room invites you in behind a glass wall and a showcased wine display.

Lastly, in a home of mostly glass and very little wall, it was difficult to locate basic necessities, so our challenge was to pull it all together thoughtfully. This magnificent residence started with separated views, but we pulled together a beautiful marriage of minimalism and tradition.

This project was also recognized with an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

Wine Cellars & Wine Tasting Rooms – Coming Of Age

In wine there is truth and in wine cellars there are many truths.  

Wine collecting and having the “right” bottle on hand, requires a special space of its own and more homeowners are installing wine rooms in new and existing homes.  With today’s technology, refrigeration, and modern materials, wine can be stored in almost any location.  However, this ancient beverage still requires tender loving care.

Wine Is Fussy – The Basics 

Wine “breathes” through the cork and ages in the process. Too much oxygen makes the wine bitter.  The pace of this breathing is faster at higher temperatures and slower at lower temperatures.  Fluctuations in temperature and humidity accelerate this aging process.  

Wine Storage – The Basics

Wine requires a cool, dark space with higher humidity than the average living space.  Wine does not like noise or vibrations from any source.  

It doesn’t like any temperature extremes.  45F to 65F degrees are the temperature for serving wine.  55F degrees is the ideal storing temperature for long-term storage, regardless of your wine style.  Wine storage rooms come in two types:  passive and active.

Passive Wine Cellars such as caves, basements, closets are naturally cooler and only receive indirect sunlight.  They minimize swings in temperature and damage to the wine. 

Active (Cooled) Wine Cellars are fully climate controlled and can be set to the perfect storage temperature and humidity level that ensures ideal conditions.  They are more flexible and can fit into any large, small or odd space in your home. 

Modern Design Trends

  • Glass enclosures allow you to show off your wine collection and can be built as tall or wide as you want. The choice of tempered glass used is extremely important. The insulation value should maximize the refrigeration, humidification benefits, and UV protection that is required for wine rooms that are in direct contact with sunlight. Etched or frosted glass are decorative options.
  • Integrating wine cellar design into your space for that ‘wow’ factor.  Placing wine storage in living areas, man caves or kitchens, allows you and your guests to engage with your wine collection and show off your expensive wine bottles. 
  • Label-forward, displays the label art facing out.  It creates an intimate interactive experience with the user and the bottle of wine. 
  • Metal and acrylic wine racking.  These materials are gaining popularity in contemporary wine cellar design.  They provide the same quality for storage as wood and can be much more cost effective.
  • Bridging old & new – Combining wood with metal or acrylic allows for more flexibility in project design that is less stuffy and ornate and more contemporary and inviting.

Modern Design And Construction Considerations

  • Use LED lights and UV film for glass enclosures.  
  • No vibrating wall speakers and no noisy air conditioners nearby.  Insulate your mechanical air ducts or use a ductless air conditioner. 
  • Vent equipment heat outside the storage area.
  • Storing a large number of bottles requires a reinforced wall behind. Many choose plywood backing for wall installation. 
  • Make sure you have proper wall insulation, a vapour barrier, and moisture resistant, green board walls.
  • Easy access to electricity.
  • Flooring is to be moisture resistant, consider the insulation value of the floor and materials.

Return On Your Investment (ROI)

A wine cellar is a high-end investment, and in some homes, it is a must-have upgrade.  With an average bottle price of $95.00, it pays to design your investment so that it can add value to your home.

Galileo tells us that:  “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”  Then together, sunlight and water hold the truth in wine.  Take good care of your truth.

Updating a basement? 5 things you should consider

Gone are the days of ‘low’ unfinished basements that reek of mold and mildew.  Only used as a place to do laundry, access storage, sports gear, and Christmas decorations.

Now that fixer-uppers are going for a million or more, spending $100,000 to $150,000 doesn’t sound unreasonable to reclaim existing space and is a lot cheaper than doing an addition, and basements are easier than attics.

In upscale neighbourhoods, with historical designation and height restrictions, contractors are now digging deep to create spaces three or four levels below ground, so that they can house bowling alleys, Olympic size pools – you name it – just dig it.  Called “iceberg” architecture, what you see above ground is just the tip of what lies below.

For regular folks, this newfound space, becomes a fantasy space.  When all the necessary rooms for daily living are accounted for above ground, the basement becomes a space where your imagination can run wild.  

That’s when I dubbed basements “The Lower Level Retreat”.  They’re not the ‘base’ of the house but rather another level for living, that happens to be below the ground line.  With a shift in naming this space comes a shift in thinking about the space and its functions.

These spaces can house entertainment centers with large 50” to 60” televisions, sizes that would normally dominate a regular living space.  This allows the guys to watch their favourite sports and game to their heart’s content.

For the practically minded, extra storage space is always welcome and if you’re going to have a laundry room, then why not add a little panache? The ultimate home office can double up as a guest room when grandma and grandpa come to visit.

Other leisure lair spaces include wine cellars, spa retreat that doubles as a doggie grooming centre with heated floors, therapeutic pools for athletic injuries, music studios and …. a village with a large scale train model for the kid in all of us. The possibilities are endless.

So, how do you design a livable, lovable space that feels warm and cozy?

Let’s start with the basics:

Planning: 

  • Open plan seems to work best.  And, if you need to enclose spaces for privacy then make the walls moveable, to enclose or open a space as required.

Building:

  • Ideally, a finished eight foot ceiling suits everyone best. Remember that recessed pot lights, flooring and under-floor infrastructure reduces available height.
  • Make sure to address structural issues and all possible moisture issues. Hire a contractor who knows all about basements.
  • I prefer to add radiant floor heat.  If not the whole floor then, at minimum, in the washroom spa area.  When your tootsies are warm, then the rest of you will feel warm, cozy and pampered.

Lighting:

  • The trick is to find light fixtures and bulbs that spread light in all directions, filling surfaces with light and minimizing harsh shadows.  Helping decrease the cave-like effect.
  • Choose ‘warm’ colour temperature of 2700K or 3000K.  Bluish light of 4000K is cool and will feel fridge-like and not somewhere you’d like to hang-out, especially in the winter.
  • Use different sources of lighting throughout the space such as lamps and LED strips in built-in shelving.   

Decor and Design:

  • Raise sofas and other large pieces of furniture ‘off’ the floor.  Your eye travels underneath furniture on raised legs, keeping the look light and airy.  
  • Use lighter colours and textures as a focal point for emphasis and drama.
  • Don’t place a television over a fireplace.  Together they are visually overwhelming. 

Flooring:

  • Make sure to use a modular flooring system.  Should water damage occur, pieces can be popped out of place and new product installed easily.  Large rolled goods such as carpet or linoleum should be avoided.  When wet, mold and mildew occur. 
  • I’ve had a lot of success with carpet tile over plywood.  Carpet tile acts as an insulator, removable, easily cleaned, and easily re-installed.
  • Your best options for flooring are porcelain tile, marble, vinyl, or laminate planks. Engineered hardwood is debatable, but plank flooring is your best bet. 

Fixing up the basement, I mean lower level, will add much happiness to you and your home. 

What is your Lower Level dream?

This gorgeous house has so many dream home features

When the client approached us for the interior design of their new-build residential project they had one clear request: an industrial style family home inspired by New York lofts and warehouses.

Interior Designer: Connie Braemer, ARIDO
Design Firm: Connie Braemer Design Ltd 
Photographer: Erik Rotter

The goal was to design a home with the space and durability to withstand the client’s three growing boys, with a contemporary and refined version of the client’s industrial aesthetic. As an avid cook, they also requested a professional grade kitchen integrated in the house,  around which various family activities could take place. 

The finished space includes a basement with hockey room and wine cellar, a large open concept main floor, second floor with a master bedroom retreat, and a third floor office. An exterior pool cabana was also designed using reclaimed shipping containers. 

One of the main challenges was selecting finishes that would handle the rough and tumble of growing boys, while suiting the aesthetic vision of the project. To provide durability without sacrificing the aesthetic goals, materials such as concrete, walnut, steel, reclaimed wood, soapstone, and classic subway tiles feature predominantly throughout the home. The blend of textures and unique qualities of each material lend to the warehouse inspiration, however their refined application results in an elevated, contemporary design. 

Chefs kitchen with large butcher block island and walls lined in white subway tile.

The kitchen was placed centrally, and was divided into zones for different preparation needs, storage, and socializing. Counter seating in the kitchen bridges the prep area with the dining area, which is adjacent to the kid’s work space. A towering three-sided fireplace clad in hot rolled steel connects the kitchen to the family room, decorated with family pictures and cookbooks on one side, and the TV and birch logs on the other. 

Family room with wood floors, large white sectional and eye-catching red sliding door.

The client sought to personalize the home with intimate design details,  such as the red brick wall at the entrance, a nod to southern Ontario’s architectural history, custom schoolhouse doors, a blackened wood ceiling, and a giant red barn door. In a poured concrete floor five pebbles were specially placed representing each member of the family. 

Kitchen and dining room with dark, poured concrete floors and a wood ceiling.

While the house was designed primarily with family in mind, areas such as the master ensuite and third floor loft are small retreats for the parents. The overall  industrial style is present in these more elegant spaces through black steel framing and hardware.

How custom millwork makes this space work

Located just off the main entrance of this modern family home, the existing compact space needed to maximize function, operating as library, in-home office, kids homework area, and mudroom overflow.

Interior Designer: Tanya Yeung, ARIDO
Design Firm: Analogue Design Studio 
Photographer: Stephani Buchman 

An existing window restricted a total overhaul, so the design team created a custom L-shaped millwork feature which would be visible upon entering the home. With this criteria, along with many requirements for function, the design team created a full height storage cabinet next to a striking collection of open nooks.

This element connects with a long shelf and counter with concealed drawers ending with a full depth coat and shoe closet which also features a pull-out printer drawer cleverly concealed below the desk surface. Recessed undermount lighting highlights the dramatic yet minimalist workspace.

Combining a restrained palette of just two finishing materials, black oak and tortora lacquer, their play on high gloss lacquer along the vertical surfaces contrasts against the same tortora used in a matte finish on the horizontal shelves. This juxtaposition provides interest and the illusion of depth in a very shallow wall space.

The simple finishes offer a dramatic yet soothing feature that welcomes you into the home. This millwork element functions as a touchdown space before entering the main home area. Located just off the foyer, family room, and games area, and immediately accessed from the upper level, this study area has become a hub of activity. Perfect for an active and growing family.

This stunning apartment is a lesson in design from a distance

Situated in the Majestic, a historic apartment building on the Upper West Side, this renovation was to be a total “interior transplant” with all physical vestiges of the old design removed and re-imagined, including the existing windows and mechanical systems. The challenge? The renovation of these suites can be compared to arthroscopic surgery in that all of the alterations, relocations and connections must take place within the space itself, unseen by neighbours below who’s finished ceilings must not be disturbed, or above who’s plumbing and mechanical systems traverse through the suite. 

Interior Designer: David Hooper, ARIDO
Design Firm: Powell & Bonell
Photographer: John Bessler 

Luxe living room area in creams, browns and with cozy textured elements.

Working with a local architect and contractor the spaces and mechanical systems were photo documented, notated, and confirmed before the renovation process took place. Using this method, solutions to complicated routing and concealment were devised by the team. Wall hung toilets allowed for toilet rough-ins to be managed within walls rather than penetration of the slab. Plumbing and mechanical was concealed within bulkheads, decorative wall articulations, and millwork to visually justify what could not be moved. New lighting technology allowed for smaller tolerances for electrical, which subsequently allowed the ceiling height to be increased. Every millimeter of space was maximized on this project. 

TV screen emerges from special millwork element in this cream and brown living room.

In the design brief, the client required two complete bathrooms where only one had existed before. Another imperative was to capitalize on the windows,  the light, and the views, where previously small cut-up spaces compromised both. Reorienting these spaces, and opening up the galley kitchen via an interior window provided room for a guest and private bathroom, an enlarged kitchen, and an adjacent dry bar. The interior window can be open or concealed via mirrored folding screens which reflect the views when a more formal dining setting is desired. 

Furnishings are oriented toward the windows and a muted natural palette blends harmoniously with the cityscape beyond. A television is concealed in a custom cabinet to not distract from the expansive vistas beyond the confines of the suite.

The open layout with a minimum of contrasting finishes allows the owner and their guests to feel the luxury of space and invites them to enjoy a natural flow from one area to another from the moment one enters the suite. The final effect is a homage to the beauty and excitement of the New York skyline superimposed against a foreground of calm and warmth. Perfect for glamorous evenings and a refuge from the frenetic city beyond.

Building a sophisticated design that integrates modern conveniences

For this young family of four, a warm and sophisticated design that integrates modern conveniences was paramount. The formally divided rooms of this traditional home were opened up and functions resolved with detailed custom millwork, which was strategically combined with cost-effective off-the-shelf cabinets, creating a seamless transition of function from space to space.

Project: Logan Residence
Interior Designer: Tanya Yeung, ARIDO
Design Firm: Analogue Design Studio
Photographer: Stephani Buchman

Amenity functions such as the powder room, multiple office spaces, and an abundance of storage opportunities throughout the home are concealed within the carefully detailed cabinetry; the design of which also house a plethora of mechanics such as ductwork, cables, and plumbing lines within. The lack of visible hardware further enhances the seamless aesthetic.

A restrained finish palette of walnut, stone, and high gloss lacquers was used to accentuate fluidity throughout the home. The open concept spaces, enlarged windows, and over-sized dormer also help to facilitate the natural light which permeate every corner. Enhancing this is LED strip lighting flush mounted within the walls to highlight artwork, as well as offering a dramatic graphic element.

Similarly, concealed light troughs provide a wash of light above built-in features to give an overall glow. This fully transformed 3,120 square foot home is bright and airy, spare but not sterile and exudes an effortless simplicity, all the while concealing the necessities of this family’s active lifestyle. Design features are seamlessly integrated throughout this home providing functionality and understated style at every turn.

A tight entryway was made multi-functional by treating otherwise disparate amenities as one harmonious unit. The concealed powder room door is seamlessly integrated with adjacent entry closet; the closet itself serving triple duty as a coat closet, office, and storage unit that transitions effortlessly under the open concept stairs.

This multi-functional design is sleek from the outside, yet holds everything the clients could hope for – all within a 70 square foot footprint. The mudroom functions as transition space and also houses the custom wine cellar. Standard issue wine pegs were combined with a structural walnut-clad back panel that sits proud of smoke mirror gables. A wash of lighting is emitted from behind the condenser unit above and the free-floating walnut platform below.

The second-floor kids’ area serves a dual purpose as lounge and guest room with custom Murphy bed. By day the glossy automotive lacquer panels appear as a sleek backdrop to an active play area. By night, it opens to a king bed with clothes storage and secondary office nook.

The master loft space features an abundance of built-ins that operate as a design feature and functional furniture in one. A wall-to-wall console, houses all the entertainment necessities and provides display space for artwork in the lounge, which appears to pierce through the dual sided fireplace into the adjacent ensuite, where a 15′ long vanity continues uninterrupted towards the over size picture window.

This project is a comfortable and adaptable home for seniors

Seniors lifestyles projects provide unique challenges. How do you take large, open public areas and turn them into attractive and functional, yet comfortable and warm spaces for an elderly population?

Interior Designer: Beverly Redlick, ARIDO
Design Firm: Beverly Redlick Designs
Design Team: Nicola Ansell, Lana Pihut (ARIDO, IDC Intern)

Seasons St. Thomas, completed in December 2019, is a retirement home providing a wide spectrum of care options to seniors, including independent retirement community living, independent supportive living, assisted living and memory care.

The lobby features a stylish yet cozy seating area with custom gear carpet, stacked stone fireplace and large railroad art pieces as a nod to St. Thomas’ history as Canada’s Railway capital. This theme is continued into the adjacent charming library/computer room with its dark oak custom cabinetry. Similar designs and colours flow easily through all public and amenity spaces, from the bar pictured below, through the large dining area and into the salon, walking track, and theatre.

The Memory Care wing is a secure, self-enclosed area with its own amenity spaces and outdoor courtyard. Furniture layouts and interior finishes and furnishings, while still appealing, reflect the greater space and durability needed for this senior population.

Four model suites were furnished and staged to show prospective residents how they could make a suite their home. Pictured below is a one bedroom with a “tea time country” theme.

Our team provided interesting yet practical design elements, selections and finishes. These combine to make this property a superb place to live and work, while reinforcing its unique connection to St. Thomas, Ontario.