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.

An urban oasis in the Beaches

Just a few blocks from busy Queen Street East, on a tiny corner lot, the clients engaged the design team to create a serene oasis which felt sophisticated and urban, with the comfort and coziness of a cottage.

Interior Designer: Cathy Garrido, ARIDO

Design Firm: Altius Architecture Ltd.

Photographer: Arnaud Marthouret

The main living spaces are situated on the ground level as the owners wanted to see what is happening around them and feel part of the action as passersby head to the beach and surrounding amenities. From the second floor, the owners needed a more private dwelling, with separation from the bustle around them, especially in the master bedroom. There, they wanted a private space to relax that also had extensive windows and light.

The clients had several must-haves for the rooftop space, an exercise pool, outdoor kitchen and barbecue area, and entertainment areas which didn’t interfere with their private space. Although they entertain often, they emphasized the need to maintain distinctly private family areas in the dwelling. The owners also had an art collection that needed spaces and rooms with simple backdrops in which to best show it off. In terms of interiors, they had a bright but warm space in mind, simple but with interesting details.

In the finished home, interior and exterior flow together, with windows south, east and west, and generous balconies. Sunlight floods in, while balconies provide shade from the hottest sun. Wood soffits and siding add a natural, modern beach house feel.

The ground floor has a strong connection to the busy street. The second floor has a quiet family room and an outdoor balcony where the owners spend their leisure time in the evenings. The master suite on the third floor has an outdoor terrace overlooking Kew Gardens, and provides privacy and quiet for relaxing and recharging, despite expansive surrounding windows.

The rooftop has the desired exercise pool, outdoor barbecue, and kitchen. Stairs from second-floor balcony enable entertaining without cutting into private space and provide special access to late-night swims and sunsets over Toronto from the master suite. When trees are in full bloom, the rooftop is a forest treehouse instead of a city home.

Interiors are completed in a bright palette. Gas fireplaces and lower ceilings provide cozy space for both entertaining and family time. A plaster tile creates texture through the stairwell, and hidden lights add drama. Custom grey-stained oak cabinetry wraps the entryway and kitchen and hides a powder room. Large walls on the north side provide optimal surfaces for hanging art.

The home has a simplicity that feels warm and inviting and creates a feeling of intimacy and coziness. It is the perfect oasis in the city for its owners.

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.

This luxe home mixes casual with refined details

This new build construction of a 15,000 square foot family home for long time empty-nester clients was a rare opportunity. Having lived in this country acreage north of Toronto for over two decades and accustomed to an upscale lifestyle, the design team aimed to create a refined, yet comfortable abode.

Interior Designer: Neil Jonsohn
Design Team: Shauna MacLeod, ARIDO
Design Firm: U31
Photographer: Gillian Jackson

The foyer is a bold welcome to the home, with extensive marble detailing, including a staircase clad in marble, combined with a custom bronze railing. An abstract sculpture of falling leaves commissioned by artist Dennis Lin, is integrated with ambient light and suspended through the curving staircase, adding unexpected contemporary glamour.

Moving beyond the formality of the front rooms, spaces at the back take on a more casual atmosphere, allowing for daily routine and entertaining. Incorporating white oak and durable porcelain flooring with contemporary furniture forms, Murano light fixtures and a mix of current and antique rugs, the daily areas are at once comfortable and rich in traditional reference.

The kitchen facilitates the owner’s love of and expertise in cooking, featuring an oversized stainless steel hood surrounded by carved limestone. Stained sycamore and off-white lacquer cabinets, semi-precious quartzite countertops and stainless steel detailing create the chef’s dream.

Drawing inspiration from the lush back garden and pool cabana, the inclusion of floor to ceiling windows across the entire back of the house, offer stunning views, while providing an abundance of natural light to the communal kitchen, family and garden rooms. The injection of colour, particularly shades of blue and red, two of the owner’s favourites, ebb and flow throughout the home.

These communal zones are kept light with soft whites and greys, and animated by pops of colour and beloved travel artifacts. For instance, an oversized brass Moroccan vessel, crafted with patterned cut-outs, is transformed into a glowing wall sconce, displayed above the garden room’s fireplace mantel (pictured above).

Private areas are infused with delicate, silvery-blue-grey tones for her, including silk wall covering, while his are characterized by a more robust flavour: walnut wall panelling, black and gold accents and heavily veined caramel and black marble. Vaulted and cove ceilings are intricately detailed throughout, accentuating the 10′ and 12′ ceiling heights.
The balance of rich, warm materials: marble, stone, leather and variety of sumptuous finishes expresses a relaxed luxury that the client was delighted to see achieved.

Local art with a Scandi-chic vibe welcomes everyone to this Toronto condo

Located in an emerging part of Toronto’s downtown East, The Bartholomew demanded a design that would attract style-savvy buyers who appreciate an eclectic downtown lifestyle. A home where diversity is not only expected but is celebrated.

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

Design Team: Margaret Stagg, ARIDO; Eugenia Alvarez, ARIDO

Design Firm: U 31

Project Photographer: Jac Jacobson

The challenge was to create inclusive, affordable, yet stylish interiors for a wide demographic: professionals, growing families, empty-nesters, singles, and couples. Another client directive was to have all art and installations throughout common areas of the tower commissioned to local artists to give back and support the local community. Of note, is a unique black “willow”-like wood sculpture that hangs by the side of the concierge desk against black stone, lending understated glamour.

One manner of appealing to a broad range of lifestyles was to deliver serene spaces where residents could interact and relax. Light is essential in creating a variety of moods, and the design team used this element in multiple ways. The concierge desk, for example, features hexagon mosaic tiles under a wash of concealed light, giving it the illusion of sparkling gems.

In the lobby a dramatic ambient light installation over the seating area becomes a feature element. Contemporary furniture selections, fashioned in neutral tones, continue the Zen, yet hip vibe.

Fitting a lounge, a private dining room, and television room in the compact 2nd floor party room presented a challenge. To achieve this, foldable walls were incorporated so each space could be closed off to accommodate private events; alternatively, the entire space can be opened when walls are folded back.

The rooms are visually connected through black wire lighting that appears in each space. The dining area exudes a clean, mid-century modern and Scandinavian feel expressed through light backgrounds, minimalist lighting, and pops of black, including the chairs: they are all different but of the same era, and unify the seating in a thoughtful and playful way.

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.

How does an Interior Designer save you time?

If you’ve been following my video journey, you’ll recall the video called Fabric Sourcing and You outlining why it’s not as easy as you think to pick out the right fabric for your sofa. That was a LOT of fabric and wallpaper, plus there was a lot more I didn’t show you on the other side of the showroom, AND the tables you see behind me have fabric and wallpaper under them. Does sorting through that fill you with dread? Well me too!

That is if I didn’t have the training, intuition, and experience that tells me what I’m looking for. AND a professional who is a partner in my project- who knows where everything is and can point me in the right direction(s).

This means what may take you an entire day of exhausting searching, takes me an hour or so to get the main choices sorted, then another small amount of time once I get the samples delivered to pick out the best one(s).

What about kitchens? Melissa, you say, I can just visit a kitchen place and pick that out myself? Hmm, well, have you or someone else ever spent a few weekends going to a few kitchen places because they didn’t quite see what they liked, and by the end probably didn’t even KNOW what they liked?

Or maybe that friend was you on a previous project. I have the knowledge and experience (and the deep understanding of you and your family) to curate the finishes in a much short amount of time, and then present you with a couple of choices you’ll like.

Let’s talk tiles. I have a favourite place to source tiles. SS Tile and Stone in Etobicoke. That’s because it has SUCH a huge selection. Have you ever walked into a tile store and been immediately overwhelmed? What about visited multiple tile stores and been even more confused? You aren’t alone!

This is a huge reason to hire me to help you when you technically could handle choosing the finishes yourself- who wants to give up their nights and weekends to do that? You’ve worked hard to save the money to do the renovation you’re doing, why should you spend so much of your precious time sifting through mountains of choices when I can make it a fun, pleasurable experience?

All of these decisions for a kitchen could be presented to you in 30 minutes and we would have the finishes chosen. 30. Minutes. Versus nights and weekends spent selecting them yourselves- and dealing with five or more different opinions on how you should do your kitchen. Moreover, almost none of those professionals have had the proper time to get to know you, what you LOVE, and how the space would best serve you.

So, why not keep your evenings and weekends for YOU? And leave the design process to me. You’ll just get a space you love, a relaxing fun process, a project on time and on budget, and your precious time back.

This post previously appeared on Sanura Design, “How Valuable is Your Time?

Client’s dreams of Parisian boho chic achieved in this New York loft

Restrictions abounded in this New York renovation project after the client purchased a 3,100 square foot loft in Soho, New York. With a move-in date four months away, strict condo rules and the New York Building Codes dictating that the project was ‘Decoration’ not a renovation, this left no time to apply for permits.

Interior Designer: Eric McClelland, ARIDO

Design Firm: Fleur De Lis Interior Design

Photographer: Scott Morris

It did allow minor changes to electrical, plumbing fixture updates, cabinetry updates, and painting. After agreeing on a clear budget with the client, the design team created concept plans, furniture and lighting layouts, and set to work on the client’s vision of a melange of Parisian bohemian chic, striking the balance between traditional and modern.

The client wanted the main areas to accommodate large catered events, and a clear division of public and private space, as well as a home office space, and provisions for their extensive artwork and antique book collections.

Since major structural changes were impossible, the design team created millwork elements in whitewashed black oak to give the loft an old-world atmosphere. A panelled fireplace complete with cornice becomes a focal point for the entertaining space, while the millwork in the kitchen highlights the 15-foot ceilings. A third millwork element, replete with a library ladder for the client’s antique book collections, was placed adjacent to a newly created den. Lacquered millwork in Bermuda blue gives the space a completely new look, while a custom teal velvet sectional, antique Murano chandelier and antique Parisian rug complete the space.

The kitchen is an elegant prep space, with a giant slab of marble creating an eye-catching island. Overhead, vintage glass lanterns enhance the client’s desired bistro atmosphere.

A cooler, subtler palette, with a mixture of old and new elements, continue the boho feel in the bedroom. Updated with new lighting, new vanity, vintage chrome shelving and hand dyed fabric for roman blinds, the master bathroom extends the lush atmosphere.

After four months, the client was left with a sophisticated space that alludes to the old modern charm of a Parisian loft, with all the convenience of a modern New York condo.

Staying Organized – And Other Ways To Keep It Together

Feeling stressed because you’re surrounded by stuff? That stuff can actually make you happy if it’s efficiently and artistically displayed.  And when organized properly, you can grab and go.  Technology has helped reduce or eliminate the need for some stuff, like books and record albums, but we still need to store the items that we do collect.

Storage, home organization or space solutions – whatever you call it – has become a science using the latest technology. For example Richelieu has teamed up with Panasonic to create revolving closet systems and shelves that pull down and return pneumatically, providing innovative ways to make our lives easier.

 START RIGHT – GET ORGANIZED

Whether you’re living in a tiny studio or a mansion, many of the same rules apply when it comes to getting organized: 

  • Purge: Get rid of things you don’t need or that don’t give you pleasure in some way.
  • Learn to make sacrifices:  In a small or large space, every object matters.  Real estate is expensive and learning how to use that real estate, means making choices and focus on priorities.
  • Inventory items that need storage and display:  Determine what type of storage or shelving you need and house them accordingly.  Make this scientific by knowing how much linear and square footage space is required.  
  • Design and plan:  Plan where these items are going and then find the design solutions you need to maximize and beautify your space.
  • Planned properly you can achieve maximum benefit in any space.

 DIVIDE AND CONQUER

Storage is divided into three categories: 

  1. In sight and in mind. Open shelving allows us to see what we own, defining our unique personalities. Free standing or bolted to the wall, shelving is simple.  The structure itself can be a design feature, elevating your simple objects into things of beauty. 
  2. Out of sight and out of mind. Closets or storage rooms are enclosed empty spaces.  You can add rods or shelving to suite your requirements.  People are now choosing to turn closets into dressing rooms, enclosing items in cabinetry and revealing only what’s most precious and notable through glass cabinets.  If you own shoes, purses, belts or ties that are beautiful and cost a pretty penny, then why not put them on display like an art object in a glass case?
  3. Combining in and out of sight. Say we’ve opted for open-plan spaces instead of separate rooms for our functions. Even kitchens are now blended in, requiring special thinking on how to manage all its requirements.  While one-room living reveals all, do we really want to show off everything? 

Storage credenzas, shelving and wall units can act as free-standing room dividers to delineate space.  One company that provides unique items is Design Within Reach (DWR).  It is a go-to destination for design sophisticates.  Their variety of cabinets and shelving units are real designer heirloom classics that can make space efficient and extra special.

CUSTOM VS. STANDARD

Each home is unique, not only in structure, but also in the personality and vision of its owner. While standard shelving and storage units are available at most home store, and while you can hack Ikea, it is best to give your storage needs the attention they deserve. Investing in custom built-in storage solutions will enhance the value of your house, much like investing in kitchen or bathroom renovations.

Knowing that everything is in its place and there’s a place for everything helps liberate us from our stuff.

And, that makes all the difference in the world.

 

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.