This welcoming, airy space is conference central for a Toronto firm

It’s true … Better questions, yield better answers. When our professional services client asked us to develop a landmark facility that supports their lines of business, employee engagement and much needed event and client experience space, our minds, as designers, leapt to the countless ways their brand could be emphasized in the new space.  

Interior Designer: Lori Urwin, ARIDO

Design Team: Daniela Barbon, ARIDO; Meagan Buchanan, ARIDO; Susan Tienhaara, ARIDO;
Kaitlin McElroy, ARIDO

Design Firm: HOK

Project Photographer: Karl Hipolito

Our designers worked intimately with the client to create a classic, yet timeless space where events, dinners and educational forums can take place and showcase the firm’s innovation, knowledge and value to its clients. Expansive city views, tech-enabled boardrooms, collaborative meeting areas and a vibrant event space can all be found on the penthouse floor of a Toronto high rise with spectacular 360-degree views of the city and beyond.

Infused with daylight during the day and alluring mood lighting at night, the space accommodates all types of employee and client interactions. Plenty of gathering space for focused conversation was included to take advantage of the vistas, as well as provide additional breakout and quiet zones.

As the elevator doors open on the 40th floor, employees and guest are met with a highly polished and comfortable space, akin to a hotel venue. Prisms of light at entryways and across walls, clad in leather and metal screening, subtly reference the company’s logo. Twelve-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows complemented by clerestories and a glass ceiling invite daylight into the space and highlight the wood, leather, cool limestone and soft furnishings. Embracing a sense of light, air and space, the calm interiors are a backdrop for the stunning views of the city and lake beyond.

This newly constituted workplace for this firm has simplified operations, decreasing overall conference costs and enhancing the organization’s stature amongst employees, clients and the competition.

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

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

Full Scope

A bright living room designed by Maia Roffey.

photo credit: Scott Norsworthy

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

Long-Term Plans

MaiaRoffeyStephanieBuchman

photo credit: Stephani Buchman

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

Lifestyle

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photo credit: Scott Norsworthy

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

Budget

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photo credit: Stephani Buchman

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