For interior designers, helping a client create their ideal space can be a delicate balance. On the one hand, the designer needs to use his or her expertise to construct a vision that showcases the space. On the other, the designer needs to take the client’s opinion into consideration and ensure the space is tailored to his or her needs. Creativity and practicality must work in unison.
For our Favourite Rooms feature, we asked four local interior designers to peek through their portfolios, share their most-loved projects, and tell us a bit about what made them so memorable.
Kitchen/Living Room in a Schonsee single-family home When it came time to pick her favourite room, Laurie Murphy turned towards a project with a personal connection; selecting the kitchen and living room she helped design for her son and daughter-in-law. “My family’s going to be sitting at this table, sharing meals, my grandchildren are going to be sitting at the table, so it becomes more personal, and not just strictly about picking great pieces for your client and putting together a really great room.” Murphy’s personal connection also means she’s gotten the opportunity to see the space evolve as the couple uses it and puts their own personal touches on her design.
The home was a new build, so Murphy helped them select everything from finishes to furniture, and worked to bring their two distinct styles together. “My son is in commercial construction and my daughter-in-law is a real glam girl, so it was trying to amalgamate their two styles. We kind of joked around and said we would come up with rustic glam,” says Murphy. And that’s exactly what she helped them do.
There are rustic details, such as the dark wood beams and stone and the plank dining table paired with more feminine elements, including wallpaper with a delicate print, a chandelier and soft fabrics and textiles. Together, they create an interesting space that fits the couple perfectly. “I think everybody that has come into it [the space] , my favourite compliment is they love how it feels. And I think how it feels is equally as important as how it looks,” says Murphy.
Living Room/Dining Room in Laurier Heights Sometimes, the most obvious solution isn’t the best one – as Kendall Judd, owner and designer at Revolving Rooms Interior Design Inc., knows. The living room in this Laurier Heights home is set right off the kitchen, where most would have put the dining room (which was what the contractor wanted), but Judd and the client fought to switch up the floor plan.
“We wanted this room to be an extension of the kitchen in a sense that we want it to be cozy, we want the couch to be there, we want the fireplace to be on, we want the bar to be next to the kitchen, and have it be more of an entertaining space,” says Judd. “This room became my favourite, because it had a bit of a fun banter and battle to get it to what it became, and that was kind of the fun part.”
The dining room was placed near the front of the home, flanked by a seating area, which Judd says allows the perfect flexibility for entertaining.
One detail that the client wanted to keep was the original fireplace – but when work was done on that wall, Judd realized how structurally unsound it actually was. “It crushed both myself and the homeowner because we loved that brick so much,” says Judd. The client opted to invest in putting in a new brick veneer fireplace that looked very similar to the original one, but with a bit more of a modern twist.
When it comes to helping clients craft rooms they’ll truly adore, Judd has one key piece of advice: pick only things you love. “I don’t want anyone to ever settle,” says Judd. “Every element you pick and everything you choose should have either some sort of significance, or if its some texture you love, a colour you love – making sure that room is your favourite because everything in it speaks to you.”
Kitchen/living room in Landsdowne split-level home The clients on this project found Brenda Brix, principal designer and owner at AMR Design, through a friend of theirs – the family of five was seeking an interior designer to help them grapple with what to do with their home. “At the time, they weren’t sure about how much of a reno they were going to do, if they were going to do it all or not,” says Brix. With her help, they ended up doing three of four floors in the home – but this space in particular was Brix’s favourite.
“It’s such a dramatic change to the amount of light coming in, and also just to their lifestyle – it was just really rewarding seeing how much it improved their day-to-day life,” says Brix. “Also, it’s an aesthetic that I personally like, and they really were willing to go for it and bring a lot of colour in.” As the clients wanted a mid-century feel, Brix incorporated walnut in the cabinet doors and wine rack, and livened up the otherwise neutral palette with pops of vibrant yellow and green. “I love colour – especially here in the winter, it makes your house much more enjoyable to be in,” says Brix.
Overall, the space reflects the homeowners, from the artwork they selected to the wine rack and fridge that showcases their passion for wine. “It was a great project, because the clients were really open to suggestions, and willing to take the chance on what I was suggesting, and trust me,” says Brix.
Living room in Wolf Willow home The owners of this Wolf Willow home initially brought in Rosalyn Lazaruk of Wicket Blue Interiors to help them select a paint colour for their cedar vaulted ceiling – and she couldn’t.
“When I saw the ceiling I said, no, I can’t pick a paint colour because I think it’s wrong to paint it.” Instead, she helped the family address the issues they had with the space – that it felt too dark and too heavy – which they were blaming on the ceiling. “We changed some other things that then opened up the space and made it bright and airy, while still holding onto that architectural detail of the house,” says Lazaruk.
According to Lazaruk, when it comes to updating an older home, it’s all about balance. “It’s about not trying to turn your home into a brand-new show home – if you live in an older [space] , take a look at the architectural details and see them for their beauty and their quality, and then update different elements around it.”
And, when it comes to the items on which you should splurge, Lazaruk advises that clients direct their budgets towards the items they actually use. For this particular client, one of the biggest splurges in the space was the custom dining table and bench from IZM. “She [the client] is a chef, she likes to entertain, so having a really great dining table to have her friends and family around was really important to her,” says Lazaruk.