Three local designers – Nancy Korpany, Jacqueline Davis and Johanne Lewis – took on the annual Avenue design challenge. Curveball item in hand, each designer moved in and out of the space under strict time limits. We photographed the results.
The task: To design a living room in a Glenora home.
The catch: Each designer was given a fictional client and a curveball item that had to be incorporated into her design.
The winner of this challenge will be decided by Avenue readers. Check out the designs below, consider how well each designer showcased their curveball items, and vote for the winner.*
— the interior designer who recently left her position at Ideal Home Furnishings to open her own company, Whimsys Design — as our winner. Davis competed against fellow designers Johanne Lewis and Nancy Korpany.
Davis viewed her curveball items — an eastern European tapestry, a canteen and a Chinese carved wooden chest — as inspirations rather than hindrances in her design process. According to Davis, the items provided a sense of history and sentiment that led her to seek pieces with soul and a history of their own to fill the space. “Everything has a story, every piece has something to say,” said Davis.
Her design included many natural elements, such as topiaries and floral arrangements, as well as natural textures in the wool fabric of the couch and the layered animal hide rugs.
Within a small window of time, Davis transformed the 12-foot-by-12-foot living room space with a beautiful design that Avenue readers favoured. “I try to do things different to make people think out of the box a little bit,” said Davis. As one Avenue reader wrote in its online vote: “[Davis’s] design has incredible depth and movement. It’s warm and inviting. Organic and rich.
… Harmonious and balanced.”
Curveball: Mixed Couple
She comes from a Chinese family. He comes from an Eastern European background. They are hosting a party in a couple of weeks, where both families are coming together. They know they’ll be written out of the wills if they don’t have certain family heirlooms present. He has a Romanian woven table runner that can also be used as a tapestry. She has an Asian chest, with images of warriors on horseback.
When Jacqueline Davis was presented with her curveball items – an eastern European tapestry and canteen, along with a Chinese carved wooden chest – she was thrilled rather than thrown. “They were items of sentiment, which I thought was fantastic,” says Davis. Clients who bring some types of items or ideas to the table give the designer an indication of who they are and what they like, says Davis, an interior designer and general manager at Ideal Home Furnishings.
Davis noticed two major things about the space itself – the need for dimension and the need for a focal point. She addressed dimension by adding three cathedral mirrors that open the space and incorporate dark metals, also seen in the side table and gear-shaped clocks. For a focal point, Davis commissioned a marble fireplace in a classic design. While she had some ideas for her design before seeing her curveball items, Davis mentions they played a role in her decisions: “The richness of the colours from the tapestry and the richness and history from the chest was a great combination.”
She set off her curveball pieces by incorporating natural elements. A prevalent feature in the space is the abundance of greenery. Rather than using colours from nature, Davis explains that she opted to feature nature itself, seen in a variety of topiaries and plants. The organic elements are carried through textiles such as the animal-hide rugs, fur pillows and a wool couch. The space contains a lot of layered texture, from the different textiles to various metals and finishes.
Given the history and sentiment behind the curveball pieces, Davis says she wanted to create something with soul. “You want to be able to have a conversation about your things, not just have things,” says Davis. Among those interesting story pieces is a marble fireplace that contains material from dead coral reefs and a barn door made of reclaimed wood that is hung as art. She also incorporates a sense of play in decorative pieces such as jacks, chess pieces and birdcages. “Unexpected and whimsy, that’s kind of my thing,” says Davis.
Ideal Home Furnishings (4150 101 St., 780-489-9958, idealhomefurnishings.ca)
Cathedral mirrors, sofa, coffee table, pine trees, clock gears, velvet wing chair, jacks, boxwood and fur pillows
Reside Furnishings (10434 Mayfield Rd., 780-444-7800, shopreside.ca)
Crank table and Uncle David chess pieces
Christopher Clayton Furniture & Design House (10363 170 St., 780-488-7001, ccfurnitureanddesign.com)
Tall floral arrangement, Brass magnifying glasses
Century Classic (7807 127 Ave., 780-477-8433, centuryclassicmantels.ca)
Brentwood fireplace surround
Blanchette Slate (11577 149 St., 780-484-8738, blanchetteslate.com)
Urban Timber Reclaimed Wood Co. (10336 111 St., 778-245-9663, urbantimber.ca)
Reclaimed barn door
Flowers by Merle (12634 Stony Plain Rd. NW, 780-482-1222, flowersbymerle.com)
Birch logs; Table floral arrangement
Chintz & Company (10502 105 Ave., 780-428-8181, chintz.com)
Birdcages, Brass lamps, Designer’s Guild pillows, Cowhide area rugs
*Voting has now closed for this design challenge. The winner will be announced in our May 2015 issue.