Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Live- work condo lofts have gained many condo shoppers interest for many reasons. Ceiling height is definitely one feature that anyone would fall in love with simply because if you compare two identical spaces with different ceiling heights, the higher one will give you a sense of spatiality hard to achieve with a low ceiling.

Some of the new high ceilings loft spaces have two stories spaces, an ideal layout when living & work areas could be on the main level while sleeping areas are located on the top floor.

I am quite impressed by how small lofts owners and designers always find ideas to maximize the space, the height gives you the opportunity to create hidden storage spaces where you expect the least.

One design caught my eye by how it utilizes almost every square inch of its space. The ideal layout for a small open space is the one where circulation corridors, foyer are limited to a minimum so the actual living spaces gain the square footage.

JDPA Architects design team along with the Contractors have transformed this New York East Village Studio of only 500 square feet (46 square meters) space into a nest for the owner who live and work here.

Economy, functionality and privacy were the primary drivers in the design of this sixth floor home office studio. Meticulously detailed millwork provides ample storage, making this small-footprint apartment extremely efficient.”

Great choice of colors and finishes- a mix between high gloss white and natural finish wood, create a cozy yet stylish and fresh looking space. “A bedroom loft creates space for a roomy walk-in closet below, while stair risers conceal a series of built-in drawers.
Every inch of the space has been effectively exploited.” Storage is the first thing I think about when I walk into a small space and this example is truly inspiring.

“JPDA worked closely with their client and a demanding co-op board through every stage of the design process. The result is modern, clean, and concise, providing both the warmth of a home and all the functional requirements of an office.” We know how demanding the condo boards can be, so before you jump into a cool project like this make sure to check your condo documents and see what is it allowed and what not.

I salute the design team and the contractors for an impeccable design and execution. And yes, if I didn’t mention it before, great design lacking in great execution will only give you average results, I’m only talking from experience here. Make sure to do your due diligence before you team up with a contractor, there’s a lot to gain when choosing a good one and much more to lose when not selecting the right company.

JPDA has won the AIA Small Projects Award 2010 for the East Village Studio renovation! The award is granted based on excellence in design, innovation and technical advancements during the design process.

(all images courtesy of JDPA architects)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DO's and DON'Ts when choosing AREA RUGS

Most of the time, the area rug is one of the last item on the decorating list, when in fact it should be somewhere on top of your list. Why? Because area rugs can actually set the tone for the look and feel of the entire space. Area rugs could bring personality to a plain room and could even be the only item with a pattern in the room. Some area rugs have such a strong theme that it’s really hard to even try to add wallpaper or printed fabrics anywhere in the room.

“Artisan produced from natural and renewable resources such as wool, silk, and cotton,
W Studio carpets are truly “art for the fifth wall.” What a great quote and how true! We sometimes spend too much time thinking about the walls when in fact, the floor is the first large area you may notice when you walk in. And how can it not be when you could see something like this amazingly beautiful area rugs.

The truth is: I have started designing interior spaces many times by finding a great area rug that had such a strong theme that I had to carry it throughout.

There are many great findings and tips I want to share with you today, so let’s get started:


1. Look for an area rug right when you just planted the seeds of your interior design theme, and work around it. Or simply- choose a color inspiration.

2. Decide which feature will be stronger: the floor or the wall(s) and make your decision obvious for anyone entering the room. You could also opt for all surfaces to be tone on tone with subtle color transitions, make sure to choose the color tones carefully (there are warm and cold hues of each color and mixing them is sometimes a balancing act :))

3. When wool & silk are masterfully intertwined, the result could be truly spectacular. Ensure to see the rug (or images of it) from all directions as the look will amaze you!

4. Have fun selecting the perfect rug! When it comes to kids rooms, sky is the limit, you could forget about the color you originally hand in mind, you will get so many ideas by visiting an inspiring area rug showroom like ModernWeave in Toronto!


1. Don’t be afraid of strong colors for the right room! Whether in your home office or kids room, color could be energizing and mood setting.

2. Don’t get stuck in the traditional rectangular rug shapes and explore all other options like this night sky area rug or this work of art produced by Arzu Firuz 

or nature inspired by area rugs like the pebbles rug from 2 Form- must be really comortable to sit on!

3. Don't try to visually chop an open space- go for visual continuity. When having an open condo space it’s sometimes hard to keep a fluid layout and not have a clear separation, especially when the living area and dining area are not clearly separated (some of you have actually opted for having the dining area furnished as part of the living area too). Not sure where exactly should you place it? have fun with it!

Lacy and Racy is a vinyl laser cut area rug resembling intricate patterns and shapes (the flowerlike Soufi actually incorporates eight individual rugs which can be used separately)

When travelling look for local artisans and at least get details about how they make each rug- I was amazed to see how much manual labour goes into making one rug.
Germany's Jan Kath Design has an interesting collection of rugs weaving techniques of Nepalese and Moroccan craftspeople with his own abstract aesthetic style.
Most area rug retailers offer the option of having a custom rug size with custom colors! So if you have already started your design and are searching to complete the look with an area rug, look for stores where they will create a one of a kind area rug for you.
An area rug is not something you buy every season, so investing in a good QUALITY area rug can be a smart investment.

Monday, August 16, 2010


You know fall is coming when clothing retail stores have big sales on all their summer items. For all color lovers out there, did you notice the main colors used in most fashion lines? It is not a simple coincidence that fashion and home trends go hand in hand. Similar colors have already emerged in retail stores focused on home accessories.

For some people using color is an easy way of re decorating, because changing accessories like throw pillows, table mats and few lamps shades can change a room from season to season. For others repainting your space or adding wallpaper is what sets the tone for a brand new look!

Pantone, the global authority on colors and the provider of professional color standards for the design industries is always ahead of the game and provided the PANTONE® Fashion Color Report Fall 2010. “The report features the top 10 colors for women's fashion for fall 2010, along with designer sketches, quotes and headshots.”

“Mindful of consumers’ need for practicality, plus their desire for newness, designers offer many options for women to extend and embellish their wardrobes this fall,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “

After going over the report I was very pleased to see a wide range of color combinations easy to translate in the world of interiors.

“ Industry gurus highlighted in the report include: India Hicks, creative partner at Crabtree & Evelyn; Cate Adair, costume designer for “Desperate Housewives”; Collier Strong, celebrity make-up artist; Eric Sauma, owner of Mood Fabrics (featured on “Project Runway”); and Constance White, style director at eBay. Contributors from Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s also offer their insights.”

Are you planning to paint anytime soon?

Want to be in sync with the latest trends?

Here’s what the color experts have to say about their color choices for 2010 fall fashion trends PLUS my recommendation on how to use these colors in your room. Interesting to notice the similarity of color combinations used in some of the latest wallcoverings!

Crisp Endive, a revitalizing yellow-green, adds freshness to this season’s top ten, and will enliven any wardrobe.” To me, this color can be that one perfect color to accessorize your bedroom, your den, all spaces that need to be brighten, perhaps a den lacking natural light would welcome this hue. Easy to pair it with shades of brown, grey, taupe or green.

“Reminiscent of a radiant sunset on a brisk autumn evening Golden Glow, an earthy, deepened shade of yellow, creates a retro look with Purple Orchid or Woodbine”. Why not use this color also by mixing it with tones of deep terracotta tones for creating a warm look or shades of brown.

“A softer, more inviting orange with a hint of pink undertone, Living Coral is the perfect complement to Lagoon, whether heading for a tropical destination or just fantasizing about it.” This is one of every season’s fall colors, easy to pair with rich hues of browns, taupe and a hint or a tones of off white.

Lipstick Red, a deeper, more dramatic sensual red, makes its imprint on fall, particularly in cosmetics.” This is one of those colors that can be part of your home accessories during fall and winter seasons, can be paired with grey, white and even certain hues of brown just to name a few.

“Exotic Purple Orchid, a purple leaning to fuchsia, is an unexpected choice for fall, imbuing a bit of magic and vibrancy to the season.” Very dramatic color when used for large wall surfaces, much more safe to use is as an accent to anything from an area rug, throw pillows, curtains etc.

“Elegant Chocolate Truffle, evocative of delicious treats, is a rich brown with piquant plum undertones, that pairs tastefully with Purple Orchid.” You can never go wrong with this color, whether used for walls, upholstery, window treatments and accessories.

Lagoon, this season’s turquoise – Pantone’s 2010 color of the year – is guaranteed to add a tropical splash. A great color for fall and winter escapes, Lagoon is a popular hue, especially in accessories, pairing dynamically with all shades of red.” My personal preference is to pair this color with earth tones or with white.

“Not your mother’s avocado green, Woodbine takes last season’s neutral greens to a whole new level, and when mixed with Purple Orchid and Chocolate Truffle, results in a stunning combination.” A safe color to be paired with a wide range of hues from earth tones to very light blues, lots of dark colors can be mixed and matched with Woodbine.

Oyster Gray, a classic neutral that grounds the palette, is a lighter take on the traditional fall gray, as designers heed consumers’ concern about the economy and deliver investment pieces that carry through to spring 2011. “ I call this color timeless because it is one of those colors that can’t really go out of style unless you use certain textures and you pair it with other colors that come and go. Safe to mix it with anything from white to black, from brown to tones of purple, from red to copper tones, this color can tone down an entire color scheme.

“Rose Dust, a flattering beige, offers an ethereal, romantic, wispy option to span the seasons.” A very feminine color can become more dramatic when paired with darker tones.

"In the ever-evolving world of trends, it's important to look at color and styling influence through modern eyes. This especially applies to the interior and exterior details when trying to sell a home. You have one shot to make an impression, stand out from the crowd and evoke a certain mood or feeling when trying to engage a prospective buyer. This can all be accomplished with the right color combinations."

Read the complete Pantone ® Fashion Color Report Fall 2010. report, inspiration and must have items here.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Ever since wallpaper started to come back as a trend to stay (in my opinion), this is the one question I get asked a lot! : Is wallpaper a Must for creating an updated look for the master bedroom? And the answer is “Not necessarily”.

A great bedroom interior is created by a mix of different elements like: scale, height, shape of furnishings, artwork, textures, patterns and of course Color. And by color I don’t mean painting the entire room in one bold color, but rather knowing where and how much color to insert in order to add interest and yet a create a restful and calming space where you can relax and unwind- after all the bedroom is the space that we spend the most time in when at home (unless you work from home). Master bedroom should be your personal heaven…some go for a dramatic look some go for subtle color choices, it is a personal preference…

Discover which style is closer to your personal design style:

1. nautical theme, masculine, high contrasts, excellent for pristine white bedding lovers…

Design idea: different patterns & textures- same navy color; metallic accents coordinated in accessories; white bedding, decorative pillows- same color different textures.

2. soft grey and calming blue hues, appeals to retro design lovers, white and blue/gray color schemes always bring a fresh look…

Design idea: same blue/gray tone used throughout, here it is not about the color but about the pattern and the overall calming tones yet striking wallpaper pattern.

3. white and neutral tones- always a winner especially when paired with sleek furniture, layers of white and soft sandy tones create the look…

Design idea: classic elegant armchairs act as and accent in the background; wood & upholstery mixed in the headboard design; window treatments consistent in design and color with the bedding and all fabrics used throuhgout.

4. feminine, elegant, sophisticated, soft neutral colors, texture and patterns add a romantic flair to the room, wall trim- classic approach for a timeless design…

Design idea: Various tones of white and off white, pearl finish classic floral pattern of the wallpaper, crushed velvet drapery- it's all in the textures!

5. are pastel colors your first choice for bedroom colors? Blend the color of your choice with lots of different patterns and textures on white backgrounds…

Design idea: white on white with yellow accents used consistently. Black see thru linen lamp shades and headboard dark wood frame pull all elements together.

6. green tea hues create a blissful and always refreshing space…

Design idea: create a Zen calming space with classic and contemporary elements. bedding ads a punch of white & olive contrasting patterns on decorative pillows. Curtains color matches the wall for a tone on tone look.

7. vertical wide stripes bring in the drama! Could be wallpaper or paint, upholstered headboard and footboard bed style softens the linear design of the wall and white creates a wonderful contrast…

Design idea: background acts as a focal point while the bed becomes the jewel in the room.

8. yes! Dark charcoal colors create a dramatic look when contrasting with white bedding, artwork and accessories…

Design idea: add rhythm and contrasting elements when working with dark walls as a background.

9. red used in contemporary designs can be soothing or highly energizing- it all depends on the right red tones…

Design idea: black and white can be paired with any paint color- this design works well with dark blue, dark greens and many other dark colors.

10. This could be a small bedroom space but big drama!- vivid dreams, intensity of colors, contrasts, textures and shapes of traditional pieces mixed with an asymmetric design approach…

Design idea: when you know which fabrics, textures and colors go well together just add fun in the mix and it will be a winning design!

Which image do you like best? Email me at and I’ll send you the colors that closely match your favorite design!