Spaces 4 Living

An Architect's Idea Book: Sharing ideas and inspiration to help create beautiful living spaces.

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The Small Bedroom

Whether your quandary is with a small guest room, child’s room or master bedroom the resultant frustration of “what on earth do I do with it?” is the same.

An appropriate size bed for the size of room is one thing, but sometimes when space is premium, we run out of options. So the next best thing is to be creative with storage, add some quirkiness and work some design tried and tested methods.



This bed just fits and no more in this guest room. For a night stand, shelving on the back wall provides just enough space for a glass of water for your temporary guests.




Kids bedrooms are always so fun for creative space solutions. Whether it is using beneath the bed with drawers for toys or linens or cubbies for books right by the bedside. Find places for pin boards, display areas where you’d least expect it, and (in the case of the image of the above left) a port-hole shared between sibling rooms. The over sized map is a great visual interest for re-directing your attention. It helps give the impression of a wider space, which is also aided by the curve-linear  design of the rug on the floor. The image on the right, uses a simple white scheme to make the space seem more airy, but as with many schemes the clutter (and colour) is kept to a minimum.




The fun and little hidey spaces aren’t just for the kiddies. When there isn’t enough floor space for night table or a chest of drawers, build up! The built-ins around the bed, not only add storage but add a great deal of character and interest as well. The spaces seem to look more finished. There is space for ornaments, books, and personal belongings. An alcove around the bed is the perfect opportunity for mounting wall sconces and an interesting headboard…a little niche.


I adore this space. It is fun and playful. If it would have gone down a traditional route of bed-night stand etc. it probably would have folded in on itself. The over all black and white scheme has interesting elements “dotted” throughout. This not only a pun on the upholstery pins that create an upscale interest on the basic white shelves, but also to the creativity within this tiny space. The placement of the shelving creates a bedside surface at the window and another for a workspace at the foot of the bed. Even the quirky “Apocalypse Now” quote on the roller blind adds to the rooms interest. The coloured ceiling and mock black posts and rails around the bed space makes me think of a four poster bed! So much artfully placed creativity leads you to pause and to take in the elements of the space and not its size.


The successful outcome of the small space is only limited by your imagination. It almost forces you to become more creative with your spatial solutions. You’d be surprised that it may end up being the best room in the house!



The Art of Decorating with Black


So often many fall at the wayside away from colour and slump into the unfulfilled wasteland of beige! Some are intimidated to commit to using bold and bright colours in there living spaces…so goodness knows how they would react to black. OK black is not actually a colour, but it is a bold choice.

There are ways to enrich your space, just remember a little does go a long way.


Black Doors


Black doors can help create an upscaled and elegant look,  not just for the exteriors but the interior doors as well. The vertical plane of black draws your eyes to the other black objects in the room and creates a visual balance. It also helps balance the other large black elements in the home, for example that huge 60″ television that you always dreamed of, a black leather sofa or the unlit fireplace.


Black Windows


The odd thing about black or dark window woodwork is that you look past them to the outdoors. Whereas with white, your eyes tend to fix on the white frames instead of looking beyond. Bring the outdoors inside with black, charcoal or a dark stain.


Black ceilings



Now I bet you think I have gone too far!  A black ceiling adds a completely different character as compared to the traditional white. Your eye has a tendency to look for defined details to inform it of boarders and boundaries. Therefore, if you had black or partially black walls with a black ceiling your eyes would be tricked by the size of the space…making the room feel more spacious.

On the other hand, if you were to have lighter walls and a dark ceiling, the ceiling would appear lower. This could be beneficial in a room with a high ceiling that you wanted to make it feel more cozy and intimate.


Black Floors



Black floor have a huge impact. It is a bit more of a finacial commitment than paint, but the rewards could be outstanding. It says luxury all over it. If you have a dog that sheds it maybe more of a chore to keep spotless and high shine floors show more dust so unless you enjoy sweeping every day opt for a matte or textured finish.


Black Cabinetry or Surfaces



There is one way to get your white surfaces to pop in your kitchen and that is to have black cabinets. For a  contemporary open layout this would be stunning. The black gives the modern white space living a new twist. However if you inverse the palette with white cabinets and black surfaces the same pop occurs, but with a more traditional appeal. Granted, the main influence on the contemporary vs transitional vs traditional depends upon cabinetry style and layout.


Architectural details


Why not paint the wainscoting black (charcoal is illustrated in the photograph) or the ornate frames. It gives the woodwork a new lease on life and celebrates its artistry and craftsmanship.

The key element in using black, is that it enhances the other colours in the spaces as well (in my opinion) gives a sense of solid, grounding elegance. Dare I say, its the equivalent of that “little black dress”- a staple that imbues a air of simple sophistication.

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Barbeque Season

If you are getting ready for Canada Day, Independence Day or celebrating the strawberries and cream during Wimbledon, the barbeque season is in full swing. Having family and friends over for a Summer gathering is one of the great things about the season. The Summer cook isn’t standing away from the action with his face towards the wall any longer. He is in with the conversation and has a full outside gourmet kitchen to ignite the celebrity within us.



An extension of the kitchen is a complete prep station with outdoor grade fridge and wine cooler. This great outdoor kitchen is all beneath a covered deck so you can cook rain or shine (or blistering heat). There is nothing to say that you couldn’t cook a Sunday full breakfast in the fresh air without heating up the house.



Why not watch the game, match and point whilst grilling those steaks! Probably not so good in rainy climates, but you could angle your television so that you can view it through the window.

A room with a view! An otherwise cramped breezeway has made an opportunity for a great exterior lounge. Time to unwind watch the stars with the flicker of the fire and a late night snack. Ah Summer!

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The Age of Faux!

Low maintenance gardens are highly sought after. After a gruelling day at the office most of us would rather kick off our shoes and relax than mow the grass, clip the hedge and water the plants. We are not all destined to be limited to pavers and a bottle of weed killer. Now we can have our cake and eat it too!



Contemporary Patio by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Martha Angus Inc.                           



Artificial turf has come a long way. The products are remarkable out there. Thick lush greens that feel and look real without that plastic sheen and feel as soft as velvet. Many ranges have UV inhibitors that do not degrade under the hot sun. A faded pastel green of years gone by are no more…most suppliers have 10 year warranties. Low maintenance like this comes with a big price tag, so do your research well. Great for roof terraces where the added weight of a garden limits your options for a greenspace.  Hard to reach places like terraced gardens or areas with a lot of shade or too dry to grow grass for kids and pets to play are prime areas for artificial turf without the hassle of trying to get the real stuff to grow.




Faux hedging- Yes, its true you can construct a fake boxwood hedge. No waiting for it to fill in and grow.  The “hedging” can be much narrower than a real hedge which is perfect for adding greenery to a small balcony. It usually comes in 12″ x 12″ square panels that can be stapled or tied into a frame. It could also be arranged into a vertical planting “living wall” that are becoming popular. You get what you pay for so be aware of cheaper varieties that look blatantly fake.



Faux timber, better known as composite wood decking, reduces the maintenance of routinely staining your wood structures. There are many different colours and grades to chose from.  Some even look like hardwoods you’d have inside. Varieties also come in both traditional planks or more contemporary panels.





Faux Stone can have a great visual impact without a hard hit to the wallet like natural stone. There are many different products for different applications from pavers for your patio to lightweight veneer panels for vertical mounting on walls and columns. There are countless colour and texture combinations to fit any landscape, Even the stamped concrete patio above that resembles weathered 2×10 decking is an amazing statement piece.


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1920’s Kitchen

I have been jostling back and forth the idea of renovating my kitchen. Our 1924 house still has a lot of character left, which is why I fell in love with it. The house has been through a few hodge podge  renovations mainly in the 1950’s. Some of it is good and some bad. The kitchen looks tired but for the exception of lacking a few modern conveniences, it functions quite well.  My initial thought was to revamp the whole kitchen…work from a clean slate. But the more I live here, the more I like its old charm. This house would not suit an uber-modern kitchen. Not impossible, but just a preference.

They just don’t make them like they used to. You’d be hard pressed to achieve the details of the era without a skilled carpenter. Most kitchens in the 1920’s and 1930’s were built on site, hence the reason why many of the cabinetry components are not sized exactly the same. But then that is the beauty of it.

The hallmark white found in kitchens and bathrooms of the time is a reflection of society emerging understanding of germs and the resultant sanitary craze. Albeit, they thought you could “see” germs more effectively on a white surfaces.

I want to show a few examples of some wonderful vintage kitchens circa 1920-1930. Some of them have been remodelled, some original and others are new to look old.



The image above is a fine example of reworking with what you have and promoting its beauty. The gorgeous inset cabinet doors are a design highlight of the craftsmanship of the age as well as the pulls and lock style.  The vintage O’Keefe & Merritt Stove (circa 1940?) is a great centrepiece complete with custom hood that covers a standard extractor hood fan with a drywall/ plasterboard box and added trim. The marble counter top ties this kitchen into the present as well as hiding the quintessential piece of our era…the dishwasher!



This 1920’s bungalow has a lovely remodelled galley kitchen. The expansive craftsman style windows are what makes this room sing. Although the cabinets are modern, the layout and open shelves are sympathetic to the architectural style.



This kitchen had a low ceiling which the architect opened up to create a much loftier space with A vaulted ceiling and exposed decorative beam and collar ties. The vintage stove is a great centrepiece once again, but not to worry, the charm would still be achievable with a modern cooker or range. A contemporary Aga would look amazing without detracting the overall style of the room. The slim 2×6 tile in a herringbone layout and gives a wonderful texture to the backsplash and still adheres to the white on white palette of the era. The tiles appear to be more artisan and slightly irregular than the typical mass-produced subway tile. Which in itself is a statement of the arts and craft (craftsman) philosophy. The island adds another layer of character to the kitchen. It lends itself to be a separate piece of furniture and replicates the limestone of the floor.


This kitchen is surprisingly within a 200 sqft new addition. This is a bit too “vintage” for my own taste, but you have to commend the designers integrity. It is complete with bead board wood panel walls, pull-out integrated cutting boards  and scalloped woodwork at the sink doors. Even the accessories look vintage.

There are no hard and fast rules of how far you should restore your interior (unless it is a listed historical interior). Restoring does not mean that you have to do without the mod cons, if you look each kitchen above has an integrated dishwasher, so why not a wine fridge?  Anything is possible, it is only a matter of how far you wish to push the envelope.  Enjoy exploring the options.

Entertainment Products & Party Supplies
    Breast Cancer Awareness

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Sunny Conservatory


Conservatory…Sun lounge…inside-outside room…Sun room, whatever you like to call it they are almost one in the same.  All are enclosed in windows, although a conservatory has the addition of a glazed roof. Not too dissimilar to a greenhouse attached to your house, but far more detail orientated.


Traditionally, a conservatory was used to house citrus fruits and tropical plants brought back to Britain from merchant traders during in the Victorian and Georgian eras. The delicate plants of India, Africa and the Far East needed shelter from the more northern climates. Nowadays, the conservatory is used as an additional room in the house.  Integrated into the whole functionality of the house a conservatory can bring the wow factor into your home.



Often used as an additional sitting area or lounges, the amount of glazing brings you closer to nature but leaving the elements at bay.



This gorgeous example of a conservatory brings an homage to the traditional grandeur that the Victorian era exuded. Used as a sheltered seating area of the deck, it creates a cascade of spaces from house to shelter to deck to garden with each step unwrapping its layers.



With a flair to the modern, this home office is inspiring. The gentle curve of the glass softens the space. The sloping glass has a filter to protect the residents as well as retractable blinds for additional shading. Most glass used in conservatories do have UV and protective coating options much like typical windows.



The fabulous monochrome kitchen takes a step back as it lets the back garden/courtyard play at the window. The sleek simplicity from head to toe just draws you in.


    Contemporary Annabelle Modern Yellow Linen 32-Inch-H Mid-Century Chair    Woven Jute Roll Up Blinds 48 Inch, Width - 48 Inches    Fiore Floral Patterned Acrylic Accent Chair



Laundry Room Double Duty

As much as we aspire to indulge in the spacious laundry rooms of the glossy magazine pictures, it is for most of us out of our reach. Somehow the extra square footage always seems better allocated to the family room or home office. No need to sigh! The laundry does not really need to be tucked away in its own room or hidden away in the basement. Doubling up a few spatial functions may just let you have your cake and eat it too!


Laundry & Mudroom


This lovely space brings together laundry, mudroom, and an area for the dogs to sleep. The traditional dutch door is a great idea to contain the dogs but still keeping the door somewhat open. The galley style layout suits the nature of the house. The traditional elements of the cabinet style and the Belfast sink (also known as a farmhouse or apron sink) work well with the character of the home, but by extending the upper cabinetry to the ceiling and adding some contemporary/ industrial lighting updates the space. The washing machine and dryer are white, enabling a visual continuity throughout the space. The glossy blue painted ceiling is a great pop of colour without becoming over bearing.



This laundry and mudroom combination is much wider and gives the opportunity to create more storage. The use of the built-in cubby and bench are great for mucky kids to drop their sport kits into the wash before they get any further into the house! The idea of placing the laundry in the mudroom near the backdoor is great for those of us who dry our clothes outdoors. Free energy is free energy, even if it is only for part of the year.


Laundry & Pantry


Laundry and pantry: I have never considered this combination before, but it works.  Instead of two narrow cupboards off the kitchen, there is only one. As long as your bleach and detergents are in separate cupboards from your food, this set up is great. The walls and the cabinetry are painted the same off white/ light grey. The granite counter also has the same hue as the walls for a more monochromatic appearance and the lower cabinetry is 18″ for more floor space. This makes this room appear much larger and open.


Laundry & Kitchen



The laundry in the kitchen is more of a European norm, but it is becoming more common in North American homes. The appliances are becoming more compact which is much easier to incorporate into standard sized kitchens. This idea is not only space saving but the water and drain hook ups are already available.


Laundry & Hobby Room


Hobby and craft rooms are becoming popular. If you enjoy sewing, finger painting with the kids, or extra office space why not combine it with the laundry machines. They will be happy enough sharing the space and there is ample room for folding and stacking.
Hidden Laundry in a cupboard


Not all of us find the machines attractive.  The machines can be stacked and hidden in a ventilated cupboard. Allow enough room for air circulation, since they door get hot when in use.   The ventilated door shown is a perfect for screening off from the rest of the room whilst still allowing air to move freely. The beauty of this configuration is that is can be anywhere: in the kitchen, hallway, bathroom or any of the combinations above.


Creating multi-functional rooms is a great way to start maximising your existing useable space.

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Window Privacy Screens

Many of us have an existing window that needs a little help with privacy or want to block an unsightly view but still allow the sunlight to filter through.  Not all of us are keen on net/ sheer curtains. Good news, there are other options that can add a bit of flair to your room. The window screen below are a few that I found interesting.



This walk-in closet has a beautiful window treatment. It would look spectacular in a home with lots of old world character. The look can be achieved by affixing a metal screen to the exterior of the window. A variety of metals and techniques could be employed to get a style that suits you. Explore custom fit ironmongery, patina copper or laser cut aluminium.  Customisation gives you the scope to experiment with florals, geometrics, what ever your fancy. A less expensive version or installation in a rental property would be to have a printed roller sun shade. It would give the illusion of metal screen at a set distance.



This exterior mounted architectural sun shade has a similar concept as the ironwork above. The sun is filtered before it hits the glass. This contemporary piece stands proud of the wall in order to operate the windows behind.  It also is an integrated piece of the building; similar woodwork can be found wrapped around the façade at the main level and balcony railling details.



Lastly, there is the option of different glazing styles. This half clear- half sandblasted window wall brings in streams of light. It only allows a silhouette at the bottom visible to the outside.  The scenic views are unobstructed but still have the privacy where you need it.  The clean lines of the window treatment maintains overall style of bathroom. This looks can be modified with different glass types, and patterns. This look can also be achieved with a peel and stick privacy film in a variety of patterns.



There are numerous combinations that you could achieve the level of privacy that you want. The kitchen above employs both a translucent band and a planting screen. The wispy bamboo is planted within raised containers just outside of the window for maximum impact. You can mix and match any of the ideas above; whether that be with metal, wood, glass, fabric or greenery to make your space inviting.

beautiful window decorations

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Make the most out of a small kitchen

The heart of the home is the kitchen. It is not only where we create sustenance for our family but also where we talk about our day, bond as a family, do homework, create projects and have fun making a mess! Sometimes we need to make the most out of the space that we have, no matter the size limitations. It just means that we have to be a bit more savvy with what we already have and know how much we can push to get what we want for the space, as long as we are realistic.

The key objectives are to:

  • create and enhance the ERGONOMICS,
  • enhance STORAGE,
  • maximise USABLE SPACE
  • and to be open to DE-CLUTTER


This kitchen in a  19th century row house, it is small but efficient. The traditional white cabinets, contemporary stainless steel appliances, and understated ironmongery/hardware lift this kitchen. Perhaps only one cook can fit into this kitchen at a time, but everything is just at your finger tips.  This kitchen design emphasis in the de-cluttering and simplifying of the space. The cabinetry and ironmongery are uncomplicated in that they not distracting. A lovely little detail with the kitchen taps/ faucet where they are not resting on the counter and the sink is under mounted. This leaves the beautiful Pietra del Cardosa. counter to be visually uninterrupted.

The small (can I say micro?)  kitchen above appears larger due to the open concept into the dining room. The choice of all white cabinets and walls allows your eyes to casually wander. The kitchen above is a prime example of the compact ergonomics. The best layout for small kitchens is to have the cooker, fridge and sink in an equilateral triangular placement. It is about promoting the ease of movement. Although I do understand the want to keep the full height window, however the kitchen would have been better served if the lower cabinets extended to the exterior wall for extra preparation space rather than the ability to walk around. It is such small space, storage and usable space are also vital.  I do like a lot of the elements of this space, the simplicity of the pendant lights and Turner bar stools. The quartz counter and backsplash and the oak herringbone pattern flooring and  the ceiling height cabinetry add a feel of luxury. It enhances the space with a sense of bespoke/ custom detailing.

Space is precious in this small two storey. The limited footprint just fits the dining, living, kitchen, and powder room on the same floor. The high gloss smoky grey cabinetry gives this compact corner layout a high calibre studio feel. The shiny stainless steel appliances integrate well within the grey tones, while the choice of a fashionable white fridge tries to sink into the wall. Albeit, a custom built-in fridge with the same glossy smoky grey door would have looked stunning. The white solid surface waterfall detail has a lovely contemporary look at the edge of the counter. The look balances the white, grey, and steel tones beautifully. There is no ironmongery/ hardware to distract and break up the panels. Many cabinetry manufacturers offer a press-release system so that you can keep the design sleek and uncluttered.

All in all, there are always options for any scale of kitchen project. Just keep to one design theme and work it throughout the room. Most importantly follow as many rules as your space can allow for ergonomics, storage, usable space and de-clutter. has a new look!  


Kids Bedroom Ideas

Spring Break is just around the corner. What a great time to get the kids involved into spring cleaning and revamp their bedrooms.  A child’s bedroom is an important place. It is where he sleeps, plays and studies. This space is where he can develop and express his own personality.  First and most important criteria is to create storage for toys, books and clothing. Secondly, free floor space for playing and lastly as he gets older, is a seated desk area for study.

So not everyone has 9 foot ceilings, but this is an amazing space none-the-same. The custom lacquered plywood unit is a great example of using a relatively low cost material to produce a fantastic finished product. I love the built-in staircase rather than the use of a ladder. The child-size cupboard is great use of space. I like the idea of the duel function of the drawers as steps, but I could foresee the child not shutting the drawers properly and could potentially be a bit of a trip hazard. Love the idea, but kids will be kids. But you know your own children and know if they are messy or tidy at the end of the day.

The project could be a great bonding experience for the child to design their own cut out shapes, colours, and patterns with help from Mum and Dad.

Contemporary Kids by New York Interior Designers & Decorators Tamara H Design

This free standing loft bed is great for any child. Who wouldn’t love a tent canopy over their bed!! The corners of the tent are lifted by a pulley connected to the ceiling on either end of the bed for a great hidey spot. The incorporation of the bedside table/tray and magazine rack on the outside of the bedrails is necessity that is often overlooked. The storage beneath the stair tread is perfect for books, games and tubs of toys. I would suggest a non-slip applique on the treads for added grip, since socks and smooth finishes don’t really mix. The pull-out sofa bed is great for hanging out and sleep overs, but a desk space could be placed here instead if it could not be placed anywhere else. The added detail of the treed wall mural gives the room that added visual that sets his room apart from every other.

fancy wall murals

Traditional Kids by Raleigh Interior Designers & Decorators Driggs Designs

This daybed style is great for all ages. The custom plinth (can be created from modified kitchen bases) can be made to fit a single or double mattress. The built-ins add great added storage space in drawers, cupboards and shelves for an assortment of things. It also doubles as a great bonus room when they’re off to college without much alteration.

Eclectic Kids

For those creative types why not used a painted peg board to organise all their crafts and projects. The mounted cups hold pens and pencils, while other boxes and clasps hold coloured paper, ribbon and string. This set up is not limited to the bedroom, it could be suited for a family rec room or  hobby room.

Contemporary Kids by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Sarah Gunn, Interior Stylist

For the Tweens, a dedicated work desk is essential for studying. Creating a pin board is great for organising assignments. Most of the furniture you will probably have already so why not paint to refresh the old furniture, add statement pieces like a special chair and light fixture to create that uniqueness for your child and new contrasting bed sheet and curtains to complete look.