Spaces 4 Living

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


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Kitchen Garden

It is the beginning of March, and I am longing for the milder winters of Scotland, as I look out at the white mounds of snow. I could be prepping my soil for planting right now, if I was there. With this being the worst winter in decades on this side of the Atlantic, it shall be a while before I see any young shoots.

I suppose then this gives me time to plan out my garden. Winnipeg has a very short but HOT growing season due mostly to the continental climate on the prairies. Almost everything that I have grown in the past with ease in the UK proves to be a bit more of a challenge in this part of Canada. Its a learning curve, but I shall prevail!

One of the my most rewarding gardening aspects is growing fruit and vegetables.  There is just something to be said when you bite into a homegrown tomato, courgette (zucchini) or aubergine (eggplant).

When one usually thinks of the kitchen garden, the idea of raised cedar planters resonate. The traditional style shown above has had a contemporary facelift. The sharp intersecting planes and different height boxes work really well. The contemporary feel extends to the stone mowing strip between the boxes and the grass. The different widths of stone adds visual interest by adding a different contrast from the long smooth linear timber. The mowing strip not only adds a different texture, but it is also time worth spent when you lessen your weekly navigation of the lawnmower and strimmer. The custom designed privacy screen is the icing on the cake, extending the cedar and the contemporary style beyond the boxes.

On the complete opposite side of the design spectrum, a kitchen garden that is integrated into your overall garden theme. The image above does not show any vegetables, but just think of the idea of bringing your tomatoes and your marigold together. It is not only pretty, but the marigold help ward off the little pests and beasties that may damage all your hard work. There are many other companion planting pairings between herbs, flowers and vegetables that add a natural pest deterrent and a visual interest. A few other characterises that I am drawn to are that the beds are not too deep so there is easy access and there is lots of ground cover to reduce the soil drying as quickly. The latter is all dependant to your choice of plants and how you layer them. Lastly, the central vase could potentially be a rainwater collector (a wider lip would be preferable) and/or a surface rainwater runoff collector. The rainwater run-off flows through a series of inclined drains, beneath the decorative stones, that direct the water to a collection pit.   This is perfect for conserving water for your plants. Even without the bells and whistles, If nothing else a piece of artwork and a few herbs would be a nice central focal point, well other than your prize winning pepper plant!

So why don’t we stretch the idea even further. The lovely Cape Cod cottage pictured above has a whimsical note to the past that brings the potager garden to the front of the house. Who says you need a lawn? Even though the plants are placed in low lying symmetrical rectangular boxes, the array of vegetation brings a sense of playfulness. I love the mixing of textures; broad leaves of the rhubarb, tiny leaves and flowers of thyme, wispy fennel, curly kale and the list can go on. The great thing is that you can mix up the edibles and ornamentals every year.
With a mind full of design possibilities and sketch paper and a pencil at the ready, I shall be scribbling away creating ideas for my garden. Well, until the snow melts!!

Have fun dreaming of Spring!


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A Peaceful Landscape Repose

The relaxed and effortless splendor of this outdoor space is truly sublime. The mature trees add a majestic backdrop to the sculptural aspects of the new landscaping.  A sweeping Pennsylvania bluestone pathway is flanked by monochromatic ornamental mondo grasses and boxwood shrubs adding layers of opposing textures and visual interest.  The understated path lighting serves a utilitarian purpose without distracting the viewer from the captivating horticultural layering of the landscape.

A raised seating patio is anchored with a prominent robust outdoor fireplace and BBQ area. The patio features a curved rough cut stone retaining wall that adds a splash of colour through planting perennial purple geraniums. The low maintenance planting creates a ruffled or even a ripple effect as one’s eye moves from the smooth path towards the rough stone wall.

The curvilinear arrangement of the landscape creates a peaceful repose. It encourages you to stop and inhale nature before heading on to where you were destined. What more can you ask for in a place for the grown-ups to unwind in such a beautiful setting.





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The Well Tailored Study

LDa Architects - living rooms - glossy, black, built-ins, moldings, fireplace, black, velvet, sofa, ivory, accent chairs, nailhead trim, black sofa, black velvet sofa,

source: LDa Architects


I love built-in storage furniture, but to be honest the regular white doesn’t always fit into everyone’s décor tastes. The matte black of this study imbues a sense of sophistication that sets it apart from the white walls of the room . The black bookcases and backdrop of the fireplace is the backbone to this entire room. It has a sense of solid masculinity.


The grandeur of the coffered ceilings and the fire surround is a statement of order within the larger context of the space.  The convex mirrored clock on the wall and the art add just subtle hint to feminine glamour of a different era to balance the room.


The high contrast black and white of the walls, hardwood floor and woodwork has been toned down and grounded by the introduction of the gold hues in the carpet, upholstered accent chairs and even the sepia tones in the artwork.


I really love that the three floor lamps are mis-matched, two are contemporary with a transitional with a shade in the corner. This works because the lamps are more or less at the same height and use the same metal. The mirror finish of the chrome is also present on the cylindrical side table and fireplace surround detail. Pulling the chrome elements together and connecting them to the mirrored wall clock.


The large couch successfully melts into the room by being as dark as the built-ins.  The fine stripe of black and charcoal pinstripe fabric is reminiscent of a well tailored suit. It reinforces the tailored masculinity of the space.


I like the high gloss sepia on black fashion photography. I can’t help but to think of the possibility of objects incorporated in back-lit built-in shadow boxes on either side of the fireplace in their place. It would add more intrigue and more dynamic to the space.


Visions of curling up with a good book beside the glow of the soft flickering flames and a single malt whiskey in this space is alluring and yet it is sophisticated enough to entertain.

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Georgian Foyer

This traditional Georgian foyer has been redefined with a breath of new life by complimenting today’s lifestyle.

Georgian homes tend to be very robust, segregated but grand, which in itself is its charm. Meyer & Meyer have transformed this lovely house into a bright, welcoming and stylish stately home.

White wall paneling has taken the home fashion by storm. The articulation of the combined dentil style crown moulding, chair rail and top panels when painted in the same colour as the walls adds a 3 dimensional quality that plays with the light and shadows throughout the day.

The original sleek curvilinear black lead work on the glazing is nothing short of craftsmanship.

Softening the space is a quasi-floral geometric rug in a refreshing yellow. The high back light grey sette gives a modern twist on the Queen Anne Wing backed chair and over-sized tripod lamp both work beautifully to offset the geometic patterning of the space.

Overall this small space speaks volumes for the design inspirations of the remainder of this house. The design enables and encourages the antiquity of the space to come through in a new light. I believe it is successful due to that it is sensitive the original character of the house but still updates it with a modern scheme.

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Sleek Contemporary Kitchen

This is not your mother’s kitchen! This beautiful contemporary kitchen by Ward-Young Architecture & Planning has me thinking of mountains and forest views. The lofty ceilings, the mix of stone and wood create a feeling of an alpine paradise.

The stone veneer is rustic, heavy and has a great textural presence. It is offset by the smooth faces of the sleek cabinetry. The cabinetry sinks into the overall wood décor of the open plan. By using a similar wood treatment on the ceiling, window trims and door encourages your eye to accept the kitchen as an extension of the room, not as a visually separate room.

The waterfall edge detail of the kitchen island surface boosts the contemporary nature of the space. The backsplash is also in white which enables you to experience the different materials in the space without congesting it.

The flooring picks up similar warm hues as the wood. The large grid pattern of the coloured concrete creates a uniform plane that is not subtractive of the integrity of the high quality materials used in the space.

Overall, this kitchen displays well placed, high quality finishes that amplifies the contemporary design


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Backyard Bistro

This tiny little spaces packs a lot of character. Kate Michels Landscape Design have the solution to the problem of how to treat that small backyard or side yard for that matter, that you didn’t know what to do with.

The privacy fence is an articulate work of art. The decorative patterning is replicated on other vertical surface for continuity within the landscaping. The effect gives a café bistro ambiance right outside your back door. The antique table and chairs are size appropriate for the allotted area, enabling enough movement within the space. The decking is laid at 45 degrees that  lends your eye to move throughout the space without creating a corridor. The space is not very wide but the direction that the deck boards are laid makes the area appear wider without foreshortening, as you would with horizontally laid boards. The concrete planters add a bit of visual bounce and softens the outdoor space with an array of greenery before focusing on the water feature at the far end.

I think this is a terrific use of space that you could enjoy. This small area has become a relaxing retreat that may have, under any other circumstance, gone without notice.


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Rustic Farmhouse Living Room

I am usually not one to like farmhouse style décor, but this living room designed by David Michael Miller Associates draws me. Perhaps it is the touch of old world charm of the exposed heavy timber, white plaster walls and European vernacular furnishings. The casual tuft of pillows on the divan, the oversized basket chandelier, the heavy stone coffee table and rustic open fire place just hit every note in nature’s hard-soft relationship.


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Traditional Santa Cruz Kitchen

This house has many features and spaces that just makes it feel so welcoming. It makes you want to get comfy and unwind with a cup of coffee. Of all the wonderful spaces,  I just love this kitchen. The tall windows bring in a lot of natural light and creates a great connection to the outdoors which promotes a good sense of well being.

Along the periphery there is tall white custom cabinetry that extends up to the high ceilings. This is a great way to add more storage and to create a modern edge within the traditional style without overdoing it. The walls and cabinetry are painted “cloud white” and are visually merged together. The ceiling coving also wraps around both cabinetry and walls. Both treatments add to the uniformity, openness and airiness of the space.

A gorgeous butcher block island adds warmth, practicality and a great breakfast area. The corner window seat is inviting and relaxing.

Although I adore this kitchen, there are a few things that I am not taken with. The refrigerator and hob/ cooktop are on the opposite sides of the kitchen.  I could see as being a nuisance if you are like me and run back and forth to the refrigerator for ingredients. The sink is also far from the hob which is an issue when you are carrying a pot of steaming pasta that is ready to drain. Ideally, if one of the appliances were to be located in the island for a smaller work triangle it would be more user friendly. However, I do understand the desire to keep the island free in order to keep the visual of a farm house table work space in the centre of the room. It all depends what you would be willing to compromise: function or style.

Overall, this is a spacious yet cozy room that blends the sensibilities of a family orientated traditional kitchen but does not hold back on the desires of the modern. This is a great area that mixes home cooking, conversation and relaxation for a great well balanced space.


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Simple Home Office Space

This Simple set up for the home office desk space moves the desk away from the blank wall to looking out at the view. Reconnecting to the outside while working maybe all you need to change for better positive thinking.

A Sleek Parsons table in a lacquered bone finish is accompanied by a comfortable upholstered dining chair. This gives a casual approach so that you could incorporate a more multi-purpose function yet still has a decorative feel. However, if you plan to spend more than an hour at your desk at a time, invest in an ergonomic desk chair, but for sorting out your bills, checking your emails and what not, this may be right for you.

The same parsons table shown in white with a white study chair gives a modern flair for a student’s small space requirements. Flat screens, laptops and tablets are great space savers. Replacing the artwork with shelving would be a great spot for reference books, desk supplies and pictures of family and friends giving more surface area for reports and homework


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Woodland Sanctuary Bathroom

Kohler-woodland 1 Design partners Nikki Blustin and Oliver Heath of Blustin Heath Design have created a tranquil environmentally conscious design for the Woodland Sanctuary Bathroom.

This luxury oasis lets you leave your troubles at the door and indulge your senses. I love the reed encased resin wall panels that envelop the whole space to create the back drop to this serene environment. It adds that adds that extra bit of decadence. The ceiling has perimeter hidden fluorescent lighting that washes the walls and emulates a calming sensation of water that is repeated beneath the bath tub. Above the bath tub a dark wood canopy has leaf shaped holes to let the light through imitating the planting beyond.

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The wood floor gives a warmth to the room which is also is present in the wenge wood  KOHLER Escale™ Suite. KOHLER Escale bath, toilet and lavatory have soft flowing contours that add to the spa like feel of the room.

More information about the designers and Kohler products can be found at: http://www.us.kohler.com/us/Woodland-Sanctuary/content/desgnctr_bathgallery_woodland1.htm?childCatId=DC_gallery_woodland1&subSecId=desgnctr_bathgallery_woodland