Spaces 4 Living

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

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A Nursery for the New Baby


kierans projects


I have enjoyed adding a few memorable decorations bit by bit to my son’s nursery. Over his dresser/ change table, I hung the white and blue pom-poms that I made for the party after his baptism. In his room, I also hung bunting that I made for his first birthday.  All the little things that I have enjoyed making for him through-out the year, rather than finishing everything before he even arrived. For me, it has given a reminder of family and friends…special mementos, as it were.

When we first received the news that we were expecting our little one, I was so relieved that we had already put the sweat equity into renovating a room that was to be our home office. It just so happened that this room was adjacent to our own room and the colours we chose were soft yellow-greens (a calming yet creative atmosphere). We originally chose the colours by analysing the Feng-Shui of the house but it also was the perfect gender-neutral colour scheme.

Please note that I did NOT hang any decorations over his crib, even though I wanted it there originally, I just couldn’t give into chance that if one of them fell and the strings accidentally choked him….I would just never forgive myself. I would implore that you also do not hang things over a baby’s crib for that same reason.


♥♥♥  The Nursery ♥♥♥

The art of a nursery is designing for the momentum of growth rather than perpetuating infancy. At five years old your child shall know what he or she likes but until then its a guessing game.  The task as a parent is to create  an environment that will encourage the mental and emotional growth of our children.


No matter what you chose…material, layout, whatever,  as long as your baby has a loving environment you are in the right direction for a  happy child.  No matter what, have fun with it.

I found some great examples that I hope you will enjoy.



I love the alphabet mural on the wall. It is colourful and playful. You could let your creativity lose on this.  The warm grey is clean and contemporary especially with the adjacent striped wall.



This is a bit more on the romantic side, but I do like the mis-matched fabric of the furniture, to keep it from being too bland, The whole scheme is within the same colour palette but it is the arrangement of textures that gives this room its appeal. The little canopy is nice to look at, but just keep in mind that once they are able to reach it, it shall be pulled and tugged. Do not make it too long that they can wrap themselves up. It may be best to remove it once they are about 6 months old and reintroduce it for their single bed at pre-school age.




Honestly, this feels like a breath of fresh air. The white room with light playful prints and mural all are within the same theme and opens the space. It is still a bit more on the grown-up side, but as the little one grows it will soon gain his or her personality.


Regal duchess! but oh so achievable. (warning reminder on the drapery!) Even without the sheer embellishment this room is in a class of its own. A neutral background with soft pink accents on the ceiling,  picture frames and rug gives the room depth and a feel of luxury.


A fun and playful nursery. This lovely colour co-ordinated scheme is trend-setting and contemporary. You could get the same look by picking a dominating patterned fabric, in this room it is the grey chevron fabric, along with a supplementary plain solid colour, a warm yellow in this scheme. It feels fresh, light and simple!


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!  

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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!


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