he wife is an India-phile; she journeys to the continentevery year, and wanted to bring in the exuberant coloursand textures she sees on her travels. The couple lovecasual entertaining, but also look to their home as arefuge from their careers as busy business executives.Since their adult children sometimes come to stay, we alsoneeded the flexibility to provide part-time guest accommodations,while also preserving their privacy.India's design history is very intertwined with the Art Decomovement of the early 20th century. This is a style that both theclients and I love, so we were able to reference it throughout thedesign. It starts in the front vestibule, where dark-walnutelevator doors were given porthole windows inset with frostedglass and rimmed with stainless steel. They wouldn't look out ofplace in an Art Deco hotel --or on the Queen Mary! We also givethe first hints of the overall theme in this area, with warm ivorywalls and dark wood livened with accents of mandarin orange,fuchsia and scarlet, all signature colours of India. A customcarpet, inspired by the Chinese Art Deco style of the 1930s,adds a vintage feeling.The kitchen and breakfast area are where we did much of theactual alterations. Originally, a wall separated the kitchen fromthe dining room. We removed the wall, and left a half-wall andpass-through, creating extra workspace and seating at anextended granite counter. In the opening, we installed a pair ofglass shelves that serves as a display area for the couple'scollection of art-glass objects. The use of glass in as manydifferent configurations as possible is a repeating themethroughout the space, adding sparkle and excitement against theneutral walls and soft finishes.We continued the white/light and dark wood theme in the diningarea by framing the windows in ebony framed screens, and playedup the theme of simple squares in the edges of the custom oakdining table. The coffered ceiling is finished in polished plaster,which enhances the sparkle of an artistic Mercury glass chandelier.In the living room, we wanted to really bring out the rich coloursand textures of India. The fireplace was surrounded with a mantelof bird's-eye maple, a lively wood with lots of movement in itssurface that was often used in Art Deco design. Above openbookshelves on either side, the walls were clad in grasscloth in afiery vermillion, complementing the linen fabric of the sectionaland rough-woven bound carpet. My favourite piece is the chaiselongue by Deganello for Cassina. It's an iconic design, part of theTorso series, which is very form-fitted. It's a marvelous piece thateven incorporates a little side table for a martini.The master suite is down a separate corridor of its own, withanother that leads to the study/guest area. To give these hallwaysa sense of event, we lined them with walnut wainscoting inset withlinen panels (the texture of the fabrics reminds me of Indianby Shelley KirschTTransformingthe Conventional CondoAs designers, we are often called upon totransform a condo that is basically a whitedrywall box. Our job is to come up withcreative solutions to awkward problems,such as poorly designed flow and lighting.In the case of this space in a midtownToronto luxury building, we pretty muchstarted with a blank canvas. The object wasto try and give it a unique flavour to betterreflect its cosmopolitan owners.9
10Shelley Kirsch is a residential designer based in Toronto with 28 years ofexperience in the fields of interior design and decoration. Her work is regularlyfeatured in national newspapers and magazines. www.shelleykirsch.com.basketry), and along the top rail, a line of oval cutouts inset withtiny glass mosaics in shades of mandarin orange. Overhead, wedealt with a ubiquitous problem in condos --boring, badly placedoverhead lighting --by enclosing the coffer in translucent glasspanels framed in walnut, and adding a small vintage chandelier.The double doors leading to the master suite gave us anotheropportunity to express the Indian/Art Deco theme. Solid doorswere replaced with French doors with custom stained-glass panelsfeaturing six-pointed orange-red stars. This is an iconic symbolthat shows up frequently in Indian liturgy. One of the challengesin the master bedroom was its surprisingly small size for a unitthis large. We couldn't do much to enlarge it, so the trick was tocreate the illusion of more space. I chose to design an expandedheadboard that ran from wall to wall, with the top sectionupholstered and buttoned, and a single quarter sawn natural oakpanel underneath. This design incorporated floating side tablesand a bed frame, with recessed lighting panel above the bed.Paired with soft creams and pale blue and grey fabrics, it feelsmuch more spacious than it really is.There are actually two opportunities for guest accommodations inthe other "wing." The library sofa is a pullout, but in the den, thebuilt-in unit on one wall contains a Murphy bed. The couple's sonis in the music business, and sometimes works with friends inToronto. If the rehearsal runs into the small hours, it's a simplematter to pull down the bed and catch a few hours of sleepwithout disturbing others.The clients love the way the public and private spaces worktogether, and how the entire design is geared to the way they live.But what they tell me pleases them the most is that we were ableto take a featureless white box, and transform it into somethingsensual and magical --like India itself.My favourite piece is the chaise longueby Deganello for Cassina. It's an iconicdesign, part of the Torso series, which is very form-fitted. It's a marvelous piece that even incorporates a little side table for a martini.