Small Space - Big Design

I spend a GREAT deal of my time design drafting- coming up with conceptual floor plans for new builds, kitchen and bathroom designs, as well as basement development and renovations. This topic really excites me, because I see HUGE value in planning prior to building. Coming up with the most functional floor plan to maximize space is such a rewarding challenge!

With the costs associated with living constantly on the uprise, being more conscious of the space we call our own was bound to happen. Not only are we making more deliberate choices when it comes to selecting finishes and materials, but we are also being more intentional with how much space we need and how it functions.

The introduction of ‘mirco’ homes stems from exactly this concept. For those of you unfamiliar with this trend, a micro house is a small house that is often energy-efficient and designed strategically to maximize usable space while minimizing the home's footprint.  No official definition of a micro house exists, though most homes that are smaller than 500 square feet are considered to fall into this category. Micro homes are designed to be minimalist structures, but they are not lacking in normal features such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Now you may not be hopping on the tiny home trend, but there is definitely something to take away from this movement. We definitely see some European design influence in the micro home concept, and this notion is now becoming main-stream in North America. There is a shift towards more intelligent floor planning. The ‘wow factor’ now isn’t only achieved by a Grande space, but also a space that includes well thought-out items that are functional, practical and sentimental. An easy way to maximize storage space in kitchen design, is running the upper cabinets to the ceiling. It’s a great way to make a space feel larger as it draws the eye up, and plus it a great bonus to not have to worry about dusting up there. In the Renovation Runway we have a foyer display, showcasing a dresser instead of a predictable console table, which provides ample storage for mitts, scarves, etc. The key here is to think outside the box. Don’t shy away from doing the unexpected if it makes the most sense and can provide the most function! We love items that double in function!

But there is one big obstacle that we have to overcome! Let’s face it… we come with a lot of stuff! I think that was one of the biggest adjustments for me when I had kids. I found it even more overwhelming when my daughter started kindergarten. The amount of papers she brings home every day is unbelievable! It is pretty difficult to achieve a calm mind, when your surroundings are constantly in disarray!! I am a firm believer that stress is drastically reduced, even in children, when there is order to your personal belongings. It is important to create a space to include a place for everything. Having a home that is neat and well organized not only makes your home more comfortable and inviting; it also works as a stress reducer.

A big design trend that continues to gain popularity is simplicity. This is our own personal design style and is the overall theme of the Reno Runway. Less is More! The environment around us affects our mood, productivity, energy levels and attitude. Creating a beautiful space to call home is not just about impressing your guests and surrounding yourself in beautiful materials. It is about creating a space where you feel relaxed, comfortable, organized and at peace. Our daily surroundings really do influence our sense of well being. Create a space that maximizes function and reduces stress!


I am sometimes challenged by skeptics with the question of Why is design so important? Usually when we discuss interior design, we think about the ‘pretty’ aspects –so… how to achieve a specific look, which decorating style you should imitate, or, perhaps new design trends that you should check out. But really, that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

An area that’s not always taken into consideration is the psychological effect of interior design on our subconscious. Believe it or not, the choices that you make when deciding how your home will look, have a documented effect on your emotions and perceptions. Have you ever considered that the color of the walls in your kitchen might actually be contributing to your anxiety?

With that said, it’s no surprise then that color is a main component of how we experience the world around us. But, what may be surprising to some is the fact that that the colors in our environment have a definitive effect on or moods and emotions. As you begin to conceptualize your home’s interior design, make sure that you are using colors in ways that fit with the tone you want to create in the space.

We’re more connected now than any other time in history. Thanks to this ever-evolving global connection and increasing social media, there will be an emphasis on our shared spaces. In  2017 we’ll see color palettes shaped by influences from China, Cuba, African and Middle Eastern countries. As consumers become more conscious about wellness and more intentional about connection, we will see more deliberate color choices, too.

2017 will put a fresh spin on natural colors and textures. These cleansing organic tones encourage connection, health, and considerate living. Simple, balancing hues promote a temporary disconnect from the digital realm in favor of getting back to the basics. These simplified colors are packed with longevity and manage to be forward-thinking without being too trendy. White and off-whites, relate  a sense of cleanliness and purity, and are often a good choice for the main color in a home.

We used Cloverdale: Standard White in the Renovation Runway. You can see that it acts as a nice neutral backdrop in every single display so that the furniture and fixtures demand the attention! A huge thank you to Heritage Decorators for installing the millwork in The Renovation Runway! Be sure to check it out, we have a few different examples of millwork that can totally transform a space.

Benjamin Moore’s Colour of the year for 2017 is Shadow. A deep amethyst. So if you are after a more sophisticated, and refined tone, the strong presence of this  rich, royal colour will make the choice easy for you. As displayed as the recurring accent color in the Renovation Runway, you can see that Cloverdale’s ‘Jazlyn’ offers drama and romance without being too feminine.

Check out the bathroom display for a great example of white and bright millwork on the bottom of the wall and deep and dramatic on the top.


There is no denying, our world is changing rapidly. Often times, for the better. Advancing technology provides new opportunity for us to stay informed, connected, entertained, and engaged at all times. Technology has enriched our lives in many ways, bringing people closer together. Devices are constantly becoming smaller, lighter, and more portable. These are all good things, and most of us fully embrace the opportunity that they provide.

Despite this, there is a feeling that our lives are becoming over-saturated with technology and that we are becoming less engaged with our surroundings and our loved ones. The unintentional side effect of the ever-increasing convenience of technology is that it continues to make appearances into areas of our lives where it leads to distraction…

I recently read an article that was describing a new design trend referred to as ‘Escapism’. This term has been born of the ever-increasing desire to create a space in our life that is quiet and tech-free. These spaces that are deliberately designed to promote tranquility and an escape from digital distraction will become more popular as humans react to our increasingly high-tech lives.  Most of us are craving a space where we can just relax and ‘unplug’ from our busy lives. This may not mean selling the 65 inch flat screen, but more of us will seek to create havens of calm and serenity, whether it’s a bedroom or a nook.  I thought this concept was rather ironic, since before our lives became overwhelmed by emails, twitter and Instagram, formal living rooms and TV free bedrooms WERE the norm! There must be truth in the expression: everything comes back into style if you wait long enough!

Something we will be seeing more of this year, is the ‘tech free living room’, a space specifically designed for interaction and conversation as well as living. Such spaces call to mind the ‘parlour’ of earlier centuries, areas designed for interaction, for social gatherings and mutual entertainment. Going tech free allows you to liberate your living room from the domination of the TV…Enabling you to rethink the whole layout and design of the room, and to re-organize it upon a completely different axis. The most important thing to consider in this scenario is that the furniture is to scale and arranged so there can be real conversation areas. (My favorite furniture layout is two matching sofas across from each other… seating across from one and other, is much more conducive to great conversation rather than side-by-side seating arrangements). Relaxed furniture and materials will follow suit, from deep sofas with linen slip covers, to oversized love seats, day beds, sheepskins, chunky knit wool rugs and floor cushions.


For the past few years, the shift has been back to more “simple” tiles-think beautiful marbles and muted greys and whites and beiges (vs loud flashy shiny tiles). We are actually seeing simplicity first hand in tile selection, and the interest comes from the installation pattern (think herringbone, and chevron as in these photos. We are not only seeing pattern on the wall, but also on the floor). This offers a more subtle way to add some interrest. Be sure to check out the Renovation Runway… we have a kitchen display with a herringbone backsplash.

Amongst having fun with the tile install pattern, some new tile looks are demanding some big attention! Here are some examples of what to keep your eye out for:

1- The hottest trend in by far is flooring that looks like something it’s not, and the cement look is no exception. Industrial, modern looking cement isn’t typical inside the home, but you will continue to see homes embracing it.

2-Wood-look tile has already been established as a favorite and that won't change. In fact, wood-look tile is looking better and better with each new product introduced. But the trend will shift slightly this year toward some creative uses of wood-look tile.

3-Brick-look tile is an easier to maintain option than actual brick and you'll get the same look and feel. 2017 will see the classic Chicago loft look taken to the next level.

4-The classic high-end look of marble is what everyone wants and in every imaginable format. Porcelain tile is ready to deliver, and is more appealing due to its significantly lower price.