PHOTOGRAPHY: LARRY ARNAL
STYLING: SHIVA KHALILNIA, GRECIA GALLO AND CINTYA CASTELLANOS
Few Toronto condos are large enough to squeeze in a dining table, let alone one that seats 12 people. But, for a family looking for an urban pied-à-terre while they were planning to build a new home outside the city, having enough space to entertain that many people was not negotiable.
The family, a couple with an adult son, chose their high-rise condo both for its size – their unit is roughly 3,000 square feet – and for its west-end location, with easy highway access. Then they gutted the inside and started over with a new layout and all-new plumbing, wiring and floors.
“The clients are perfectionists, and had the resources to make it their own, to build it the way they liked it to be built. They wanted everything done properly. They appreciate the small details,” says Shiva Khalilnia, co-owner and principal designer at Import Temptations, who recreated the space for her clients. That was true both for the structure and its new furnishings. “They definitely wanted the home not to look like everybody else’s home.”
Planning the kitchen and dining room was a labour of love, Khalilnia says, adding that they took about three months to perfect the kitchen’s design. Its cabinets are made of smoked eucalyptus wood, with a striped grain, complemented by a gold-veined quartzite countertop and backsplash. “It looks like a canvas with a painting on it, but it’s not so busy that it distracts your eye from everything.” That work area is separated from the hall by a glassed-in wine cellar. At the other end of the kitchen, a custom-made table from Italy sits under two large red and black octopus paintings. Khalilnia chose a light-coloured table and chairs in a monochromatic theme to not compete with the bright colours of the art.
“They’re an Italian family, they love entertaining, she loves to cook and she loves to have people over. A dining table with 12 chairs, and the possibility of 14 … that was a necessity,” says Khalilnia. Like almost all of the furniture, the dining table was custom-made and, for Khalilnia, it’s the highlight of the new condo. The 12-by-four-foot tabletop is made of exotic wood slabs in an epoxy resin, with a simple gold-coloured metal base. Since a piece that size could not fit into the building’s elevator, it was painstakingly designed so its seams wouldn’t look awkward and detract from the wood.
In the living room, the furniture needed to be formal enough to entertain guests, but also comfortable enough for the family to relax in every day. Soft grey sofas and chairs are accented with gold fixtures and pillows, similar to the gold finishes found throughout the condo.
“Gold is a very popular colour right now,” Khalilnia says. “From the early planning stages, we wanted to use it as an accent. For their part-time home, we wanted it to look sexy and elegant. In a condo, you have to be careful that everything works together; there has to be a flow.”
Transition spaces between the rooms were a bit of a challenge; because of the building’s shape, several of the walls are angled. She used gold accent pieces to create that sense of flow around those angled spaces, including a large gold-framed mirror with plush bench seats between the living and dining areas, as well as a bar cart, also with gold accents.
Khalilnia says the more vibrant blues and greys she suggested for the entertaining spaces resonated with her clients, but she wanted to give them a softer colour range for the bedroom, which has more taupe and grey, with lighter gold accents. It’s a look she describes as soothing and comforting. The bed frame is also custom-made in an interwoven leather finish.
With so many striking, one-of-a-kind pieces throughout the home, it was sometimes a challenge to make them all work together, Khalilnia says. Having clients who were so involved at all the planning stages helped ensure they would be comfortable with every design choice. “If they have doubts, you have to go back through it and work it out. You don’t want clients to spend time and money and not love the final look,” she says. “They need to open the door every night, and feel, ‘Wow.’ ” •