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Veronica Martin spent almost a decade designing in the hospitality industry, before launching her own boutique firm two years ago. So when clients approached her for help creating a hotel feel for their home, they were in good hands. The Globe asked Martin for the secrets of her style, and how to create a grand yet intimate space.

The design brief: The clients own a successful logistics company, and they both travel a fair amount. They are constantly inspired by the hotels they stay in and wanted to bring that sophisticated feel into their home. When they are in town, they entertain a great deal and the layout of the home needed to reflect this. The main floor of the house is a "U" shape and wraps around a gorgeous custom outdoor pool. The great room floor is an open, two-storey high space and feels very grand with a kitchen, lounge and dining room.

The challenge: Creating intimacy in a two-storey volume space. The clients wanted a grand feeling, but the challenge was how to relate it back to human scale without losing yourself in the space, without feeling you had just walked into a cavern. One way we achieved this was creating a transition zone from the front foyer. The main foyer is also two stories and we added a dark wood vestibule to walk through before transitioning into the great room.

What worked well: Although certainly a striking visual element, the wine fridge was quite a tricky piece of equipment to build. My original design had the motor concealed inside the fridge in a mirrored box, but Papros Consulting came up with an innovative idea to pop it through the floor into the mechanical room below. This wine fridge is the main focal point in the room, dividing the formal dining room from the kitchen. The smoked bronze glass gives glimpses into the dining room and provides just the right amount of separation and privacy for intimate dinners.

Your design rule: Pick your moment and don't overdesign.

The design rule you were happy to break with this project: Many designers think that without contrast you can't have eye-catching design, but I purposely cut against the grain here when we approached the great room with a tone-on-tone palette, having the colour of the floors match those of the kitchen millwork and the bronze glass of the wine fridge. Most would think this would have come out flat, but it brings together all of these elements as "The Moment," instead of a head-spinning series of grandiose statements.

Design pet peeve: Overdesigning a space and picking too many moments to shine. In the great room of this house, we talked about a lot of different ideas, but the main ones are the wine fridge and the view to the pool. The kitchen was designed with minimal contrast and functions more as a beautiful millwork piece and less as an overstated kitchen. A lot of homeowners think the kitchen must be this big shiny centrepiece to be constantly viewed in awe. But the open concept trend puts the kitchen in your living space, so when you are not cooking, it should exist as a quiet backdrop.

This interview was condensed and edited by Kathryn Hayward.

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