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Designer's Toronto home blends function with meaning

When planning his open-concept home, interior designer Shai DeLuca-Tamasi wanted to balance his Israeli background with his husband's Hungarian roots

Interior designer Shai DeLuca-Tamasi is seen in his east-end Toronto condo on March 12, 2017.

Shai DeLuca-Tamasi practises what he preaches. The interior designer proffers on the daytime lifestyle show Cityline, ranging from tips for achieving the "boho-eclectic" style to high and low options for "Aspen-chic decor." At home, in the east-end Toronto loft he shares with husband, Csaba Tamasi, he brings to bear the many lessons learned over the course of his studies, travels and experiences abroad.


The overall palette of whites, blacks, grays and warm wood and gold tones acts as a baseline. Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

He knows, for example, that interior design can be more about ergonomics, space planning and human physiology than aesthetics. "A lot of people think that if you're an interior designer you make things pretty. Well, there's a lot more to it," DeLuca-Tamasi says. That's why he recommends introducing dark elements into a design scheme, such as his black-and-white rug from Tel Aviv, Israel, and leather lounge chairs from Elte MKT, "so your eye can rest for a moment," he says. The rug also helps define the living area from the rest of the environment – a common challenge when it comes to open, loft-type spaces – and plays into the overall neutral palette that ties together the eclectic elements.

"I'm Israeli, my husband is Hungarian," DeLuca-Tamasi says. "We come from very different backgrounds and it was really important to me to be able to mesh the two cultures in a way that worked aesthetically. You must have a common denominator." The overall palette of whites, blacks, grays and warm wood and gold tones acts as that baseline, allowing specific pieces, such as a set of framed 16th-century Hungarian prints, the walnut and cork occasional chair from favourite local retailer Saudade and a gargoyle sculpture from Vista Alegre in Portugal, to hang together and yet independently shine. "Each piece has a very special and distinct history to it and was carefully procured with a conscious thought process behind it," he says.

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The lighting scheme is where function and meaning collide most significantly in this household. The wall-mounted lamp from Flos (also black) was a means of avoiding more exposed conduits on the concrete ceiling while "[adding] something at an interesting scale without it having to be a floor lamp per se," DeLuca-Tamasi says. It's a sleek, architectural counterpoint to the more traditional lamp, inherited from his grandfather, "which was a piece that he bought for my grandmother many years ago," he says. "She wanted it, they had no money. It was a big thing he bought for her." After a simple rewiring job, the lamp took pride of place on a side table in the living room. "Without it, it wouldn't have that same kind of homey feel to me," DeLuca-Tamasi says. The same goes for a traditional gilded pendant that hangs in the adjacent office area. "It's not real gilding and it's in no way or means an expensive piece but there's a lot of sentimental history behind it. Every time I turn it on, I think of them."

DeLuca inherited this lamp from his grandfather.

The busy interior designer and television personality who describes himself as a "worker bee" practises abroad, mainly in Israel, and credits increased media focus and the availability of products at various price points with bringing design into the average home. "The world's a big place. I think we've really broadened our horizons when it comes to how we're influenced by design from around the world," he says "Whether or not you have money to do it with a designer, or if you need to do it on your own, I like to be inclusive," DeLuca-Tamasi says of his Cityline segments. "I like to gauge what I do as a one-stop shop for everybody."


Get the Look

Reclaimed Russian (natural) oak plank coffee table, $2,795 at Restoration Hardware (restorationhardware.com).

Mod 265 wall lamp by Paolo Rizzatto/FLOS, $2,445 at Lightform (lightform.ca).

Maxwell lounge chair, $1,635 from Elte MKT (eltemkt.com).

Gargulas – The Old, The Young and Death, €220 at Vista Alegre (vistaalegre.com).

Casa Cubista fringed blanket, $125 at Saudade (saudadetoronto.com).


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