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Tomas Pearce Interior Design is behind the look of the amenity spaces, suite layouts and lobby of The United Building at 481 University Ave., above and below.


For many homeowners, interior design is something they see in a glossy magazine spread, on social media or on a reality television show. Putting what they see and like into action, particularly in a home where they have a made a sizable investment, is something that might best be left to a professional.

“Layering” is a word a lot of designers use. Tying together furniture, materials, flooring, colours, lighting, art and accessories, as well as such personal touches as family photographs or heirlooms, into something cohesive requires a certain set of eyes. Not everyone can capture that luxury feeling or warmth in an environment.

“It’s like being able to play an instrument or sing,” says Brian Gluckstein, principal of Gluckstein Design Planning and a scheduled speaker at the 2020 Toronto Interior Design Show being held in January.

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Designers have the ability to walk into a space and be able to visualize what it’s going to be like when it’s complete, he says.

Then they work backwards, Gluckstein adds. They need to decide what the elements will be to pull it together and bring that vision to life. Much of it comes down to details, such as finding similar elements and focusing on those to connect the rest, or finding a focal point in a room to build around.

“The flooring and walls and ceiling create the framework to invite the words,” says Dawn Chapnick, Principal Designer at Dawn Chapnick Designs. “The moulding and trim on the wall, the carpet, the furniture and the accessories create the full sentence. It’s the building of the interior story.”

Gluckstein says the designer focuses on the “flow” of a space. The elements that go into the design are not chosen in isolation.


“Create your palette, collect all your finishes and fabrics, and elements in the space, since you have decided on the plan and how that space will function. Then you layer [the elements] and work with them, and build in more depth,” he says.

As well as assessing the architecture of the house, Gluckstein says he also talks to the client about their lifestyle and their interests. Are they more modern, or more traditional? Are they young, old, entertainers or empty nesters? He will observe the way the clients live, the way they dress and even where they travel, and then build upon those observations.

Designers can also help guide the client and help them stay focused.

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“A lot of people don’t have a strong point of view of the look they want, but they might know what they don’t want, and sometimes that’s just as important,” Gluckstein says.

Interior designers have to be critical thinkers to fulfill their clients’ specific needs and wants. They also need to possess spatial awareness and understanding of the efficient use of space and flow of movement throughout it.

Designers blend art with know-how, or what Chapnick refers to as “creative juices brewing and using certain rules you learn in design school and how to apply them, even in a non-conventional way.”

When looking for a designer, you should make sure they are capable of doing the scale of project that you have. Find out if they have created spaces that you like and can relate to, and which you aspire to have. Most designers are on social media now, particularly on Instagram, where they showcase their most recent work.

A good designer will create a unique space, and that is where the talent and experience comes into play.

“The temptation of buying a ‘set’ that matches is an easy out. However, it is not recommended,” says Melandro Quilatan, president and co-founder of Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc., the design firm for The United Building at 481 University Ave. by Davpart Inc.

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Cecconi Simone Inc. has overseen the interior design of the Sugar Wharf development on Toronto’s waterfront.


Tomas Pearce has worked on designing the lobby of the project, amenity spaces and suite layouts, as well as choosing all finishes.

“A carefully assembled set of furnishings that complement one another without being an exact match is the goal. For longevity, working with neutral tones for your investment [or] staple pieces is desirable. Colour accents can be implemented through art and accessories – items that can be swapped out as trends dictate,” Quilatan says.

In the sales area for the Davport condo project, Quilatan says they layered high-gloss finishes over matte textures, which created a luxury look and feel.

“Cohesiveness is key,” he says. “Continuity of theme, colour and comfort is important. Lighting, whether decorative or architectural, enhances comfort and practicality. Visual clutter projects chaos so cleanliness and simplicity can evoke a sense of calm, order and luxury.”

In the end, the word “luxury” is subjective, says Anna Simone, a founding partner of Cecconi Simone Inc., who has overseen the interior design for Menkes Developments’ Harbour Plaza and Sugar Wharf projects.

“‘Luxury’ is a word that gets tossed around very loosely,” she says.

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“To a lot of people, luxury might mean the final layer, the materials. In reality, if you look at it from a design perspective, luxury is about providing an environment that is responsive to your every need. That means it is almost tailored to understanding the way one lives. To have the ability to take an environment and become strictly responsive to how one would utilize and live within that environment. That is true luxury.”

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio, in consultation with an advertiser. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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