Tag Archives: Work from home


Work from home with style and substance

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Work from home with style and substance

Never before has the concept of creating an efficient space to work from home been so important to so many, not only for professional productivity, but for the adaptability of family life as well. With more and more people adjusting to the new normal of working remotely, the couch has quickly become a virtual seat at a conference room table and kitchens have transformed into remote classrooms. Now more than ever, there’s a desire to maximize the function of our everyday spaces and design them in a way that creates a customized sense of balance, calm, and comfort in our homes.

Design wish list

When the homeowners of this open-concept basement first reached out for design help, they had one simple request, “We want to want to be in the space!” They dreamed of transforming their under-utilized lower level into a place where they could efficiently run their business from home, put their feet up and relax at the end of the day, and gather together with their children. They struggled envisioning how their dark, windowless space could become a bright and airy retreat, brimming with beauty and practicality.

“Now more than ever, there’s a desire to maximize the function of our everyday spaces and design them in a way that creates a customized sense of balance, calm, and comfort in our homes.”

Designated zones

I was happy to be their fresh set of eyes, and my first design goal was to establish a functional layout that took all of their desired uses into consideration. A dedicated office area was at the top of their wish list, followed by a zone for lounging, and a dining table that could double as a homework station and meeting space. By working with as much of their existing furniture as possible, I simply rearranged the layout and introduced various rugs to define and visually separate each of the zones within the open space.

“Various table and floor lamps were added to achieve layers of light that washed the space with warmth, and the walls and ceiling were wrapped with a crisp white paint hue to help reflect as much light as possible.”

Layers of light

Since there was no natural light, creating a fresh and welcoming atmosphere meant introducing additional artificial lighting sources to balance the existing grid of pot lights. Various table and floor lamps were added to achieve layers of light that washed the space with warmth, and the walls and ceiling were wrapped with a crisp white paint hue to help reflect as much light as possible. A vintage hutch painted with Linen White Chalked Paint from Rustoleum was repositioned behind the desk to provide storage and display, and blends seamlessly into the wall colour, which maintains a low-contrast, subtle atmosphere.

Faux foliage

The lack of natural light also meant it wasn’t possible to introduce living foliage, so a selection of faux plants were added to bring an element of nature indoors along with warm, organic woods, and textured fabrics. To give the office a subtle sense of privacy from the rest of the space, a simple grouping of macrame plant hangers were hung from the ceiling to create a lush curtain of green, while still keeping the space open and airy.

Bring the world home

Finally, I took cues from the homeowners’ two favourite vacation spots (Jamaica and NYC) to create a customized staycation style where tropical vibes meet big-city chic. The peel-and-stick palm wall mural by Wallsauce was the perfect way to add a huge dose of WOW to the space, and a collection of one-of-a-kind Jenn Fenton cigar box purses were displayed on modern lucite floating shelves alongside a nod to the Big Apple itself.

By defining various zones within the space, incorporating fresh colours and finishes, and adding a personalized decor touch, this renovated basement has become a space that the homeowners not only WANT to be in – they never want to leave.

Photos: Larry Arnal


PALM MURAL Wallsauce SOFA, COFFEE TABLES, FLOOR LAMP Structube AREA RUGS, BAR COUNTER, SIDE TABLE, FAUX PLANTS Ikea MACRAME PLANT HANGERS, ACCESSORIES Hue La La PAINT Hutch: Linen White Chalk Paint; Walls: Zinsser Interior Eggshell, Perma White; Rust-Oleum CHAIR HomeSense

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “do it yourself.” For more information, visit huelala.com Twitter.com @leighannallaire


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M2M Spaces, Aoyuan Canada

COVID-19 already influencing new home and condo design – experts

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COVID-19 already influencing new home and condo design – experts

COVID-19 is challenging all kinds of things about life in Canada – including the way we live and work. Our panel of experts share their insights on the new home and condo design changes already taking place.

M2M Spaces, Aoyuan Canada
Photo: M2M Spaces, Aoyuan Canada



COVID-19 has transformed our homes into our offices, classrooms, gyms, and playgrounds. Our homes need to encourage physical and mental health. To support the growing roles of our homes, flexibility in design will be key. For remote workers, we’ll need to prioritize flex spaces which offer natural light, plus acoustical and visual privacy to maintain separation between work and homelife.

Building amenities such as the coworking space offered in Broccolini’s River & Fifth and upcoming LeftBank projects can make this possible for residents with less space. For material selection, we’ll continue to prioritize durability and cleaning ease, incorporating choices such as quartz countertops and porcelain tiles in residences and amenity spaces.

Megan Collins
Design Manager, Broccolini


Dunpar Homes

There’s no question that moving forward people will continue to work from home if they’re able to, and that decision will greatly affect how people choose to design their new homes or condominiums in this new normal. Our space will have to be very functional, livable and afford us the room we need to work. There will be great emphasis on building out multi-purpose rooms that have the ability to work smarter for us and take full advantage of square footage.

There’s great power in good design. A living room equipped with bookshelves and a console table could function as an office, whereas a guest bedroom could also have built-in desk and storage solutions to offer the same value. It’s less about dedicating a specific room as an office and instead making certain rooms offer dual functions.

Lisa Rogers
Executive Vice-President
Dunpar Homes
Etobicoke, Ont.


Flato Developments

Flexible spaces are a great way to reconcile livability with affordability. In response to the working- from-home reality, we have started exploring the idea of co-ownership condo suites with a shared flexible zone that would allow two potential owners to share a home office space.

In multi-unit condo design where space is typically very efficient, we are looking beyond the four walls of each suite in order to find flexible and cost-effective design solutions through cost sharing. We think shared indoor and outdoor amenity areas with generous, strategically located flexible spaces designed with functionality, wellness and technology features would be very marketable. This way, a potential buyer might opt to pay more to buy into a building where there are options to work from home, but not always within the confines of the walls in his condo suite.

Eduardo Ortiz, for Flato Developments
Principal, Architecture Unfolded


Gairloch Developments

We have been seeing the trend in work-from-home increase over the past decade. Urban professionals long to eliminate a commute to gain more time for family and personal pursuits. There is also a desire to work in a more informal environment with comfort of home conveniences. Our clients are looking for uncluttered living spaces, timeless design and large windows affording views and plenty of natural light.

We understand that a condominium amenity space is an integral part of a building. A well-designed amenity should remain flexible, be attractive to many and facilitate future ways that we will work and inhabit our homes. At our 1414 Bayview project, the flexible amenity space is realized within a series of grand rooms, including a large communal table, for formal and informal lounging and working.

Our firm believes that a well-designed living space continues outdoors. Private, open-air retreats remain a top priority for our clients, especially in these unprecedented times. Several of the upper units at 1414 Bayview have access to large private terraces which will allow for outdoor lounging, entertaining and even working, from the comforts of home.

Stephanie Vermeulen & Kelly Doyle
for Gairloch Developments
Sixteen Degree Studio


Georgian Communities

An open concept floorplan has generally been the defining characteristic of new home design for years. The possibility of the new norm remaining suggests that flexible private areas such as home offices, gyms and playrooms with acoustic insulation are no longer a luxury but a necessity. In lowrise homes, functional finished lower levels offer additional space at an affordable price while eliminating impact to main floor principal rooms. Extensions to the outdoors from traditional living spaces will become more valued. Enlarged windows, covered porch and patio areas, walkouts when possible all help provide a sanctuary without leaving the home.

Danielle Jaques
Interior Design Coordinator
Georgian Communities
Barrie, Ont.


Heathwood Homes

In the new reality of a COVID-19 world, more people will be working from their home. This isn’t necessarily new, it’s just going to become so much more prevalent now.

In most homes, the trend towards the more open concept designs over the last decade does allow for flex space on the ground floor, but that same design comes with distractions in the form of noise and other people.

The easiest solution would be to carve out some “office space” in an existing bedroom or the basement area where daytime distractions would be minimized.

Bedrooms can be modified to have a desk niche, in lieu of a closet or have a murphy bed setup that allows for lots of additional daytime space. Also, in some homes, the laundry room could be moved to the basement, and that space becomes ideal office space.

Of utmost importance is that you have your Internet connections and modems of the highest speed and quality – so that you can ensure connectivity everywhere in the house. That way you can move around the home as needed – so that morning meeting can be had with a coffee on the front porch. Good technology is key.

Bob Finnigan
Chief Operating Officer
Acquisition & Housing
Heathwood Homes


Minto Communities

Within condos, technology must be elevated to offer keyless entry, parcel drop-off and virtual platforms which can keep residents connected. Amenities should include breakout rooms and pods that facilitate continued amenity independent use, with greater emphasis on easily disinfected surfaces. There will be value to designs that can prioritize private outdoor spaces, and offer provisions for full-time work/study for multiple people, separating work and personal life within a single space.

We must use the events of COVID-19 to think about the resilience of systems and spaces, without losing track of the importance of designing spaces that promote well-being through community and connection.

Matt Brown
Director, Product Development
Minto Communities


National Homes

Remote work spaces can take many forms. In larger homes, a dedicated office can work for one or two members of a household. For smaller homes, an alcove off a hallway with pocket doors for audible separation, similar to an office cubicle, may be all that is needed.

Glass partitions can be incorporated to allow a parent to keep an eye on their little ones, while still having a noise separation. If distractions in the home are not an issue, the main living space can be used as a flex space. Built-in desks with accessible outlets, such as National’s signature “Family Centre,” can be the perfect space to work from.

Wayne Cassidy
for National Homes
Cassidy and Co. Architectural Technologists
Ajax, Ont.



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