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Great Designs

Recently, my colleague Matthew Hague got me thinking about effective live-work spaces. How do you fit your desk into your living room? Or, more importantly for me, how do I distance myself from the refrigerator or television? This is especially problematic in my family's open-concept home. That's why I love this interior by Australian firm Nexus Designs. The team rejigged the layout of an ordinary Melbourne apartment into one that offers a secluded workspace when needed:

The firm aims for "design longevity, not disposability" and this project exemplifies that stance. A large sliding wall separates the home office from the rest of the contemporary apartment. Guests can also use the enclosed space as a private bedroom. I love the colour of the moving wall as well, as builder-basic white usually prevails when it comes to sliding panels. Simple, but effective!

For more on small space design ideas, browse our guide. Plus, check out more projects by Nexus at

Photo credits:
1-3. Nexus Designs, photography by Earl Carter


Seema Persaud

When I first came across the work of Heliotrope Architects, I spent a fair bit of time perusing their online portfolio. The Seattle-based firm consists of principals Mike Mora and Joe Herrin, both members of The American Institute of Architects. Of their residential, commercial and public projects, I'm most intrigued by their eco-conscious North House project on Orcas Island, Washington:

The home fits right into the dreamy setting without blocking views. I love how the surrounding fir trees were left intact. Fun facts from their website: The vegetated roof filters rainwater, which is then used for irrigation. Rooftop solar energy collectors help with heating and hot water, and panels above the vegetable garden provide additional electricity.

As the company's site says, the "work reflects a passion for people and the various, complex places they inhabit." Understated hues work well in this home, since nature provides the inspiration for colour.

Simple open shelves neatly — and stylishly — hold everything needed in the galley kitchen.

Over in the spacious contemporary living room, windows act as walls.

A minimalist patio provides ample room for alfresco meals but doesn't obstruct the water views. Wish I could enjoy lunch out there... Oh, to dream.

For more photos from this home and other projects by Heliotrope, visit

Photo credits:
Heliotrope Architects, photography by Sean Airhart and Ben Benschnieder


Seema Persaud

This week's Great Designs blog takes us to Sydney, Australia, where designers and decorators Juliette Arent and Sarah-Jane Pyke work together to "emulate the inspiration of their clients." The two started their firm, Arent&Pyke, back in 2007, and in 2009 they won an Australian Interior Design Award for a contemporary apartment they worked on. After looking through their portfolio, I'm not sure which project I love most, but here are some of my faves:

Rich blue paired with crisp white complements the surrounding scenery in this Balmoral Beach galley kitchen. Recycled timber floors introduce warmth.

Classic cup pull hardware looks oh-so-right on these drawers and cupboards.

This simple but well-thought-out backyard in Vaucluse has a fuss-free resort vibe. The patio's clean lines define the zones. Bruce Stafford Architects worked on this home, too.

In contrast with those bright spaces, this grand Randwick home features contemporary furnishings placed next to historical architecture. Some of the other rooms feature colourful paint choices, but I most favour the moody look of these fireplace hearths.

For more interiors from Down Under, visit

Photo credits:


Seema Persaud

When we asked readers to submit photos of their living room for a chance to be featured on, we were overwhelmed by the responses. H&H readers then voted for their favourites, and B.C. designer/builder Dawna Jones' own black-and-white living room came in first. This space isn't the only gorgeous room in her house — the rest of Dawna's home is stunning, too, so we had to share the photos. Many thanks to Linda Sabiston for the amazing shots:

Dawna has been in the building business for over 16 years, working alongside her husband Bruce Jones of Venture Enterprises. Understanding what happens at every stage of construction has been a huge asset for her as a designer.

The west coast — with its ocean views and natural beauty — inspires Dawna's designs. She describes her style as simple and organic, and loves texture. She enjoys contrast, too, which is evident in her home's black-and-white colour scheme. This timeless approach means she won't tire of her decorating choices quickly, and can easily revamp the look if need be.

Dawna's favourite room in her house? The kitchen, or "the party house" as she calls it. A large door to the patio opens up almost 18-feet for easy flow between indoors and out.

Each room takes advantage of the ocean view. This dining room table was built by Dawna's husband Bruce.

Her loft-like bedroom also offers stunning views of the mountainside. "In the summer it's like sleeping in a treetop," she says.

When it comes to decorating, Dawna says, "It's always important to me to have a mix. I think people are surprised when they come in and realize it's not 'super modern' and minimal. That is not me!"

For those on the Sunshine Coast, you may also see Dawna working at Swallow's Nest, a vintage furniture store. Learn more about Dawna and her work at

I'm off to dream about rooms with a view...

Photo credits:
Linda Sabiston, First Impressions Photography


Seema Persaud


Originally from the fashion industry, Jarlath Mellett launched his well-known Manhattan-based design studio (named Jarlath Mellett) back in 2005. Since then, the studio's well-thought-out spaces have been featured in magazines like Elle Decor and Lonny, and while I love the interiors featured, I'm especially fond of these exteriors:

This look may not be completely practical should it start to rain, but if clouds are out of the forecast, why not bring an indoor armchair and lamp outdoors?

Chandeliers (multiple!) feel right at home in this Hamptons hideaway. According to the studio's site, Jarlath "customizes the environments to reflect the personality, family and history of each client." Would love to meet these owners!

This garden room is actually on the inside of a downtown loft, but wouldn't it be neat to dub your condo balcony a "garden room", even if it's only half the square footage?

See more inspiring spaces by Jarlath Mellett at For outdoor living ideas, browse our guide..

Photo credits:
1-2. Jarlath Mellett, photography by Tria Giovan
3. Jarlath Mellett, photography by Heather Culp


Seema Persaud

When I dream of summer, I find myself imagining the ideal cottage. Would it be modern, storybook-like, all white or traditional? To be honest, I love all styles. In my search for beautiful country homes I came across a B.C. island cabin designed by Julie Curtis Design and originally featured in House & Home's May 2004 issue. Here are a few photos of the cottage from Julie's online portfolio (I think it still looks great!):

Painted ceilings and beams evoke quintessential cottage style. A farmhouse sink and antique ladderback chairs enhance the country feel. Shaker-style panels encase the tub for a fitted look.

An all-white bedroom creates a soothing backdrop for a worn wood stool and distressed furniture. The built-in closet doesn't require doors as the layout is perfect for display.

For more white cottage inspiration, browse our photo gallery. To see more interiors by the team at Julie Curtis Design, visit

Photo credits:
1-2. Julie Curtis Design


Seema Persaud

I still remember the first time I flipped through the December 2010 issue and my reaction to the House & Home of the Month. Initially I thought the photos were from a period piece's set design, but they weren't. The photos were of a stunning Montreal apartment designed by Jean Turcotte and Louis Pepin of the firm Atelier de l'Opera. Eleven green crystal chandeliers, large paintings, lacquered cabinetry and patterned fabric injected doses of colour in every corner.

As seen in the issue, floor-to-ceiling yellow cabinetry fill the principal suite's dressing room, and a rich gold desk and chair fit right in. Jewel-tone blues and greens permeate through the living-dining area. While my personal style preference falls more into the new-trad look, I still appreciate the level of detail seen throughout the firm's work. Here are some other interiors designed by Atelier de l'Opera:

Soft tones accentuate mouldings in this foyer (left). Aged books cram into every nook of this dark bookcase (right). Busts nestled in between bring about an historical movie look.

A classic symmetrical bedroom layout decorated in blue and white feels regal (left). Instead of the usual white, black or beige photo matting, rich pink draws attention to these frames (right).

Fuchsia and pewter pair well in this twin bedroom. Loving the canopy beds, tailored bed sheets and graphic rug.

Even outdoors the firm crafts wonderfully palace-like spaces. You can enter this courtyard through ornate arched iron gates or equally pretty interior doors, for instance.

See more stunning designs by Atelier de l'Opera at For more traditional and formal decorating inspiration, browse our gallery.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home December 2010 issue, photography by Monic Richard
2-5. Atelier de l'Opera


Seema Persaud

Manhattan architectural and interior designer Tom Scheerer has been mentioned in House & Home blogs before, but I couldn't resist focusing on his work exclusively. His ability to blend new with old and showcase art are what I love most about his rooms.

In this space, a white Panton chair and clear waterfall table feel right at home next to a classic settee and crystal chandelier. Loving the small plants.

In this dining room, dark upholstery and black-and-white artwork pop against the rich creams of the table, striped walls and herringbone floors. The gold casters are a practical and pretty touch.

And here, three small tables line up to form an elongated bedside table with space for a few books, lighting and a plant, perfectly framing the artwork.

Get ideas for mixing eclectic antiques with modern pieces in our gallery of new traditional decorating tips.

Photo credits:
1. Tom Scheerer Park Avenue, photography by Oberto Gili
2. Tom Scheerer San Remo Apartment, photography by George Chinsee
3. Tom Scheerer Gramercy Park, photography by Pieter Estersohn


Seema Persaud

I stumbled across the work of Oregon design firm Maison Inc. by accident, but thoroughly enjoyed photos of their work. Owner/principal Joelle Nesen says on the company's site that her design philosophy is "traditional classic with a modern mix." Maison Inc. also includes designers Heather Raab, Lucy Roland, Allie McGory, Ashley Wade and Hanna Jones, each with their own style preferences. As someone with a love for reading, I couldn't help but admire these nooks they've designed:

I love the casual look of the illustrations leaning against the wall. Not sure if I'd focus on reading with a view like that!

Here's a more traditional look with a symmetrical fireplace design. I love me a wingback chair.

An orange chaise and a swing-arm floor lamp create a cosy corner in this principal bedroom.

A pair of styled étagères flank this burnt orange chaise longue.

I personally prefer the first interior the most, with the beautiful garden view and chaise-for-two. Which of these four do you like the most?

See more Maison Inc. interiors at

Photo credits:
Maison Inc.


Seema Persaud

I first came across the airy, bright homes by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design a few years ago on Design*Sponge, and I still have a few of those first images saved in my design inspiration folder. Based in Portland, Oregon, the team creates sophisticated, colour-infused interiors.

Blogger Grace Bonney selected this living room as one of her favourites, and it's easy to see why. Large branches indoors reflect the stunning greenery visible beyond the windows, and a rustic maple coffee table — made by Jessica's husband, architect Yianni Doulis — ties in with the organic theme.

The firm's website says, "[Jessica's] life in Europe and her travels in India, Mexico, Morocco, and the Far East have strongly influenced her work." I wonder if her travels inspired the use of these gorgeous mudroom floor tiles? Simple hooks, a minimalist built-in bench and wire baskets are effective entryway solutions.

The stunning tile continues into this warm white kitchen. Fairly sure I love everything about this kitchen — the black window frames, the bright stools, the painted beams, the arched doorway — I could go on!

This living room design combines comfort with great style. I adore how the Arco floor lamp hovers over the seating area.

To see more of Jessica and her team's gorgeous designs, visit

Photo credits:
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, photography by Lincoln Barbour


Seema Persaud

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