Piano Interior 101

Have you inherited a piano and have no idea what to do with it? Or possibly own an upright or grand but don’t really know how to incorporate it into your space? Many tend to forget that these instruments can become such an interesting central focus somewhere in your home. First and foremost, they are instruments but pianos can also be an excellent piece of furniture and decorative accent.

piano salon example_www.architectureartdesigns.comAlthough I would love to be a homeowner with a piano room like the image to your left, the reality for most people is the exact opposite. Many have apartments or condos under 800 square feet. You can’t fit many additional pieces apart from the essentials. Aside from having enough space, there are so many different styles from modern to classic. How would you place, say, a handed down wooden upright, from the turn of the 20th century, into a chic bachelor apartment or busy family home? I came across quite a few inspiration shots and just couldn’t help myself but share with you all.


When I first came across this concept I was completely blown away. In my eyes, it is truly a shame to even throw a piano that may have reached its final days; broken strings, chipped ivories, the stain has completely worn away, you name it. In this case, if you have a vibrant space such as this one, a little sanding and some matching paint can turn your piano into aged accessory and focal piece all in one. One would just need to take a second, or even third look before realizing what you have in the room.

Awkward spaces, rooms with unique angles or miscellaneous nooks in your home can still potentially be a piano-friendly zone for that beloved instrument of yours. Decorate around with shelving units or hang frames and pictures of all sizes to create extra dimension around this uncommon area.

Last but not last, an apartment, too, can welcome your piano with open arms. The key is to really think outside the box and see if multiple functions can be incorporated. Extra space is a luxury but your piano can act as a divider between rooms or function as the backing to an office or work desk.

rustic-style-family-room-decorating-tips-with-classic-piano-besides-wall-wooden-bookshelves_www.greenstylegallery.comThere is a decor solution out there for everyone and these are just some of the many ways you can save your instrument from losing its place in your home.

Photo credits (in order of appearance): architectureartdesigns.com, Eurostyle Lighting, Jones Design Company, houzz.co_.uk, GreenStyleGallery.com 



Incredible, Affordable Art from Gina Godfrey

Gina Godfrey’s artistic roots run deep in Toronto. Central Tech High School and the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) helped produce this remarkable contemporary pop artist, whose works are now on international display in Shanghai, Israel, and throughout North America.RICE-CAKES-BLOW

Despite the broad reach, or perhaps because of it, Godfrey is working to fill a void in the consumer art marketplace: affordable art. “Most people want to have artwork they can enjoy but don’t want to bust the piggybank to buy it,” Godfrey says. “This is where I come in. My work is contemporary, edgy, fun and interesting. I push the boundaries of the medium. There is life and energy to my work and my clients appreciate the playfulness in visual elements, content and colour as well as good value for their money.”

“Popography” is her self-described artistic style, and she admits to being influenced by Andy Warhol’s pop artistry. While studying at OCADU, a printmaking course involved daily production of 25 prints in etching, lino-cut or silk-screen printing. “The latter intrigued me. We were sent to photocopy an image on a copier making each copy lighter or darker until you got the effect you wanted. I realized I was learning Warhol’s technique. It was clean, modern, and fun.”


Learning Warhol’s techniques and producing work through silkscreen has led Godfrey into the world of giclée. Instead of a brush, she began to use a melange of techno-fusion, blending digital photography, fine art principles and pop expressionism. Today, she generates images from high resolution digital scans, prints them with archival quality inks onto canvas or water-colour paper.

“I start with an image that really appeals to me. Magazines are a great source. I will pick a small portion of the colour or design from a certain detail. I then join it with other images or details using markers to enhance the entire look of the piece. These mixed images are scanned into a computer where it will go through a number of changes with size, contrast, filters, hues, and intensity. It may not stop there, as I would try to experiment with 3 or 4 layers of other digital techniques, such as making it look more watercolour, coloured pencil or cut out.”


Giclée provides better colour accuracy than other means of reproduction, and the inks are guaranteed to remain colourfast for at least 200 years. Godfrey adds good quality framing, then limits print runs for each piece to 10.

“I have specifically geared my art to the midmarket,” Godfrey explains. “There is not a lot of quality art around especially as large at 48” x 48” and reasonably priced. A 48”x 48” is $2,100. Works are also available in 36” x 36” and 18” x 18” and equally as well-priced, which means that Godfrey’s work enables more people to become collectors of her incredible, affordable art!

For more information, please visit www.ginagodfrey.com

You can also check this article out by visiting www.condoelite.ca
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Meet Interior Designer Montana Labelle

Check out my interview with interior designer Montana Labelle for Condo Elite Magazine…

Montana LabelleMontana Labelle has established herself as one to watch in the Canadian design community by transforming interiors into timeless environments for modern living. Since the launch of her own design and lifestyle firm in 2013, she has garnered a tremendous following in the city and clients continue to seek her out. Labelle’s influence spans from residential designs to commercial projects as well as custom furniture design.

Condo Elite got a chance to dive even further into her fashion influenced perspective on luxurious interior style.

Q: What are your go-to steps when a client first approaches you to work on their space?

I always start off a project by getting to know the client on a personal level; from their likes, dislikes, favourite clothing designer, to their vacation spots, you name it. This helps me to understand more about the client’s dream interior. From there, we begin sourcing a few key pieces (typically from vintage websites such as 1stdibs.com) to become the stand-out elements of the space. These stand-out elements usually become the inspiration for the entire project.


Q: You recently finished a project with The Remington Group. How did you plan out their model suites?

The Remington Group model suite was one of my favourite projects to date. With free reign on finish and furniture selections, I was really able to have fun and infuse the space with tremendous personality and drama. We began the project by putting together an overall idea board of colours and finishes that I envisioned would look great in the space. I sourced a pair of incredible black marble block side tables which became the inspiration for the rest of the interior. Nestled in the living room, the texture, style and colour of these side tables became the concept that drove the whole the project.

Q: How do you incorporate condo-friendly techniques when designing the interior of these spaces?

I try to approach every space with the same sense of scale, colour and texture. Often clients with condos purchase a lot of smaller furniture items, making the space feel even smaller and cluttered. Throwing away traditional rules for “smaller” interiors is the best way of achieving success. People shouldn’t be afraid of statement furniture and art which I think is very important in a condo. Larger pieces are visually more pleasing to the eye with the end result feeling a lot more grand – one of my favourite tricks. Finally, uncovered windows will draw the outside in and gives tremendous illusion of space and depth.


Q: How do you address what can be a typical challenge in condos, which is limited space?

The most difficult aspect of dealing with limited space is making it feel luxurious. Adding large mirrors, for example, adds an incredible element of drama and extravagance. Add contrasting colours to key accents like doors. I like to create visual interest that draws the eyes up, which makes the ceiling appear higher and the space larger.

Q: What current trends have caught your attention?

The use of rich and opulent textures in unexpected places is one of my favourite techniques for making a space feel tremendously luxurious. I also love the retro nod to the 1970’s that we’re seeing in many interiors today.

Photos courtesy of MontanaLabelle.com

For more information, please visit www.montanalabelle.com
Remington Group Inc. www.remingtongroupinc.com

View full article here!
Summer issue currently out!

The Summer of Wallis

There is nothing I love more than to support those whose work not only impresses audiences from all over but also has the power to make the next musical generation fall in love with classical legends. Wallis Giunta’s enthusiasm sparked my attention a few years back while working with her on an opera gala production at Roy Thomson Hall. To this day, this mezzo soprano still doesn’t cease to amaze me with her charm, creative enthusiasm and sense of style.

Wallis Giunta_Michael Edwards

This month Wallis will be going to her native city of Ottawa where she will participate in a celebratory performance honouring conductor Pinchas Zukerman as he marks a close with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Come July, before she jets off to sing several roles with Oper Leipzig, Wallis will take part at the Music & Beyond festival. As a fashion ambassador for McCaffrey Haute Couture, she has wowed the crowd with her selection of stage costumes.

MC: How does it feel to perform a concert that will mark the end of era with the departure of Pinchas Zukerman?

WG: It is a major honour, of course, and quite an interesting coincidence as well. Maestro Zukerman’s first season as Artistic Director of the NACO (1999/2000), was also the season I first performed at the National Arts Centre, as a 13 year-old member of the Ottawa Central Children’s Choir. That was an important year for both of us (in very different ways, of course), and it is quite special that I am able to be a part of his final season.

MC: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is not only one of the most famous classical compositions of all time but also powerful and contagiously courageous. How does this piece affect you in performance?

WG: It fills me with joy, and also with reverence. Can you imagine that this composer was almost completely deaf when he wrote it? For something so joyful and profound to be created by this masterful composer who would never even be able to hear it – that is some pretty powerful stuff.

MC: How do you prepare yourself for repertoire like this?

WG: Luckily, I learned this piece a few years ago in school, so it’s easily in my voice already. We will have a few rehearsals with Maestro Zukerman in the week leading up to the performances, but it should come together quite easily. Our Maestro and his orchestra have played it many times before.

MC: You’ll be wearing McCaffrey Haute Couture which is actually based in Ottawa. Can you share more about the dress(es)?

WG: Yes! David and I have been collaborating for over 5 years now, and we have a wonderful collection of gowns that he has created exclusively for my performances. I haven’t yet chosen which two I will wear on June 19th and 20th, but I can guarantee that they’ll be showstoppers. It happens every time I walk out on stage in a concert – I hear people gasp and whisper “oh, wow, look at that dress”. David is a master in his own right, and I am so privileged to have his support and creative collaboration. Wallis Giunta_MIV Photography

MC: What are the advantages of performing at festivals, compared to stand alone recitals, concerts, operas, etc.

WG: Performing within a festival environment is exciting because of the concentration of creativity all in one place – festivals inspire audiences to explore repertoire and styles that are new to them, and take in more performances than they otherwise would. As a performer, that means we can often connect with people who normally wouldn’t choose to attend our shows, and maybe we can open some new minds to classical music. It’s also a lovely experience as a colleague, to have so many peers all together, usually in the summer, in a more relaxed environment. I am really looking forward to Music & Beyond, and to taking in some of the other concerts on my days off.

Opera Atelier Alcina

Opera Atelier Alcina

MC: You will be performing quite a variety of repertoire. How do you transition from one musical number to another?

WG: I love creating programs with variety! It’s a lot of fun for me as a performer. I also happen to have this unusually wide range of stylistic ability – people tell me I’m much more versatile than the average classical singer. So, I try to capitalize on that. Shifting from one style to another is not a vocal challenge for me, but it does require some preparation from an artistic point of view. Thought goes into the order of the pieces on the program, so the transitions make sense. In the moment, I just wipe the slate clean for each new song, and treat it as its own 3-4 minute opera.

Photo Credits: Gerard Collett, Michael Edwards and MIV Photography

Visit WallisGiunta.com to learn about her upcoming performances!

Food Lover’s Getaway

Imagine looking over rolling hills and wheat fields, medieval farmhouses, olive groves, and vineyards as far as the eye can see. South of Florence lies the hilltop town of Montepulciano – a Tuscan gem whose surroundings have not changed in over 400 years. When Debbie Travis first discovered Tuscany over 15 years ago, she knew right away that this place would become very special to her. What was once a 13th century watch tower, then a huge farm, is now Travis’ own newly-renovated lavish villa with over 100 acres of private land.

2013_03_04-Debbie-Travis-0567-fin1-1-231x300For the past 5 years, Travis has been sharing her Tuscan passion by inviting women to travel ‘across the pond’ and experience a week of relaxation, self-rediscovery and reflection. The Girls’ Getaway Retreat brings together like-minded women who embark on a unique journey filled with memorable hikes, yoga sessions, cooking classes, country bike rides, inspirational speakers, visits to some of the most spectacular wineries, local restaurants and more. These ladies discover their inner sanctuary and leave rejuvenated and refreshed.

Now the home-styling design diva has decided to take things a step further with Debbie Travis’ Gourmet Week. Come 2016, culinary admirers, both ladies and gentlemen, are invited to experience the latest chapter in the retreat series. Couples, singles, friends, mothers and daughters will all be able to embrace Tuscany in a luxurious 5 star accommodation, with 14 suites, an infinity pool, lavender fields, olive groves, and a courtyard of ancient pomegranate trees. For these newly-dubbed “Tuscanites”, the next 7 days will revolve around sampling and drinking copious amounts of wine and eating local, organic, gourmet food. Guests will visit Debbie’s selection of must-taste restaurants, from Michelin starred to local hidden gems such as Ristorante 13 Gobbi, which lies within the walls of a nearby medieval castle and serves famous fettuccini mixed in a giant cheese wheel. The next day, the chefs who cooked for the guests in their restaurants will come to Debbie’s kitchen and teach her guests how to re-create the very dishes they had the night before.



“Tuscany is all about the long table and dining with a large group of family and friends,” says Travis, “everything you eat here is organic, in season and produced locally – something that many of us in North America are not used to.” When her guests leave, Debbie hopes that they will have a new appreciation for gourmet food, incredible wines, sustainable farming and especially for Debbie’s own organic extra virgin olive oil! Plus, of course, incredible memories of their time with Debbie… under the Tuscan sun.

For more information about the gourmet getaway, please visit:
Debbie Travis’s Tuscan Getaways: www.tuscangetaway.com

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Summer issue currently out!