Designer Q&A with Lisa Canning

November 19, 2014
by The Finished Space
Photography: Katherine-Holland

Photography: Katherine Holland

Lisa Canning, a Toronto-based interior stylist, provides some renovation advice and answers questions about her projects, style and, of course, interior finishings.

The Finished Space: How do you create rooms so that they are lived in and loved?
Lisa Canning: I ensure that the rooms I create really match the personality and functional needs of the people living in it. I do this with a lot of questions and listening at the beginning of the design process with a client. Successful design to me has to not only look good, but make the lives of the people living in it better than when we started. This might be through organized drawers, the ability to have enough seating for a large family, or through beautiful, inspiring pieces of art, but whatever the case, a space needs to look good and work for the people who live there.

TFS: As a graduate of Ryerson University’s acclaimed School of Fashion, do you bring fashion and fashion trends into your interior designs? If so, how do you do it?
LC: My background in fashion certainly influences my interior designs. The most obvious way is in my love of textiles. I pay close attention to details on pillows and other textiles including contrast piping, modern pleats and pattern combinations. You can tell such a story by mixing patterns. I love embracing bold pattern in my designs.

Photography:  Larry Arnal

Photography: Larry Arnal

TFS: What advice do you give homeowners who want to tackle a renovation on their own?  What advice would you give them about interior finishings?
LC: The best advice I can give homeowners who want to tackle a renovation on their own is to invest in strategy. This might mean investing in a designer, or investing in lots of time doing research to inform your material choices, overall design aesthetic and budget management. I would say one of the most common reasons I get called in to do design consultations for clients, is when the multitude of decisions that come with a renovation become too overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts to a successful reno and going in with a plan is a great strategy for success.

In regards to interior finishings, I would say not to think of them as an afterthought. Interior finishings – trim, crown moulding, baseboards, etc. – tell the architectural story of a room. And this can have significant impact on the overall design. I think it is also an area that can help a space feel more custom and grand. A room with beautiful interior finishings can have relatively simple furniture and still feel polished and complete; whereas without these details a room may end up feeling flat. It’s an area that I think makes a big impact and can add considerable flare and personality.

TFS: You are doing a master bedroom renovation in your own home; tell us a little bit about this project? How are interior finishings playing a role?
LC: We are finally giving ourselves a master retreat, after five years of living without a proper closet, with window treatments that were too short, and without any sense of design! In complete contrast to this, I wanted the space to feel polished and elegant, yet simple and subdued. To begin, we went with crown moulding. It is the only room in the house that has it and contained in my small bedroom it makes the space feel ornate and special. On the walls I went with an applied moulding directly on the drywall which is simple in application and aesthetic. Painted the same color as the walls – a delicious navy blue! It gives a subtle detail without being too ostentatious. Walking into my bedroom I feel that sense of serene and simple elegance that interior finishes really provide.

TFS: Metrie Then & Now Finishing Collections speak in styles and the Pretty Simple Collection has spoken to you. How have you used this Metrie Collection in your master bedroom?
LC: My personal interior design style is very minimal. I love simple detail and understated elegance so the Pretty Simple Collection really speaks to me. It really is about telling an architectural story – how formal will the space feel, how traditional will the space feel, will it nuance a certain time period, etc. Pretty Simple is as the name suggests and the architectural story it tells is understated, polished and subdued. And I love it.

TFS: What is a common mistake you’ve seen clients make using trim?
LC: A common mistake I have seen people make using trim is baseboards that are too small. I think baseboards in almost all cases should not be smaller than 4″ high. Visually it has more weight and feels so much more substantial.

Photography: Larry Arnal

Photography: Larry Arnal

TFS: Do you have any suggestions for a DIY project using moulding?
LC: I will be using left over trim pieces to create some gorgeous custom bulletin boards. It’s a fairly simple project that can yield pretty gorgeous results!

TFS: How do you ‘Finish Before You Start’?
LC: As I mentioned previously, I attack projects with a lot of strategy. Sure, there is room for spontaneity in the midst of strategy, but having detailed plans are so important. It will save you time and money in the long run if you outline every detail of the design at the beginning. It can make the process of ordering products more streamlined, communicating with trades more efficient, and the overall project more effortless. Interior design is a discipline where if you change one thing, it will inevitably impact other things. So I ‘finish before I start’ by putting pen to paper and working out as many details as possible. And I always put pen to paper — or more accurately, mouse on the computer — so I can ensure I actually remember what I have selected, as I am prone to changing my mind more often than I would like to admit!