Quick! What’s the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator? A designer plans the entire project, determining how each room will be used and then creating the functionality of the space. A decorator, on the other hand, is tasked with filling that space with the appropriate décor, from furniture to textiles to art.
“In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design,” according to Lisa League a Florida-based interior designer, project manager for a luxury boutique hotel developer and founder of QPractice.com, an online study-aide for students looking to pass U.S. exams to become a licensed interior designer.
Now that you know the difference, let’s take a look at some of the most popular interior designers in Canada. Our list is based on whether or not these firms or individuals received Canadian or international accolades and customer reviews. Here’s our list of some of the best interior designers in Canada.
It’s a long wait from the time you land on Cecconisimone.com to the point where you can actually view the site’s content, but don’t click that back button! Especially if you’re interested in viewing the work that has garnered this design firm national and international acclaim.
The designs Cecconi Simone produces are beyond spectacular. The geniuses behind this Toronto, Ontario interior design firm are Elaine Cecconi and Anna Simone, but it takes a village to produce such brilliant work so they carry a staff of about 40 people.
Favorite Project: Villa Kishti
It was in 1990 that Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrook realized their dream of forming a “creative firm that was deeply rooted in design and guided by a passion for constant innovation.”
Today, II by IV Design is internationally renowned, the recipient of numerous awards and featured in countless magazines and publications.
The Toronto-based firm’s commercial projects will make them a household name to all but a few and include the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, the CN Tower and Yankee Stadiums’ Legends Suite Club, Legends Dugout Lounge and Yankee Steakhouse. Despite all the fanfare their commercial projects get, it’s their residential designs that are spectacular.
Favorite Project: Minto St. Thomas Residences Penthouse
Luxury homeowners are particularly drawn to Kelly Deck’s designs. Described as “tranquil and luxurious,” the firm caters to the high-end homeowner who wants efficient, clean and well-appointed spaces.
Her work has been featured in Luxury Home Canada, Style at Home and Style at Home Cottage magazines. Kelly also writes a column for the Globe and Mail and has a series on HGTV.
If soft and understated is your goal, visit Ms Deck’s portfolio or visit her in her Montreal, Quebec office.
Favorite Project: Sea Glass Cottage
Toronto-based Raff Studio is a full-service architecture firm, founded by Montreal-transplant Paul Raff. An artist at heart, Mr Raff believes in sustainability and “eco-friendly” design. His work has earned him international acclaim and tons of press coverage (with a list far too long to mention, but you can view it here).
Raff also believes that excellence requires a collaborative effort and has assembled a diverse team of professionals, brimming with what Raff refers to as “our fresh and informed approach to art, architecture, and sustainability.”
Favorite Project: Extreme Makeover
Not your typical residential design firm, Mason Studio is known in the Canadian design community for their brilliant and quirky experimental projects, such as the immersive environments created for the 2012 Junction Design Crawl and the 2012 Interior Design Show (check out more venues of these installations here).
Based out of the now-trendy Junction District in Toronto’s west end, Mason Studio professes a commitment to modernism, which stems from the imaginations of the firm’s young founders, Stanley Sun and Ashley Rumsey. Despite these modernist leanings, their process is decidedly traditional, at least according to Sun. “Good design isn’t about this season’s trend, but what are the client’s problems? What do they need to solve?” he explained during a Toronto Star interview with fashion columnist Karen von Hahn.
Favorite Project: Private Residence in London, UK
A Calgary-based interior designer since 2003, Leanne Bunnell has built a team of like-minded designers who share a firm belief in design that reflects their clients’ personalities and lifestyle.
Frequently featured in Avenue magazine, you’ll also find the firm’s work highlighted in Design Bureau, Canadian Home Trends, the Calgary Herald, among others.
Bunnell is the founder of Seventy Seventy Design Headquarters, “a creative, inspiring, shared workspace, tailored to the needs of Calgary’s Interior Design Professionals.”
Favorite Project: Mountain Park Residence
Professionally trained at the Parsons School of Art and Design in Paris, France, Vancouver-based Patricia Gray not only designs interior spaces but creates gorgeous custom furniture and artwork. As a and a certified Feng Shui practitioner, her training and creativity are evident in each of her projects where she matches flow, energy, beauty and functionality.
Each design considers light, movement and aesthetic appeal and each room is balanced between light textures and fabrics and dark, rich wood combinations. While her work has been featured in an array of publications, she receives personal kudos from John Travolta for the design work she did on his home. The best way to view it is on her website.
Favorite Project: Patina
Founded by Reisa Pollard, Beyond Beige is a full-service design studio located in North Vancouver, B.C.
While the firm’s projects range from commercial to hospitality to residential, Pollard also works with designing new build homes, as well as redesigning interior decor and custom furnishings.
Pollard received her formal education at the University of British Columbia where she graduated with a degree in fine arts and economics. She received further training by attending the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, B.C., where she obtained yet another degree in interior design.
For the last few years, she has consistently won Georgie Awards, which are held by the Canadian Home Builders Association to highlight excellence in new home building.
Favorite Project: Lower Road – West Coast Contemporary
With 40 years combined experience, Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander aim to “create environments that merge their clients’ lifestyle and personality with the architecture.” It’s safe to say they’ve achieved that goal.
The team’s work has been featured in a plethora of press outlets as well as on HGTV, the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television Toronto, among others.
Located in downtown Toronto, the designing duo offers residential and commercial design as well as corporate identity (which helps firms create a visual and memorable brand image).
Favorite Project: City Living Renovation
While growing up in his native country of Columbia, Andres Escobar had dreams of becoming an engineer. So, he moved to Montreal to pursue a degree. But along the way, he fell in love with interior design. He dropped his engineering studies and pursued his passion by getting a degree from Dawson’s College and, shortly after graduating, landed in one major design firm after another until he decided to strike out on his own.
Andres Escobar & Associates was founded in 1989 in Montreal, Quebec. (Later, they opened an office in New York City). The firm and its founder are recipients of some of the world’s most prestigious awards. In fact, acclaim for Escobar consumes five pages of the firm’s website (view those pages here).
Favorite Project: Private Residence