bruce lee producer's midtown toronto apartment reno project showing foyer

Midtown Condo Reno

The year was 1990.  Jackie Chan was filming some of the sequences for the movies Project A and Police Story in Canada.  Two years prior to that, the moneyed class was exiting Hong Kong, fearing imminent takeover by mainland China.  Many of these tycoons came to Toronto to at least establish a temporary residence here, just in case.   One of the founders of Golden Harvest Film Company of Hong Kong had his secretary call us to arrange a meeting with him in his apartment in uptown Toronto near Yorkville.  When we arrived, the apartment was a beehive of activities with people walking about looking busy.  Later we found out that they were preparing for the arrival of this movie mogul who was enroute from the airport.   This was the producer who introduced Bruce Lee to the millions of admirers on the big screen in Hong Kong many years ago.  We were later given the commission to completely renovate the condo unit while the owner was back in Hong Kong.  He made us guarantee completion of the job before he returned.  At the time our custom-made in Canada furniture was sold in Hong Kong through Amtrac to prominent clients such as The Grand Hyatt Wan Chi and Li Ka Shing’s corporate head office.  He had seen our design work before and would gave us carte blanche to carry on.

All Custom Work

The client had high expectations and we did not disappoint.  The only cultural difference was the cost of having things custom made in Canada was somewhere about 4:1 ration of that in the Far East.  Luckily the wife pointed out the reality to her husband the producer and our quotes were readily accepted.  We proceeded to strip off all the existing finishes in the apartment and installed everything new.  The sycamore wood panelled foyer was delightful to design and install.  We designed and produced the sofas, coffee tables, master bedroom suite, rugs, dining table, chairs and side tables.  The high point of the job was to design and fit the built-in bookcase in the library which was to house, not books, but all the movies that the client had produced since the 1970s – in VHS format : images of Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Hui, Anita Mui, et al, graced the cupboard that we designed.   And some of these celebrities had been guests at this suite.  The only sticky point that we could have improved on was that the client wanted no division in the window blinds which must span across two very wide windows in one piece. The ten foot wide cellular blinds were brand new at the time and recently introduced to Canada by Hunter Douglas and could not draw very well due to their heavy weight.  They had to remain closed all the time.  But that seemed alright with the occupants because they wanted maximum privacy at all time.  Subsequent condo reno jobs demanded workable motorized hardware for the window blinds which had to be custom-made by a specialty manufacturer we were working with in the last ten years who would order special motors, gear boxes and rollers for the oversized and extremely heavy drapes or blinds in these condominium residences.

display of the banner announcing international property awards interior design, best interior design apartment Canada

Art Deco Apartment

Two projects, ten years apart, for the same client who had a knack for collecting French Art Deco objects, paintings and furniture, were presented in this Project Porfolio to show how important it was to furnish a house or apartment in a consistent style as the architecture and how to build to suit the furniture and interior decoration. The first project was a house (see Forest Hill House).  The second project was a condo apartment in the Four Seasons Private Residences in Yorkville, Toronto.  The condo building was a showcase for high-end interior architecture where designers and architects would give anything to get a commission.  Our client’s collection of French Art Deco paintings and furniture was to be transferred to this apartment which was to be designed as a small art gallery for comfortable day-to-day living.  The space was to have that fin-de-siècle atmosphere that befitted the magnificent collection of Lalique glass and Ruhlmann furniture.

We have known the client since 1999.  When she decided to move into a condo from the house, she called us. We immediately started to work on taking a complete inventory of the paintings, furniture, art objects and accessories that they had and wanted to move to the apartment.  Dimensions were measured.  Photos and notes were taken.  And then everything went into storage and would not be seen again until move-in day.

History

Then
On September 11, 2001, 9am, we were putting the finishing touch on the Art Deco staircase in a house we were building for the client. Two weeks later she moved in the house.
Now
Eleven and a half years later, on March 4, 2013, at 5pm, we gave the same client the keys, the access cards and the garage-entrance remote control to the apartment we had just finished for her in the brand new Four Seasons in Yorkville, Toronto. The apartment had a panoramic view of the city with the major side facing east.

The Program

The client’s requirements were quite straight forward: this was to be her last move and I must fit all her furniture, accessories and paintings into the apartment. She was moving from a 460m2 house to a 220m2 apartment.

The client’s collection of 1920s’ Art Deco furniture from Buenos Aires was breathtaking. Her taste in art was also exquisite.

Our budget could not exceed 5% of the market value of the apartment. And we had six weeks to complete the project.

At the time of the signing of the design contract, the apartment was not yet drywalled. The partitioning and layout of the apartment were pre-configured.   No change could be made to the walls or ceilings.

The idea of the finished apartment being a perfectly fitted showcase for the collection of furniture etc. prompted us to consider each and every vertical surface (glass curtain wall included) in the apartment as a possible backdrop for the display pieces.

THE SITE : The View was one of the finest in Toronto, taking in the entire Rosedale Valley and the top-end residential neighbourhood of Rosedale, was totally unobstructed and especially compelling early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Motorized sun-shading were to be installed.

The Given – The apartment came with white painted walls, hardwood flooring & limestone flooring that were neutral in tone and pattern, adequate recessed lighting and switches, all electrical, mechanical and plumbing work completed, fully finished kitchen, a working fireplace, an unfinished powder room and two fully finished bathrooms.

Framing of the Views

Framed Views to be identified and determined –

    1. From room to room through openings
    2. From room to outside with the city as the backdrop
    3. Paintings to be framed by paneled walls
    4. Furniture item or group to be framed by backdrop or columns
    5. Objects to be framed by other items

Columns

Exposed Structural Columns – three columns were to be dealt with : one in the dining area and two in the living room.

Fireplace

The fireplace Mantel that came with the apartment was to be removed and a new full-height white marble mantel would be built. The ‘zero-clearance’ metal fireplace would remain intact. We would provide access door to the motorized vent for the fireplace chimney and incorporate the Art Deco bronze fire screen into the mantel design.

Custom Furniture

Upholstered Goods – we were to choose new fabric for the upholstered furniture on hand to be re-upholstered and custom make two eight foot sofas for the living room.   New sofas would be comfortable to sit in and to get up from, would have good lumbar support and the right seat height for the feet were to touch the floor when in the sitting position.

Walls

Wall Treatment – wall elements comprised interior partitions, structural columns, glass curtain walls & sliding door panels. We were to design a system that would tie together the disparate and various components together, visually and functionally.

The Art Of Collecting

There is something to be learnt from our client’s admirable system of collecting worthwhile objects. It is also about not collecting and hoarding stuff without value.  Please read about our collection of 1980s art objects.

Related Section : Condo Remodeling

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white marble apartment in the four seasons yorkville designed and remodeled by po ku design build, custom home builder par excellence

White Marble Apartment

This upscale mid-town Toronto apartment with spectacular downtown view was taken possession before the drywall was finished by the condo developer. We were responsible for the finish work. We had to hire the developer’s plumber, electrician and fireplace contractor to carry out our part of the contract.

The Scope of Work is As Follows:

Plaster Skim Coat on All Drywall Surfaces

Home Automation and Controls

Motorized Blinds

Fireplace Feature Wall

White Marble Flooring

Fitted Walk In Closet Cabinetry

Powder Room Millwork and Marble Work

Kitchen Reconfiguration

Glass Partition & Sliding Wall Panels

Custom Made Wall Cabinetry for the Family Room

Home Theatre Millwork and Wiring

12’ High Sliding Wall Panel

Complete Bedroom Suite

Complete Office Suite with Custom Wiring

Glass & Aluminum Work at Elevator Lobby

Custom Cut & Fitted Marble Floor at Elevator Lobby

The theme of the high-ceilinged apartment was minimalist and surfaces were different shades of white and natural wood finishes. Only the elevator lobby floor had a large pattern of pastel colors. Surfaces were ultra-smooth or high gloss. Two thousand square feet of the apartment floor were covered in five foot square white Calacatta marble slabs brought into the apartment with great efforts.

The Outcome

Yorkville, a fabled shopping and residential neighborhood in mid-town Toronto, is famous for its shops, art galleries, restaurants, The Hazelton Lanes, Whole Foods and the Four Seasons Hotel Complex.  Coming into this apartment building on the ground floor, you are in a twenty foot high minimalist walnut-paneled box of a lobby decorated simply but in good taste.  A swift elevator ride brings you up to this apartment.  The elevator cab is brushed stainless steel with walnut trims.  As soon as the elevator door opens, you are looking into a vast open space with the full view of the city as far as the eyes can see.  The large pattern of multi-colored marble slabs right in front of you is the elevator lobby floor.  The colors are soft and subtle and they stop there.  The apartment itself consists of different shades of white accented with chrome, brushed stainless steel, dark wood and natural wood finishes.  The predominant material is the white Italian Calacatta marble used for the floor.  The sense of serenity, purity, exclusivity and orderliness pervades the atmosphere throughout the apartment.

Related Section : Condo Remodeling

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