Name: Elizabeth Metcalfe
Company: Elizabeth Metcalfe Interiors & Design Inc.
Position: Owner / Principal
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc.)
I studied graphic design and worked as an artist for an advertising agency for many years before deciding to return to College to study interior design. In 2000, Elizabeth Metcalfe Interiors and Design was formed focusing on renovation and design services. We have quietly become a highly respected design firm known for consistently creating exceptional interiors. Today, the company focuses on the luxury market, designing residences from build consultancy through to furnishings and decoration.
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
I love interiors that exude a quiet luxury and understated elegance. They combine the principles of classicism with modern silhouettes, textures and muted colour palettes.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I’ve always been attracted to the beauty of simplicity. Figures drawn on a Grecian vase, the fine line drawings of Henri Mattise, and the simple, yet dramatic shapes of a Robert Motherwell painting, appeal to my personal design aesthetic. Beauty and design inspiration is everywhere when you are mindful. I believe good designers see with a different lens. We notice patterns, textures, colour palettes, shapes, and the play and interaction of elements.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
As a society, we have changed our perception of luxury. Luxurious items are no longer perceived as inaccessible and untouchable. We value hand craftsmanship over mass production; quality over quantity; and, bespoke items that have meaning in our life. The ease of acquiring information has widened and informed our outlook on the world and given us a greater awareness of the arts, design and culture.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design?
– Baby Boomers are downsizing. They are editing their lifestyle and moving to smaller residences. They are more inclined to purchase luxury items that they once thought extravagant. They have worked hard, saved, and now want to enjoy their retirement.
– Clients accept and acknowledge that what they loved a decade ago might not be true today. They are letting go and embracing their ‘design evolution’. They value the advice of an experienced designer to help them articulate and create a home that reflects who they are now instead of holding on to the past.
– The constant ‘visual noise’ of our daily life is creating a demand for places of refuge -a retreat that is quiet, calm and peaceful. Intimate rooms with edited elements are as important to our mental health as spa bathrooms were a decade ago.
– Our clients are looking for customized, one-of-a-kind pieces that have been designed and fabricated specifically for them home. We see more of our clientele interested in purchasing original artwork, sculpture and custom pieces of lighting and furnishings.
– Colour palettes are warming up. It’s a nice relief from the gray tones that have dominated the last decade. We always work on unexpected colour palettes that are an interesting mix of natural fibers and textures that have a beautiful hand.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
A detailed furniture layout will become a Master Plan that you will constantly go back to you to keep you on track. It will dictate the size of area rugs and shape of furnishings, where you need to make adjustments for balance, allow for negative space, add art, and install electrical wiring.
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
It’s a high profile award that recognizes the best of design and the hard work and talent that is evident in every winning project. It recognizes designers on an international level that elevates a designers’ exposure to a wider audience and gives assurance to potential clients that they are hiring a professional that has been judged with the worlds best in design.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are in the finishing stages of three custom new build projects, and a number of new large scaled renovation residential projects. We also welcome smaller furnishings and decoration assignments that are always a pleasure to complete.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
The new year will be one of change and progress for EM Design. We are moving our studio to Designer’s Walk in Toronto, Canada. Designer’s Walk is located in the heart of the luxury residential market of Forest Hill, Yorkville and Rosedale. Our neighbours include luxury fabric and furnishing showrooms and high-end residential and commercial designers. We have started the interviewing process to add additional staff to our team. It will be a pivotal year for our small firm to strengthen our reputation as a luxury interior design company.
Your most treasured possession?
‘Ariadne on a Panther’, a piece of Parian ware that was given as a gift to me by my husband. I love the matteness of the bisque and the femininity of the subject.
Your favourite holiday destination?
I feel an affinity towards London. My father grew up in London and immigrated to Canada after the Second War. London feels like home to me – it’s part of who I am. The museums, art galleries, hotels, restaurants, showrooms and retail shops are always incredibly inspiring. There’s a richness to the culture, driven by its long history of royalty; the sheer beauty of its countryside; and the impressive nature of manor homes, castles and cathedrals. As Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
I stayed at the beautiful Belmond San Michele in Italy this spring. It sits on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful city of Florence. The façade is attributed to Michelangelo and is a true Renaissance work of art. The gardens are beautiful, the rooms are gorgeous, and the food heavenly.
Your favourite food and drink?
French cuisine with a glass of Dom Perignon is perfection.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Relaxing under the sun in my June garden, reading a wonderful new design book or the newest interior shelter magazine.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
It’s unthinkable that I would be happy doing anything else. This is who I am and what I love.
For a list of Elizabeth Metcalfe Interiors & Design’s shortlisted projects, click here.