I know, I know, usually we like to save our trumpets for the ungroomed decorating talents of our readers at large, but we can all learn something from a home realized by an accredited designer. Don’t get me wrong — home owner Rana Florida is firmly at the helm of this vision. But having purchased the expertly overhauled home from Sasha — the said designer — and his partner and authoring architect, Milosh Pavlovicz, Rana’s vision enjoyed quite the well-prepped canvas… Here, I bring you Part I of our lucky invasion of the Florida homestead, Part II to follow shortly.
Who: Rana Florida (left), a US national, is an accomplished corporate strategist and CEO of the Creative Class Group, managing new business development, publishing, marketing, multimedia and global operations. Add to that former syndicated advice columnist and TV personality, as well as her partner, Richard Florida, global thinker and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, whose further accolades are too many to mention.
Designer Sasha Josipovicz (right) is the details half of Studio Pyramid (partner Milosh is the architect), a renovation and design firm based in Toronto. He’s worked on some of Toronto’s most illustrious homes which can often be seen on the pages of Style at Home and Canadian House and Home magazines.
What: Century-old, gutted and renovated, 4,500 sq ft home, with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, an office, a 3rd floor guest lounge, a guitar room (Richard’s) and a full gym. The home’s previous owners, Sasha and Milosh of Studio Pyramid were responsible for the renovation, rescuing the home from life as a triplex with a dark, labyrinthine interior.
Where: A secluded ravine lot in Toronto’s premier Rosedale neighbourhood.
Why: Because every once in a while it’s good to dream.
HGTV: How did you come to settle on this house?
Rana Florida: When Richard and I were house hunting, we imagined we’d find a lot of modern, Frank Gehry-style homes on the ravine but were shocked to find a lot of faux-architecture and dark houses with small windows. We had just completed a major renovation on our last home in Washington, DC and were not looking for a fixer, so when we found this house which had been recently renovated by Sasha and Milosh, we immediately made an offer.
Living room: Zanotta Greg sofa.
HGTV: What was the general design direction?
RF: Our style is a mix of old and new. Richard and I have a similar aesthetic: minimalistic, clean, and modern. Richard is drawn more to color than I am. I must have had a run-in with a box of crayolas when I was young as color gives me serious anxiety. I like to save color for the art.
Family room: Niels Bendsten sofa.
Having said that, we love design that’s comfortable. A lot of modern design is not built for comfort. My husband and I essentially live on an airplane so when we come home I want to flop on the sofa and flip on the tele, light some candles and have a glass of wine.
HGTV: How did you, Sasha, contribute?
Sasha Josipovitcz: Rana and I met during her hunt for a Toronto home. I had the house that she wanted, and we made a deal in one hour…form there on it was just facilitating her vision. She loves white, and a simple, uncluttered palette mixed with unpredictable art and travel memorabilia.
Dining room: “Random Light” by Bertjan Pot for Moooi; Philippe Stark “Ghost” chairs and “La Marie” chairs; Le Corbusier dining table; Fornasetti pillow.
Sasha Josipovitcz: The house was painted all white to emphasize architectural elements such as the mouldings and the dining room ceiling medallion. The mouldings were all new, made locally out of gypsum and designed to have appropriate scale for the space — no more than 12″ of moulding for 10′ of ceiling height. The oversized medallion reminds me of Boulevard Saint-Germain, in Paris. Walking along I would look up to those grand apartments and see only the ceilings, all with oversized gypsum medallions — so “Left Bank” . When I started to get invited to parties and got a glimpse of the interiors, I realized the best decorated flats were the ones in Mid Century style, and Rana’s aesthetic reminded me of those interiors, and inspired the medallion. If I ever do drag, I’ll make those medallions my earrings…
HGTV: Was there anything you had to fight Rana on?
SJ: Only the price of the house — but she was fair 🙂
Entrance way: Moooi “Paper Chandelier”.
HGTV: Rana, what was your jumping-off point?
RF: The house felt a bit traditional so we added modern flair with dramatic lighting: we hung a Moooi chandelier in the entrance; replaced the traditional chandelier over the dining room table with Dutch designer, Bertjan Pot’s pendant, Random Light; a Murano glass chandelier hangs in our bedroom; and a 19-bulb chandelier over the peninsula in the kitchen. In the living room there’s a Flos lamp by Marcel Wanders which we purchased in a store in Bethesda, Maryland.
HGTV: I couldn’t help but notice that your home has an incredible collection of iconic chairs – do you have a chair fetish?
RF: Yes! We have club chairs by Mitchell Gold Bob Williams for guests to sink into in the 3rd floor lounge. Our kitchen stools are Hudson brushed aluminum barstools which were based on a 1944 design for the U.S. Navy. We have a LC4 Chaise Longue in the living room which is great for a quick nap. The rocker is by Ron Arad called the Tom Vac, from Unica Home. Our living room sofa is Zanotta Greg, from Moss, New York; family room sofa is by Neils Bendtsen. We love Philippe Starck chairs so we used six of his Marie chairs and two Ghosts around our Le Corbusier dining room table. The translucent chairs look great with a Fornasetti pillow peeking through.
In our breakfast nook is a Saarinen table with sleek, cast-aluminum Bertoia chairs (above.) We have the Saarinen Womb chairs in bouclé from Knoll in our master bedroom to cozy up by the fireplace. There are so many amazing chairs out there, and we still want more! I am in love with the Vermelha Rope Chair by Fernando and Humberto Campana, in a shiny, silvery white. We found it at Luminaire in Miami and hope to have it soon.
HGTV: There is a touch of whimsy amidst all the highbrow pedigree — fess up…
RF: I think whimsy is important to making a house welcoming and not too serious. I never want to feel like I’m living in my parents’ house with ‘grown up’ decor. Richard bought the trilogy of little orange man statues by a Japanese company called Creatures Inc. (below, left) at Toronto’s Design Exchange, and I’m big into wide-eyed monsters so I’d like to expand our creature collection soon.
One of three photographs from the “Hotel” series by Arnaud Maggs (far right).
HGTV: Speaking of collecting — So much wall candy! Do you collect any artist in particular?
RF: Creativity is a big part of our lives and our work so we believe in supporting the work of new and emerging artists. Clark & Faria Gallery (Toronto), Susan Hobbs Gallery (Toronto) and Fred Snitzer Gallery (Miami) helped source some of our collection.
We were excited by our recent purchase of “Copacabana” by our good friend from Houston, William Betts. He uses a brilliant technique combining surveillance, computer programming and oil. Seems that we are drawn to city themes as we have a piece called “Shanghai Falling” by Canadian artists Greg Girard. The photograph captures the old city crumbling against the backdrop of the new city rising. We also have three pieces by Arnaud Maggs from The Hotel series, which gives you a glimpse into the character of a neighbourhood through the hotel signs that hang there.
In our living room is an emotion evoking abstract painting by Kristine Moran and “The Snowman” by young talent Scott McFarland. Our two profiles (in the kitchen) are by Carter Kustera who also designs for Barneys.
Master bedroom sitting area: Saarinen “Womb” chairs, Knoll; Murano chandelier.
RF: We are acquiring a fantastic Polly Apflebaum from D’Amelio Terras Gallery in Chelsea, thanks to the creative eye of our friend and design/architect Christopher Benfield, who along with his talented business partner Christian Unverzagt designed our previous house in Washington, DC. We have a really fun neon piece which casts a purple shadow in the house at night by Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman.
HGTV: Your en suite bath is INSANE.
RF: It is nice and comfortable. Sasha and Milosh designed it to feel like a spa sanctuary. The floors are heated, it feels so nice when you get up in the middle of the night and feel the warm tiles. The free-standing tub is Kohler and there are white Statuario marble tiles throughout the entire bathroom. The tub faces west to catch the end-of-day sun. There is an oversized shower with a rainfall head.
Master en suite: Kohler tub.
HGTV: The house is quite big… *jealous pause*
RF: It’s much too large for us but we have a huge family with seven siblings and 10 nieces and nephews under the age of 10. Richard and I tend to stick to two floors but when family comes to visit which is often, they have the entire third floor to themselves. It’s perfect as I’m a bit OCD and I never have to see their clutter!
3rd Floor guest lounge: Mitchell Gold Bob Williams club chairs; guest bath.
HGTV: What’s your favourite space in the house?
RF: The pool. With the natural backdrop of the ravine, it immediately relaxes you and washes away the jet lag.
To be continued! See the Floridas’ backyard oasis in Part II, coming up next!
Thoughts so far?