Break new ground with designing possibilities

It was, as I expected, everything and more!

New York is a vibrant, life-affirming city that is a perfect combination of new and old, ornate and sleek.

I spoke with a native New Yorker my first morning there and asked her if all tourists walk around with their mouths open and she assured me that I was in good company.

The jaw dropping architecture was beyond my expectations, the embellishments and use of stone, glass and metal had me spinning my head in every direction as I attempted to take it all in. It has renewed in me a sense of pushing limits of what I have conventionally held true for design and has awakened my interest in exterior facings on homes and buildings.

I realize there was a glamorous time in architectural history that has passed and that materials and trade labour is much more expensive than it once was. The likelihood of someone building a home with soaring pillars or solid copper turrets is slim but I believe we can incorporate some wow factor to our homes by introducing a little of the unexpected.

Years ago I completed a Kinsmen Lotto home in Medicine Hat and from the second-storey deck I had a spiral staircase installed to the walk out patio below. The back of this house faced the street and the contrast of the black iron staircase against the house created a lot of reaction. People loved it! It was a small change with a lot of wow.

Recently a client of mine in Sunnybrook went to visit the Stars Lottery home (which pushed all sorts of design limits!) and were enchanted by the custom iron staircase banister and railings which were done in a grid instead of traditional spindles.

They incorporated a similar design into their home and I must say it looks incredible! The variation from traditional railing and spindles gives this bungalow a unique and very custom look.

What about finishing a distinctive part of your roofline, like a turret or a dormer with copper? The beauty of copper either new or showing its age with a patina of green is such a lovely contrast to brick or stone faces. I saw many of these types of embellishments on buildings in NYC.

Look for the unconventional when building, lower your window lines and add bench seats or large window sashes for those cozy corners to love in your home. Embellish your windows with stained glass or leading on the ones which face the street for that additional appeal. Add to your front door with detailed sidelights, glamorous wrought iron gates and porch doors or even choose an oversized front door – all small details that give your home that extra panache.

It was a privilege to see beautiful hotels and churches as well as finely finished buildings and courtyards guarded by lacy iron gates – it was all so beautiful. I must say I am charged and ready to share with you creatively, whatever your project may require. It’s good to be home!

Kim Lewis is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre. Contact her at 403-343-7711 ext 227 or email her at