20 questions with Karl Lohnes
1 If you could shadow any designer for a day, who would it be?
Karl Lohnes: I would shadow Los Angeles-based designer Barbara Barry. We met about 15 years ago and have become great acquaintances over the years. I only see her when she visits Canada and I would love the opportunity to follow her for a day (actually, a week would be fantastic!) in a foreign city like London.
2 Where do you look for an obscure source of inspiration?
KL Most of my inspiration comes from nature and social media (two opposites, really). Nature changes much quicker than trends do and social media gives me great clues into what the masses are looking for.
3 Favourite restaurant?
KL Café Nervosa in Toronto’s Yorkville area. It’s owned by a young Italian woman who makes you feel like you’ve arrived at an upscale version of her mother’s kitchen. Simple, flavourful and soulful Italian food that doesn’t break the bank.
4 What’s your favourite room to decorate?
KL My favourite room to decorate is the family room. It’s a room that must be practical, durable, impressive yet comfortable. A beautiful, comfortable family room can be achieved on any budget.
5 What’s your current paint colour obsession?
KL Every home I decorate lately seems to get a smoky green room. It’s a colour from Benjamin Moore (Smoky Green CC-700) that I started using about five years ago in my own house. On a sunny day, it’s green, on a cloudy day it’s blue and at night, it turns warm grey. It teams beautifully with neutral colours like charcoal grey or camel and looks exceptional with crisp white.
6 If one song could be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
KL Melissa Manchester’s version of Send In The Clowns. It’s a bit sad but I always look forward to exciting times like Christmas holidays, family/friend visits, vacations, etc. I am very sad to see those good times end. I often keep the Christmas tree up until the end of January – just to hang on a bit longer.
7 What’s the one store you could spend hours browsing?
KL Harrods in London; not just because it is so large but I am fascinated to find everyday objects I have never seen before. That being said, I also like rummaging through a good dollar store and finding inexpensive trinkets.
8 London, Paris or New York?
KL New York. I need to visit at least three to four times each year. I try to live like a New Yorker when I go there; I take the subway, shop at department stores and eat at the least famous of cafes and restaurants. New York is a mentally and physically tiring city and I appreciate people who live and work there.
9 If money were no object, what one thing would you buy?
KL I would hire a butler; someone who could organize, clean and help me with the day-to-day things and the necessary chores that I really dislike doing.
10 What do you consider to be the most iconic design piece of the past century?
KL It has been the dishwasher. It’s changed after-dinner family time and children’s chores.
11 Favourite movie?
KL Brideshead Revisited. Incredibly romantic, torrid and sad, all in one.
12 What’s your favourite movie interior?
KL The Beverly Hillbillies' mansion. It showed that all the money in the world can’t make people comfortable.
13 What do you think is the easiest way to update a room?
KL Opening up a window on a warm breezy day. Fresh air does wonders for our senses.
14 Best coffee table book?
KL I don’t believe in them. They are heavy, too large to handle and often get used for display … and have knick-knacks on top of them.
15 What’s your fave way to spend a lazy Sunday?
KL Cotton PJs, making lattes for friends who stop in and baking banana-rum-raisin bread for the week ahead.16 Do you like to be the entertainer or be entertained?
KL The entertainer. Anyone who knows me knows that.
17 What do you think is the best renovation you can do to your home?
KL Getting the basement renovated for super storage. That way, the rest of my house will be more organized.
18 What is your fave space that you’ve designed?
KL The guest room in my townhouse. The decor is a departure from the rest of the house’s decor. It’s intimate, cosy and has its own attached bathroom, which makes it completely self-contained for guests.
19 What’s the biggest design faux pas?
KL Decorating with things we like. As human beings, almost everything we like, we end up disliking. Decorate with things you need and you will be much happier in the long run.
20 Marilyn, Audrey or Jackie?
KL Audrey. Marilyn was invented to please others and Jackie was a product of social upbringing. Audrey was real.