20 questions with Tim Lam of Design Maze
He's a savvy shopper with a stylish eye, who's not afraid of colour and can DIY with the best of them. To be a regular guest in Tim's 30-year-old condo would be a true testament to this devoted decorator, since he changes his decor seasonally.
His blog, Design Maze, documents his design projects as he revamps his dated condo into a stylish home filled with colour, pattern and fabulous vignettes. Now we get to know the man behind the projects and find out what fuels his passion for interior design!
1 If you could shadow any designer for a day, who would it be?
Tim Lam I would love to shadow Sarah Richardson for a day to witness how she creates all these stunningly beautiful spaces. It would be an out-of-this-world, inspirational experience for me to "live through" the entire design process with the SR team from concept, sourcing, custom work, to polishing up the room with finishing touches.
2 Where do you look for an obscure source of inspiration?
TL Mother Nature provides us with the most beautiful vignette at all different seasons. If only we could spare a moment from our hectic schedule and be inspired. To me, nothing beats the prettiest shades of pink cherry blossoms, the jewel-like turquoise water at Georgian Bay in the summer, the stunning fall colours at the Escarpment, and snowshoeing through the Bruce Trail after the fresh snow.
3 Favourite restaurant?
TL My favourite restaurant is the Flying Chestnut Kitchen in Eugenia. I love the atmosphere and ambiance of the restaurant. The Chef, Shawn Adler, creates amazingly delicious dishes with organic produce and meats at his bistro style restaurant. The restaurant is cozy, inviting, and unique in a sense that you can how your food is being prepared and chat with the Shawn.
4 What’s your favourite room to decorate?
TL My favourite room to decorate is the bedroom. It's a truly intimate and personal space. A room that 100% reflects who you really are and your taste.
5 What’s your current paint colour obsession?
TL The colour palette I'm currently obsessed about is rich royal blue with muted golden yellow. I love how the elegant shade of yellow juxtaposes against the deep sophisticated blue. The overall look is exquisite, decadent and electric.
6 If one song could be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
TL I'm a romantic at heart and I love How Deep Is Your Love by Bee Gees.
7 What’s the one store you could spend hours browsing?
TL Elte and Ginger's Bath really has it all: Traditional, contemporary and industrial furnishings; area rugs, wall-to-wall carpet, lighting and accessories; and everything you need for a sumptuous bathroom!
8 London, Paris or New York?
TL Paris for being the "City of Light" and the most romantic city in the world! Not to mention the Palace of Versailles.
9 If money were no object, what one thing would you buy?
TL I would buy a small cruise ship. I love going on cruises, since I find the overall experience very relaxing and I don't have to pack and repack traveling from one city to another. The cruise will take me there while I exercise, eat, and sleep. Owning one would also give me plenty of opportunities to decorate the staterooms, dining rooms and, my favourite of all, the ultimate sun bathing experience up at the deck. I want the outdoor furniture pieces from the Alfred Sung and Andrew Richards collections!
10 What do you consider to be the most iconic design piece of the past century?
TL I love the Papa Bear chair by Hans Wegner. It's classic, oh-so-comfortable, and not massively reproduced by non-licensed manufacturers. It's a chair to have for life and its timeless design aesthetic ensures the next generation will love it as much as we do.
11 Favourite movie?
TL My favourite movie is Devil Wears Prada. I love Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep and here they are, both in the same movie playing characters that appeal to many of us in real life, showing how even the toughest boss also have a "soft" side.
12 What’s your favourite movie interior?
TL This is actually fun to answer. I have two movie interiors that I absolute love (can't decide which one takes the cake) and they are both unfurnished! The first one is the stunningly beautiful condo Helen Hunt purchased in What Women Want. Another one is the breathtaking rooftop loft Sarah Jessica Parker was about to move in (but never lived in) in Sex and the City.
Both spaces feature rich and beautiful architectural elements. From intricate crown and panel moldings to the handsome herringbone floor, these interiors have it all! 13 What do you think is the easiest way to update a room?
TL Good old paint is, of course, still the easiest and most inexpensive way to give any room a fresh new look. However, I am a true believer of the power of wallpaper. There are thousands of incredible wallpaper patterns, designs, and colours. Plus, the best thing is they are no longer a pain to remove when you decide to go for another update in the future. If it's too expensive to install wallpaper to the entire room, just do a feature wall. It will only take one or two rolls of wallpaper but check out the before and after of my dining room and bedroom! Paint will never be able to top such a dramatic transformation.
14 Best coffee table book?
TL The best coffee table book is hands down Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney. Easy on the eyes, this design bible also showcases 75 homes, features 100 DIY project ideas, and illustrates many tutorials including how to hang wallpaper, refinishing pre-loved furniture, and simple flower arrangements.
15 What’s your favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday?
TL My favourite lazy Sunday activity is a walk in High Park with a cup of latte au miel from Café Novo and a couple of home baked lavender cookies.
16 Do you like to be the entertainer or be entertained?
TL I preferred to be an entertainer as I love to decorate the place for special occasion. I'm also lucky enough to have a partner who looks after the food department and keeps our guests fed, so I get to be a stress-free host to mingle with our guests.
17 What do you think is the best renovation you can do to your home?
TL I love how my condo feels like a house with the rooms being separated by well placed walls. However, the one thing that it lacked was practical storage solutions. I didn't even have a closet in my bedroom. Actually can you still call it a bedroom without a closet?
Anyhow, determined to incorporate an incredible amount of storage for clothes and home decor accessories on a budget without sacrificing design, I opted for a combination of ready-made big box cabinetry and custom woodwork for a luxurious boutique hotel look.
Using big box storage solution to retrofit an exciting closet and adding double French doors and decorative trim on simple bi-fold doors, these closets are now way more functional than the obvious builder's basics.
18 What is your favourite space that you’ve designed?
TL My recent favourite has got to be the nursery project I did in the summer. The space is bright, cheerful, and full of patterns and textures, without being over stimulating of course.
The inspiration of this cozy cheerful nursery came from the wallpaper on the focal wall. It is bold in colour and rich in pattern, but gender neutral and not juvenile. To compliment the happy yellow in the paper, pops of blue and peacock green, along with accents of neutrals such as white, cream and brown, were mixed into the overall colour scheme.
19 What’s the biggest design faux pas?
TL Never one-stop shop! I know it's easy to go to your favourite store, hand over your credit card, and wait a few weeks for the entire living room set to show up at your house. The difference between a house and a home is its character and personality and that can never be achieved through one-stop shop. Just because the pieces play well in the showroom doesn't mean you will like them forever in your own home. My approach has always been visiting stores at different price points and then mingle my finds together for an eclectic, yet cohesive and dynamic look.
20 Marilyn, Audrey or Jackie?
TL Audrey exudes class, sophistication, and elegance. She's also my mom's favourite actress and, for me, I would love to have Breakfast at Tiffiany's.