Design Lesson

Interior designer interview: Cheryl Torrenueva

Interior designer interview: Cheryl Torrenueva

Interior designer interview: Cheryl Torrenueva Author: Style At Home

Design Lesson

Interior designer interview: Cheryl Torrenueva

Interior designer and host of HGTV's, Home Heist and Restaurant Makeover, Cheryl Torrenueva, tells us what’s hot in decor for 2010 and shares her tips and tricks on how to achieve a stylish home on a budget.


Commanding colour
I just got back from a fabulous vacation in Colombia where I was inspired to add some flavour into my designs. Colour is going to dominate this year and I encourage everyone to use neutrals as accents instead of the base for your design. Take risks and try colour combinations that take you out of your comfort zone.

We'll be seeing multi-coloured palettes with shades of amber, coral, pink, plum, emerald green, deep blue-green mixed with bold accents of black and white. Geometric patterns, abstract forms and grids will add visual interest through fabrics and accent pieces.  

The shine factor is pushing forward and metallics are as hot as ever. In addition to gold and silver combined within one space, we'll see more finishes like champagne, pewter, oxidized copper and antique bronze starting to add dimension to even the most traditional interior.

Shine on
Crystal and mirror are not limited to finishes for lighting and accessories. We'll see these hits of glamour incorporated into tile, bathroom fixtures and even as finishes for kitchen appliances.  

Off-the-wall art
Art is very important in a space and it's time to showcase your photographic collections or purchase prints online from your favourite artist and frame them using inexpensive frames with wide mattes. Having said that you don't need to be limited to artwork when deciding on what to hang on your walls. For one of my clients, I used picture frames without the glass to showcase some of her vintage jewellery collection.

Hang your art in collections of three or more and you'll instantly have something to talk about when guests come over. As we continue into a more digital age, we'll start to see art show up in interiors as custom murals, light features and printed on acrylic to be used as a room divider, creating a more exciting focal point than just a painted wall.

Seamless technology
Incorporating technology seamlessly into the interior is huge. Lacquered white, high gloss black, exotic woods and even custom coloured finishes help to make electronics more like accessories instead of an eyesore.  

Address problems don’t mask them
When creating a space make sure that you have a plan and stay away from band-aid solutions. If your home really needs a new coat of paint to make it look clean and fresh, spend the time and money to achieve this. Buying three accessories for the same price won't hide the problems. 

Paint is the easiest way to change what you have and I would recommend sending things to a professional sprayer to get the ultimate high gloss finish. Just like in fashion, you need to accessorize to have a complete look, so in regards to furniture or cabinetry, don't forget to add new hardware.

Repurpose and reinvent your existing pieces. Not only is it better for the environment but it's also something that a lot of people forget to think about. For example, I often move pieces of furniture to another space in a client's home because the scale isn't working. Also, items like hard-covered books are the perfect accessory. Take the dust jackets off and use them stacked horizontally as the base for objects or as an alternative to a side table.


Lighting is essential to create atmosphere so if you don't have a lot of money to buy a new light fixture, simply use a collection of clear vases or even glassware and add white pillar candles for the perfect glow.


Always add architectural details like moulding to add elegance to your space and even furniture pieces to give them a more customized look. 

Keep the receipt
Style is more important than fashion so use trends as inspiration but only use what you feel you can live with. There's nothing wrong with purchasing a few pieces and trying them out for a couple of days. If they don't work, you can always bring them back and at least you can say that you tried. As designers, we do it all the time. 

Make sure to create vignettes in your home that tell a story. Layering is the easiest way to achieve this and I have a rule of using no more than three accessories or art pieces on a surface.

Real Canadian Superstore is a one stop shop because they carry all of my favourite basics when I am styling a home on a budget. They have everything from ribbed towels, 400 thread count sheets, classic square and round vases, stainless steel bathroom accessories and clean modern cutlery and all at fantastic price points.

Check the clearance sections at your favourite designer spots. I love going to fabric, carpet and tile stores to see if they have remnants from other projects. Instead of focusing on what I can't afford, I like to get inspired in regards to what I can have today. I have found the most beautiful 12" x 24" marble tile and had my contractor cut them into the custom size that I needed for my client. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the clearance section, check out clearance and outlet stores like The Bay Clearance Centre. This is a hidden gem because you can find pieces that are slightly damaged but can be easily brought back to life with a bit of TLC. I've managed to find beautiful Gluckstein dining chairs for a fraction of the retail price. 

Chinatown is a great place to go if you're buying plates and accessories for a dinner party. At Tap Phong, they have a variety of white plates that you would see at some of the trendiest restaurants and bars in the city. I love to buy them in bulk and place a stack of them in an open glass cabinet, which always looks super sophisticated. 

Don't forget the big box stores! I've been pleasantly surprised to see Graham and Brown wallpaper at Home Depot and 3" x 6" white glass tile at Rona. A great alternative to custom shutters is to use 2" faux wood blinds perfectly fit to the inside dimensions of your window. Add full-length curtains on either side and you've got an instant designer look.

Homesense is fantastic because you can always expect a variety of different styles of furniture and accessories. And since I always have the most insane deadlines, it's nice to know that I can take things home instantly.


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Design Lesson

Interior designer interview: Cheryl Torrenueva