Inside CorporateStays.com, Quebec City

Interview with a Designer: Advice and Inspiration with Carolina Bravo

May 21, 2013
Quebec beach apt

Carolina Bravo is an interior designer for upscale furnished apartments. With a background in both Real Estate and Interior Design, Carolina has a deep understanding of what makes a space feel like home. She took the time to sit down with me and tell me a bit about what it’s like furnishing and decorating apartments for MontrealStays.com, and what advice she has for people decorating their own spaces.

Check out the photos of Carolina’s most recent project after the interview!

  1. Apartment 1: The Statement Piece

  2. Apartment 2: Fun with Black and White

  3. Apartment 3: Beach House

Stephanie Lopez – What is your position at CorporateStays.com? How long have you been working there?

Carolina Bravo – I’m the in-house interior designer and stager for CorporateStays.com and I have been with the company for two years.

SL – What project are you currently working on?

CB – I just completed three very different apartments in Quebec City. Each apartment had a very unique theme so that was a fun challenge. My main inspiration for the themes came from furniture we already had. We just moved offices so there was a lot of furniture that had to be repurposed, I used this as a starting point.

SL – What is the first thing to think about when you are going to decorate a bare apartment?

CB – You have to look at the empty spaces, feel what vibe you get, and think about a potential theme. Sometimes, when I decorate an apartment,  I get a special request from a client, so that can be fun.

SL – In a city that fluctuates severely in temperature – how do you find a theme that balances across four seasons?

CB – What you live in the exterior is different from what is going on in the interior of the apartment. This is why you have to separate the inside from the outside, they are not the same environment. Your decoration has to reflect the image that you want and this is a very personal choice.  You can have a Miami looking loft and it doesn’t have to be in Miami

SL – Where do you get your inspiration?

CB – Travels, internet, stores, and things I have seen in the past years. I allow myself to express my own personal taste. For example I think to myself: “I wanted to have an apartment like that.”

To develop on a theme that I think of, it helps to ask myself what that theme represents for me. It helps me find a central inspiration and then it is easy to plan and accessorize from there.

SL – What is your most treasured tool when on the job?

CB – My cell phone and my car. I love my car, it takes me everywhere I want to go, I can fit everything in it – myself and my purchases –  even when it seems impossible. My car is my best friend on the job.

SL – What is your must-have accessory or piece of furniture?

CB – Hardwood or reclaimed wood on walls is really hot right now. They give a magical warm feeling to a room, have a lot of cache, and are not too expensive. I use floating hardwood flooring. Either real or fake wood walls can really amp up a room.

SL – What are your favorite places to shop for design elements?

CB – Homesense, I like it because their prices are accessible and they have really unique stuff, you won’t have 10 of the same lamps for example. I love that I can usually find everything I need there.

Zuo Modern is great because you can find things priced at about half as much as in other stores.

Empire on Parc is great for wallpaper. They have so much choice and it’s good quality. Their new collection is amazing, featuring the hot new trend of leather-like wallpaper.

SL – What advice do you have for people trying to furnish their homes on a budget?

CB – When you are decorating an apartment on a budget you have to prioritize. When am looking at a more limited budget, I know I will spend more money in key elements, especially the big pieces and more luxurious pieces, so I reserve more budget for certain things.

I also look for decor items in unexpected places, and when I do not find something myself, I get creative and recycle older furniture.

We play a lot with paint, wood, and with textures of wallpaper. Wallpaper and other fine wall coverings can be expensive, but sometimes you save money in the long run because you may not need as many paintings or other items to fill the space.

When you are in a budget you have to be creative. Don’t be scared to have big ideas, you can usually find a budget-friendly way to make it happen. I’ve learned that with a small budget sometimes you just have make miracles happen, but it’s really rewarding when they do!

Carolina’s Latest Apartments

Apartment 1: The Statement Piece

What first struck me about this apartment was that it was a spacious two-bedroom apartment. I remembered that not too long ago I had seen a “super couch,” a velvet creation decorated with the Union Jack, in a catalog. It is a beautiful statement piece and requires a large space, this is where I got my inspiration.

Once I had the couch I thought about the paint, naturally red and blue came to mind, and to add a special detail I looked for an appropriate wall paper. I went with blue paint and a beautiful wallpaper in a darker red. I chose slightly different shades for both colors, this created a really neat effect, adding layers to the room. Don’t be scared to play with color, you don’t want to overpower the statement piece with competing hues, rather you want to draw out the theme and tie the room together.

I had a very specific idea in mind for the chairs and because I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for I ended up painting them myself, but it was really worth it for the final effect.

For the second bedroom I added a new element to the theme with the striped wallpaper, it paired very well with the colors and the lovely Union Jack dresser.

The rest of the furniture in the apartment I chose to complement the couch, I had it in mind all the time because it is an impressive piece and I wanted it to be the center of attention.

I found some things here and there from shops, I get inspired by what’s in the market, I like go in person from shop to shop, exploring.  Sometimes you just don’t want to overthink it, and in the end everything turns out just right.

Apartment 2: Fun with Black and White

For this room we had a lot of black and white furniture so I started with that, and then I decided  to play with the colors in an unexpected way. Rather than creating a monochromatic room, I used pops of white and just a touch of green to draw the eye. Of course the dark hardwood flooring works perfectly with the color scheme so it all came together beautifully.

Apartment 3: Beach House

The furniture I was working with had a lot of greyish tones, and it made me think of a beach house. I wanted to make a cozy apartment that felt and looked more like a Cape Cod beach house, rather than, say, a Miami style beach house.

I played a lot with textures, soft sand-colored rugs, cool blue tones in the furniture and art,  wood textures on accent walls, and these amazing rough seashell and coral lamps I found, all came together to create a feeling of the rough and soft textures of a beach.

Even though there is no ocean outside the apartment door, you get that feeling when you are in the apartment.

Once I choose a theme, I know what to look for. It comes naturally; you just need to keep your theme in mind and when you go shopping and find accessories that are relevant. Otherwise you might purchase items that you like, but that don’t necessarily fit your theme, and end up with a mixed-up style.

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