Special Interview: Montana Labelle Talks About Her 700 Square Feet Toronto Condo

Montana Labelle is a young interior designer from Toronto and has plenty of things to offer in this field. Not only she decorates a certain space, she tells a story about it and each detail has a meaning. In 2013 she launched her design and lifestyle firm, and although she is still at the beginning, she has a huge success. We believe the Uptown Loft is one of her best works so far and we are grateful that she accepted to share with us important details about this tiny residence.

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Sometimes, when we are looking for a place to live in, we experience pleasant or unpleasant feelings. I often find myself thinking about how I could live in a certain place, but there were moments when I simply knew that it’s not what I’m looking for.

What was the first thing that came into your mind after you saw this tiny loft?

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The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this tiny space was that it was going to be a challenge! My realtor at the time told me not to go ahead with it. Despite her apprehension, I was enamored with the space and up for the challenge. It was an empty canvas and I knew I could make it phenomenal and functional. Immediately after we left the showing, my mind was already filling up with furniture layouts, what pieces I could put where, and how to make it both a functional and aesthetically pleasing space that worked for my needs.

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What are the basic principles we should follow when decorating a small living space?

The most important thing when decorating a small space is to make use of every area you can and purchase items that can be used in multi functional ways. I think it’s also very important to throw tradition out the window and use the space for what YOU want to use it for!

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Which was the main source of inspiration that led you to this marvelous interior design?

As always, I approach all my interior design projects with an eye for fashion, luxury and fantasy. I like to design similar to the way I dress. Typically in a white t-shirt, ripped black jeans, jewelry and a great handbag. I attempt to impart my design with this fashion sense in that the bones are a black couch, the white cowhide is the t-shirt and it is accessorized with one of a kind collected objects like shagreen boxes and art deco crystal trays. I always like to incorporate an unexpected spin on traditional ideas.

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One of the main details that caught my attention was the zebra on the wall. Why a zebra? Is there a story for this? If yes, we would like to find out more.

Ah, Yes. His name is Ralph. He was the first object I purchased for my loft, and I really do love him. Believe it or not, he is made out of paper Mache! I hung him extremely high (approx. 15 feet up) in order to disguise the fact that he is not real, and also make a statement. He is an extremely prominent figure in my space and has helped shape the overall design and aesthetic. He also imparts a sense of whimsy and fantasy, which I tried to pick up in a lot of the other artwork and accessories throughout the space.

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Interior designers know better than anyone how hard it is to decorate a certain space, according to its size and structure. What was the most difficult part in this case?

The most difficult part of decorating this teeny tiny space was finding an appropriate storage solution for all of my clothing. The loft only had one standard size closet that was approx. 5 feet with two sliding doors. This presented a large problem for me as I have a lot of clothing, winter coats, shoes, sweaters, etc. As a solution, I went on Kijijii and purchased an antique chinoiserie glass armoire, which I situated across from my kitchen. Instead of filling it with China, I filled it with folded sweaters, t-shirts, shoes and handbags. I felt that using this item in an unexpected way worked extremely well for me. It provided TONS of additional storage, and functioned as a beautiful display piece that I could reuse in a number of different spaces in the future.

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Small spaces are often a challenge for interior designers. How do you feel now that you’ve seen the impact that your living/working space has in the world of interior design?

It has made me tremendously appreciative that this space has been so well received. I think it is also an incredibly valuable lesson for anyone out there who wants to buy a small space but is apprehensive due to its size. I think this space truly shows that any space, no matter the size, can be luxurious, exciting, and livable.

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What was the final budget for this project?

The final budget of the project was approx. $ 5,000.00 for every item seen in the apartment. The majority of the pieces were antique, or flea market finds. Several items were also sourced on Ebay. The art was almost entirely made by me, which allowed me to make a huge impact very cheaply.

Everyone has a favorite corner in their homes. What’s yours?

My favorite space in my loft would be my living area. I find that whenever I sit on my sofa, I am inspired. It is my favorite place to start the day on my computer, surfing interior design blogs, sourcing for inspiration or doing some online furniture shopping for my clients on websites like 1st dibs and DerringHall.

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Is this loft the home of your dreams?

I absolutely adore my loft and believe right now it is the perfect space for me. I truly feel comfortable and at home whenever I am there and have a difficult time leaving!

Tell us more about your other projects. Which one is your favorite in this moment and why?

As a designer, I usually have about 8-10 projects going on at once. I have SO many favorites… but if I had to choose it would likely be a condo lobby renovation that Montana Labelle Design Inc. just completed last month. Another interior designer in the Toronto Area designed the original lobby around 5 years ago. Although it was beautifully done, the residents felt they wanted something more edgy, hip and exciting. We took a traditional beige and mauve space and turned it into a hip, edgy, and modern space complete with a shagreen feature wall, brass accents, grey marbles and exotic woods and fabrics.

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What defines you as an interior designer? What are the details that would help us figure out if you were involved in a certain project or not?

Each and every project that we complete specializes in transforming interiors into timeless environments for modern living. At Montana Labelle Design, we always strive to impart a sense of fashion-influenced luxuriousness into each space we complete.

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What is your advice for the young and still unknown interior designers?

I think that if you do what you love, and are passionate about it, people will always take notice. I also believe if you have a new and interesting voice or vision, you will always be heard, seen and highly regarded. I have been very blessed as a young designer in the business, and am excited to keep growing my business and design aesthetic for many many years to come!