project completion: inner city refresh


Kitchen renovation, Inner city Calgary, Nyla Free Designs, Phil Crozier Photography

We maximized space with storage to the ceiling.

Last summer we embarked on an ambitious kitchen renovation in a 1930’s Calgary inner city home. The turn around time was tight and as we started the demolition phase and walls came down and studs were exposed, many ghosts came to light causing set backs and delays. Renovations are never cut and dry, so staying open to changes and unforeseen circumstances is the best way to approach the update. We worked as a team to resolve situations quickly with as little disruption as possible.

The result is a fresher feeling kitchen with a better use of space. This new kitchen provides plenty of counter space, seating for five and a new floor to ceiling pantry wall, all the while keeping consistent with the era of the home.

Kitchen renovation, Inner city Calgary, Nyla Free Designs, Phil Crozier Photography

The combination of old and new details updates the space while embracing existing elements of the home.

Kitchen renovation, Inner city Calgary, Nyla Free Designs, Phil Crozier Photography

A light filled area of the kitchen with cast iron apron sink and copper bridge style faucet.

Kitchen renovation, Inner city Calgary, Nyla Free Designs, Phil Crozier Photography

A bare wall adjacent to the kitchen was turned into a floor to ceiling pantry and desk space.

Kitchen renovation, Inner city Calgary, Nyla Free Designs, Phil Crozier Photography

A saloon style door flanked by fridge and counter provides easy access to the dining room.

Photography: Phil Crozier

Nyla Free Designs, Calgary Interior Designer, Calgary Professional, Interior Designer,  best designer in Calgary

trend spotting: tortoise shells

tortoise shell

Windsor Smith’s bar area with tortoise shell wall decor. Photo credit: Michael Wells

Tortoise shells are quietly entering the scene of decor from lamps to accessories to wall decor (as seen in Windsor Smith’s home above). Ranging from wooden, metal, shiny or matte and showing up in a variety of shapes and sizes, I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of these interesting shells in the world of design. I came across several during spring market in High Point earlier this year so keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful creatures!
tortoise shell tortoise Bottom image via: Home Bunch


before and after: closet to bathroom

Once upon a time, a third storey bedroom was in need of a bathroom. After careful investigation, the conclusion was to renovate, relocating the closet area to allow for a three piece bathroom for a teen girl. With facilities on the 2nd floor, directly under the current closet area, bringing plumbing up was not as difficult as one might think. Our biggest obstacle was the slopped ceiling which had no flexibility.
Bathroom The vanity placement shifted from our original plan due to the amount of head room with the slopped ceiling. The sink was installed offset on the farthest point possible on the left to give the maximum ceiling height.  Plan With no windows, our finish and material selections were white on white, allowing the room to be bright and airy with the exception of the dark vanity to ground the space. The flooring transitioned well from the existing hardwood into the bedroom. With clever maneuvering and a few remaining touches, this bathroom is a welcome addition to a 3rd floor loft space.
Bathroom Close Up The BEFORE: what was once a closet is now a fresh new bathroom space.
Before Before Shower Photography: Phil Crozier Nyla Free Designs, Calgary Interior Designer, Calgary Professional, Interior Designer,


back to school mom style

BackToSchool It’s the time of year us moms crave schedules and structure at the end of the lazy days of summer and if you’re anything like me, it takes a few weeks to settle into the Fall routine. The runaround prior for school shoes, clothes, school supplies and backpacks, all of which are carefully selected, takes a lot of time and energy. Now that the kiddos are back in the swing of things why not spoil yourself with a little back to school shopping of your own?

1. Biker jacket | 2. Blackwatch plaid skirt | 3. Moleskin notebooks | 4. White leather sneakers | 5. Iron utility scissors | 6. Frieling french press | 7. Accessory tool box | 8. Robert Geller David reading glasses


a weekend in Quebec City

Quebec City, nyla free designs, travel This summer we went on a few extended weekend jaunts rather than a large vacation and first up was Quebec City. With a swim meet spurring on our decision to visit, we were unaware of the treat we were in for. We flew to Montreal and drove to Quebec City to avoid an additional flight (and so we could make it in time for our daughter’s first race) and as we turned onto the street our hotel was located on I had a gasp of excitement. I felt as though I had been transported to a far away country after a 4.5 hour flight. If you’re looking for a taste of Europe without hopping the pond, Quebec City is the perfect choice. I was smitten by it’s charming streets, friendly french folk and delicious fare.

STAY: Hotel 71 – a boutique style hotel located in Old Quebec and offers a wonderful “french style” breakfast

DRINK: some of the best coffee I have ever had…

WANDER: there’s no shortage of charm in Old Quebec with cobblestone streets, colourful doors and windows nestled into old stone as well as a myriad of boutiques and cafés. And clean! So clean.

EAT: La Bûche 49 Rue St Louis – we didn’t eat here but the decor and sangria’s are reason enough to go | Brynd smoked meat – it’s namesake salad is one of the best I have ever eaten | Le Quai 19 – lovely dining experience, patio, wine, amazing food….. need I say more.

SHOP: m0851 named after the founders birthday, I could not leave without a handbag from this handcrafted locally made boutique | La Fudgerie – the design, detail and packaging will almost keep you from eating this mouth watering fudge | Plein Art Quebec – an outdoor event in tents and the largest summer arts and crafts show in Quebec.

I know there is so much we didn’t see in the short time we were there so I look forward to going back to explore more of this fabulous Canadian city with a taste of Europe.


advice from a summer intern

As we settle into September and verge on saying farewell to summer, we asked our intern, Adrienne, to share her best advice on being a fresh face in the world of interior design. We’re wishing her all the best as she starts her next semester and hopefully some of these tips and tricks will come in handy for the classroom too!

InternAdvice Nyla Free Designs, Calgary Interior Designer, Calgary Professional, Interior Designer,

lately loving: window pane

Lately Loving Window Pane The window pane trend is on the rise from your closet to interiors so expect to see more of this graphic through Fall 2015 and beyond. This linear detail creates the simplest square pattern. Whether in clothing, furniture or architecture we are inspired by all things framed.

1. Interior windows | 2.Tory Burch silk tie dress | 3.  Twiggy 1966 | 4. Gridwork heels  | 5. Trench | 6. IKEA Vittsjö shelving | 7. Canopy bed | 8. Sweater | 9. Hanging clothes

welcome west elm!

West Elm is finally here and it’s arrival has been long awaited and highly anticipated. If you felt a void so many of us had after Caban’s doors closed (I’m dating myself here…!), West Elm will assist in filling it and some. Offering furniture, lighting, textiles, bed & bath and small accessories featuring the best of local design too, there is no shortage of inspiration and special bits you can walk away with. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming them and to help kick off their launch we chose our favourite fall picks from the new collection. We love celebrating newcomers into Calgary. Welcome West Elm!  Welcome WEST ELM 1.7 Nyla: pillow | chair | table

Jackie: pillars | area carpet | bowl

Ana: stool | area carpet | pendant

Adrienne: pouf | headphones | wall sconce


inspired by: oak & fort

Oak&Fort Fashion is always a source of inspiration and while perusing clothing stores, we can’t help but translate their seasonal colour schemes into rooms. These hues of teal, pale pink, peach and mint feel lovely for late summer and carrying into fall. Add in natural walnut for a woodsy vibe, along with a mid century tone and you’ve got a perfect pairing of colour and concept. Makeover anyone?!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

art | sofa | floor lamp | stools | chair | area carpet


lately loving: grey and white checkerboard floors

grey and white checkerboard floors Patterned floors are all the rage these days, however they’ve been around for decades. The classic black and white checkerboard floor dates back to the late 1600’s with the finest of marbles. The design reinvents itself in the 20th century during the 1920’s and 30’s as an inexpensive and easy to clean option for modest homes using linoleum tiles. Fast forward a few more years to Hollywood glam style and designer Dorothy Draper who used the checkerboard pattern in a high gloss, large scale option on the floor of the Greenbrier Hotel.

Taking the checkerboard pattern and reducing the intensity of black to grey creates a softer approach to this bold design. From entrance and hallways to kitchen and outdoor spaces, we are loving the impact this combination of grey and white provides to a room.
grey and white checkerboard floors grey and white checkerboard floors grey and white checkerboard floors grey and white checkerboard floors grey and white checkerboard floors grey and white checkerboard floors Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

diy: coffee filter flower garland

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Our Dinner x Design table scape received countless questions about the hanging rose petal garden installation we created above the table. So much so, we decided to prepare a step by step DIY guide. We dyed 600 coffee filters and used roughly 500 in our installation. The outcome was incredibly dramatic, more so than we anticipated, and we too were quite smitten with the result. We hope you find this tutorial useful should you decide to channel your inner creative and take on the simple yet dramatic task of dying this ever so popular household item.  NYLAFREEDESIGNS_DXD2015_FINAL 003 Image credit: Phil Crozier

step one

you will need:
• food colouring, a minimum of two packages (we used clubhouse brand from superstore, blue, red, yellow and their unique purple from the neon collection) buy enough to manipulate the colour, the more food colouring the higher the saturation of colour
• gloves (as fitted as possible)
• water
• large coffee cup or tupperware container
• pitcher of water on hand, in order to dilute colour as needed
• coffee filters (we used superstore no name brand no. 2,  they are smaller in scale and create a realistic feel)
• 2-3 garbage bags. place over the surface you are using to dye the coffee filters, you will also need this space to allow them to dry
*finally, wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty, the food colouring will stain coffee filter diy step 1 step two
• while wearing gloves, begin by adding food colouring to the water. dip coffee filter into liquid mix to test the colour. this will enable you to find the right balance in colour ratio. we used roughly:
5 parts red
3 parts neon purple
2 parts blue
1 part yellow.
• use artistic licence when testing the colours, they don’t all have to be perfect!
• variation in colour creates visual interest. also, remember the coffee filters will always dry to a lighter colour, therefore don’t be afraid to use a lot of food colouring. coffee filter diy step 2
• once you are satisfied with the colour, begin by dying 5-10 coffee filters at a time, dipping them into the coloured water. once all of the filters are saturated, lift out of the liquid and drain the excess by pressing them with your hands. set filters aside. step3 step four
• the dye mixture will slowly deplete after each 5-10 filters have been saturated. depending on the number of coffee filters you wish to make, dilute the food colouring solution, which will alter the colour, lightening each batch to create a natural ombre effect. step4 step five
• once you have used all the coffee filters or have simply run out of food colouring mix, open up the filters and prop them up like tents on the garbage bags. this allows them to dry in a open position creating a flower-like effect. allow a minimum of 4 hours for filters to completely dry. coffee filter diy step 5 step six
• when the coffee filters are completely dry it’s time for the stringing process. you will need
-fishing line (we used 20lb)
-safety pin or paper clip coffee filter diy Step 6 step seven
• depending on desired length, take 8-10 coffee filters choosing ones that vary in colour saturation and hue. line them up on the table, arranging them in the preferred order. coffee filter diy step 7 step eight
• begin by taking your safety pin or paper clip and poking a small hole at the peak/highest point of the coffee filter. take a piece of fishing line approx. 4-5 ft. long and tie a knot at the end. thread the fishing line through the coffee filter so the opening faces downward. coffee filter diy step 8 step nine
• irregularly place the coffee filters along fishing line, becoming more concentrated at the top. this gives more volume as well as creates an organic feel. coffee filter diy step 9 Repeat until desired number of garlands has been reached. Now sit back and admire your hard work and creative genius. Well done!  coffee filter diy final

Thank you to Adrienne who put this DIY together, photographing and note taking along the way. Adrienne also dyed all 600 coffee filters for our Dinner x Design installation and as mentioned they were the pièce de résistance.