National Post (Latest Edition)
What out-of-towners look for when they buy a second home in the city.
New York, London, Montreal, or Toronto: the location of a pied-à-terre doesn’t matter, but what does matter is creating a unit that oozes with class and fits the individual tastes and needs of each owner.
There’s nothing understated about two pied-à-terre projects Hibou Design & Co. is currently working on. One is for parents in Shanghai whose children are attending university in Canada, and another is for a couple based in the Bahamas who plan to spend time in this country.
“They both want it to look fantastic,” says co-founder Eugenia Triandos. “The clients from Shanghai will not have long stays when they come here — a weekend to see their children, but still, they want it to be a luxurious and fun escape for when they’re on vacation.
“The other couple that is coming in from the Bahamas will likely be retiring at this home and then having a back-and-forth scenario with an extended stay — spending time here over the course of several months in the summer or over the Christmas holidays.”
No matter how frequently a second home is used, Triandos says the key is to get a good understanding of what a couple or an individual is looking for and how they intend to use the space.
Questions need to be answered, like how often will they be spending time in it, and for how long? What sort of entertaining will they be doing? Do they have a social life here or is it more of a vacation home?
Typically, she adds, a client wants a minimal but luxurious design, almost akin to living in a five-star hotel, which is a good thing for an interior designer.
“When there is not so much of a need for storage, which often happens in a second residence, it allows us to have a little bit more fun with lighter nightstands that may not have as many drawers as normal, or furniture that’s lighter and feels less bulky because it doesn’t have to double as a storage piece,” she says. “It does allow us a lot more flexibility in terms of what I can do. As a designer, it gives me a little bit of freedom.”
It also helps that money is never an issue.
“Sometimes when they go into a project, a client might think they can get it done for a certain amount,” she says, “but then they start talking about all the luxuries that they want to start putting into their unit, it becomes a very different conversation.”
Money aside, another key component lies in creating a clear level of trust.
“With a pied-à-terre, it is always starting from scratch, which allows us to take a very creative direction,” she explains. “I do feel that most of the pied-à-terres that we do are based on aesthetic and design style versus comfort and function. That is pretty much the common theme. It is their second home that they can have fun with because they already have everything they need in their primary residence.”