For Virginia Toledo, making human connections with interior design has always been one of her guiding principles. Whether it’s a family spending time together at their home, or strangers meeting each other at a restaurant, Virginia always envisions how these spaces play a role in forging important memories for people.
Raised in Brooklyn, New York, where her father worked in the construction industry, Toledo took an interest to interior design at a young age. She willingly followed on her dream. In 2006, she co-founded Toledo Geller, a New Jersey-based boutique interior design firm that specializes in creating luxurious and livable residences.
“What I love most about interior design is to the ability to make something out of nothing,” said Toledo. “As interior designers, we have the ability to transform the way we experience a space, and that can have a tremendous impact.”
This is Toledo’s second time participating in The Kaleidoscope Project, a non-profit organization that highlights the work of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) designers and artists in the interior design community.
Toledo and 10 other designers worked in the preservation of the historic 1906 Tyler Street Firehouse in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where they were tasked to reimagine four market rate residential units within the firehouse, with a focus on sustainability.
While she was brainstorming ideas on how to approach this project, Toledo was heavily inspired by the rich historical background of the space itself, and she used that as a catalyst to flesh out her ideas.
“I was profoundly inspired by the history of the building as a turn of the century firehouse,” said Toledo.
As she planned out her mood board, the colour palette evolved rapidly from shades of salmon and coral to rust and sienna. Toledo analyzed the colours of the brick work in the original space and pondered over a way to tone down the hues to make the space more versatile.
“The colours found in the original brick work was one of my main inspirations for this design,” stated Toledo. “I wanted to challenge myself to integrate this range within the palette, while still creating a colour story that was neutral enough to be enjoyed by any tenant that would ultimately inhabit the space.”
In the living room area, she used our Cascade sofa in liv pearl performance fabric, an upholstered piece that is part of the Domestic by SUNPAN collection. With its clean-cut silhouette, the sofa was the perfect piece to tie the space together.
“I was on the hunt for a sofa that was upholstered in a light neutral fabric to blend, and not contrast, with the surrounding furnishings. The fabric also needed to be performance grade,” said Toledo. “I was also looking for a sofa that was a bit larger in scale to be the defining piece of the living room. The Cascade offered both of those qualities along with a bench seat cushion which happens to be my favorite configuration!”
To accompany the sofa, Toledo picked our Hexall side table. This hexagonal side table is the ideal piece to introduce geometrical elements to any space, while doing it in a tasteful manner.
“Accent tables can be the jewelry in the room and the Hexall is just that,” Toledo added. “The interesting shape and luxurious finishes provide the perfect finishing touch that elevates the room’s style.”
Putting the space together for the project was an enjoyable process, but it did come with its fair share of road bumps. From labour shortages to missing materials, Toledo insisted on the importance of being nimble throughout the entire process to ensure that the place would come together seamlessly.
Although the design process had some challenging moments, Toledo enjoyed the bonhomie with other designers who were a part of this project. It was an environment that allowed designers to be inspired by one another, while still learning from each other along the journey.
Toledo feels a sense of accomplishment with how the project came together. She fulfilled her objective of using the space’s historical background to influence the final design outcome.
“I am most proud of the fact that I was able to pay homage to the history of the building in a very understated way that keeps the design current and approachable.”