Tag Archives: Condo living

Décor DIY: Freshen Up for Spring

It’s time to get rid of those winter chills! Start this spring off right with some easy DIY décor tricks that will make your condo vibrant, spacious and cheerful. Make your condo the source of entertainment by turning your patio into a whole new outdoor space, or switch up a few things around the house for a major refresh! Here are a few quick and easy DIY spring décor tips to bring out that inner interior designer.


Make your own mini art gallery 

Minto Decor DIY

Buy different sized picture frames that have precut mats inside them. Print out your favourite and most unique artistic photos. Make sure your frames don’t clash with your wall colour. If your wall and furniture are simple and white, buy thin black frames with white paper mats or silver frames with linen or grey mats. This way your gallery will look professional, sleek and elegant. You can make this gallery work anywhere in your home: in the foyer, in the living room, or in your den.


Add a mirror next to your dining table 

Minto Decor DIY

In feng shui, dining rooms are the perfect place to add a mirror. Dining represents a family’s wealth and by adding a mirror in the dining room will magnify this energy. You can choose a big and bold mirror to hang in a small dining room. Make sure the mirror is big enough to complement the room, but not too big and overpowering. You can also choose to lean your mirror against a wall. This way the whole dining room is reflected, making it seem larger.


Make your balcony cozy 

Minto Decor DIY

With the summer months just around the corner, transform your balcony into your dream outdoor space.  Add your own style by adding a small outdoor dining set, vibrant mat, your favourite plants and outdoor string lighting.  You can even throw a blanket over the chairs for those cool summer nights.


Change up your bedding 


The vibe of an entire room can change instantly with a new set of bedding. Add a pop of pastel to your room by choosing spring colours, think baby pinks, blues, lavender. Find pillows with textures and patterns that will match your bedding and give your room a hint of colour. Keep the bedding simple and natural so you can reuse it whenever you like. You can find bedding sets, such as “bed in a bag” for $100 at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond.


Use open storage in your kitchen

MInto Decor DIY

If your condo is lacking storage in your kitchen, use open storage. Choose an industrial metal shelving unit for extra kitchen space. The metal touches will compliment stainless steel appliances that many modern condo kitchens have. Add baskets to store snacks and incorporate a few decorative touches to make it look fun!

Starting to spring clean and spruce up your space? Share you spring decor ideas with us!


© Kenya Bruce

Cozy Winter Living

Winter is definitely upon us, and what better way to embrace the season than to make your home a warm hide-away from the harsh elements outside. Our Minto design expert Scott Biltoft sat down with us to give us some tips on how to create the perfect winter home:

If you’re looking for ways to make your home comfortable this winter, consider the following strategies and learn from the Danish who’ve perfected the art of Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) to overcome the long dark Scandinavian winter.

There isn’t an English equivalent to the word Hygge which the Danes use to describe a mood or a way of life that is cozy, warm, and friendly.

For better winter living use colour wisely.  Start with warm wall colours like these from Benjamin Moore:

HC-27 Monterey White
HC-173 Edgecomb Grey
HC-172 Revere Pewter
Grey Mist
OC-30 Gray Mist



Accessorize with colours that bring cheerfulness into your home like these from Benjamin Moore:

Blue Grass
CC-640 Blue Grass
Van Courtland
HC-145 Van Courtland Blue


Amelthyst Shadow
CC-930 Amethyst Shadow
2003-20 Strawberry Red
Blue Danube
2062-30 Blue Danube


Use seasonal throws and cushions to add snuggly warmth on winter evenings with seasonal accessories like these:

Pillow Covers

Mongolian Lamb Pillow Covers from West Elm

Cable Knit Throw

Pottery Barn Cable Knit Throw

Fur throw

Homesense fun fur throws


Pendleton Blankets

Pendleton blankets from Anthropologie or Drake General Store

Hygge also includes comfort foods during the winter like chocolate, coffee, sweets – and sharing your home with friends!  Snuggle under a comfy throw, enjoy a hot beverage, and relax during those winter evenings reading or watching your favorite TV shows.


Stay cozy & warm,


Scott Biltoft

Director, Design Centres


Minto’s 2013 BILD Award nominations

The finalists have been announced for the 2013 BILD Awards and Minto high-rise and low-rise projects keep popping up throughout the list! Here’s a rundown of the awards we’re up for at the BILD Awards gala on April 26.


Minto30Roe by Rob McPhail Design & Minto SouthShore by CJ Designs



“Bamboo” at 88 by esQape Design & 3Di Solutions

A14-Minto-88-Bamboo Kitchen


“PH1702” at minto775 King West



“The Horizon” at Minto SouthShore

NORM LI AG+I 130107_Exterior_Aerial Terrace_Cutaway_LR


We’re also up for:

Minto30Roe by L.A. Inc. & Cober Printing

(We’re really excited about this one, of course)

And a couple of big ones:


Minto SouthShore by NAK Design Group & Guthrie Muscovitch Architects


When the BILD Awards finalists get announced it’s a sure sign that spring is around the corner. For more information on the event and to view the full list of finalists, visit the BILD blog here and don’t forget to wish us luck!

Meet Frank & Matt, Minto’s in-house architects

While Minto works with various external architecture firms, we also have our own internal Architecture Services Department. We spoke to Frank Carenza and Matt Brown about how the department works.

What does the Architectural Services Department do?

MB: We’re involved in acquisition, concept design, design development, working drawings and even a little bit of construction. The bulk of our time is spent on concept design and design development. Suite layout and planning is a big part of what we do. Overall we are responsible for ensuring the quality and integrity of the design in the pre-construction phase. We work with the architects, engineers, interior designers and internal specialists from different teams within Minto, while keeping the customers’ best interest in mind.

It starts with a strong design and program from the architect. We take the basic floor plates and subdivide them to make, for example, a block of one bedrooms suites that achieves the best possible design and efficient use of space. Improvements and modifications to the exterior come as a function of designing the interiors. We consider past projects and look at which suite layouts and design elements were most successful. We use this analysis as a departure point and then we try to develop something even better.

What’s the process once a piece of land is acquired?

FC: It depends. Sometimes we’re dealing with a green piece of land that hasn’t been rezoned so we get involved in the preliminary site design. If there’s already a design for the site, we’ll refine it to meet Minto’s specific needs, especially from a unit mix standpoint (i.e. how many one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms or townhomes).

MB: The acquisitions team works with the architect to develop a concept for what is possible. They determine the number of storeys and suites and designate spaces for the amenities. Then we look at who our customer is likely to be. A lot of that is driven by focus groups and the marketing & sales teams. From there we figure out what that customer is looking for and try to merge their wants & needs with what is possible.

What is it like working with various firms? What are the differences between working for a firm and working for a builder?

FC: Some firms are more technically proficient, some are a little less technical and more design-oriented. Minto’s goal is to provide the best suite layouts for our customers but that might not be number one on the firm’s list. They might have a design in mind that’s more focused on aesthetics and it is our job to work with the firm to create a plan that is beautiful while meeting our business needs and the needs of our customers.

MB: Both Frank and I came from firms. At a firm you’re working for a client and with a developer you are the client. The decision-making process changes. With a firm, as much as you have the client’s interests in mind, you’re thinking of the design in a different way. Working for a builder, you’re thinking about design but you’re also taking the rest of the team into account and thinking more about cost, execution, sales, timelines and marketability. You think more about how the building will last over time and how the customer is going to use it. It goes beyond creating something impressive & beautiful.

How do you incorporate new green technology into your designs?

MB: At Minto we have a dedicated green team. At all but the largest firms, there’s no dedicated green resource so all of the design professionals are responsible for it. It can be tricky because there’s a lot of research, testing and prototyping that goes into new green features. Our Minto green team is devoted to doing this research and testing and recommending the best possible products for our developments. The architecture department then works with the green team to make sure that suggested green elements fit cohesively with the look and design of the building.

If the green team sources low flow toilets, for example, we have to ensure that they are aesthetically pleasing and fit with the design of the suites. Similarly, the integration of passive solar design and technology can have a huge impact on the aesthetics of the building. Ultimately, these elements must be incorporated into the design in a way that functions as intended while aesthetically contributing to the overall composition.

FC: Our M&E and green teams are more specifically involved with green technology and how it works in the building. Matt and I collaborate with these teams as we design with those green technologies in mind.

At what point in a project is your job done?

MB: Our jobs are more or less done once a project is under construction. Ninety per cent of what we do is during pre-construction.

FC: But we still get involved somewhat during the construction process and up to the time of first occupancy. There are times during the construction process when design solutions are required in order to solve an unforeseen problem. Matt and I come in and use our experience to solve these issues as quickly and cost effectively as possible.

MB: Also, At minto775 King West, we’re planning the master care office. We designed one of the last unsold suites to accommodate a team of eight to use as an office for meeting with purchasers, doing pre-delivery inspections and as an on-site resource for customers once they move in.

What are some recent architecture trends you’ve been seeing and how are they applied to Minto projects?

MB: The biggest trends I’m seeing right now are in material usage. One is window wall or curtain wall as a primary cladding system. Ten or fifteen years ago you would only see all glass facades on commercial office buildings. Customers like it, and it’s cost-effective. Another is dark masonry like you see on Toronto’s opera house. Minto30Roe and Minto 88 both have ebony masonry as an accent cladding material.

FC: The interesting thing in the Toronto market is that it has recently become much more highly competitive with a lot more players in the condo industry. As a result, we are always looking for new and innovative ways of differentiating ourselves in the market. Minto focuses a lot on green features. Although we see it as a necessity, building green has become very trendy. Another major trend has been in reaction to how the cost of land in the city has affected suite sizes. We’re always trying to come up with better solutions for smaller spaces. It can lead to some really innovative thinking. Kitchens and bathrooms are always a focus. These are the rooms people look at when comparing one builder to another. That’s where they gauge value so we put a lot of energy into making those spaces great.

What are your all time favourite pieces of architecture?

MB: The Roman Forum. Being there was overwhelming and exciting. The idea that these structures exist from that time in a modern city is incredible. Same with the temples in Egypt. Abu Simbil and Hatshepsut are awe inspiring. The environment, materials, construction methodology and craftsmanship are simply unbelievable. I was just there in the spring. I also love the Milwaukee Art Museum by Santiago Calatrava and the Oslo Opera House by Tarald Lundevall for Snøhetta.

FC: One of my favourite buildings is Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was designed in 1935 and it’s probably one of the most famous examples of the integration of a building with its landscape. I’m also amazed by the large cathedrals in Europe simply because of how difficult they must have been to build. Like St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, for example. There are also some really interesting examples of architecture in Dubai. A lot of them are technical marvels and really intriguing designs both inside and out. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is a pretty remarkable piece of architecture.

What are your favourite places in Toronto to go for inspiration?

MB: High Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park and Toronto Island. I love that you can be removed from the city but still be in it.

FC: For me one of the nicest spaces in Toronto is the Allen Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place by Santiago Calatrava. It was originally an outdoor space and the historic bank facades were maintained. It’s a fantastically intricate design with its archways and steelwork. The Toronto Island is a favourite spot for me as well. In my career I’ve primarily dealt with high rise developments so I love looking back at the skyline. Before I came to Minto I worked on one of the tallest condos ever built in Toronto at the time. Looking back at the city from the Island gives you ideas about different ways of creating great architecture.

Our first construction post from Minto WaterGarden

Construction is now underway at Minto WaterGarden. Our Thornhill site has been very busy over the past few months as we’ve disconnected services, demolished existing structures and prepared the site for construction.

We’re nearing the end of shoring & excavation and gearing up to start on the perimeter walls & footings, under slab drainage and site services. If all goes well, we’re looking forward to erecting our north tower crane within the next few weeks. The south tower crane will follow shortly.

Excavated areas with rakers and tiebacks at the north end of the site

WaterGarden has a complex shoring system of both rakers and tiebacks which will support surrounding loads, like neighbouring buildings and properties, until the underground levels of our building are ready.

Detail of the waler & raker system

Soon we’ll start on the exterior restoration work of the Cox House. In the fall of 2011 we demolished the more recent additions and relocated the house four meters to its final spot. It was roughly a six months process from initial preparations to the move itself. Our heritage architect worked closely with the city and Cultural Services to develop drawings and plans to restore this 1884 house to its original condition.

The Cox House sits waiting for restoration work to begin


We’re up for six OHBA awards

The Ontario Home Builders’ Association Awards of Distinction are coming up on September 24 and the finalists have just recently been announced. Minto is honoured to be a finalist in six different categories this year.

Most outstanding high or mid-rise condo suite under 800 square feet:

The Bamboo suite at 88 Sheppard
The Bamboo suite at 88 Sheppard
The Bamboo suite at 88 Sheppard

Best new home sales office under 1500 square feet:

The 88 sales centre at Yonge and Sheppard
The reception area at the 88 sales centre
Inside the 88 sales centre

Most outstanding mid-rise building:
Page+Steele and IBI Group Architects

The outdoor oasis at Minto WaterGarden

Best interior decorating for a model home or suite under 2000 square feet:
II BY IV Design Associates

The Glenview model suite at Minto30Roe at Yonge and Eglinton

In addition, the Minto30Roe brochure by L.A. Inc. is up for best high or mid-rise project sales brochure and we’re extra excited to be up for the most prestigious Ontario home builder of the year award. The winners will be announced at the Village of Blue Mountain Conference Centre in Collingwood on September 24. Wish us luck!

10 green innovations at 30Roe

Every project we do is about creating a building you will love living in. But while we focus on the quality of life of our residents, we can’t ignore the environmental impact of our projects.

We believe in creating better places for our residents. Healthier lifestyles should be simple to enjoy and at Minto30Roe you can rely on thoughtful, intelligent design to make living well the first and only choice. Our sustainable design approach is anchored in our commitment to deliver lifestyle, innovation, value, design and sustainability. From the construction process to everyday living, the below video shows you ten ways the new 30 Roehampton is making condo living greener. Enjoy!