Coffee With: Lucila Diaz of Harmony Sense

Harmony Sense Interiors’ designs are instantly recognizable by bold lines and pointed use of color. We spoke with principal designer Lucila Diaz about her intro to the industry, inspiration and the most unique design project she recently finished.

Q&A with Lucila Diaz

Casaza: How did you get your start?
Lucila Diaz: My path into the design world is very unique; it started from the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Since I was a little girl I have always been good with numbers, so I ended up getting a degree in science. I spent my early years as a professional working for big corporations in Latin America until I moved to Canada to complete an MBA, and the love for interior design that was dormant woke up.

I pressed reset and started from scratch, leaving a career in market research and going back to school to study design. Today, after more than 12 years since I opened Harmony Sense Interiors Ltd. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have encountered, including working as the Production Designer for HGTV’s Property Brothers and creating great relationships with suppliers and trades along the way. The best part is that now I get to use everything I have learned. Even though one of the things I love the most about designing spaces is how creative the process is, I use a lot of my scientific tools when designing for clients. Sometimes parts of a project can be very precise, such as the cabinetry work we do or handling budgets. Other times being an entrepreneur and running a business demands using a lot of creativity.

Living room design by Harmony Sense Interiors' Lucila Diaz
Design by Harmony Sense Interiors

C: How would you describe your style?
LD:
A combination of timeless elements with modern and clean lines with an infusion of colour, plus the unexpected whimsical element that adds character and personality to the space. I always welcome the challenges that each project has. Function can never be overlooked. I want the spaces that we designed to be used and become the vehicle that facilitates and enhances the life of the people that inhabit them.

C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
LD:
There are so many great designs, but nature keeps amazing me. If you feel you are stuck, go for a walk and you will start seeing patterns, colour pallets, and textures all over the place. I am also fascinated with the geometry found in nature; it might be because of my love for numbers, but it is mesmerizing to see the fractal formations on so many elements of nature and how some specific proportions tend to be more appealing to the eye.

C: Favorite room in the house?
LD:
The great room. In today’s open concept having a well-designed space where the family can all interact and guest can be properly entertained is crucial. We all know parties end up around where the food is, and if your kitchen is not well connected to an open space, everybody cramps around the kitchen island (if you have one). For the day to day life, being able to be in the kitchen and still not feel that you are in a completely different room from the rest of the family allows everybody to feel more connected. Dining rooms are also an important part of it, whether is the only one in the home or a nook within the great room, providing a space to sit and have a dinner to connect with the family and disconnect from the electronics is a must.

C: Design rule you don’t subscribe to?
LD:
At the end of the day all rules can be broken. It is knowing when, how, and why to break them that makes you a professional and turns the science of designing into an art.

C: Recent project that inspired you?
LD:
We recently finished remodeling and styling a yacht. This was such a unique experience as there were so many different elements that needed to be taken into account that we will normally will not have to consider in a regular home, such as the curves in the floors, walls and ceilings, the type of materials that you can use and of course the fact that when your space is floating things can tip over. One of the things that I found most challenging was that when you are styling a home the view outside your windows is always the same, but in a yacht the story is different. You have a lot of windows, and the view can be different every morning. It was a nice challenge to find the perfect furniture that didn’t block any of the view, chandeliers that gave enough sparkle and accommodated the low ceiling height, and a colour palette that complemented the changing views as the client sails through the ocean.

C: Favorite texture/pattern/color?
LD:
I love the colours of the ocean so any blue inspires me. Living by the ocean allows me to see it change through the different seasons and admire its different hues. I love geometry, so I like using patterns that use hexagons or ones that are created by overlapping circles such as the flower of life. I can’t pick just one texture, I like them all and layering them is what makes even a monochromatic design look spectacular.

C: What is “good design” to you?
LD:
Good design is when there are tiny details imperceptible to the untrained eye that make the space feel balanced and harmonious. The energy can flow freely, and the space is not an obstacle but a conductor of good relationships, health, and prosperity.

Café l'Aubette in Paris, France
Café l’Aubette | Courtesy of Metalocus

Pack your bag! You’re moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
LD:
Does it have to be only one??? If there’s a time machine available, there are a lot of people who’ve passed that I would love to see how they lived, like artist Piet Mondrian. His art has inspired generations influencing fashion, furniture, architecture, and interiors for decades. I will love to live near Café l’Aubette in France, designed by Theo van Doesburg one of the first spaces designed under Mondrian’s influence in 1926 and after being restored in 2006 using the original designs, I consider it one of the masterpieces of modern design, and it’s like being inside a piece of art.

C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
LD:
Make sure everyone one feels welcome as if they were in their own home and part of the family. I have preteen kids and I enjoy having their friends around and letting them run and be anywhere in the house. Make sure there are lots of appetizers and good music.

C: Best advice for DIYers?
LD:
I think there is a lot of joy that can come from completing a project all on your own, but DIYers just have to put into a balance the pros and cons before deciding to tackle a project themselves. The first question I’d ask is how much time they have to complete their project. It is different if the project is for a room that nobody is using than if they are planning to renovate the only bathroom in the house. Start with a small project, do a lot of research, and don’t expect that just because you watch a video on how to do something you will be able to do it as fast and as efficiently as the professional. That is why time should not be one of your priorities when tackling a DIY project. For all structural, electrical and plumbing upgrades, definitely hire a professional!

C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
LD:
There are many great designers who can deliver the same level of work, but what you need to make sure you have with any professional that you hire is a personal connection, specially with someone with whom you and your family are going to be working so closely for months. Make sure that they are genuinely interested in you and not just in designing something for their portfolio.

C: What is one design trend you are most excited about this season?
LD:
I’m excited for the end of the grey trend and the use of MORE colour, from the softer use of pastels that the pink millennial started, to the deep greens that are starting to become the new neutral.

C: How do you take your coffee?
LD:
I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink green tea with a squeeze of lime or lemon.