Urban Blueprint is a design and build firm based in Toronto specializing in architectural planning and construction project management. This brother and sister team believe that there is a difference between a house and a home. The home represents an emotional and spiritual side to brick and mortar, and this is where design and build inform the most meaningful interactions in our most important space. We sat down with Luca Penzo, one of the Co-Founders of Urban Blueprint, to get his thoughts on renovating and design.

 

 

 

How did you get started in the design and real estate world?

Luca: I have been working on construction sites since I was a teenager. Our father being a developer, I was able to get into the industry as a general labourer. It was a great experience because I was able to learn how houses were built from the foundation up. I noticed that high-quality custom build services were really only being provided to the luxury new construction market and that it should be accessible to the urban market as well.

 

What is the best piece of advice you give your clients?


Luca:
You can’t change a home’s location; however, you can always renovate or redecorate. Planning is everything.
A construction project can be a huge expense and investment, so you want to know how the money is being allocated to each aspect of the design before you break ground.

 

 

 

What design era inspires you?


Luca:
There are a few. The Rococo period, incorporating ornate art into a room. I also love the modernism of Richard Neutra’s work. Everything mixed together so that rooms are not confined to a specific period.

 

What is your favourite part about the design & build niche?

 

Luca: It motivates us to bring our customer’s vision to life. We love when homeowners come to us early on in the process so that we can align all elements based on what is most important to them including budget, design, scheduling and finally construction. Rather than building on spec and having someone purchase a finished product, it is really rewarding to have the homeowner be part of the process. When our customers move in, we know they are going to feel at home because our projects are fully customized with them, for them.

 

What are some key things buyers should look for when searching for a home?


Luca:
You should look for things you will love that will also be a return on your investment. Kitchen and bathrooms with good bones, good plumbing, electrical, roofing. Cosmetic changes are easy to make sure the bones are there. Look for potential areas that you can add value. If you need help determining how much things will cost, how long it will take or if it is feasible, give us a call and we will consult with you on your showing. If you are planning on adding square footage, it is also always a good idea to check the zoning by-laws that apply to the property and do your due diligence to get an understanding of what types of projects have been approved in the area.

 

 

What have been some of your biggest renovation/building challenges?


Luca:
It’s usually when we start discovering what is behind those walls. We’re grateful to work with interior designers, trades and craftsmen who are at the top of their game, so through collaboration, we conquer those challenges. Almost every day poses a new challenge in the renovation market but with experience, you are able to foresee potential issues from the get-go. It is important to have the right contract readily available when issues arise, so we can determine a solution and adjust accordingly. We always allocate a contingency fund for unforeseen circumstances.

 

Your favourite room in a house to work on?


Luca: 
Kids rooms or powder rooms. People tend to add more fantasy and take more risks here. Kitchen, stairways, and master bathroom. I like to pay special attention to these areas as they generally carry the most detail and express the character of the home.

 

 

Any Toronto venues that inspire you?


Luca: 
The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

 

Favourite sources for inspiration?


Luca:
Travel. I love to pick up ideas from different cities and exploring how they could be implemented back home.

 

You see a lot of properties, any design element that has really wowed you?


Luca:
I went into one house in Toronto and the entire home was hand painted in murals. It was mind-blowing. Every square inch of the flooring was a mural story. The way the light flowed in and captured the different colours and the story was so beautiful.

 

Latest design trend you love?


Luca:
Glass railings. We have done them in so many different ways and in small spaces, it is a great way to transfer natural light and create a feeling of openness.

 

Favourite design social media mavens?


Luca: 
We love to follow the talented and innovative Canadian designers we work with like Anne Hepfer, Jennifer Worts, and James Davie.

 

For more information please visit: www.theurbanblueprint.com

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