Even major design talents like DwellStudio founder Christine Lemieux can learn a lot from an architect's expert advice.

THE PROBLEM: obtrusive steel columns
Pipes used to be hidden behind the undulating walls and podlike rooms. Once those had been removed, Meyer and Davis had to figure out what to do with the loft's prominent steel columns.

THE SOLUTION: an organic, open layout
The architects stripped the painted pillars, exposing their natural charcoal tint, then used them to separate the shared area into three distinct zones: dining room, lounge, living room. "Instead of trying to radically reinterpret the layout, we let those divisions inform us," Meyer says.

The kitchen, however, proved a sticking point. Meyer and Davis wanted to paint the custom cabinetry high-gloss black to complement the columns and help give the room a stronger voice. Lemieux, a fierce minimalist, was adamant that the kitchen blend seamlessly with the rest of the loft. Standing her ground, she insisted on off-white paint but happily went with the architects' idea of embellishing the cabinets with raised framing and mounting herringbone panels on the walls of the island.