10 Minutes With a CEO: Natalie Papia

From the colours of her home to the sites on the streets of Rome, the president and founder of Zilli Home Interiors chats with City Life

Q: What qualities do you most admire in a room?
I find it fascinating to see a room that has numerous different objects, fabrics, textures, and yet all work together so seamlessly. It’s amazing how you can mix different end tables, different woods and metals, add a little bit of fun with fur or a pop of colour, and make it work. It’s a talent and requires great skill

Q: Which colours prevail most in your home?
I love red leather, red walls, and even red accents in the kitchen. It’s robust, full of life and exciting

Q: What is the one thing that influenced your career choice when you were growing up?
I grew up in a furniture manufacturing plant, family owned, where I learned all about the furniture industry and met many interesting individuals in both the retail and manufacturing sectors. As I travelled and visited retail stores across North America, I began to develop my own vision of the ideal home furnishings retailer. Of course, continuing to always promote my favourite Canadian manufacturers

Q: What is your favourite country based on its decor?
Italy is by far the most interesting country for its architecture, fashion, cuisine and passion. Walking through the streets of Rome and Florence to see historical inspirations and then window shop down your favourite fashion streets makes for a magnificent day.

Q: What are three things that a home should never be without?
A comfortable sectional, a fully stocked kitchen, and luscious bedding for your dreamy bed

Q: If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?
A dining table. I would love to hear all the juicy conversations that happen at the dinner table, especially after a couple of glasses of wine!

Q: The one thing you love most about the city and your life …
I love all that Toronto offers — entertainment, great shops, recreational activities, and the vibrant city lights. On a personal level, my children — their hugs and smiles, their inquisitive minds — bring me my greatest joy and make me happy every day

Q: As a CEO of a successful company, why do you think it’s important to give back to the community?
Being able to help others is a rewarding experience. I enjoy helping organizations whose cause I believe in and where our contributions are appreciated. Every little bit helps and together great things happen


“I think what I love most is being able to mix different materials and textures. For example, I love being able to combine a lovely stripe accent pillow (with a raised velvet stripe) and then mixing it with other pillows with various trims, ruffles, appliqués and then add a fur throw — a beautiful personalized touch! Right now, the other wonderful material is the rubbed antique bronze, a beautiful metal that can be used in occasional tables, wall décor and accessories”

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