A condo design featuring traditional details and sculptural furnishings
When Kim Calabrigo moved from a large family home to a condo, she quickly learned that bigger isn't always better.
A peaceful sanctuary in the heart of a downtown core: That doesn’t sound like too tall an order, does it? That’s what Kim Calabrigo sought when she sold her traditional Craftsman-style home in suburbia and moved to a condo in metropolitan Vancouver. Bringing no furniture with her, she was truly starting anew.
Kim’s first-ever solo home purchase offered her the opportunity to decorate exactly as she pleased. “I wanted a tone-on-tone look, mixing classic and modern elements with an edge,” she says.
Coming from a big traditional 4,200-square-foot home and moving to a smaller builder-basic 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom condo, Kim found space planning challenging. She wanted to maintain the most floor space possible while maximizing seating so she could entertain friends and family as easily as she used to.
Homeowner Kim Calabrigo's decorating wish list included sculptural furnishings, soft pink accents and traditional details.
To maximize seating in her new condo, Kim had a nine-foot-long sofa designed to run the length of the living room wall.
Opting to put a chaise against the living room's floor-to-ceiling windows keeps sightlines open and offers Kim a comfy place to take in the picturesque view with her morning cup of tea.
Though the space is open, the dining area is easily delineated by its standard banquette and oversized pendant light featuring white and peach beads and a rope-wrapped frame. "At night, the diamond motif casts beautiful shadows on the walls and ceiling," says Kim.
"I've embraced the less-is-more aesthetic and added interest by mixing old and new, shiny and matte, smooth and textured, organic and clean lined," says Kim. "I don't depend on bold colours and patterns."
Femininity reigns in the master bedroom, from the tall tufted headboard and layered wrinkled linens to the mirrored nightstands and petite vase of flouncy pink peonies. Massive windows mean that Kim can watch the sun set from the comfort of bed. Does it get any better than that?
In the master bedroom's built-in office nook, sparkly silver wallpaper subtly offsets the layers of cream, white and gold on the shelves. The palette is echoed in the frameless print of an 18th-century Venetian palazzo ballroom, resulting in a vignette that's the perfect mix of new world and old.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Image by: Donna Griffith | Styling: Christine Hanlon
Hushed tones and plenty of natural light make for a dreamy retreat
When these newlyweds ditched their condo for a house — as so many do — they set their sights upon Toronto’s leafy Summerhill neighbourhood , which they admired for its older homes. The couple found a 2,290-square-foot four-bedroom semi built in the 1930s that fit the bill in terms of age and locale, but it hadn’t been touched since the ’80s.
“It was so dark,” says one of the homeowners, referring to the interior, which was coated in dowdy browns and suffering from tiny rooms and windows, as well as a gloomy kitchen partitioned from the rest of the house. “We needed more light and a large kitchen for my husband, who loves to cook,” she says. Simply put, the house was hardly what you’d call a love nest. So the homeowners enlisted Croma Design’s Ryan Martin and Amy Kent to give their starter house a style transfusion.
“We wanted to create a classically inspired backdrop with clean-lined furnishings and art,” says Amy. The homeowners didn’t want to go too stark or too stuffy, so they settled on a transitional look with bold lashes of black and modern furnishings boasting traditional details. And, of course, they addressed the cramped spaces and lack of light.
To that end, the designers reworked the layout, removing the powder room, relocating the kitchen and expanding the windows at the front and back of the house. “We opened everything up so the light emanating from the new windows and existing skylight would stretch further,” says Ryan.
As for the finer details, near-black accents add striking drama against the palette of soothing greys, blues, browns and whites. “The colours in this home are very subtle, tone-on-tone and easy to live with,” says Amy. “We wanted the house to make an impact as a whole – not for any particular wall or accent to stand out above the rest.”
Whether the homeowners are upstairs lounging in the relaxed media room or downstairs sipping tea in the more formal living area, there is indeed a clear sense of cohesion, which is a hallmark of this home — and what makes it a far cry from its gloomy beginnings.
A dynamic explosion of hexagonal and subway tiles gives the third-floor bathroom edge. The contrasting grout as well as the blackened metal fittings, chair rail and sconces look sharp against the white backdrop.
Watery blues and greys lend a serene painterly feel to the tranquil second-floor family room.
The long and linear print of birch trees (with hand-applied copper leaf) echoes the shape of the low-slung sofa, which is clean-lined to suit the quiet space.
“I loved being able to customize the house to our needs,” says one of the homeowners. “My husband really loves the new kitchen.”
A spacious and stylish white kitchen flooded with natural light.
Vancouver designer Joanna Vagelatos updates a spacious family abode by adding tons of texture.
The house was beautiful the way it was. “A lot of people thought we were crazy to change it,” says homeowner Tanis Hill. “But it didn’t suit our style.” With sage green walls and an abundance of dark wood, the home was more heavy and masculine than Tanis and her husband liked. “Our aesthetic has always been light, airy and whimsical,” she says.
The couple purchased the 11-year-old French Provincial-inspired abode four years ago, when they were expecting their third child. “We actually put in an offer from the hospital room,” says Tanis. (Their children are now 7, 5 and 4.) In addition to light-filled wide open spaces and stunning architectural features, the 6,760-square-foot house in an established West Vancouver neighbourhood offered a convenient, tranquil setting ideal for raising a family – it’s four blocks from the beach and close to community centres, and there’s a babbling creek running through the backyard. “We picked this place for the children,” says Tanis.
To update the interior and give it a bright, casual Rachel Ashwell-esque vibe, the homeowners enlisted Vancouver designer Joanna Vagelatos, who now runs JV Design Group but was with The Cross Decor & Design when she worked on the home. During the six-month cosmetic renovation, Joanna transformed the space by painting the walls and millwork in soothing neutrals and replacing the Brazilian cherry hardwood floors with slightly greyed white oak. This created an airy backdrop for the cozy mix of natural fabrics and traditional and vintage-style furniture, as well as Tanis’s chandelier collection (“I love chandeliers – I own 10 of them!” she says).
But it’s the variety of textures and finishes that gives the home’s white, grey and linen palette interest and warmth. “You don’t need to add punches of colour for impact,” says Joanna. For instance, a weathered wood table keeps the dining area invitingly informal; linen and lace give the master bedroom a romantic yet unfussy feel; the chic crystal chandelier and pretty vanity chair enhance the all-white ensuite’s luxurious look; and custom-made burlap toy bins lend softness and uniformity to the playroom (“Plus, they won’t scratch the millwork like hard woven ones would,” says Joanna).
Indeed, the soothing space was decorated without ignoring practicality. “We did everything with the children in mind,” says Tanis. From the virtually indestructible leather covering the kitchen island stools to the stunning unadorned floor-to-ceiling windows (“I don’t have to worry about kids and cords,” says Tanis) to the durable hardwood floors, the house is a veritable indoor playground. “Once the makeover was complete, the kids got on their plastic toy cars and ripped around the rooms – it was their way of christening the place,” she says.
Transforming the kitchen meant replacing the dark granite countertops with honed quartz, spraying the dark wooden island white, adding extra cabinetry for a wall oven and panelled fridge and installing oversized wrought iron chandeliers. White cane-backed stools with grey leather seats match the chairs in the adjacent dining area.
Elements like the muted-toned bean bag chairs, subtle grey foam mats and a white-painted vintage piano provide the functional family playroom with a lively style that’s still sophisticated.
Tanis (pictured here with her three children) inherited the loveseat from her grandmother. The open shelves with burlap toy bins help keep the play area orderly.
The existing freestanding bathtub and marble floor in the ensuite were softened with fleur-de-lys lace café curtains and a linen-covered vanity chair.
A white caned bed frame enhances the master bedroom’s romantic French-inspired look. “It’s a place where we could layer lots of linen and lace,” says Tanis. An oversized chandelier suits the scale of the space and complements its delicate vintage vibe.
A decorative olive branch objet paired with an old hardcover and fresh blooms makes for an enchanting bedroom vignette.
Bergère-style armchairs paired with a scroll-leg pedestal table and cowhide rug define the sitting area in the master bedroom.
The interior’s neutral palette continues to the outdoor living space, which is accessible from the kitchen and dining area via white-painted French doors. “There are three sets of French doors on the back of the house,” says Tanis. “And when they’re all opened up, they reveal a beautiful setting.” Tanis and her husband love to spend time here relaxing.
The rustic stone fireplace, driftwood-toned coffee table and resin wicker sofas with linen-hued cushions give the covered lounge area an indoor-outdoor feel.
Stylish toss cushions and throws add to the outdoor sitting area’s cozy vibe.