Tour this chic and stylish condo.
Downsizers trade their house in the sticks for the prettiest pared-down condo in the city – and they don’t miss their old digs one bit.
With their enviable nooks and crannies, most suburban houses can handle the extras. You know, the useless bits that gobble up space: the family china passed down through the ages or a dusty treadmill dying a slow death. Shove them into a corner and no one is the wiser. But in a condo, space is a coveted commodity. Every item must count and every design decision must be carefully executed, as it is in Janice and Colin Dreyer’s 1,600-square-foot abode. Located on the fourth floor of a new-build boutique high-rise in Vancouver, the unit is vastly different from their previous home, which was nearly double the size. The couple, a pair of empty nesters in their 60s, knows about “stuff” first-hand. For 30 years, they lived on the outskirts of the city – first in Cloverdale, where they raised three children, and then in their last house in South Surrey for 10 years – slowly accumulating a lifetime of belongings. And it’s been a relief to finally purge. “I got rid of almost all of it,” says Janice, who confidently announces: “Honestly, I don't miss a thing.”
The couple didn’t have to search far to find the right person to decorate the condo. Their daughter is designer Karla Dreyer, who heads up an eponymous firm in Vancouver. In addition to providing interior services, Karla offers beautifying help virtually with her e-decor program. But for her parents’ home, she worked in the flesh, fast and furiously passionate, over a three-month period. “They really wanted it done quickly because they were excited to start their third act in life,” says Karla. The bones of the space served as inspiration. “The windows – there are a ton of them – and the white-tiled floors really lent themselves to decorating in a light, airy way,” says Karla. The springtime palette of pretty pastels makes the condo sparkle with youthful freshness. “Pastels can come off as juvenile, so the trick is to incorporate them in a sophisticated fashion,” says the designer, who tempered them with glam gold accents and a bright white shell. “I love how the soft colours evoke a joyful vibe.”
Clearly they have also influenced the occupants, who are adjusting brilliantly to city life. Says Janice, “Living with less is great.” Should a bout of nostalgia hit, however, she can always visit a selection of precious pieces she salvaged from the suburbs. “I did take out a storage unit for small items I was unsure about,” says Janice. None of them have made it back into the condo.
When Janice and Colin Dreyer purchased their new condo, they knew exactly who to turn to for decorating help: their designer daughter Karla. In the living area, she decided to incorporate gold touches and coral accents for a decidedly youthful feel. “My parents are pretty stylish, so the decor represents them well,” says Karla, who believes design shouldn’t subscribe to ageism.
Janice loves birds, so Karla went with an avian theme, expressed here in one area of the condo via the wallpaper featuring hummingbirds in flight, the brass sculptures on the chest and the witty painting by local talent Zoë Pawlak.
"I’m used to having lots of wall space, so dealing with all the windows was tricky,” says Karla. But this spot was perfect for the dining area, allowing the couple to take in the sights over a meal. The Tulip-style table paired with mismatched chairs is fun.
Accommodating the 63-inch TV (a must for Dad) meant Karla had to get crafty because it dominated the room. “It’s a monster,” she says with a laugh. “The living area only has one wall, so I had to place the television there. I camouflaged its looming presence with some pretty wallpaper, which I think worked out well.”
Layered in champagne hues and captivating textures, such as the faux-fur throw and the cushy velvet headboard, the master bedroom is inviting and luxurious.
The home office, situated in the solarium just off the master bedroom, is simple yet perfectly functional.
Showcase beautiful spring and summer blooms in your home.
Celebrate spring and summer with 8 beautiful floral arrangements to inspire colourful displays all season long.
Pull back the curtains and open up the windows - spring is here! And there is no better way to celebrate a fresh new season than with its beautiful bounty. Whether you're lacking a green thumb or are a florist at heart, creating fabulous floral arrangements is easier than you think. We’ve rounded up eight fresh arrangements to inspire colourful displays using delightful spring and summer blooms.
After a long grey winter, even the tiniest bursts of colour are more than welcome around the home. Old-fashioned garden shrubslike lilac and bridalwreath spirea add a touch of nostalgia to this sweet entryway vignette. Tip: When creating a grouping of different posies, use a variety of eclectic vessels and play with the height and volume of each arrangement.
Spring is a season of vivid colours, with its blooms of bright yellows, pinks and blues. For the sake of variety, try a different approach: A quiet collection of greens, whites and a peek of pale purple is like a breath of fresh air.
Add some foliage power to your spring tablewith burgundy-leaved beauties (heuchera and begonia) accented with arching sprays of bleeding hearts and the tiny blooms of forget-me-nots. Tip: Forgo a large centerpiece in favour of mini-posies scattered along the length of the table.
A simple milk glass vessel shows off a voluptuous single-hued bouquet. When arranging a variety of flowers in similar shades, play with tone, texture, shape and size. Here, the display features the beauty of bigleaf hydrangea with tendrils of summer blooms and foliage, including blackberry sprigs and Blue Pirouette clematis, winding through the blooms and offering a wonderfully untamed feel.
This painterly arrangement is composed of serious summer stunners – including ‘Juliet’ long-stemmed David Austin roses and dinner plate-sized ‘Café Au Lait’ dahlias – in the prettiest shades of blush and white.
When hosting overnight visitors, deck out the guest room with a bouquet of vibrant friendly flowers – eye-catching fuchsia blooms, such as dahlias, calla lilies and unfurled fern fronds, will do the trick.
Summer is high time for flowers, since options at the market are seemingly endless. Don’t limit yourself – go lush and grand. Anchor oriental lilies, hydrangeas, love-lies-bleeding and variegated hosta in an urn, and then mix in a few apple tree boughs. A few apples scattered around the base of the urn evoke an abundant summer harvest.
Create a whimsical welcome suited to both formal and casual entryways. Mingle greens – quirky Foxtail lilies, Boston fern fronds, Lime Rickey smooth hydrangea and heuchera – with sherbet-coloured blooms – old cabbage roses and ‘Juliet’ long-stemmed David Austin roses – in a shallow fluted vessel.
A fashionable couple treats their stylish abode as an ever-evolving runway that offers opportunities to strike a decorative pose using their chic collection.
A lot can happen in a year. At this time last year – September, to be exact – designer Matthew Meisner, owner of design firm Heirloom & Knot, moved into a new home in downtown Toronto with his partner, Rick Bettencourt, and Rick’s daughters, Milena, 15, and Celeste, 11, who live there part-time. The 2,100-square-foot three-storey ultra-modern abode had great architectural character and, even better, had recently been renovated. All that it required was a coat of white paint, warm wood elements and a healthy dose of personality – of which the couple has plenty.
Fashionable fiances Rick Bettencourt and Matthew (seated) pose in the living room of their downtown Toronto home.
Art collectors, travellers and curators of quirky vintage finds, the two are fashion savvy to boot. Rick is vice-president of Nine West Canada, so even though Matthew is the professional designer, he still lets stylish Rick provide plenty of input. “I want it to feel like we both contributed equally to the look,” says Matthew.
Take, for example, the wallpapers and textiles on display throughout the home: Most are designed by Matthew for his Heirloom & Knot collection but selected for the interior by his hubby-to-be. “It’s like choosing between my own children,” says Matthew. “I can’t pick favourites, so I leave that to Rick.” The open-concept space is also decorated with relics of the couple’s past, from the antique kitchen scale that was one of the first pieces they purchased together (“out of the garage of a random guy we met on Craigslist,” says the designer with a laugh) to the framed fashion show invites in the powder room (not shown) collected during Rick’s days working as the womens- and menswear director for Holt Renfrew (Prada and Hermès and Alexander McQueen, oh my!). Art purchased on vacations, knick-knacks picked out at antiques markets and a real deer head that’s been in Matthew’s family for years all lend the home its eclectic character while clearly reflecting the fashion-forward couple. “Anywhere we turn in our home, we see something that makes us smile,” says Matthew, noting that there are memories tied to almost every object in their house.
Matthew lugged the huge deer head on the plane home from his parents' cottage in Winnipeg. "It's been in my family for ages," he explains. "My great-uncle accidentally hit the deer with his car when he was young." The bust has lived with Matthew's grandparents and parents and now acts as the perfect pairing for the tartan wool-upholstered sofa in the living room, lending a rustic cabin vibe to this modern eclectic space.
And it’s always evolving. “If I were to describe our home in a sentence,” says Matthew, “I’d say, ‘It’s curated over time and never finished.’” The two buy new pieces whenever something catches their eyes and, as a result, the decor rotates almost twice monthly. “What it looks like now is very different from these pictures,” says Matthew, explaining that while big furniture items stay the same, smaller finds flow in and out. The artwork exhibited on the master bedroom’s feature wall is seemingly switched out more often than that of a commercial gallery, and textiles are turned over seasonally.
Though their house’s interior decor shifts many times in one year, it always feels like home. “We’ve brought in things from former jobs, from frequent travels and from day-to-day life,” says Matthew. “It’s the celebration of everything that has brought us to this point in our lives.”
Credits: Ashley Capp
It’s fitting, because almost one year after moving into their dream home, Matthew and Rick will mark another milestone with their September 2016 wedding. And judging by how their two styles harmonize so perfectly here in this home, we’d say they’re a match made in heaven. Chin-chin!
Designer Matthew Meisner had sections of his Rorschach ink blot test-inspired wallpaper blown up and framed as art for his dining area. It makes for lively dinner discussions: "Everyone has an opinion of what they see," says Matthew, "and it's not always rated PG!"
Credits: Ashley Capp
A dramatic departure from the crisp white envelope of the main living space, the kitchen is decidedly dark. Warming up the existing cabinetry is vinyl wallpaper Matthew designed and named after Rick: Bettencourt Series 2. "It's durable and easy to switch out should we want a new look in the future," says Matthew.
Credits: Ashley Capp
Credits: Ashley Capp
The wall tiles in the master bath are a spin on the classic checkerboard look and a clever design hack - Matthew simply cut adhesive kitchen shelf liner into triangles and stuck it to the existing white tiles (which never get wet).
Credits: Ashley Capp
"I love that the bed frame's cane detail has old-world character while the shape is Mid-Century Modern," says Matthew, who introduces layers of history into his designs.
Credits: Ashley Capp
Image: Michael Nangreaves / Production: Christine Hanlon
Can you tell the difference between the high end and low budget Scandi-inspired dining room?
This eclectic Scandi-inspired dining room was crafted on budgets befitting a snug cabin and a luxe chalet. Can you tell the difference?
1 Mirror, Elte, $995; 2 Wallpaper, Thibaut at Kravet Canada, $126 per single roll; 3 Pendant light, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $150; 4 Pendant light, Universal Lamp, $585; 5 Dining table, Mobilia, $999; 6 Dining chairs, Art Shoppe, $499 each; 7 Ottoman, Elte, $1,195; 8 Rug, Wayfair.ca, $1,682; 9 Dining chair, Casalife, $1,100; 10 Tablecloth fabric, Designer Fabrics, $45 per yard; 11 Box, Elte, $1,795; 12 Table lamp, Universal Lamp, $830.
1 Mirror, Elte, $525; 2 Wallpaper, Thibaut at Kravet Canada, $97 per single roll; 3 Pendant light, Canadian Tire, $70; 4 Pendant light, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $450; 5 Dining table, EQ3, $599; 6 Dining chairs, IKEA, $99 each; 7 Ottoman, Elte, $775; 8 Rug, IKEA, $299; 9 Dining chair, Casalife, $484; 10 Tablecloth fabric, Designer Fabrics, $9 per yard; 11 Box, Elte, $825; 12 Table lamp, Universal Lamp, $315.
No matter your budget, there are a few design tips that will help you create an on-trend room like either of these.
Master the art of mixing: When modernism meets minimalism, a chic Scandi look is born. But don’t be fooled – this design aesthetic is far from predictable. Take cues from the sought-after style, as we have in our High and Low rooms, by mixing and matching furnishings, pairing sculptural black chairs with a sleek wooden one of similar build and then tossing in an über-plush ottoman for an unexpected touch of texture. Staggering light fixtures that vary in hue and scale strikes the ultimate stylish cord.
Pick accents that never go out of style: Glam brass accents will never fall out of fashion. It’s a notion contributing design editor Christine Hanlon stands behind: “I’ve purchased beautiful vintage brass pieces over the years, and I always have them on hand to add warmth and character to a display,” she says. She suggests scouring flea markets for hidden gems that do double duty, such as her footed bowl that also serves as a planter.
Try a DIY napkin project: Give a soft, organic feel to a modern tablescape with DIY frayed napkins. Cut your preferred size from a piece of linen and run the fabric through the washer to naturally fray the edges. Once it’s dry, pull at the ends with your fingers to emphasize the worn appearance. Juxtapose the look with sleek, bold flatware.
Dare to go wild with wallpaper: With a pared-back, monochromatic design as our starting point, adding a hit of flavour in the form of this chinoiserie wallpaper came easy. Though the two styles don’t typically go hand in hand, the room’s clean-lined aesthetic lets us get away with it.
Not sure where to start? Go with the most important piece in the room, the dining table. Streamlined and slender, these Scandinavian-influenced dining tables are striking in their simplicity. Any one will bring raw and rustic appeal to your dining room, whatever your budget. Check out our six top picks in the slideshow below.
Walnut-veneered MDF Thao with rubberwood legs, Structube, $249.
Lisabo in Ash Veneer, IKEA, $259.
Lena Mid-Century dining table - large, West Elm, $499.
Stained acacia Kacia, EQ3, $599.
Walnut-veneered MDF Sareen with beech legs and antique brass caps, Mobilia, $999.
Sealed walnut Catalina, Casalife, $4,143.