Tour this Vancouver home's modern eclectic look.
This Vancouver home's modern eclectic look is a testament to the power of a sister act.
Now that the dust has settled on their massive whole-house renovation, homeowners Anna Wright and Alistair Sale – both busy professionals and parents of Lewis, 10, Freddie, 8, and George, 6 – each have their favourite features of the new interior. For Alistair, the cook of the family, the open kitchen is the (long-awaited) best part. Anna is most excited about the master ensuite bathroom she doesn’t have to share with the kids. And for the boys, it’s their bigger playroom in the finished basement.
The Vancouver family lived in the 3,700-square-foot 1920s home for five years before embarking on the huge overhaul. “I’m so glad we lived in the house for a while first and figured out what we wanted,” says Anna. “If we’d done the renovation right away, we would have done things very differently, and those decisions probably wouldn’t work for us now.”
The crisp white brick fireplace surround, built-ins and original wood panelling set off the dark grey on the upper walls of the den. Leaded glass cabinetry doors are another original feature. The antique chandelier was picked up at a London flea market.
A contemporary pale orange sofa pops against the white panelling and dark grey walls. The Mid-Century Modern desk was a lucky find at an antiques store a few years back, as was the Tolix chair.
Going vintage is often a more economical decorating idea than buying brand new, says Sophie.
The birdcage pendant light adds another unexpected dose of colour and whimsy.
In the dining area, an antique zinc-topped table from a French flea market pairs well with mismatched colourful Eames dining chairs. “We thought the different hues of the dining chairs would be quirky and fun,” says homeowner Anna Wright.
The designer pendant light was a pricey find from London, England.
Expanding the existing skylight and adding more windows above the sink brought loads of natural light into the white painted kitchen. Homeowner Alistair Sale greatly appreciates the bigger sink, but extra kitchen counter space, double wall ovens and a gas cooktop were at the top of his must-have list.
French doors lead out to a newly enlarged wraparound deck off the open kitchen/dining area, making the backyard much more accessible. The kitchen peninsula is perfect for casual breakfasts and homework time.
The zinc top on the antique dining table can take plenty of wear and tear from everyday family meals; the stark white modern dishware strikes a pleasing contrast against the patinated surface.
A desk area in the kitchen serves as the family workspace and offers plenty of storage space for the kids’ paperwork and school supplies. Inspirational photos and small pieces of art bring personality to the nook.
The new master ensuite bathroom is Anna’s retreat from hectic work and family life.
The matching gold mirrors in the master ensuite are a glitzy big-box score.
Grey and white cement floor tiles provide ornate pattern in the otherwise serene white room.
The bathroom floor tiles themselves weren't very expensive, but shipping the from California was.
How to survive a kitchen reno with a young family
How to survive a kitchen renovation with a young family and hectic schedules.
Two busy parents plus two young boys can add up to one hectic family home. When you subtract the kitchen, the outcome can be downright chaotic. Here's how Style at Home art director Karen Paddon survived her two-month kitchen reno.
Kitchen reno survival tips
1 If possible, schedule your reno for the summer months. We did ours in the winter, but having access to the barbecue and being able to spend most of our time outdoors would have been much more convenient.
2 If you can afford it, move out during the renovation or at least during the ruckus of the initial demo. We planned a family getaway for the weekend that the floors were being ripped up to escape the noise and dust.
3 Create a makeshift kitchen. We turned the upstairs playroom into a cooking space by taking up our old microwave, toaster and George Foreman grill, as well as a mini fridge from the garage. The tub in the adjacent bathroom was handy for washing dishes.
4 Shop small. To keep our temporary kitchen functional, we did a few grocery runs a week. That way, I cut down on the trips between two flights of stairs to the basement fridge.
5 Make a clean break. We isolated ourselves from the areas being worked on. We moved everything we needed (most importantly, the kids' toys) upstairs. My husband and I didn't go near the kitchen much, so the kids didn't seem to want to either.
6 Simplify. Without an oven, our menu options were limited, but we made it work. We ate a lot of sandwiches, salads and microwaved rice and peas. I tried to keep things healthy with veggie platters and cut fruit.
7 Stay in the loop. The more familiar you are with the reno timeline, the better you're able to anticipate the especially disruptive projects and plan outings during those hours.
8 Double and triple up. I think people try to tackle one reno at a time, but redoing the kitchen floor quickly snowballed into redoing the floors on the whole main level -- we wanted the same finish throughout. And once we got to the laundry room, we decided to renovate it, too.
9 Take this opportunity to visit with family and friends. A few times a week, we ate a meal at the grandparents'. And I don't think I turned down a single dinner party invitation in those two months!
10 Plan well. We survived it, but living through a kitchen reno was not easy. Above all else, I'd recommend having a game plan in place to keep the timeline as short as possible and to ensure all the boxes are ticked so there aren't any redos down the line. We chose a timeless aesthetic, so I won't have to touch the kitchen for another 10 years, at least!
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.
Add or expand your closet space with helpful tips and tricks from Scott McGillivray
If you live in a condo or an older house, you know that closet space is at a premium. Adding a closet or expanding an existing one will help to increase the functionality and value of your home. Or, if it’s a low-cost, flexible solution you’re after, stand-alone wardrobes are always an option.
Photography courtesy of istockphoto.com
Adding and increasing
You’d be surprised where you can squeeze in closet space. Consider, for instance, the often overlooked area underneath your staircase. With a little ingenuity, you can really gain some valuable extra storage. If it’s your bedroom closet that’s lacking, you may be able to get away with widening or deepening it – or even building a new one – by expanding into an adjacent room. Just be sure the other space is large enough to give up that square footage without losing its functionality.
Photography courtesy of Stacey Van Berkel
The easiest and most affordable way to increase closet space is by adding stand-alone wardrobes along a wall. What’s great about this solution is that they’re a non-permanent addition, so when it comes time to sell, buyers will be able to visualize the space as either having the extra storage or not.
A lot of people ask me if converting a small bedroom into a walk-in closet is worth it. It’s the simplest and most obvious solution to a lack of closet space in a house, but before you commit to this type of reno, there’s something to consider first. Does your home have four (or more) bedrooms? The most appealing type of property to the majority of prospective buyers is a detached house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bringing your home down to two bedrooms eliminates a large portion of the home-buying population, so any value you gain by adding the big closet is erased. However, if you plan on staying in your home for the next 20 years and this is a “just for you” renovation, go for it.