Patio party planner's checklist
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Patio party planner's checklist
Small space: Contemporary and artistic duplex
When the opportunity to purchase the great space you've been renting for a year arises, you grab it. And that's exactly what Leah Belford and Kris Dirksen did."We were so attached to the home and couldn't bear the idea of moving," says Leah, "so when the owner decided to sell, we pulled together an offer and got it!" That "it" is a three-storey, 1,080-square-foot duplex set in Kits, the local moniker for Vancouver's vibrant Kitsilano neighbourhood.
As new homeowners, the couple was keen to synthesize the space's design with their needs. Overall, they wanted to eradicate the dingy yellow walls, dated popcorn ceilings and '90s builder-quality finishes to a cleaner design.
In the living room, a new large picture window keeps the view to the garden unobstructed and lets in lots of light. A mix of modern furniture and worldly finds, such as the vintage throw blanket that was picked up on a trip to Buenos Aires and repurposed as a rug, reflects the couple's eclectic approach to decorating.
The couple knew their fresh finishes had to be practical, and a serious lack of storage space (just two tiny storage cupboards and two closets) meant the organizing solutions had to be savvy. The stacked drawer units in the hallway provide optimal organization in the small space.
Jewellery storage trays
Leah, a jewellery designer, uses funky trays for storage to hold strands of pretty gemstones. "They have to be stored in a single layer to avoid becoming a tangled mess," says Leah.
With saving space in mind, Kris built a sliding cedar barn door between the master bedroom and ensuite. An antique armoire scored on Craigslist holds most of Leah's clothes; off-season items are stashed in storage baskets under the bed. An African feather headdress lends a tactile softness to the room.
Here, the couple shunned the traditional bathroom vanity for pre-fab lower kitchen cupboards. "They're easier to customize because there are more sizing options, and they are higher and wider than standard bathroom cabinets so there's more room for storage." In addition to housing toiletries, the cupboards hold extra bedding, blankets and cleaning supplies.
The skylight illuminates the professional-looking results of leah and Kris's DIY bathroom renovation. A ladder handcrafted by a local woodworker is an interesting perch for the bath mat. It stands beside Uma the cow, an oil painting by Leah's artist cousin.
In homeowner Leah Belford's Vancouver duplex, her second floor studio (where she creates jewellery for her line, Leah Alexandra) remains clutter-free thanks to clever storage solutions, some of which are artfully placed in the bay window.
Third floor: 130-square-feet
Initially Kris set up his studio on the third floor, with Leah's on the second. But the arrangement proved problematic: "There's no door on the top floor to shut out sound," explains Leah. "Since I was working right below, either Kris was complaining about my music being too loud for him to do his work or vice versa!" Eventually he converted the garage into his own soundproof studio, and the top floor is currently a "bonus" space that Leah uses as a home office.
In Leah's home office on the third floor, white IKEA exposed shelving units deliver both practical storage and an ever-changing lively vignette of books and favourite objects. A vintage bench upholstered in bright pink linen injects a decidedly feminine air, while the gold-leafed pendant light adds a layer of rustic glamour.
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Lead image credits (top to bottom); Virginia Macdonald, Stacey Cohen Design, Donna Griffith
5 small space myths
We debunk 5 myths about decorating for small spaces.
Photography by Paul Chmielowiec
Small space myth 1: Don't use large furniture.
There's this strange myth out there that if you use large furniture in a small space, it will eat up the room. This can be true if you try to stuff a large bedroom set in a 10'x10' room, but you can still introduce large pieces in small quantities. Don't want to give up your queen-sized bed? Instead, cut back on other pieces like large armoires and bulky side tables. Your big bed will become a beautiful focal point in the room.
Photography by Kim Christie
Small space myth 2: Only use neutrals.
Sure, white walls can make a small room look airy, but don't limit yourself to just neutrals. The bedroom above (in a small Vancouver condo) has sandy walls, but also includes an artistic chalkboard wall. Pops of colour in the cushions bring life to the space and do anything but make it feel smaller.
Photography by Michael Graydon
Small space myth 3: They always look cluttered.
There's no need to get rid of all your 'stuff' just because you live in a small space -- just make sure you have savvy storage spaces. The teeny bathroom above has full cabinetry underneath the sink, but features sliding doors to keep things looking sleek. Thin glass shelves above the toilet neatly hold items that are frequently used so they're always at the ready.
Photography by Stacey Brandford
Small space myth 4: Avoid patterns.
Much like the myth of sticking to one focal point, many of us are scared to use pattern in a room in fear that it will look too busy. The living space above uses seven different patterns and they all blend together to create a cohesive space. The key is to use a similar colourway -- each of the patterns either use a neutral or the coral colour used on the walls.
Photography by Sue Stubbs
Small space myth 5: Stick to one bold focal point.
Many designers advise that you choose one eye-catching piece when decorating for a small space to avoid an overwhelming look, but this isn't always the case. The dining room above incorporates a bright feather wreath with a gorgeous natural stone fireplace and a Floyd Paxton pendant light. Even though each is a showstopper in their own right, the mix of one bright colour with neutrals ensures they work seamlessly together.
Interior designer Jacquelyn Clark's condo
A tight budget doesn’t stop this young designer from creating a personality-filled pad.
A builder-boring condo, tight budget and super-busy lifestyle might mean a very dull living space for a lot of people. But not for Jacquelyn Clark, the Lark & Linen blogger and former Style Me Pretty editor who recently launched her own interior design business. With a keen eye for decorating and a talent for transforming bland into beautiful, Jacquelyn turned the 700-square-foot rental condo she shares with boyfriend Justin Gagne in Toronto’s Distillery District into a chic home full of personality.
Interior designer and blogger Jacquelyn Clark in her chic Toronto condo.
The scene-stealer in the living area is the vintage cart-turned-coffee-table picked up for a song. “We found it tucked in the back of a vintage shop, unfinished and missing a few boards,” says Jacquelyn. Boyfriend Justin Gagne completely refinished it.
An arrangement of artwork and Jacquelyn’s own travel photographs makes up the gallery wall in the dining area. Eames-style chairs pull up to a simple, inexpensive dining table, which sits below a sleek modern pendant light.
Painting the bump-out wall with wide horizontal stripes is a budget-friendly way to differentiate the office nook from the rest of the living area. Jacquelyn left the feet of the desk unpainted for a stylish dipped look.
Simple and stylish decor accessories help decorate Jacquelyn's office desk.
Like the rest of the condo, the bedroom is a smart mix of save and splurge items. An embroidered coverlet Jacquelyn picked up in India, for example, shares space with toss cushions by Brooklyn-based textile designer Rebecca Atwood.
The white IKEA nightstand in the bedroom was customized with a new brass knob. Jacquelyn created the artwork above the bed with her own travel photos, which she altered in Photoshop and then had printed.
In the bedroom, Jacquelyn's jewellery is displayed in a inexpensive and stylish way.
1 Flynn table lamp, Serena & Lily, $295 US. 2 KO Sticks foldable star sculptures, Design Within Reach, from $40 US each. 3 Brushstroke 2 toss cushion, Rebecca Atwood, $139 US. 4 in Black with beech legs, Structube, $69. 5 Jute Chenille Herring bone rug, West Elm, from $64