House Tours

A traditional B.C. home is made modern with black, white and natural accents

A traditional B.C. home is made modern with black, white and natural accents

Image: Janis Nicoly | Design: Nancy Riesco

House Tours

A traditional B.C. home is made modern with black, white and natural accents

A Vancouver designer lets her intuition guide her in a super-speedy whole-house transformation.

We've all been there. The in-laws are coming, but the house isn’t ready for company. You frantically sweep and dust, fluff pillows and shove things in drawers. Four years ago, this all-too-familiar scenario played itself out in the extreme for one West Vancouver family, who bought a house with a visit from out-of-town relatives just around the corner.

The 4,015-square-foot four-bedroom new build was sufficiently clean,  of course. But it lacked furniture and accessories – not to mention the lived-in feel that makes a home inviting for a family and their guests. Seven weeks shy of the visitors’ arrival, the homeowners accepted that they were well out of their depth and called in designer Nancy Riesco, who plunged right in.

Strapped for time, Nancy had to be pragmatic. The designer worked with and enhanced what the house had to offer. That is, neutral walls (only one got a lick of charcoal as an accent), grey-washed wide-plank oak flooring on the main floor (which Nancy copied on the previously carpeted upper level) and simple drapery throughout.

Nancy took an equally practical approach to sourcing furnishings. The homeowners gave her four inspiration photos, which shared a black and white scheme. “So I took that and ran,” says the designer, who literally rushed to her favourite shops and bought up every stocked piece that fit the bill. “If something was a disaster, I would have just taken it back.” Luckily, the elements of good design – balance of scale, pattern play, textural juxtaposition and more – come as second nature to this veteran of the trade (Nancy’s been in the biz  for more than 25 years), so every pick proved pitch perfect.

“We dashed like mad crazy people, but we got it done,” the designer recalls. When presented with the space, the clients felt instantly at home, settling in just in time to welcome their guests – the very next day. 

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The streamlined living room honours this home’s West Coast location with unique natural elements, such as the locally made resin-filled tree trunk coffee tables. The slump-into-it sectional was a serendipitous in-stock item and is offset by the adjacent minimal leather sling chairs.

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Designer Nancy Riesco definitely delivered the black and white look the homeowners sought. Welcoming with graphic artwork, the entryway is a case in point. 

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The homeowners’ Tulip-look dining set fit right into the kitchen’s eat-in area, making it an easy choice. A print of a vintage Paris map and a charcoal accent wall lend depth here.

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 “I like making modern things work in traditional environments,” says Nancy, who injected the home’s classic white kitchen with substance and texture in the form of black pendant lights and wire-back stools. 

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The homeowners chose to keep the raindrop-like light fixture that was in the dining room, as it was sufficiently unassuming. The console and table were tailor-made on a rush order, but the Parsons style chairs were only available in “some hideous colour” on the short notice given, so Nancy camouflaged the brown seats with custom white linen slipcovers. 

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In the playroom, Nancy got playful with fun cloud wallpaper and whimsical accents. But the space packs a practical punch, too, moonlighting as the TV room and guest quarters. 

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 The bold guest room wall mural “takes the humble flower to the limits of its expression,” says Nancy. From there, she introduced only the bare necessities in hushed hues. 

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House Tours

A traditional B.C. home is made modern with black, white and natural accents