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.
Find helpful decor and design inspiration from our list of the year's hottest trends.
Decor and design trends: Get the inside scoop on the year's most popular decor and design trends.
Lead image credits (top to bottom); Virginia Macdonald, Stacey Cohen Design, Donna Griffith
Take your bathroom from drab to fab with these easy decorating ideas!
Bathroom and kitchen renovations are known to give homeowners the biggest returns on their investment when they sell. But whether you’re doing a big renovation or just looking for ways to update your current bathroom and whether you intend to sell or not, these ideas for beautifying your bathroom will pay big returns in your overall satisfaction with your home. And you don’t have to have a $50,000 budget to do it. These affordable upgrades will add some serious style to your home without breaking the bank!
Renewal Divinity Small Mirror
What a difference something as simple as a mirror can make. The right one can transform the look of your bathroom and give it an updated, more stylish feel in an instant. The frame is made from hammered aluminum combined with beveled glass and can be hung vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference and the shape of the space you’re working in. Renewal Divinity Small Mirror, Wayfair, $380.46.
Flush Mount Bathroom Lighting Fixture
When renovating, it’s important to consider your lighting options for the type of space you have. So before you head to the lighting store, figure out whether it’d be best to go with flush mount, track lighting or sconces. No matter what you choose, illuminate your bathroom with a stunning light fixture that ties your bathroom’s whole look together and adds an appealing amount of sparkle and shine! Boasting a shiny chrome finish and a laser-cut inspired design on the lamp shade, this flush mounted lighting fixture will bring effortless elegance to your bathroom and is a simple way to take the look of the entire space from drab to fab! Flush Mount Bathroom Lighting Fixture, Multi Luminaire, $349.
Aroura Tile White and Gold Wallpaper
If you’ve always loved the look of wallpaper but have shied away from using it in the bathroom, it’s time to reconsider. Wallpaper has come a long way and today, there are lots of options on the market, many of which are suitable for moisture-rich environments. This gorgeous wallpaper has a mosaic pattern that mimics the look of tile and has a washable finish for easy clean-up. Aroura Tile White and Gold Wallpaper, Graham & Brown, $50/roll.
Metro Basket Weave White and Cobalt Porcelain Mosaic Tile
Flip through the pages of your favourite design magazine and you’re sure to see plenty of bathrooms boasting this contrasting basket weave tile to dramatic effect. Get the look for yourself with these tiles – but may we suggest opting for the white and cobalt colour combo as a subtle alternative to black and white? The rich cobalt will add a decidedly chic and unexpected look to your bathroom. Metro Basket Weave White and Cobalt Porcelain Mosaic Tile, Home Depot, $7.98 each.
Gleaming Brass Bath Collection
Upping the style quotient in your bathroom doesn’t get any easier than this! Swap out your existing vanity vessels for these truly chic options. The full set includes a soap dispenser, tumbler and tray, all in a beautiful brass finish. Gleaming Brass Bath Collection, Anthropologie, $22-$36.
Dot Medallion Shower Curtain
Looking for a quick and easy bathroom update that won’t break the bank? How about a new shower curtain? This 100% cotton curtain is made in India and features a modern medallion motif in a soothing colour palette of watercolour inspired shades of blue and grey. With this one simple addition to your bathroom, you’ll add an air of tranquility that will turn your bathroom into the oasis you always dreamed of. Dot Medallion Shower Curtain, West Elm, $29.99.
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.