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.
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.
I came across this picture on Martha Stewart Weddings a little while ago and it's got me inspired to create some of my own garden party decor. One of my favourite things about the warmer months (will winter ever end?!) is the chance to entertain outside, and nice lighting is key once dinner and drinks end and dusk slowly envelops the sky.
These little hanging votives have such a charming look and they're so easy to create yourself. First, grab a few glass and wire tea light votives, however many you'd like. I found these cute Mason jar-style ones at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
They're only $10 per set of 3.
Next, Buy a few rolls of thick, satin ribbon in whichever colour you like. I chose this baby pink option from Indigo as I thought its light colour would stay visible into the evening and would complement any garden party greenery.
Measure and cut out a few different lengths of ribbon so that your lighting will be staggered. Loop the ribbon pieces through the candle holder handles and tie them in a neat bow on one end. Be careful to ensure that no loose ends hang too close to where the flame of the candle will be. Hang your creations from sturdy branches. When you're ready for mood lighting, simply light white tea lights and drop them inside the holders. The twinkling ambience will make it hard to convince your guests to leave! Have anymore great diy project ideas for garden parties? Tweet me @ErynJean!
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