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.
How to: Remove stubborn price stickers
The go-to paint colours designers' swear by
Find your perfect paint colour thanks to the expert advice of your favourite designers.
When you flip through the pages of your favourite design magazine or scroll through endless photos of gorgeous homes on Pinterest, chances are you’ll find yourself wondering about the paint colours on the walls. Finding the perfect shade of paint can be hard. There are so many colours to choose from so how do you distinguish a great grey from a dull one? How do you determine which shade of white will make your home look uber-chic and which will look like primer? The answer? Ask the experts! Designers know their way around a paint deck so we checked in with six of them, who each provided us with their top three go-to paint colours. Find out which shades are their favourites and where they use them.
I have been working closely with Cloverdale Paints and have three go-to off-whites that I LOVE. OW159 “Dream Nights” is a soft off white, that is the perfect neutral. It’s light enough to brighten a room, but has enough pigment to also provide depth.
CA187 “Silver” is cooler, with subdued blue tones. It’s clean, crisp, and a deep enough colour to contrast with white baseboards or crown moulding. Love it!
8436 “White Delight” is perfect for creating a warm tone on tone white space, a look that I love. Similar to my other two favourites, White Delight offers contrast, which is key to creating visual interest in all spaces.
For people who love dramatic colours (like me!), I recommend Krimson Lake by CIL. It's a deep, moody marine blue that I love to use in a flat paint finish.
My go-to white is Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore (see on the ceiling). It's a crisp, clean white – not too much yellow – and I love it for trim and walls.
The colour I specify most during my one-hour interior design consultations is Zeppelin by CIL. It's a warm grey-beige and a reliable neutral. It's a perfect colour when one wants to stay neutral and works in modern or traditional aesthetics alike.
This has been a go-to colour for us for years. It's the perfect warm, yet bright white for any and all rooms in the house including trims and cabinetry. Often, when we use Simply White, it's on the walls, trims and ceiling to create a clean and modern backdrop.
This off-white/pale gray changes beautifully in the light and is often one we use in bedrooms for a soft glow. It has a creamy undertone however does not feel traditional. This is one of my all-time favourites.
Revere Pewter is a classic grey that pairs perfectly with white trims, providing definition and character in a space. It is excellent for living and dining rooms and can steer more towards a traditional feel.
This colour is our top go-to colour at TFI! It is an extremely versatile colour. Silver Satin is a light grey that almost reads white and works in virtually any space. This colour adds a certain freshness to walls without being too white or too grey. Whether it is used on the walls or for cabinetry, we just can’t enough of this subtle yet beautiful colour!
We love this colour as it works well when pulling together taupes and greys. It reads neutral and allows for a lot of flexibility with the rest of the colours in any room. In this kitchen, the colour sets the tone for the room allowing the cabinetry and furniture to stand out. Benjamin Moore’s Collingwood is a classic colour that never goes out of style.
We love Benjamin Moore’s Oxygen when we want to add some colour to our walls. It is a great powder blue which has a certain softness to it. In this girl’s room, we wanted to create a space that was playful and fun but not overwhelmingly girly. Painting the walls with this subdued blue as opposed to a light pink was the perfect way to achieve the type of look we wanted.
This off-white has a drop of cream, making it the perfect, versatile backdrop for any colour scheme or decorating style for those who like to change things up.
I love white rooms but I also like a vibrant pop of color. This cheerful blue brightens up grey days and complements the elaborate mix of patterns and the bold colours I injected into this living room.
Bedrooms are mainly for the evenings so it makes sense to use a darker hue that is soothing and calm. This warm taupe grey is an exact colour match to the grasscloth wallpaper I installed on the main wall, creating a seamless transition from wallpaper to paint. I also selected a high gloss finish so the paint also echoes the shimmers from the wallpaper.
This is a warm off-white that isn’t too creamy. Soft and sophisticated, it’s calming and has a depth that makes it suited for bedrooms and cozy spaces. It looks great with dark wood tones and bronze or black metals.
This grey-green is cool and modern and works beautifully in bedrooms or bathrooms where you’re craving a hint of subtle colour. It can make whatever it’s paired with feel updated and fresh. I especially love it in rooms that get cool northern light; it reads almost like a mint but without the iciness.
This is my go-to grey. Many greys can veer too brown or too blue but this one doesn’t have any strong undertones. It’s a livable colour that would be equally at home in a living room or bedroom. I love it paired with warm neutrals, creams and natural wood tones to create a tone-on-tone palette.
How to find the perfect pillow
The Benjamin hotel in New York City offers guests an extensive pillow menu. Their sleep experts tell us how to find the perfect pillow for sweet dreams.
At New York City’s The Benjamin, a luxury hotel in Midtown East, everyone takes a good night’s sleep very seriously. To that end, the hotel has instituted the Rest & Renew sleep program, which offers everything from blackout drapes to earplugs to a pillow menu. All front-desk staff are trained to help guests find the perfect pillow. This innovative program is headed by sleep medicine expert Rebecca Robbins, a professor and co-author of the book Sleep for Success!.
Here are some of Rebecca’s tips for finding the perfect pillow for the best possible sleep.
1 Spend as much as your budget can afford
“A mattress and pillow are the foundation of a good night’s sleep,” Rebecca says. “When folks come to me, I say, spend as much budget as you can afford on them. We spend one-third of life sleeping; the more tailored to your sleep and the more luxurious the pillows and mattress are, the better the quality of your sleep. It’s a win-win.” And a big part of the experience is the pillow, she says.
2 Figure out how you sleep: Side, back or stomach
“A pillow menu is increasingly common in the hospitality industry,” Rebecca says. “Often they are gimmicky, but for The Benjamin, I was very excited that we can educate guests about sleeping positions so they make informed decisions.” Rebecca and The Benjamin segmented it into three sleeping-style types: namely, back, stomach and side sleepers. The underlying premise, according to Rebecca is that back sleepers need a firmer pillow, side sleepers a moderate-thickness pillow, and stomach sleepers need a thinner version.
3 What about “mixed” sleepers?
I explained to Rebecca my own habits: I start out on my side, and inevitably wake up on my back. “We typically say the position you start out in and feel coziest is the one you usually stay in. So you’re probably a side sleeper,” she says. “In that case I would recommend a pillow of moderate thickness,” she says. Personal preference will play a role too, she says.
4 What’s a common pillow purchasing mistake people make?
A common pillow-purchasing error: “Getting distracted by a nice package,” Rebecca says. Focusing on the size, colour, fabric, and even the brand of the pillow without awareness of how you are sleeping is a big no-no, she says. People get caught up in trends and latest-and-greatest promises, without a thought as to how they actually spend their time sleeping, resulting in a pillow choice that isn’t right for their sleep habits.
5 When is it time for a new pillow?
Pillows need to be replaced every one to two years, she says. A pillow protector will dramatically extend its life, possibly up to three years. As a reluctant pillow purchaser, I am shocked. “But I wash mine regularly even though I don’t replace them,” I protest. “That will keep the dust mites down, but try the pillow fold test,” she says. That entails folding a pillow in half. If the pillow bounces back to its flat state, it’s still good. If it stays folded in half, it’s time for it to go. “Try it tonight,” she says. I do. My clean three-year-old pillows all fail.
6 Test the new pillow
Make sure you test-drive a new pillow before purchase, Rebecca says. That means trying it out in the mattress or bedding store. “One thing to keep in mind is that price is significantly related to quality,” she says. Bargain pillows won’t be much of a bargain if they cause poor sleep or if you have to replace them quickly.
The Benjamin’s pillows
Perhaps you’ve stayed at a hotel with a pillow menu. The pillows have wry or sophisticated names and make big promises about improving the quality of your sleep, but they don’t always provide information on how to match the pillow to your sleep style. The Benjamin’s pillow offerings will give you an idea of the variety of pillows on the market today -- it’s not just the feather fill of the pillow fights of yore. High-tech (and low-tech) materials, surprising ingredients and tailored shapes will take you by surprise if you haven’t shopped for a pillow lately.
Here’s how the experts at The Benjamin break it down:
This pillow features a whopping 10 million air beads to keep your head cool and provide firm support for back sleepers.
If you love listening to music to put you in a restful state, but your sleep-mate objects, the Lullaby pillow is one of the coolest new offerings on the Benjamin’s pillow menu. You can actually hook up your MP3 or iPod to this thinner pillow for stomach sleepers.
The Anti Snore pillow helps to lift the chin up to alleviate snoring. It’s great for back sleeping snorers as it helps to keep the airway open at night.
Swedish Memory Foam
Memory foam isn’t new on the market, and those who love it swear by it as it molds to comfortably cradle the head during sleep. This pillow is for side or back sleepers.
Good old-fashioned water fills this pillow that is recommended for stomach sleepers. A vinyl cushion is filled with either cold or warm water and can be adjusted for firmness or support levels. It also can help reduce headaches or neck pain.
Sleep for Success side pillow
This pillow style is probably closer, in shape and description to the pillows you’re used to. Which can be a good thing if you’re a picky side sleeper looking for a pillow that is similar to the ones you’re used to. This one features a two-inch baffle design.
Sleep for Success back pillow
A firmer version of the previously mentioned side pillow, this one has a firm outer chamber and a soft center chamber.
Five-foot body cushion
Even pregnant women and post-surgery patients’ needs are considered at The Benjamin. This five-foot long cushion is great for aligning the spine and relieving joint pain.