Image: Janis Nicolay | Sublime Interior Design
There may be about 7,000 kilometres between British Columbia and Scandinavia, but the two regions come together style-wise in this Vancouver home.
You've heard of West Coast modern style, but how about West Coast Scandinavian? Homeowner Karen Boriss got the idea to inject some Nordic nuance into the 3,200-square-foot home she and her husband, Alex Holmes, were building in Vancouver’s Cambie Village neighbourhood when she noticed a similarity between the regions’ climates. “Vancouver doesn’t have the snow and the cold, but it has grey skies for so much of the year,” she says. Karen also has an affinity for streamlined Scandinavian interior design, with its emphasis on natural light, pale wood tones and white walls with pops of colourful accessories.
The contemporary white-plus-bright palette suits the thoughtful open-concept floor plan the couple wanted for the house they share with their two young children. “The design is focused on encouraging family time, having good flow and creating a place to enjoy raising our kids,” says Karen. “Our main living area is all about cooking and eating, reading and hanging out – without any screens.” For this reason, there’s no TV at the heart of the main floor.
Karen and Alex also wanted a big, welcoming kitchen that complemented the home’s overall aesthetic. “We designed the kitchen without cumbersome upper cabinetry, so it’s airy and full of light,” she says. A long span of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry wraps around one corner of the room, making up for the lack of uppers on the other side. Karen used glossy white doors and drawers on the lowers, but opted for a soft grey Shaker style on this pantry wall for a striking modern-traditional feel. A similar mix of old and new is steps away in the dining area, where Karen’s prized harvest table (a family heirloom) is paired with sleek black and white chairs and a capiz shell pendant light.
Natural light floods the space, thanks to the glass bifold doors in the dining area and the kitchen’s wall-to-wall windows. The effect is a seamless connection between indoors and out, a characteristic common to both West Coast and Scandinavian architecture. “It also makes the dining room an indoor-outdoor eating area,” says Karen. “The doors open right up, and we do a lot of entertaining outside.” And if it rains, no problem – Karen and Alex have thought of that. “We have a covered porch with skylights that let light into the house.” That’s Scandinavian...Or is it West Coast? Or both? Whatever you call it, it’s smart, stylish and stunning.
Bright pops of colour perk up the living room's subtle palette and can be switched out with little fuss.
High ceilings, plenty of white, simple reclaimed wood shelves and a wall of windows provide the spacious kitchen with an even greater sense of expansiveness. "Getting rid of upper cabinets meant we had to be really creative to get the same amount of storage," says Karen. "With the addition of the pantry, it's worked out perfectly. We love it."
"I was struggling with what to hang above the dining table, but as soon as I saw this pendant light, I knew it was perfect," says homeowner Karen Boriss. When the bifold doors are open, the dining area is transformed into a true indoor-outdoor space.
Food truly takes centre stage in this white kitchen, while a humble bouquet adds fresh colour to the Scandinavian simplicity of the space.
The new house has a heritage feel, thanks to cedar shingles. Landscape designer Dave Demers gave the family the backyard design they dreamed of. "I wanted my kids to have a place for free play. There's a sandbox, a vegetable garden and the lawn and patio where they ride their bikes — all in a clean, modern space," says Karen.
Orange planters — made in part from recycled materials — add a hit of bold colour on the smooth concrete steps.