Interior: West coast living space
That’s how it was when designer Nancy Riesco of Riesco & Lapres Interior Design helped jewellery designer Shereen de Rousseau decorate her 1920s Vancouver home. The two moms met through their children, and it was a case of like attracts like. “We hit it off,” says Nancy. “Shereen just exudes fun and intelligence and creativity.” But despite similar aesthetic tastes, Nancy was surprised when she first saw the house Shereen shared with her husband, Wilf, and son, Silas. “She has such a big, interesting personality and her home was lovely in terms of the basics… but she had very little art, no tchotchkes, no bits from travels. I kept saying to her, ‘You can’t tell who lives here; it doesn’t look like you, Wilf or Silas.'"
Homeowner Shereen de Rousseau found the settee on Craigslist, while designer Nancy Riesco found the bold oversized print (that camouflages Leo the dog) to update it with - that's just the way this relationship works. The round mirror from Nancy's shop was painted orange - Shereen's choice accent colour.
Home decor accessories
"I love accessories in other people's homes and I love them in fashion, but I just had this fear of tchotchkes and clutter," says Shereen. She has learned that a little goes a long way in personalizing a space.
The truth was, Shereen was utterly clutter-phobic. “What Nancy called accessories, I called clutter,” she says, admitting she craved clean, even sparse, rooms. She eventually realized that sparse can translate as void of personality.
The style of furniture, too, is a loose blend of contemporary and character pieces, just the way both friends like it. Nancy helped Shereen find the gorgeous rustic Canadiana dining table for the kitchen and iconic Zettel’z chandelier, Shereen added the modern armchairs, and they both love the look of an antique rug to anchor the mix. “It sums up my look,” says Shereen of the breakfast area.
New colour palette
One of the most striking things about the house now is its bright palette, but it wasn’t always so. “I was a white-walls girl before I met Nancy,” says Shereen. “But as Shereen hung out with me more and more,” says Nancy, “she saw all the colour in my house and I sort of trained her eye to see it in magazines and different places, and one day she said, ‘Okay, I’m ready for some colour.’”
Before, the kitchen walls were painted charcoal grey. It was nice, says
Nancy, but the room felt cold. Giving the walls a coat of Shereen's favourite blue linked it to the rest of the house and instantly changed the mood to happy and bright, Nancy adds.
The palette still has lots of white, but Shereen’s favourite blue is used in variations throughout: a gorgeous duck’s egg shade on the kitchen walls, a quirky Mao Zedong figurine in the dining room, artwork in the living room and full-on whole-wall “Birks box blue,” as Nancy describes it because she likes the Canadian reference, in the master bedroom. The blues lift white beyond boring and are electrified by hits of orange and red. Silk drapery in gunmetal grey and black accents add gravitas to the living room, but nothing so serious that a framed Sex Pistols poster and “creepy clown” painting, as the women call it, can’t loosen up.
"I bought her the beautiful robin's egg blue vase and she loved it," says Nancy. "Shereen never has anything on her tables, so it was very exciting!" The Mao figurine is another testament to Shereen's ecletic taste.
Nancy also showed Shereen how texture enlivens a mostly black and white decorating scheme without cluttering it – as with the chunky living room rug and pouffe. They even slowly added – gasp! – accessories. “She really did hold my hand and say, ‘What about if we put a little thing here?’” says Shereen. “I’d live with that for a bit, then we’d venture a throw. Toss cushions were my worst nightmare. But Nancy would say to me, ‘We still have the receipt. Try it.’ Now my house is full of plush toss cushions.”
"I found some art that she loved, and she found some art she loved," says Nancy of the process of infusing Shereen's home with personal objects. When Nancy saw the striking clown piece by her friend, artist Kitty Blandy, she knew Shereen would love it, and she was right! They've affectionately dubbed it "the creepy clown." Other hits of orange (in the oval mirror and small box) balance the look of the living room.
In the master bedroom, the River Seine (in the map of Paris), a vase and Birks-box- blue walls show how layering shades of a colour builds interest within a palette. The console is actually a radiator cover from a show home Nancy designed.
Blue was the only colour Shereen previously had in her house and it's the one she has an abiding love for, so it was a natural choice for the master bedroom. Throw pillows in a darker blue than the walls add depth. while the casual stack of books continues the relaxed vibe.
And you know what? She loves the new home decor – and even something more intangible.“ I like that it reflects our family. When you walk into the house, it says that we’re not cookie-cutter people. We like art. We like books,” says Shereen. “And I like that it’s light and airy. We live in such a grey, gloomy city for most of the year, but even on the greyest days, my house feels happy.” Making you happy – isn’t that exactly what friends are for?
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