Photography: Janis Nicolay
A laid-back beachy vibe and pale, pared-back palette give this home a relaxed but also refined feel.
As co-founder and creative director of the beloved Vancouver decorating shop The Cross, Stephanie Vogler has enviable access to great designs and designers. Decorating should be second nature to her – something the veteran retailer could do in her sleep, right? That’s a myth Stephanie quickly dispels when discussing her home, a four-bedroom ranch house in West Vancouver that she and her husband John Pierce, son Hudson, 13, and daughter Emerson, 12, decamped to from their Yaletown condo in 2016.
Photography: Janis Nicolay
“There really is a big difference between decorating a 1,200-square-foot condo and a 2,800-square-foot house,” she admits. “Even though I’m in the industry, I found the process really challenging. It took me two years to get our house right. Lucky for me, I could bring things home from the store and try them out before investing.”
The challenge was partly because she was trying to create a feeling rather than a look – something beachy, casual and family-friendly, but also elegant and refined. “For me, it’s an instinctual thing rather than a formula. I’m trying to replicate the places where I feel the most relaxed and creative, which is usually when I’m travelling,” Stephanie says. “I’m really inspired by the beach wherever I travel to – California, Mexico, Hawaii. I’m most happy when I’m barefoot in jean shorts. I’ve tried to create that feeling at home with seagrass rugs and slipcovered furniture.”
With the essence of the look locked in, she got down to the business of bringing it to life. “I couldn’t imagine decorating a dark space; it’s not in my DNA!” says Stephanie. “I start with a white canvas or at least neutral tones, and then everything I layer on top is a building process.” The monochromatic look is a palate cleanser for Stephanie’s busy life. “My store is like my laboratory and playground, where I can do things that are more bold and fun with florals and patterns,” she says. “There’s also a busyness of being a business owner. So when I’m home, I want a serene and completely peaceful environment.”
Ruthless editing is also key. “I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo. If you don’t love it, it needs to go. Holding on to things can be a blocker for the creative process,” she says. That idea dovetails with another of her inspirations: beautiful hotels, which are, in essence, spaces with precious few accessories. Says Stephanie: “When I’m at a hotel, I’m learning not only visually from the design, but also from the experience they create for guests – the joy you feel being treated a certain way.”
When colour is dialed way down like this, a mix of textures is also critical. “I’ve added interest with lots of rough wood finishes, chunky knits and woven baskets,” she says. “That’s a key piece of creating an interesting space, and it’s difficult to execute. Luckily, I’m surrounded by incredibly creative people in my workspace, and I ran my ideas by them on a regular basis.”
Despite her knowledge and access, Stephanie didn’t always get things right the first time – which is reassuring for the rest of us! For example, when they moved in, the living room’s focal point was a bossy black marble fireplace. Because the house is a rental, she decided not to invest in overhauling it. “At first, I tried decorating with black accents, but the fireplace was so dominating – it felt like a black hole swallowing up the room!” she says. Finally, she revamped it. “I debated a new style for weeks and ended up with a slightly glamorous mother-of-pearl mosaic,” says Stephanie. “If I’d made that investment early on, I wouldn’t have had to dance around the problem later.”
Surprisingly, when asked what makes a home livable, this seasoned design insider doesn’t wax poetic about the perfect wall colour or family-friendly kitchen. “It’s your attitude,” she says. “That’s what people feel when you invite them into your space. I want friends to put their feet up and have a glass of wine. I don’t want my home to feel formal. I also believe kids should enjoy their home and feel a sense of freedom.” Even in this seemingly perfect environment, she’s true to her word. “We truly live in our space, so don’t look too closely or you’re likely to find crumbs in the tufting of the blue sofa and scratches on our walls from my daughter’s hoverboard,” Stephanie says. “I don’t stress about it. I’m a casual person and I want my home to reflect me!” Wisely, she leaves efforts at meticulous presentation at work.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Wooden Heart BEADS, TABLE, JUJU HAT, RUG, PEDESTAL BOWL, The Cross.
To balance the airy floor plan and uncluttered furniture layout, Stephanie fills surfaces with sculptural, textural and meaningful collectibles like the wooden prayer beads and a bowl of succulents on a pretty demilune table in the front entryway. The African juju hat is a symbol of prosperity.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | ARTWORK, Jon Rou; BENCH, PILLOWS, The Cross.
If guests don’t pick up on the home’s beachy theme, the huge photographic artwork in the front entryway should drive the point home. It depicts the beach at Santa Monica, California. A shallow bench topped in cushy throw pillows adds depth and interest under the focal point art.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | TABLE, Overdyed.
A huge sidelight by the front door means the entryway of the 1930s-style ranch house is flooded with natural light. The blush hue of the front door and the funky little faceted-wood table let visitors know they’re entering a beachy and contemporary home.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Ellie tufted SOFA, STOOLS, The Cross; Mila CHAIRS, Perfect Dot; PAINTING by Tiffany Collins.
The 1930s ranch-style house has a fairly open floor plan that affords sightlines from the dining room to the sunroom on the other side of the entryway. In the living room, a seagrass rug and floor cushions, and a huge olive tree in a rugged terracotta planter inject a tropical vibe, while the tufted sofa has a more traditional buttoned-up presence. “The blue tufted sofa was a total risk for me. I typically shy away from colour, but I felt that this room needed a pop of interest,” says Stephanie. “I had a few sleepless nights worrying that I’d made the wrong decision, but I’m thrilled with the sofa now, and the colour helped me pull the rest of the room together. All the art came to life as soon as the sofa was in place. Sometimes you have to take risks!”
Stephanie used a mod console topped with flowers, lighting and a few special collectibles to create a vignette. She pullls out the ottomans tucked underneath for extra seating during parties. Two armchairs by the window are low and open, adding seating without inhibiting the view.
Photography: Janis Nicolay
The small galley kitchen, located off the dining room, looks into the kids’ family room (not pictured), allowing Stephanie to keep an eye on them. “One-floor living gives you a sense of being very connected with your family,” she says. “We can always find one another in this house!”
Photography: Janis Nicolay | SIDEBOARD, IKEA; ARTWORK (far left) by Zoe Pawlak; ARTWORK (far right) by Elliott Puckette, Conde Nast Images; other ARTWORK, Jessa DINING CHAIRS, Ulla CHANDELIER, Valerie VASE, The Cross.
While the dining table and chairs have a quiet presence in the living-dining space, Stephanie filled the wall with art and greenery so it balances the rest of the large space. She introduced an assortment of rugs throughout the house; this powdery blue one riffs on the tufted blue sofa on the opposite side of the room. The IKEA Besta sideboard holds everything from dishware and table linens to school supplies.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Tess MIRROR, Playa CHAIR, The Cross.
In the sunroom, coating the dated dark wood panelling and monolithic red brick fireplace in white paint gave Stephanie (pictured with Emerson and Hudson) the blank canvas backdrop she likes best. “Painting the room immediately freshened up the space and made it more inviting,” she says. Sliding doors from here lead out to the yard, which has views of Burrard Inlet to the south and beyond to Vancouver. “We have a beautiful view of the ocean and we’re surrounded by trees, so it’s really a gorgeous spot.”
An array of succulents layered along the fireplace ledge and the bookshelf joins collectibles like agates, coral and a longhorn skull. Editing, says Stephanie, is the first step to creating this look. “It’s really important
to take away things – things that just aren’t working together – before layering new things on top.” The sunroom’s sofa was in the living room at the family’s previous home. Says Stephanie: “We moved into a huge home, so we needed more furniture.”
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Ella CHAIR, Sierra RUG, Isla BED, BEDDING, Schumacher WALLPAPER, The Cross.
While the master bedroom’s white-washed-oak four-poster bed has a simple, almost rustic aesthetic, Stephanie accessorized the room with soft, curvy and elegant pieces for a distinctly feminine look. “Our bedroom is my favourite space. It’s so cozy and inviting,” she says. “I do think bedrooms are really sacred in the home,” she adds, explaining that her passion for beautiful linens started when she was a child and her mother owned a fabric store that morphed into a luxury bed linen store.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Sierra RUG, DRESSER, BED, Schumacher WALLPAPER, The Cross; PAINTINGS, Gabryel Harrison.
In the master bedroom, simpler designs like the clean-lined four-poster bed, waffle-weave throw and ’70s-style shag rug balance the classic elegance of elements like the paisley wallpaper and brass sconces.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Hessa DRESSER, Sierra RUG, Juliet Brevard OTTOMAN, Schumacher WALLPAPER, The Cross; small PORTRAIT of woman by Jorunn Mulen.
In the master bedroom, the interplay of understated patterns adds interest and complexity to the serene space. The dresser’s delicate mother-of-pearl inlay plays on the colouring of the grey-on-white paisley wallpaper.
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Ella CHAIR, Sierra RUG, The Cross.
A cozy tufted wingback chair offers a place to sit while getting dressed or a perch for enjoying the fireplace on cool nights. Full-length drapes soften the look. Happily, the home’s original hardwood floors were in great shape when Stephanie moved in.