Jennifer Scott loosens up a concrete loft to create a high-impact family home brimming with personality
Jennifer Scott loosens up a concrete loft to create a high-impact family home brimming with personality
I am definitely not a traditionalist,”says designer Jennifer Scott. If the industrial mood of the loft she shares with daughter Sienna, 13, and Chihuahua mix Biggie Smalls doesn’t give that away, her intriguing mashup of aesthetics will. “I lean heavily toward the unexpected,” says Jennifer, who fell for the open feeling of the 1,700-square-foot space and its 18-foot ceilings.
She envisioned it as an inviting backdrop for her bevy of vintage and modern pieces, as well as artwork (she is also the co-founder of Duende Curation, an online art gallery). Jennifer’s design retune of the loft was minimal – she painted both bedrooms and a bathroom – but her styling was maximal, and very personal, to say the least.
“The loft has offered me the perfect canvas to express my style, and my family’s style, through decor,” she says. “It feels like the space my heart was waiting forever to find.”
DESIGN, Jennifer Scott, A Good Chick to Know. Vintage framed MOTORCYCLE PRINT, hanging CATTLE TAGS, Space Lab.
“MY DECOR HAS SHIFTED OVER THE YEARS TOWARD DARKER COLOURS AND MORE GLOBAL INSPIRATIONS, WITH A HEAVY NOD TO PLACES I’VE TRAVELLED TO AND LOVED, LIKE MEXICO.”
The dining area’s impressive 11-foot table is also charged with personal provenance. “It belonged to my grandmother and I think this might be my most treasured piece of all,” says Jennifer. She updated its glossy, medium-maple tone with a richer shade that feels contemporary. Pairing the simple piece with traditional Mexican equipale chairs, found at an estate sale, is bold and fun.
“I’m not one for matching styles, especially with dining tables and chairs. I decorate with pieces I love and without the limitations of expected design rules.”
Crafting a vignette beneath the stairs adds more than just charming interest. “Spaces under stairs are often difficult to use, so I created a little ‘doggy den’ for Biggie,” says Jennifer. “With a miniature electric fireplace I found online and a thrifted painting of a dog, I was able to create an area all his own. Every morning when we get up, he runs downstairs and waits for me to turn on his fireplace.
” This cozy spot is balanced by a gallery wall of mixed media, including a small woodframed painting that belonged to Jennifer’s mom.
Rachel Harrison ABSTRACT ARTWORK, Jamie Mann black-and-white PHOTOGRAPH, Duende Curation.
While the loft offers ample square footage, it was shy on surface space – a must for a collector like Jennifer. To remedy that, she designed an ingenious wall unit for the dining area. It offers many display areas without feeling cluttered, and the warmth of the pale wood is a nice complement to the chairs’ natural materials. Although the unit is imposing, Jennifer carefully considered its scale. She measured the shelving height based on people gathering at the dining table and what they’d be looking at; included space for artwork displayed on the shelves and wihin the unit; and ensured the display space was visible from the primary bedroom, thus the unit’s grand height.
TABLE REFINISHING, Monett Millwork and Finishing.
She says, “It is by far one of the best things I’ve added to the loft.”
The staggered pendant lights were in place when Jennifer moved in. She initially planned to replace them but ended up falling in love with their shapes. She is also crazy about plants so was keen to include some here and, again, there’s a great backstory. “The large rubber-tree plant is older than I am and was one of the largest in my grandparents’ home when I was growing up,” she says. Jennifer purchased the vintage photo many years ago, but only recently discovered that it was taken at Vancouver’s Hastings Racetrack, which is not far from the loft. The black storage cupboards are actually old automotive cabinets Jennifer added for additional storage; one acts as a pantry and the other a clothes closet.
The wooden wall unit was one of two in the living room and came with the loft. Jennifer removed the one that was on the opposite wall (where the sofa now sits), as she found having both overwhelmed the space. This one houses the TV and hides media equipment. “I love the warmth that comes from the wood panels, as well as the contrast of the natural wood against the concrete walls,” she says. The south-facing windows are ideal for Jennifer’s heatworshipping plants, such as aloe, cacti and succulents. Coffee-table books and a sprinkling of treasures – either found, thrifted or inherited – round out the mix.
Jennifer recasts a wall in the living area as an art-filled triumph. “I was initially tempted to paint the concrete white or a smoky green, but I actually love how the cinder block acts as a canvas for the artwork,” she says. “The juxtaposition of the concrete with mixed media is really lovely.” Her collection, featuring modern photography, original paintings and family heirlooms, has been amassed over years and is interspersed with objects that layer in further dimension. The black metal sconces riff on the industrial feel; Jennifer added dimmers for soft, ambient lighting (there are no ceiling lights here).
“TO ME, ART IS THE LANGUAGE OF A ROOM WITHIN THE STORYTELLING OF A SPACE. ART IS WHERE PEOPLE ARE MOST COMFORTABLE SHARING AN INTIMATE LOOK INTO THEIR INTERESTS.”
The living room’s green velvet sofa is secondhand; Jennifer was drawn to its scale and 11-foot length. “This space offers so much opportunity for entertaining and I love to have gatherings, so it’s perfect for guests or just for us as a family to lie down and watch movies. It also adds an element of glam.” With get-togethers, kids and dogs in mind, she topped it with vintage sheepskins to protect the velvet. The burled wood and chrome coffee table has a chic New York loft presence. The side table belonged to Jennifer’s grandmother and the lamps are thrifted.
RUG, Pacific Rug Gallery.
“THE PATINA OF THE CONCRETE FLOOR HAS THIS GREAT WARM VIBE WHILE STILL MAINTAINING AN INDUSTRIAL FEEL. IT’S A LOOK I LOVE.”
The kitchen’s existing cabinetry and fixtures are a stylish mix of colours and materials. Bright white uppers are balanced by heavy stone countertops on lower wooden cabinets. Jennifer layered in her signature eclecticism with open displays of dishes, pots and tajines, which tie into the lively Moroccan mood. While the effect is cool, Jennifer admits she would like to one day splurge on seamless floor-to-ceiling millwork with integrated appliances.
The kitchen’s intricate mesh pendant lights were one of Jennifer’s first purchases for the loft. “I knew I wanted to tie in the industrial look with some of the lighting, so the black cage shades were a great fit,” she says. The DIY island doubles as a cocktail bar for guests, but Jennifer’s favourite way to use it is with daughter Sienna. The two share breakfasts here, and Sienna often hangs out on a bar stool and chats with her mom while Jennifer cooks. Every surface packs a punch thanks to Jennifer’s laid-back and out-in-the-open displays of cookware, ingredients and dishes.
“WE HAVE BREAKFAST HERE EVERY MORNING, AND I ENJOY HER SITTING ON THE BAR STOOLS AND CHATTING WITH ME WHILE I COOK.”
Jennifer made her own island by repurposing a friend’s vintage table and adding height to it with end bits of lumber attached to the bottom of the table legs with brackets. “I knew it would technically work, and thankfully it somehow worked aesthetically,” she says. “This solution was always meant to be temporary, but the longer it remains like this, the longer I actually like it!” Jennifer found the patterned wall panel someone had discarded as trash, and fell for its Moroccan feel. “It’s hung on many walls in my homes over the years,” she says.
“MY BEDROOM HAD TO HAVE AN INTIMATE, INVITING VIBE WITH A FEW MORE FEMININE DETAILS.”
Jennifer’s bedroom has soft touches and splashes of pink mixed in amid furnishings with a more industrial feel. She solved the lack of storage space here with another smart DIY fix: a bamboo kitchen bar/island repurposed ted it matte black, and draped a Moroccan edding blanket behind it so the storage isn’t visible through the railings from the main living space below,” she says. It offers a generous surface for plants and objects, as well as open shelves for extra bedding. Shelves at the top of the stairs show off Jennifer’s prized collection of designer handbags, which are like an art display.
The bedroom gets a glamorous reboot with some decidedly feminine touches, including an ornate framed mirror and a crystal chandelier, both of which belonged to Jennifer’s grandmother. They lend a dynamic edge to the industrial backdrop. She painted the main-floor bathroom (right) an earthy shade in a velvet finish to impart a rich sense of texture to the once pale-grey space.
“The loft’s ensuite bathroom is one space where I haven’t had a chance to do anything to at all,” says Jennifer. She did layer in a vintage rug for a bit of colour and pattern.
“THE CONTEMPORARY BUILT-IN CABINETRY IS A COMPLETE LIFESAVER FOR TWO GIRLS SHARING A SMALL WASHROOM!”
“SIENNA’S ENTERING HER TEENAGE YEARS AND WANTED A MORE STREAMLINED ROOM WITH SIMPLE WHITE WALLS, ACCENTS OF NATURAL WOOD AND POPS OF BLACK.”
Sienna’s bedroom repeats the aesthetic seen in the loft’s principal rooms, but with a youthful twist. “She is quite sentimental and wanted her own gallery wall of memories, from her baby picture to our previous dogs and a cute illustration from her grandpa,” says Jennifer. The black-iron spiral staircase is a fun feature in the entry hall and leads directly to Sienna’s bedroom – what teenager wouldn’t love that? Its finish is echoed in a black dresser near the door, which serves as a catchall for mail, keys and other front-door paraphernalia. “It has actually proven to be quite functional, but moreover I love how the unexpected furnishing and details here create an inviting appeal.” A rope pendant light and vintage rug inject a bit of tactile texture to the cinder-block backdrop. Brit Gill black-and-white
PHOTOGRAPH, Duende Curation.
A horizontal mirror over Sienna’s bed reflects the light and visually enlarges the room. Narrow shelves flank the bed and hold her books and art supplies, as well as some sentimental items.
One corner of Sienna’s bedroom is a designated workspace. A shelf/desk combo from Amazon works perfectly in the small space, and the minimalist chair is stylish. A hook by the front door (above) showcases some of Jennifer’s favourite accessories, including the Gucci Dionysus bag.