The Vancouver View – “Updating a Traditional Home In Shaughnessy”

This West Side Vancouver residence is occupied by a couple and their two young kids. When we first visited their house several months ago, we found their living room empty. In the adjacent dining room was a 1960s-era Scandinavian dining set over which hung a cheap gold-plated chandelier.

Prior to working with our design team, this couple was all set to do their own decorating. Being limited to the stores that they kenw, they had spent many weekends searching but didn’t have much luck. If you’ve ever tried to do your own decorating, you’re probably familiar with the experience of aimlessly wandering through stores not knowing what to look for and eventually being more confused than when you started. The last straw for this couple came after having finally found a dining table they both liked. Upon their return to the store on the afternoon of the same day, they were told that it had just been sold. At this point, they decided to throw in the towel on the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) venture and hire a professional.

Our first meeting with the couple consisted in finding out whether it was a good fit. Being able to come up with a beautiful and functional design that matches the vision that you have in your head is the easy part of any interior designer’s job. What’s more ciritical is finding an interior designer who:

1. Is honest, trustworthy and actually cares about you and creating a good end result.

2. Delivers on their promises.

3. Responds quickly to your calls or email queries

4. Is committed to quickly troubleshooting and fixing problems as they occur.

5. Is easy to get along with, as it involves anywhere from 2 to 12 months in the process from start to finish.

Once we were hired, the second meeting consisted of figuring out a design concept. The wife was not unprepared, as she had about 50 magazines carefully marked with the kind of furniture that she wanted. This collection of images helps to jumpstart the design process. A huge challenge for his couple was reconciling their respective tastes – the wife wanted a very traditional look, while the husband favored something more contemporary. Obviously, this clash of viewpoints can make any design project quite challenging, as any couple who tried to merge their separate belongings will attest. Fortunately, both of them were willing to compromise and find some middle ground.

We eventually agreed on ordering furniture that was inherently classical but didn’t scream “grandma”. This meant specifying furniture pieces that were not too ornate, colours that were mostly neutral and fabrics with muted patterns. Two things that were non-negotiable were that: 1) the piano had to stay where it was and 2) the art, and in particular the existing mirrors, had to be incorporated or reused. The couple also insisted on using materials that were high quality and built to last. Other than that, they were pretty much open to suggestions.

We chose a warm beige for their walls to replace the existing green colour, which actually clashed with the floor. We also chose a complementary rich dark brown stain for all the wood furniture. We installed new baseboards and replaced the thin gold frames of the existing mirrors with black frames that were wider and had more detailing, thereby adding some formality and elegance to the two rooms. The gold-plated chandelier was also replaced with a more dramatic black wroung-iron piece. The dining room and living room curtains, which were of a different fabric, were replaced with new curtains with similar material to crate uniformity throughout the space.

Not only did this home end up being more comfortable and pleasing to look at but we also spent less money than expected. What did matter the most was that this couple was very happy working with us and with the end result.


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