BC Living: 6 Beautiful Ways to Style Your Coffee Table

It was such a pleasure to be included in this stylish, creative group of women who were asked to share their personal coffee table style; it's always such fun for me to peek into how my peers interpret design in their own spaces! I loved seeing the looks of Monika Hibbs, Alexandra Grant, Erin SousaTessa Garcia, and Tessa Sam.  Many thanks to BC Living and Sparkle Media for inviting my living room into the story.

When I was asked to describe the "look" I lean to for my coffee table, it really got me thinking about my decor as a whole: how do I define my style and how do I then bring that to life in my own house? It's funny how working with my own space is such a different process than with clients - at home, I design  solely off what I feel and love, often forgetting some of the design principles that I use when I'm working. However, the overall vibe is very me, which ultimately is what design is all about. 

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SIMPLY SWEET Tessa Sam, Sweet Bake Shop "I'm always on the go and I really like to come home to a space that feels comfortable. My coffee table is a simple marble-top piece, which I love because I eat on it and it's easy to clean. Fresh flowers and pretty baking books add a little colour, candles scent the room and, of course, there's always something sweet nearby." Peonies: Flower Factory Coffee table books: Chapters Tea cup: Chapters Plate: Miss Etoile Candle: Vancouver Candle Co. Cupcakes: Sweet Bake Shop


Tessa Sam, Sweet Bake Shop

"I'm always on the go and I really like to come home to a space that feels comfortable. My coffee table is a simple marble-top piece, which I love because I eat on it and it's easy to clean. Fresh flowers and pretty baking books add a little colour, candles scent the room and, of course, there's always something sweet nearby."

Peonies: Flower Factory
Coffee table books: Chapters
Tea cup: Chapters
Plate: Miss Etoile
Candle: Vancouver Candle Co.
Cupcakes: Sweet Bake Shop

Tessa Garcia, Cake for Breakfast "Fresh flowers are a must on my coffee table and I love switching up the type of bloom with each season. I also keep either a candle or some of my favourite scents to quickly fill the room with a sweet aroma—and, of course, a fashion mag for some light reading" Tray: Gluckstein Home Scents: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud and Mermaid Magazine: Vogue Vase: purchased at an antique market, similar ones available at The Cross

Tessa Garcia, Cake for Breakfast

"Fresh flowers are a must on my coffee table and I love switching up the type of bloom with each season. I also keep either a candle or some of my favourite scents to quickly fill the room with a sweet aroma—and, of course, a fashion mag for some light reading"

Tray: Gluckstein Home
Scents: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud and Mermaid
Magazine: Vogue
Vase: purchased at an antique market, similar ones available at The Cross

Alexandra Grant, To Vogue or Bust "I love striking a balance between feminine and minimalism, so having some element of fresh prettiness (flowers or an exotic tropical leaf) with other natural elements like marble or wood makes me feel right at home." Marble phone case: Casetify Candle: Voluspa Blanc de Blancs Nebulizer: Saje

Alexandra Grant, To Vogue or Bust

"I love striking a balance between feminine and minimalism, so having some element of fresh prettiness (flowers or an exotic tropical leaf) with other natural elements like marble or wood makes me feel right at home."

Marble phone case: Casetify
Candle: Voluspa Blanc de Blancs
Nebulizer: Saje

Here's what I shared with Sparkle Media and BC Living as my thoughts on my style, and where I shop to get the look:

"My personal style is very, well, personal. I believe that a space should speak of it's people so my decor is eclectic, comprised of family heirlooms, vintage treasures and other pieces that make me feel something. While I have a heavily layered design, full of personal items I've collected throughout my life and travels, I pull it all together with a muted, neutral palette.I love fresh whites combined with ivories and natural linen tones and a slight lean into feminine nudes and pinks. I love to entertain so that means I have to keep space on my tabletop, but I always have a grouping of pretty things to ground the room; a glass top and open-base coffee table works best for me so that I can layer groupings on my coffee table without the room feeling too heavy or full.

I think the coffee table itself is one of my most treasured decor items; it belonged to my grandmother, who epitomized chic, and I remember as a young girl thinking how glamorous this table was. As a designer I have found similar ones for a few clients, the closest being the Jewel Coffee Table from MINT Interiors. http://shop.mintinteriors.ca/living-coffee-tables-jewel-coffee-table-jewel-coffee/dp/8737

Ambient lighting is a must-have for a well designed space, and my coffee table is never complete without a grouping of beautiful candles. I display a trio of crystal candle holders that I received as a wedding gift, but I have seen stunning similar options at Atkinson's on South Granville http://www.atkinsonsofvancouver.com/rogaska-cobra.html

Natural crystals are another item that are an essential part of my decor; on my coffee table I have an assortment of tangerine quartz, clear quartz and amethyst paired with a few vintage brass meditation altar pieces, all housed within an antique Indian pink marble dish. For my stones, I scour The Crystal Ark on Granville Island or head to Peridot Decorative Homeware.  http://www.peridotdecorativehomewear.ca/shop/accessories-2/rays-of-sun-obelisk/

Although not a part of my tabletop decor, my Moroccan poufs are a definite must at my coffee table! Perfect for intimate gatherings (and kids!) the poufs tuck discreetly under the edges of the table and can be pulled out whenever extra seating is required. I picked up my poufs while travelling Morocco, but identical ones can be found at The Cross Decor & Design. http://thecrossdesign.com/white-moroccan-leather-pouf "

Erin Sousa, The Sparkle "My tufted ottoman is the centre of our living space and since it's not a flat surface, I use my acrylic tray to keep all of my items corralled. Fresh blooms, a candle and my fave decor mags are the essentials I always have on hand (with enough room to place wine glasses for evenings at home, of course)." Tray: West Elm Pineapple Tumbler: Design Darling Magazine: Domino Flowers: Flower Factory Vase: The Cross Decor & Design Candle: Diptyque

Erin Sousa, The Sparkle

"My tufted ottoman is the centre of our living space and since it's not a flat surface, I use my acrylic tray to keep all of my items corralled. Fresh blooms, a candle and my fave decor mags are the essentials I always have on hand (with enough room to place wine glasses for evenings at home, of course)."

Tray: West Elm
Pineapple Tumbler: Design Darling
Magazine: Domino
Flowers: Flower Factory
Vase: The Cross Decor & Design
Candle: Diptyque

Monika Hibbs, Monika Hibbs "My coffee table is one of my favourite areas in my home to style, but it can be a challenge at times too. I like to keep my accessories balanced with statement books, coasters, a candle and fresh flowers when I can. Creating a coffee table vignette that's both functional and beautiful is the perfect way to create a focal point in your room." Candle: Diptyque Vase: Sur la table Coasters: West Elm Books: Chloe Attitudes; Allegra Hicks: An Eye for Design; Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels; American Modern

Monika Hibbs, Monika Hibbs

"My coffee table is one of my favourite areas in my home to style, but it can be a challenge at times too. I like to keep my accessories balanced with statement books, coasters, a candle and fresh flowers when I can. Creating a coffee table vignette that's both functional and beautiful is the perfect way to create a focal point in your room."

Candle: Diptyque
Vase: Sur la table
Coasters: West Elm
Books: Chloe AttitudesAllegra Hicks: An Eye for DesignFashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, LabelsAmerican Modern

My Digs: Michael Gibson + Calvyn Cass of Brush Salon

When a couple has built their careers making people look beautiful, it's no surprise that their own private space offers up high style with a refined appeal. Michael Gibson and Calvyn Cass – owners of the sought-after Gastown hair salon, Brush Salon – epitomize bringing work home with them in the best way possible: the fabulous style they grant their clients is carried through to the chic Gastown loft they call home.

Sharing their space with Milton and soon to arrive, Finnigan – their two dogs – Michael and Calvyn have mastered the curated, minimalist yet interesting décor that many of us strive for. Astonishingly over-height ceilings, large-scale windows and all-white walls set the perfect backdrop for their modern aesthetic. With their favourite finds being a grand ornate mirror from The Cross and a vintage taxidermy peacock they scored through a West Van estate, the space exudes polished personality.

What is it?: 

We live in a two bedroom loft with our dog Milton in Gastown.


We are Calvyn and Michael, husbands of almost two years and partners for just over nine years. We own Brush Salon in Gastown and are very passionate about our work and the team we have built. We feel pretty lucky to have each other to have shared all of our worldly travels, major life events and beautiful memories with.

Major selling feature: 

The major selling feature was the rooftop patio for its endless summer nights and afternoon cocktails in the sun... For the two months summer actually exists! 

First thing I changed: 

Nothing, but I would love to renovate our bathroom and have a waterfall shower a separate bathtub... And a walk-in closet... Boys can dream!

Feature I brag about: 

Again, the rooftop patio. But, we also love the 24-foot ceilings that make the space feel spacious and airy.

That one conversation piece: 

Our gigantic ornate mirror from The Cross as well as our living wall from Heather at Greenstems.

The décor: 

We are both minimalists. We love the feeling of a clean, open space. We are trying to create a masculine feel whilst incorporating beautiful pieces. Challenging, but we are getting there, piece by piece.

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles: 

Michael finds pieces that inspire him and I usually just give the OK. Most of the pieces come from some sort of life event. Our dog chewed up our last couch so we had to get this one. It took six months but we finally found something he and I liked. The coffee table was handmade. We trekked out to PoCo (another country to us) to consult with the guy and then back again to get it. The peacock (Albert, as we named him) came from and estate sale in West Vancouver. So many stories...


Gastown is awesome but it's still finding its footing. Homelessness is a huge and ongoing issue in the area and it can be hard to cope with at times.

Neighbourhood haunts: 

Our boutique salon, Brush Salon, which is right around the corner from our home!

Compared to your last place: 

Way bigger. We loved our last home because it was the first property we ever owned. This place is a rental but we love it regardless... Just hard to compare a milestone to an "upgrade" (if we are going to call it that)!

Favourite apartment/house/condo activity: 

Dinner parties/having people over in general... anything involving food and a few alcoholic beverages. You only live once, better to live life having fun.


Design goes to the dogs for the Barkitecture

When I was first asked to participate in the Barkitecture feature at this years BC Home + Garden Show, I knew this was an initiative designed after my own heart. Combining two of my personal passions - animal welfare and fabulous decor - Barkitecture is an installation working in collaboration with the BCSPCA. Five of Vancouver's top designers were given a $50 budget and asked to transform a raw wood indoor dog house structure into a design mecca for the pampered pooch. The five completed designs will be on display at the BC Home + Garden Show, running February 17th to 21st at BC Place Stadium, and will be auctioned off to the highest bidders with all proceeds going to the BCSPCA.

My invitation to design one of the houses came while I was on a month-long journey through Morocco, which heavily influenced my inspiration for the project. I knew I wanted to give the raw wood a complete white wash in order to achieve a brightly neutral backdrop for the details; using an all white and mixed-metallic palette, I referenced the ornate textiles, tilework and patterns I discovered in Morocco to complete this globally-chic design. I used mixed glass tiles to create an organic pattern for the face of the house, opted for mirrored tiles to perimeter the side and back portions of the structure, and stencilled a Moroccan tile pattern in sharp gold for the roof. Scrap wood was used to create a plank floor, and a matching wood shelf with Moroccan glass jars was affixed to one side to chicly house all the essentials for the modern dog. Then I moved into dense fringes, sheepskins (faux, of course) and vintage global textiles to create the softer elements. The finishing details came in the form of natural crystals, as I introduced quartz and selenite into the design to bring a beautiful energy, and I created the final ambiance with a strand of battery-operated string lights for the interior. 

I can't wait for the final design to be revealed at the show, and hope to see many funds raised for the animals in need through the auctioning of all five fabulous designs. Head down to BC Place this weekend to check out all of the designer doggy digs in person!

Home Is Where The Art Is: Yared Nigussu

From the first moment you meet Yared Nigussu, you feel the love for what he does; his passion for life and for art is palpable and it becomes the perfect introduction to the emotion you will find within his work.

Yared came to Vancouver to further his career a few years ago by way of France and Ethiopia; he chose the North American urban scene to call his home and inspiration in lieu of the formal traditions of the European art world. He craved the craziness that the underground art scenes of large cities like New York embraced; apparent in the stunning cityscapes he creates, Yared loves the city. He is inspired by the people and strives to give back through his art. Portraiture is also a strong focus for Yared, through which he finds an outlet to express not only beauty, but also social issues like money and immigration.

Always looking forward, Yared’s creative philosophy is about provoking appreciation for the beauty in the little things, and views this to be the only way to positively influence the bigger picture. “You must make space for positivity in order to be able to notice it,” he explains, and shares his day to day personal goals and reflections of, “What did I do beautiful today?”.

Yared is currently preparing for an exhibition this coming May at the Kurbatoff Gallery on South Granville; until then, you can find him in his studio at 2414 Main, or in one of the many inspirational cafés our creative community flocks to.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Yared Nigussu and I am a visual artist. I was born and raised in Ethiopia, earning my degree in art education in 2005. Later I received a scholarship to further my art training in France. After moving to Canada, my career became established and I began exhibiting both locally and internationally. I also won the Canadian Art Battle live competition three years running, from 2012 to 2014.

How did you get started in painting and what led you to where you are now?

Art was my one and the only dream since I was little. It came naturally; no one pushed me toward it or brought the idea of art to me, no one took me to the museum. Even when I was a very little I was attracted by the huge public art displays in the city where I grew up. Most of them were communist propaganda kind of paintings; at that time Ethiopia was a communist country and wherever you went you would see the Marxists and Leninist paintings or sculptures in the main squares. That was a huge influence in my artistic choice and, also, the life of an artists always seems charming and mysterious, so that was another reason for me to follow my path. 

Do you have a Vancouver muse? Or a favourite place in or around the city that inspires you?

I am quite new to Vancouver, but in this short time I have met a lot of very interesting people, one of whom being David Suzuki. He is not only a genius but also very kind person. He is my Vancouver muse!

Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?

I am in a very good path of my career and this journey has brought an unstoppable happiness. I learn every single day from my art and that knowledge brings happiness in my life. So I will keep this journey going for as long as possible. Art is very important to life and I know the future will be really good if I just keep working, inspired by nature, and inspiring others in return.

Who is your idol or mentor?

I have been influenced by many young and contemporary artists. I like the work of Jenny Seville and Amedeo Modigliani.

Finish this sentence: my day is not complete without…


Is there a song or a musician that inspires you to create?

In my studio I like to listen to Tricky, Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation.

Douglas Coupland recently said “a city without strong consistent arts funding is basically a parking lot” when discussing Vancouver’s vast art community. How do you feel about this and how do you think Vancouver compares to other cities in Canada?

I agree with Douglas Coupland. Every city has to give attention for any kind of artistic activities and fund it’s artists to be more creative. Art is hope. Art is the way to show one’s civilization. It shows the collective thinking of the community; artists are the voice and we see the thinking out loud of the city through her art.

Do you have a favourite creative space?

Cafés are my favourite creative spaces. I am not saying the franchised versions, but the small very personalized cafés of the town. There is always some sort of beauty in the café. That’s where ideas are born and I will run to my studio to work.

Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city?

I am fan of Main Street, especially the neighbourhood around Main and 8th where my studio is. Also Granville Island gives me a sense of calm and space to think.


Five Finds for your Valentine

With February freshly upon us, the inevitable air of panic amongst men has begun to set in. As the shops and media remind us on the daily that the countdown to Valentine’s Day is on, the hopes of romance for women are high and the pressure is on for partners to find the perfect gifts to express their love.

Rather than resorting to the last-minute standards of chocolates and flowers, I’ve rounded up a few picks for gifts that not only will add some serious style to your Valentine’s life, but also keep that reminder of love going year round.

Classic Little Kiss sculpture by Kelly Wearstler

Available at Peridot Decorative Homeware, 1512 West 14th. Inquire in store for pricing. 

Available in classic marble or semi-precious materials like rose quartz, these glamorous little lips are a love note that even the most discerning minimalist will appreciate. Inspired by Wearstler’s love for classical sculpture and figurative work, this piece is sure to add a sense of sultry style and elegance to your Valentine’s decor, whether displayed in the bedroom, the coffee table or even the office.

Heart Mylars by Zoe Pawlak

Available at ZoePawlak.com. Inquire online for pricing. 

Receiving art is always a special occasion, and the collection of heart-shaped Mylars that Pawlak has created are ideal tokens of romance. Simplistic and ultimately chic, these pieces are a perfect blend of femininity and modernity; graceful yet abstract, the hearts send a message of love with the use of palette, finish and silhouette. No words required.

True Grace Moroccan Rose candle

Available at Provide Home, 1805 Fir Street. $55 each.

After a month travelling Morocco, I have become especially keen to the importance of scent to an experience. This Moroccan Rose candle, created with natural wax, evokes memories of lavish teahouses and warm environments with its floral and woody undertones. Offering both ambient light and seductive scents (and a 40-hour burn time), this is the perfect gift to set your romantic scene and light her fire.

Custom terrariums

Available at Mayhew Sherwood Florist, 3691 West Broadway. Inquire in store for pricing.

Let’s skip the expected bouquet of “Valentine’s Special” cut flowers that last only a week (at best) and let’s move toward something that shows a little thought behind the choice. Mayhew Sherwood florist offers a Terrarium Bar in store, allowing you to custom create an air plant terrarium, complete with the vessel, sands and stones, uniquely for your Valentine. Or, if your green thumb is a little lacking, you can also purchase a gift certificate for your beloved to go in and create their own special creation. 

Muse Pitcher by Jonathan Adler

Available at MINT Interiors, Shop.MintInteriors.ca. $139 each.

In classic Jonathan Adler style, this piece incorporates high-gloss glam with quirky elements. Inspired by Adler’s love affair with Dali and Misia, the white porcelain pitcher features raised lips on one side and a moustache on the reverse, offering up a kiss from both genders. Whether you’re serving up a Valentine’s breakfast in bed or looking for a vessel to deliver flowers, this pitcher serves functionality with a smile. 


Designer Files: The FAT Paint Company perfects the palette with Amanda Forrest

Designers and décor enthusiasts are jointly rejoicing at this week’s launch of the collaboration between design guru, Amanda Forrest, and local go-to for fabulous finishing treatments, The FAT Paint Company.

New Westminster-based and globally sought-after, FAT Paint has been redesigning the chalk paint industry with its line of paints that are easy to work with in both application and end-appearance customization (their paints are renowned with DIYers for the ability to distress with ease, giving each project its own unique look).

Victoria and Bradford Lambert, the brother and sister duo behind the brand, both hail from creative backgrounds and sought to produce a versatile chalk-style paint by artisans, for artisans.  The result has led them from (literally) a kitchen project to a 2,400-sq.ft. headquarters and production space, with international stockists.

Forrest, who has 15 years of experience reigning as the queen of the Canadian design scene, recently partnered with FAT Paint to offer her edgy-meets-chic twist to their palette. Thriving on the style expertise she brings to the design and lifestyle industries, The Amanda Forrest Collection is comprised of six stunning colours that create a dramatic effect both together and as a solo statement.

What I love best about the fresh line is the notable vibrancy and individuality behind each colour; says Forrest of the collection,“[the] colours are all inspired by my personality and personify my creative drive, passion for business and love of travel”.

The concepts behind each colour are explained below; if your inner DIYer is enticed, purchasing information is available at TheFatPaintCompany.com.  

Blushing Bombshell

A fierceful and sensual colour with an incredible drive seeking to be passionately paired with either floral or vibrant patterns.

Tip: Blushing Bombshell commands attention and is best partnered with greens and navy; the perfect colour for a media cabinet, accent tables or picture frames.

Navy State Of Mind

The boss of her world, strong to the point and always unwavering. As crisp as a pin striped suit and sky high heels.

Tip: Navy State Of Mind is a grounding colour. Its classic hue will stand the test of time on vanities, kitchen cabinetry and any mantle.


She has a quiet soft demeanor only intimates will discover. Its understated elegance is gentle and classic mirroring the lady at heart.

Tip: Greysful speaks to your inner traditionalist. It is the perfect grey to elevate cabinetry, coffee tables and headboards to a new level.


Destined for tropical inspiration with an umbrella drink in one hand and toes in the sand, this shade is as hot as the Caribbean sun.

Tip: The colour of fun, Orangeapalooza’s saturation is rich and deep giving it visual interest to hall tables, dining chairs and table lamps.

Couture Linen

Couture Linen covets fashion and the attention to detail found on a beautifully crafted blazer or a beaded formal gown, knowing what looks best and priding itself on being a well mannered colour even at the nest of social events.

Tip: Couture Linen is a classic tone that will bring out the best in any piece fitting in with any style of décor.

Can’t See Me Camo

She is a real team player with a masculine side. Her ability to lead and inspire through life experience has granted the gift to mentor others creatively exploring in a multitude of mediums.

Tip: Can’t See Me Camo can bridge the gap between light and dark furniture pieces. It is an understated neutral that adds visual depth to dressers, sideboards and benches. 

My Digs: A Cottage in the City

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to peek in to the ultra chic pad of local interior designer Gillian Segal, and take a glimpse at her interpretations of style, mixing glamour with modern. Her upscale take on playful meets traditional was detailed perfectly to suit her personal taste, which is what we – as designers – try to achieve for each of our clients: a beautifully designed space that is a true reflection of the personalities of those who call it home.

This week we are touring a recent project of Gillian’s firm – one close to her heart, as it was the renovation and redesign of her parents’ house. Combining modern updates with handcrafted statement pieces, the overall effect is striking yet inviting.

What is it (describe your house/condo/apartment): It’s a shingled cottage originally build in the 1930s.  We bought it and renovated about 22 years ago, and recently re-renovated (bathrooms, kitchen, dining room) with our daughter, who is an interior designer.

Occupant: Dr. Philip and Anda Teal, and our German shepherd and Sheltie.

Major selling feature: The cottage look and vibe charmed us. It’s on a private corner lot with trees for the squirrels and birds (which we love to watch) and is located in Kerrisdale. We love the updated/contemporary cottage feel.

First thing I changed: We gutted and renovated the house, adding an upstairs; we decided to keep the footprint of the house, and clad it in shingles to honour the heritage of the home. We added a bank of southern-exposed French windows and doors that span the living, dining and kitchen areas.

Feature I brag about: A mirror hanging in our dining room, handcrafted by our daughter, Gillian (of Gillian Segal Design) and her colleague Katherine Gordon (of Nexus Construction).

That one conversation piece: The Andre Petterson painting of a horse kneeling at a pond. Having had one daughter that is an equestrian, this piece reflects our love of horses.

The décor: We are very organic people – we love animals and the outdoors – and this is reflected by what is on the walls.  While I love a more traditional cottage look, my husband gravitates towards more contemporary pieces. I love neutrals and he loves colours, so our updates were all about ways to marry both of our loves in one space.

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles: The floors are one of our favourite features of the house.  They’re quarter cut oak floorboards that were salvaged from a mansion on Bellevue Drive in Vancouver; the wood had been custom milled for a ballroom, and there was sufficient wood for the entire main level.  We recently had it re-stained and it looks just as good as when we move in over 20 years ago.

Downsides: Now that the children are out, it is a little big for just the two of us.

Neighbourhood haunts: Blaqsheep for coffee, La Buca for dinner.

Compared to your last place: Our last place was a rental. This house is full of warmth and character.

Favourite apartment/house/condo activity: Gatherings with family/friends in our kitchen/dining/living areas. 


Home Is Where The Art Is: Endeavour Neon

For this month’s Home Is Were The Art Is, I caught up with Andrew Hibbs - the man and the creative mind behind the hottest (and one of the only) neon-bending studios in the city, Endeavour Neon. Andrew’s work is revitalizing the old school craft, with his signs used as major installations in some of the city’s most notable locations: TELUS Gardens, Vogue Theatre and Kit and Ace to name a few.

This highly visible return to the glory of neon has inspired a new wave of design trends for residential clients as well; Andrew can take any quote, image or original idea and turn it into bright light custom art, and it is this level of unique customization that is driving the direction of not only his business, but the industry as a whole. 

Endeavour recently teamed up with local artist Dana Mooney for a highly publicized and well-received collaboration. Creating a line of art that combines the expressive abstract style of Mooney doubled with playful quotes like “beach please” and “let’s pop bottles” in Andrew’s crafted neon, the collaboration solidified the expanding place neon has within current design. How did you get started in neon bending and what led you to where you are now? 

I watched my dad bend neon out in the shop in the back of our house my whole life and was always very fascinated with it. I loved working with my hands and at the age of 13, my dad let me start pumping the neon, which is putting the gas in the tubes; at 16 my dad gave me the repair business and I started bending neon from there. Two years ago my dad passed on to me the neon side of the company and I took [the business] to being more artsy and personal rather than just commercial.

Do you have a Vancouver muse? Or a favourite place in or around the city that inspires you? 

I love the outdoors so much and really get inspired by the beauty this city has to offer, I try to take every moment in, and love driving up into the mountains to hike and camp. 

What is your favourite accessory (for home or personal)? 

My favourite accessory would be my Apple watch – I never leave the house without it. It helps so much when I am bending neon and calls come in. I am able to multitask, and it definitely makes my life a lot easier. 

When it comes to style/design, what is the one thing you covet the most? 

I try to be unique and different. I love when people send me ideas that I haven't even thought of, or have never been done, things that really break the mould. Like neon chandeliers, or abstract art. 

Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?  

I think that neon will just keep taking off and become more and more artistic, and less known as just commercial signs, and that is what I strive for. To bring a new life to neon. 

How would you describe Vancouver’s artistic/creative community? 

I would say that Vancouver's creativity and artistic style is very multicultural as that is what Vancouver truly is. The nice thing with neon art is that it can be diverse, from something so modern, to something so classic. It’s very versatile to fit everyone's ideas and style. 

Who is your idol or mentor? 

My mentor and my idol is my father. He is the hardest working person I know in his professional and personal life, I strive to be just as good in my neon career as he was.

Finish this sentence: my day is not complete without… 

Something going wrong. As bending neon never goes smoothly, there’s always something that happens, but in the end seeing the artwork completed and lit up trumps any frustration that comes with this job. 

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

I really get inspired by ideas that people send me, and asking me if I am able to turn an idea into a piece of art! 

What do you wish more people knew about artists? 

I think art is really a way to express yourself, and in neon I am able to help people do just that, bringing an idea to life with my little twist on it.

Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city? 

I really like Gastown: a little more edgy and you can see the history there. I love that something so old can also tie in with new, like the neon sign “ time is precious” installed there on the brick- looks amazing and it’s so fun to be a part of that!


Designer Files: the globally-inspired decor at the Miraj Hammam Spa

Great service is essential, but nothing compares to a full service experience.

When I first featured the Miraj Hammam Spa as part of my Valentines Day Five Finds for their Couples Special, I couldn’t resist checking out what other services they offer. I booked an appointment to discover the traditional practice of Hammam & Gommage and from my first steps into the spa, I knew this would be unlike anything else in the city. While the actual Hammam was one of the most relaxing, invigorating treatments I’ve had, it was the design of the space that was the true indulgence.

What struck me initially was the beautifully intimate ambiance; I was immediately greeted with intricate tile work, the inviting aromas of essential oils, and seating adorned with globally-inspired textiles. The overhead lighting was carefully selected to offer soft light with ornate detailing, and even the design of the reception desk added to the overall feel.

I was inspired by my discussion with spa owner, Surinder Bains-Kassour, who sat down with me post-treatment to share the origins and story behind the curated interior décor. When Miraj Hammam opened in 2000, the first of its kind in Canada, it was designed to reflect the the essence of La Mosquee in Paris in the 5 Arrondissement.

“We custom built our space to [emulate] the culture and architecture of North Africa, specifically Morocco,” says Bains-Kassour.

Global treasures adorn the waiting area amongst the custom made essential oil blends, aromatherapy burners and infamous Moroccan black soaps, offering a taste of the experience ahead. Small wall hangings, carvings and brass urns and vases collected over world travels create the essence of a global setting. One of the most notable pieces I saw was an intricate tea set; this Syrian collection was a gift to Bains-Kassour from author Barbara Hodgson, who wrote No Place for a Lady.

My favourite part of the spa was the Sultana Lounge, the quiet room of reflection where guests unwind and partake in traditional teas and sweet cakes. The lounge offers elaborate beds to stretch out it, layered with stunning textiles, pillows and overhead curtains to create the intimate vibe. A warm, inviting palette enhances the feel, with deep reds, purples and golds. Within the lounge, there is a beautiful water feature inspired by the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain.

From a designer’s perspective, this was one of the most unique, eclectic spaces I’ve seen – one that I didn’t know I could find in Vancouver. For anyone looking for a complete global experience, combined with an incredible relaxation, the Miraj Hammam should be at the top of your list of must-see places.

My Digs: Sholto Scruton

Ever wonder what the home of a creative dream team looks like? This month’s My Digs checks in with furniture designer, Sholto Scruton and his graphic designer wife, as we tour their Strathcona heritage house and on-site workshop. An eclectic family home filled with a mix of sought after design treasures and the artists own pieces, this space exemplifies what a thoughtful restoration can offer.

What is it: A 1930 brick Four Square with four bedrooms and a separate studio in back with a rich history of colourful characters including bootleggers, entrepreneurs and artists.

Occupant: Furniture designer and maker Sholto Scruton of Sholto Design Studio, his wife, graphic designer and writer Berit Hansen, and their son Finn.

Major selling feature: The neighbourhood, Strathcona, is amazing. You know your neighbours and people say hi to each other on the sidewalk. And the workshop was the icing on the cake!

First thing I changed: Within 24 hours of taking possession I ripped down a newer wall separating the living room from the dining room to create a more open space that fit our furniture. We also had the whole place painted white, creating a clean palette to imagine what our home could be.

Feature I brag about: Its proximity to downtown and the fact that we can both walk to pretty much anywhere we need to go.

That one conversation piece: The upstairs bathroom reno. We did our best to replicate the original but make it suitable for 21st century living: adding a bath, shower, heated floors and more storage. With help from Richard Scott at Status Ceramics in Seattle, we replicated the 1928 tiles, and we found or designed 1930s reproduction fixtures.

The décor: The house is pretty unique with a varied history, so we didn’t want to erode the integrity of the 1930 design. On the other hand, we also appreciate a modernist style, mixing mid-century modern with contemporary design pieces. Because the house is painted white throughout , we’ve been able to introduce spots of colour and make the place more hyggelig (A Danish word that typifies good living and is missing from English.)

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles: Most of our furniture is from Berit’s parents, like her father’s 1965 Hans Wegner Papa Chair and mother’s Peter Wessel Norwegian lounge chair from the same period. A few of the pieces, like our credenza or the coffee table, I’ve built for our place. We learned on a visit to the Louisiana museum, outside Copenhagen, that we both loved the work of Poul Kjaerholm, particularly his PK22 chairs and bought the pair soon after we met. Most everything in our home is somehow connected to people we love or admire.

Downsides: Owning a house can be a lot of work. There are still a host of things we are excited to do.

Neighbourhood haunts: Benny’s Market for their delicious sandwiches during the work week – I recommend the grilled soppressata Calabrese which I often eat in the Strathcona community garden orchard when the weather permits. Oyster Express for amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, Harvest for their hazelnut noodle soup, Matchstick Café for coffee and an almond croissant on the weekend and Mamie Taylor’s for their namesake cocktail and fried chicken (I have a high metabolism). Oh, I almost forgot Besties – mmm.

Compared to your last place: They are very different: Our old place was a large corner apartment on the fifth floor in the West End. We both loved it and the apartment was easy to take care of with a city view and you couldn’t have been more central. The house, on the other hand is 85 years old with lots of wrinkles and scars, as well as a ton of charm and character.

Favourite apartment/house/condo activity: We love waking up in our home, especially when our four-year old son comes into our bed with endless questions early in the morning! It sounds lame but it’s a wonderful start to the day. Plus making waffles on Saturdays and working in my studio.

- See more at: http://www.westender.com/lifestyles/a-good-chick-to-know/home-tour-with-strathcona-furniture-designer-sholto-scruton-1.1767493#sthash.zdp1Fwq1.dpuf

Five Finds for your Valentine

The Famous Heart Desk Collection, available at That Neon Sign ($300)

Lighting is often my favourite element of décor – but for me, nothing beats when creative lighting actually becomes the décor! When Andrew Hibb's That Neon Sign first hit my radar, I was super impressed; I love his commitment to keeping an old school craft alive, relevant and chic in today's design industry. It therefore came as no surprise to me to find out his relation to stylista-extraordinaire, Monika Hibbs, and that Andrew's wife is also a designer. The Famous Heart piece has been a favourite of mine from Andrew's collection – I think the perfectly imperfect silhouette has a very personal feel, seemingly from the heart. As it turns out, it is: the piece was originally hand drawn by Monika, then traced and created in neon by Andrew, and finally envisioned on a stand as a décor piece by Andrew's wife. Available in almost any colour, each heart is a custom hand made and beautifully unique way to show your love to your décor-addict Valentine.

Tiffany Enchant Double Heart Ring, available at Tiffany & Co (pricing available in store)

It's no secret that diamonds are a girl's best friend, and once again Tiffany & Co. has mastered the art of a perfect collection. The intricate detailing of each piece within the Tiffany Enchant grouping has been inspired by garden gates of the 19th century, offering a quintessentially romantic appeal. The double heart ring has captured my attention – cursive, feminine lines of white gold and diamonds create a coupling of intertwined hearts, making an ideal gift of love for the woman in your life. Old world elegance meets sophisticated modernity with the sought after Tiffany's twist.

Couple's treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa, 1496 West 6th ($295/couple)

For those of you not yet familiar with the tradition of hammam and gommage, trust me – you want to get acquainted with it. Seriously. And what better way to be introduced to this sensual practice of relaxation and invigoration than with a partner. If you are looking for a Valentine's experience, the Miraj Hammam Spa – a South Granville landmark for those in the know – is offering a special couple's treatment; partners will be invited into the marble hammam, which they will have to themselves for a 45-minute low mist, high-intensity steam before being led separately for an exfoliating treatment of authentic black Moroccan soap, as well as face and scalp massages with aromatic rose oil. Afterwards, the couple will rejoin in the Sultana lounge of velvet beds and silk cushions for Middle Eastern tea and sweet cakes. Heightened senses and true pampering at the Miraj Hammam create a memorable experience for both you and your Valentine.

Neon Pink Heart Print, available at The Cross Decor & Design, 1198 Homer ($50)

Simple, graphic and bright sum up this super cute print, created by Banquet Atelier & Workshop. At roughly 20"x20", this playful piece makes the perfect everyday Valentine, with just enough statement to shout out "I love You" when you walk in the room. The neon pink heart is given an amped-up chic look with a soft grey background (rather than the expected stark white), allowing it to take on a slightly softer edge to suit any decor. I'm picturing this as an ideal gift for the wee ones this Valentine's Day – this would be a seriously adorable addition to any nursery or playroom.

The Joy bracelet, available at Jen Ellis Designs ($38)

Timing is everything, and I love when it comes together like clockwork. Coinciding perfectly with Valentine's Day, the Joy bracelet from local talent Jen Ellis has just launched as the newest addition to her designs. Chic, feminine pieces have become the cornerstone of Jen Ellis Designs, offering women ultra simple jewellery options that add the subtle finishing touches to an everyday look, or layer together beautifully for an elegant high impact. The Joy bracelet, available in either sterling silver or 14K gold fill, are a modern approach to the identity bracelets of the past; a streamlined interpretation, the Joy allows just enough room for a 'sweet nothing' to your love to be engraved.


Home Is Where The Art Is: Jamie Bizness

We've seen this column transition from a fashion-focused piece and a discussion on what décor trends are inspired by street style, to now  develop into a look at what is driving our local art scene; the column previously known as 'street style' will now be called 'home is where the art is', or HIWTAI for short.

Each month I'll be sitting down with a local artist and delving into what drives them and inspires them, offering a peek into their work and how it is influencing design.

We're kicking off this new artist series with one of the most prominent creatives on the scene right now, Jamie Bizness: surrealist illustrator, skilled painter and one of the best tattoo artists in the biz. Not to mention, one of the most beautiful spirits {and heads of hair} that anyone can tell you, you'd be privileged to meet.

What I love about working with Jamie's art is the strong visual interest. The initial graphic appeal of his illustrations adds a gallery-chic element to any décor (I've used a large grouping all framed out in white) but it's more about the intricate details that invite, engage and intrigue you; no matter how long you look, there's always new details to find and you just can't help but want to see more.

Who is Jamie Bizness?

Jamie Bizness is art.

How did you get started as an artist?

I was first inspired by my aunt, who was also a professional artist. At a young age when I showed interest, she taught me artistic techniques (I remember when I was four or five, being fascinated with her ability to draw Ninja Turtles). I guess this is where it sort of all started. Throughout my childhood art was everything; in high school I sold my first piece, giving me a taste of what being an artist as a career was all about. From there I created a line of custom painted hats called Thinkink, and this is in some ways what brought me from Alberta to Vancouver.

I sold a lot of street art when I was first starting out here, and was introduced to Red Gate Studios, a local art society. Red Gate opened up opportunities for me to explore collaborating with other artists. Some of my favourite artistic unions have been working with Rylsee on a show in Brazil, and collaborating with Caroline Weaver.

What mediums do you work with?

Art for me has always been about drawing. I recently completed a year-long project in which I created an illustration every day; the result was a good number of notebooks filled with my illustrations that I intend to translate into a book at some point in the future. A collection of these illustrations are being shown at Red Gate studios (855 East Hastings), for a show called “Works on Paper” opening on Thursday, Feb. 5.

It was after I had established myself as an artist that I discovered and developed my parallel career as a tattoo artist. I sort of stumbled into tattooing, rather than pursuing it with the traditional paths: an artist lent me his tattoo machine and I played around with the discipline, tattooing both myself and anyone who was interested in a free tattoo for me to learn with. Tattooing takes up my main focus these days, although I make sure to create time for drawing everyday; I’m seeing more of my illustrative art influence my tattooing. I'm moving away from straight interpretations of other people’s [tattoo] ideas, more into an artistic style of my own that people seek out. I now have an independent tattoo business that I’ve been running out of the Lords of Gastown compound in Railtown for about a year; I've also worked with them designing T-shirts for their clothing brand.

If you could describe your artistic style in one word, what would it be?


Do you have a favourite place in the city that inspires you?

Strathcona as a whole, but specifically MacLean Park, provides a place of calmness and balance for me. I strive to achieve these things in my daily life, so spending time in this environment is super important to me. I also love hanging out at Beer Island.

What colour best describes your personality?

Black. It’s what I use primarily in both my work and in my wardrobe.

How would you describe Vancouver's artistic community?

Vancouver has a lot of artists; a lot of great artists. And a lot of potential. However, I see a lack of collectiveness between groups of artists. Vancouver could offer a stronger art scene if it were more of a full community of artists banded together; we would have more to look at and be a stronger force.

If you weren't doing this for a living, what would you be doing?

I have a strong interest in sociology, what people do and why they do it. Social change is a big focus for me and I try to incorporate that into my art, but if I had a different path it would definitely be motivated by social change. Art is about consciousness, making people aware; if I wasn’t doing this through art, I’d be doing it in some other way.

What is your goal with your art?

I think it would be for me to work with as many mediums, forms and artists as possible. To put my work everywhere on everything. Collaboration is a huge focus for me right now.


Designer Files: The New Industrial

A few weeks ago I shared an article that discussed which design trends from seasons past have had the strength to move forward into 2015. One of the bigger décor looks that is finding traction is the industrial look – but it’s not the same heavy aesthetic that dominated the scene a few years ago. This refined “industrial” has a fresh feel that I’m looking forward to incorporating into upcoming projects.

To get a full insider scoop on how this trend has evolved, I asked some of Vancouver’s most talented artisans in the woodworking field to share their thoughts on the new industrial style.

Clint Moroz, The Longwalk Lodge

How have you seen the industrial trend evolve?

When this trend first became popular a number of years back, it didn’t gradually gain attention – it took off immediately and at a mass level. Seemingly every home, restaurant and shop had adopted the trend in a big way; we saw heavy pipes, rustic woods and distressed metals combined in everything from shelves to wall cladding to smaller household items.

As we look forward at how the trend is adapting to current styles, we are seeing an “industrial” that is much less stark and brute. Industrial pieces now are taking on more of a Scandinavian, clean aesthetic by comparison, and have looked to a new approach in order to remain relevant. We are still seeing reclaimed woods, but they are being paired with more interesting design elements, such as painted metals in a bright palette, or coloured resins rather than the heavily worn bare metals we’ve seen in the past. The industrial colourway and combos of a few years ago became too monochromatic, especially when used in lofts (or other industrial-inspired spaces).

Have you noticed a shift in the attitude of consumers toward industrial pieces?

Definitely. Previously, people were jumping on the industrial trend without actually thinking about if and why they liked it. It was about having everything industrial, rather than considering how the trend would work for them.

Clients today are being more selective and seeking out pieces that speak to them and suit their own personal style. We are happily shifting into a modern eclectic movement, a design approach that is encouraging people to mix, for example, a custom industrial table with a Victorian sofa in a contemporary setting; we don’t have fully “industrial” or “mid-century” homes anymore – we use pieces from different eras that all are representative of our individuality. The mass production items are less in demand, while craftsman pieces are what consumers are interested in.

Benji Nesdoly, Field in Town

What are you working on right now – what are you excited about within industrial/ custom woodworking?

I’ve been busy building new products and focusing on building up my collection. I’m all about working with new materials – taking the skills and styles that I’ve refined and trying them out with fresh materials.

Currently I’m really interested in working with hardwoods, I’ve been testing out combining beautiful Peruvian walnuts with complimentary woods to make unique combos (think: a stellar walnut with striking white woods). I’ve worked a lot with stains in the past, but now I see the direction moving toward letting the natural beauty of the woods take the focal point, so mixing the natural elements to create interest is where I’m seeing the look go.

You’ve been designing and creating for about a year and a half – what do you see as the future direction for Field in Town?

I think it’s really important as a designer to constantly be refining and improving your skill set. It’s all about the learning curve, you have to try in order to succeed, but also you sometimes have to try and fail in order to get a fresh perspective and see things in a new way. I keep gaining experience, and the more I do, the more I love it; the more I love it, the better my skills get. It’s a really positive loop.

Craig Pearce, Union Wood Co.

How has the aesthetic of the industrial look has evolved since you began in the industry?

In my opinion there was a certain amount of crudeness to the industrial look, back in 2009 when I began making this kind of furniture. I think with the trend catching on that the crudeness has been exploited a bit. Our customers are looking for a more refined product, but still have interest in the industrial-style furniture.

What are you excited about in terms of industry trends moving into 2015?

There is so much I’m excited about in the industry trends. So many great materials, and so many willing clients these days. I’m really into seeing what other people are doing, and with social media, it’s so accessible. It’s inspiring to see others creating, and keeps me, as a creator, on my toes.


My Digs: Alexis LaBonte

Being a designer doesn’t kill the common curiosity to see how designers really live. In fact, it might even amp up the insatiable desire to peek into the homes of other industry people and see how they are living, loving and applying all the trends and options available within décor.

This month we check in with local talent Alexis LaBonte of Design LaB. Alexis keeps things chic in her Yaletown condo, a pad she’s called home for the last eight years. The space has seen many transformations (we designers can’t help but continuously redecorate) – but I’m all over what she currently has going on.

This condo plays up West Coast warmth in a minimalistic setting, but has been styled with details to fashion a glamourous overall appeal. Clean lines in a monochromatic warm grey palette mixed with a strong art collection establish a creative yet polished space; Alexis has adorned her walls with her own art (both paintings and photography), pieces that her (artist) mother created and an eclectic mix of Etsy prints. My favourite part of this pad? The dining chairs – a Craigslist find that found new glory with a soft emerald velvet reupholstery facelift. *swoon*

What is it: A one-bed-plus-den Yaletown condo. Occupant: Alexis LaBonte, I am the owner of DesignLaB Interiors; design geek; lover of photography, tennis and a good glass of chardonnay.

Major selling feature: After hunting through every one-bedroom in Vancouver at the time, I walked into perfection. Office space with large windows, a west facing balcony that you could put a barbecue and two chairs on, floor plan that has entertainment on one side, privacy for bed/bath on the other, they do exist! Being steps from the seawall and a couple blocks from Yaletown’s core is very convenient.

First thing I changed: I attacked the "builder’s beige" with more accent walls and added new lighting. The colours have changed a few times since I moved in, wallpapers gone up, come down…you get where I’m going.  I love a good house project.

Feature I brag about: My view and balcony are worthy of bragging rights. I can see the trusses under the Granville Bridge, False Creek and the sunset. Get your camera ready.

That one conversation piece: My dining room chairs, my best craigslist find to date. They were Canadian-made, likely from the '40s/'50s, which I re-upholstered. They ended up being a bit of a splurge, but I love them. They are the punch of colour in the space.

The décor: The revolving door that is an interior designer's décor, of course! I have pretty contemporary neutral pieces that create a fresh yet comfortable vibe. I love a soft palette with accessory pieces that give it a bit of personality.

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles: I have surrounded myself with accessories pieces from my grandparents and artwork from my Mom, most things I have come with a story. Other art pieces I’ve painted myself as well as photographs I’ve taken in my travels. I’m constantly moving, adding and subtracting things; it’s become sort of a joke amongst my friends.

Downsides: It’s rare to find a Car2Go in my area, otherwise I really have no complaints!

Neighbourhood haunts:Tartine Bread & Pies is a neighborhood favorite, I go home just to get lunch there. I’m really looking forward to the Vancouver House development to bring in more food and beverage options. It's still the quiet end of False Creek where I am.

Compared to your last place: I was living in a rental building in Toronto… I’ll leave it at that. Favourite apartment/house/condo activity: Hanging out having a glass of wine or cooking/baking, but doing both is preferred.


Five Finds for a brighter decor

Amulette Pendants, available at Nineteen Ten Home, 4366 Main. $180 – $320.

Lighting is always my favourite part of a project. Once you get past the first level of lighting a space – the task lighting, such as overhead pot lights – you are able to play a lot with the next levels of lighting like pendant lights, table lamps and floor lamps to create the ambiance and enhance the décor style you’ve decided on. I love how these Amulette Pendants (shown here in both the bohemian and craft paper styles) are smaller pieces with a subtle yet statement effect. Handmade in Montreal out of paper, these lights offer a softness that plays easily to boho décor, nurseries or ceiling-hung bedside lamps in a feminine bedroom.

Vintage Dowry Rugs, available at Much & Little, 2541 Main. Prices vary.

Pieces with a story, a previous life, are the best way to add personality to décor. Vintage items of any kind, carefully mixed with contemporary designs add an overall layered feel to a space that suggests the design has been well curated over years, and is more of a collection rather than a grouping of functional pieces. Textiles are one of the more interesting items to introduce as vintage, as they offer stressed palettes, pattern and texture that a new version simply can’t match; even in the most modern of homes, a vintage throw or – even better – area rug adds a sense of style that cuts the cold of modern minimalism without being intrusive. These handwoven vintage rugs, originally created as dowry offerings from Turkey, are ideal, as they offer a wide colour range and heavier weight, making them both visually complimentary and functional for most décor.

Bkr Bottles, available at Float Yaletown, 1059 Cambie. $33.

I’m totally that girl who’s guilty of not drinking nearly enough water throughout the day. Part of the reason is that traditional plastic water bottles taste too "plastic-y" and many reusable bottles are too sporty and don’t tuck easily into my bag, When I first saw these Bkr bottles at Float Yaletown, I was first drawn to the pretty colours; I love the ombre range of the muted blue colour options with fun names like Detox, London, and Dive. But when I actually picked them up, I realized that they were super functional as well – lightweight glass (to avoid that dreaded plastic taste) protected by beautifully coloured silicone covers and a sleek size and shape that allows them to easily tuck away into any bag or purse. Perhaps this year will see a change in my water habits after all, with the style-meets-function Bkr bottle.

Normann Copehnagan Geo Jars, available at Vancouver Special, 3612 Main. $13-14.

It’s a designer’s delight when everyday household items take on a stylish aesthetic – so often a space can be beautifully put together, but then when the functional items are put to use, the décor is interrupted. When I saw these jars in the window of Vancouver Special, I had to pop in to check out the collection; available in a soft but playful palette range, these jars can be mixed and matched. The line offers a milk jug, a sugar bowl, and a jar with lid (all shown here) and also includes serving trays, larger bowls and other utensils. Created out of a resin type material, these pieces are both durable and totally irresistible.

Vintage Pink Marble Stoneware, available at The Collectors Vintage India, 4413 Main. $50-65.

I am admittedly a décor junkie for all things beautifully global; so when I recently stumbled across The Collectors Vintage India pop-up shop on Main Street (located in the old East is East building), I was immediately blown away. From trinkets to textiles to large furnishings, this boutique offers a beautiful collection of all of my most coveting things. I was particularly intrigued by the bowls – originally used for mixing flatbreads, these pan-shaped dishes are handmade from marble for a beautiful finish. The shop has a few of these in their collection in a range of grey and natural tones, but I couldn’t resist the muted pink. While they were originally used for cooking, I’m picturing these as layering pieces or trays, adding a touch of global glam to any décor.


Designer Files: design trends to watch for 2015

As we jump into a new year, there is always an abundance of ‘shop talk’ within the design community about what the hot trends will be for the seasons ahead. While some key elements have a strong shift, others remain the same and carry forward with a new importance in décor. By taking trends or styles that are currently within our homes and bringing them into a fresh year, we are able to achieve a more eclectic feel that offers stronger visual interest than swapping out everything for a new look. I had a number of favourite design trends from this past year, some of which I’m stoked to see transition into 2015 and get a new spin. There was a lot of diversity within 2014 décor styles, which makes it fun to reinterpret popular ideas for a fresh take. From colour to hard finishes to textiles, 2015design looks like it’s set to offer a beautiful amalgamation of styles that we have already seen and loved. Here are a few that I can’t wait to see stick around in a big way:

Mixed metals

It began with the introduction of gold a few style seasons ago, replacing the monopoly chrome had on décor; then we saw copper elements surface and take over for a short stint. This created décor dilemmas, however, as people weren’t sure how to introduce the new metals without replacing all their previous finishes. Thus, the trio of metallics joined forces and created one of the strongest trends to come out of décor in a few years: mixing metals together to catch an ultra-glam appeal. This has allowed designers and décor fiends alike to choose metallics in a carefree fashion, blending them together to create unique looks.

Industrial elements within modernity

The industrial look was huge for 2012, with every- and anything rustic taking storm over décor; the following year nearly abandoned the trend, but it started to creep back in for 2014 in a more subtle way. As we look ahead how to use industrial elements for this year, we are seeing the heavy details of re-purposed and found items being used sparingly and paired with softer, modern spaces to gain balance within a room. Rather than everything having raw edges or rough finishes, we see one or two feature industrial pieces standing out within a simplistic space for an overall organic feel.

Masculine and feminine harmony

It’s an age old décor battle: the ultimate bachelor pad approach vs. the super femme touch. I often play mediator for clients that can’t find a way to agree on the design of their space – it tends to be that men prefer less fuss, more neutral colours and supreme comfort and functionality, while their female counterparts place emphasis on layering, tonality and more intricate details. Last year, however, we saw a compromise – an introduction of a style juxtaposition between the masculine and feminine elements, hard edges mixed with soft finishes to create an unexpected (yet beautiful) effect. This will stay strong for 2015, offering further exploration into the marriage of male and female design tendencies.

Ethnic influence

Human nature often encourages us to look outside our own cultural norms for creative inspiration; we saw 2013 and 2014 décor explore Central Asian (Ikat, anyone?), Egyptian, Native American (most commonly Navajo) and Moroccan style. A global outlook on design stimulation is carrying us forward into the new year, although we are seeking a hyper-local approach to receiving it. I’m looking forward to the discovery of new cultural influence for the year ahead.

Bright whites

For me, nothing creates a dream space faster than a fresh canvas to work within – gallery white walls combined with hard finishes, cabinetry and flooring that mimic are the key elements to my favourite designs. The benefits of using crisp white details are plentiful – the illusion of more space, increased light reflection and a a perceived openness even to the most tucked away nook. I look forward to fresh white details being incorporated into different design elements for 2015, and encourage the idea of mixing whites within applications and finishes – matte with gloss, white counters with white cabinets, and a variety of décor bits in a range of whites to finish off a space.


Designer Files: Winterize your decor

I’m a bit of a décor addict. While I have my signature style, I cannot resist the temptation to swap out the “feel” of my home with changing moods, design advancements, and seasons. I always keep a true reflection of my personality in the details of my design, but the overall ambiance can– and does – shift.

For the winter season, people often focus heavily on holiday décor; it’s exhaustingly available and seems like a quick fix to give a fresh feel for the changing season. The trouble within this approach to design is that as soon as Jan. 1 (or Dec. 26 in my case) comes around, we cannot wait to rid our décor of the nostalgia of holiday-themed pieces, in search of a fresh start.

Rather than spend your décor budget on items that are specific to a particular holiday, the modern approach is to consider a “winter décor” – choosing pieces that offer a seasonal refresh to a space without limiting the longevity to one day or week. Consider working with items that add a warmth and inviting feel to your décor. Even the festiveness of the holidays can be achieved by adding in pieces with a little sparkle.

Playing with colour, texture and heavy layering are the keys to “winterizing” a space; you’re able to participate in the dressing up of your home during the season, but you end up with a design that suits your own personal style and remains chic all season long.

Here are a few pieces that I’ve seen on my style hunts that amp up the essence of Holiday, but could remain as a fab addition almost any décor, long after the festivities are through.

Tangled Web macrame wall hanging from CB2, $199:

This wall décor plays up the cozy capabilities of art for winter, while at the same time addressing the ultimately hip boho vibe that has become so coveted as we move out of 2014 and into 2015.

I love how the neutral palette allows the emphasis to remain on texture and the finer visual details; without colour to draw the eye in, we are engaged by the heavy tactile effect and asymmetrical pattern of the macrame.

This is a piece that could either act as an additional layer to any space, or stand alone as a statement within a room.

Knitted Sequins throw (ivory) from West Elm, $79:

Throw blankets have always been a designer’s secret weapon for swapping up the feel of a room; they are an easy and effective way to introduce new colourways, patterns, and textiles to suit a changing décor or season, while adding depth to the overall feel.

This blanket, inspired by the stunning traditional Moroccan wedding blankets, offers a subtle layering tool in a neutral palette, but amps up the glam side ofwinter décor with the sequins stripes. It lightly references holiday décor, yet easily translates into an upscale ambiance suitable for the full winter season.

Pods porcelain sculpture art from Peridot Décorative Homeware, $14 each:

Pretty little things with big impact are my ultimate fave when it comes to décor. When a strong statement can be delivered with a subtle piece, especially at an approachable price point, I relish the moment.

What I most love about these wall-installation pieces is their versatility – they make a stunning impact whether used individually as a hook, or grouped in a structured or organic pattern.

With a matte exterior and iridescent finish within, these eggshell-like Pods add the shimmer of the holidays without becoming overwhelming; these are pieces that not only transcend the holiday décor realm, but also have the longevity and softness to suit your space though all four seasons.

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My Digs: Christina Richards

I love when I walk into someone's home and it is an immediate reflection of their personality.

Quite honestly, that's how design should always be, but more often than not it doesn't turn out that way. I was super impressed when I entered the home of Christina Richards, who had worked with a close friend of mine – Rachel Harrison (a designer as well) – to style the space when she and her family moved in.

Perfectly suited to the individuals within the home, the design exudes classic elegance, feminine overtones and a formal eclecticism. With thoughtful design decisions, Christina and Rachel created an ultimately chic and reflective space for the Richards to call home.

What is it:

A three bedroom corner townhouse at The Brownstone in Fairview.


I work in promotions and marketing management for one of the world’s leading travel companies. I’m also the mother of two amazing children that bring me so much joy.

Major selling feature:

Location! We’re walking distance to Cambie Village, Main Street, South Granville, and Granville Island. The area is also a wonderful family oriented community with several parks and community centres nearby. Another selling feature is the abundance of light in this home. For a townhouse, it has a ton of windows and always feels light and open, even on gloomy and dark Vancouver days.

First thing I changed:

When we first moved in, we didn’t change much except for paint in the bedrooms. This year, we added a cozy custom bay window bench area with storage. It’s now our favourite place to snuggle with our kids and read books. We also added custom open shelves in the kitchen to house all of our antique china, glassware and shiny things.

Feature I brag about:

Our master bedroom with its massive curved windows and vaulted ceilings. It’s my favourite space in the house. My dear good friend, Rachel Harrison of RoomCraft Design + Renovations, in collaboration with Kaili Zevenbergen, designed this room a couple of years ago. It’s all white, bright, yet cozy, and feels ultra-glamourous with the large tufted linen custom headboard, crystal chandeliers, and special hand-picked antique pieces. I have a hard time getting up in the morning.

That one conversation piece:

Our Zöe Pawlak painting that hangs above our sofa. It really is the centerpiece of the home. When my husband and I first saw it, we instantly fell head over heels. I love the bright fuchsia in the painting and every time I look at it, it just makes me feel good. It’s something we will love forever.

The decor: 

Our décor is a bit of contemporary paired with some soft and traditional elegance that connects well with the classic European features of the townhouse. The colour palette is a lot of white with greys, some soft blues, and metallics, as well as touches of marble, glass, and crystal. I love all things shiny, pretty, and light.

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles:

I love our vintage Belgium bedside tables that Rachel Harrison found for us at an antique market. The tops were replaced with beautiful white marble – making it feel new and glamourous. I love collecting antique tea cups and chinaware. They are so pretty to display. I have a beautiful set passed down to me by my grandmother that I bring out when hosting special dinners. Besides our Zöe Pawlak piece, my other favourite art comes from my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter. She loves art and every scribble is like a masterpiece to me.


Although we love townhouse living and enjoy the large courtyard where all of the community kids can play safety, our own backyard would be amazing.

Neighbourhood haunts:

I’m in love with The Birds Nest and Heirloom on South Granville. As a family, we really enjoy Biercraft on Cambie and Rocky Mountain Flatbread on Main. Both are great for brunch and very kid friendly. Main Street is also fantastic for little coffee nooks and shopping.

Compared to your last place:

Our previous place was a large condo in Yaletown. We were newlyweds and at the time, the space was perfect for us. It had floor to ceiling windows everywhere that let in the most beautiful light.

Favourite apartment/house/condo activity:

Just hanging out and spending time with my husband and two children.


Five Finds: fab up your Winter style

Navajo style rug, Refind, 4609 Main St

Ethnic influence has been a strong factor in design for 2014, remaining strong leading into the New Year. One of my personal favourites is the Southwest style, rich with Navajo and cultural references that allow a broad spectrum of people to discover and appreciate patterns that have represented the original nations of our countries. This area rug, size-suitable for a kitchen or entryway, takes the traditionally inspired patterns and brings them into 2015 design trends with a soft, muted neutral colour way.

Barter Design Company Pottery, Provide Home, 529 Beatty St

Pottery has been a decor staple for years within certain styles, but we are recently seeing a strong revival of nature  in design that has created a resurgence of clay work pieces in mainstream decor. Barter, known for using natural elements that speak to West Coast beauty, is a forerunner in offering functional terracotta pieces that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are practical. Simple, organic silhouettes in a soft, warm palette create a collection that adds both dimension and diversity to any space.

Jen Ellis gold stacking rings, Oliver and Lilly's, 1575 West 6th Ave

While statement jewellery is certainly one of my style weaknesses, I have to admit my favourite accessories are the pieces that I can wear everyday - whether I'm in joggers or a cocktail dress - and add a subtly chic element to my look. I have purchased a number of these pretty Jen Ellis stacking rings over the last few years; I wear them everyday without thing them off and they look just as chic today as the first day I put them on. They create an effortlessly glam touch to my hands, yet are light enough that I can easily layer them with my larger rings for a more dramatic effect.

Metro Table Lamp, EQ3, 2301 Granville St

Lighting might just be my fave element to designing a space, so choosing a stellar light piece takes both time and creative thought. This lamp caught my eye as it happens to combine two of my favourite finishes: copper/rose gold  and white marble. While meeting many of the design trends for the upcoming season, the sleek silhouette and polished effect create a timeless style that easily translates for many different decor styles. I'm picturing it as a statement piece in a monochromatic white  toned room, but it would likewise be an ideal addition to a minimalistic office or heavily layered masculine space.

Mendes Dining Chair by The Goods, Country Furniture, 3097 Granville St

I love it when 'playful'  makes an impact on 'minimal'. The Mendes Chair plays with a more casual approach with softly rounded lines and smoked lucite, while the streamlined overall aesthetic and simple wood legs reference an upscale Midcentury appeal. I've seen this chair paired with an ultra modern table to create a chic dining space, yet it would be perfectly placed as a side chair in an eclectic guest room or seating area when combined with interesting textiles; the Mendes offers versatility to the maximum, which is a key factor in any shoppers purchasing priorities considering the small space living we have become accustomed to within the city.


Designer Files: Sid Dickens hits the floor

Well-known artist, Sid Dickens, explores the imagination with a new rug collection.

When we think of dressing a room, the primary thoughts go to neutrals for the large furnishings, texture within the drapery and area rugs, and colour and pattern via smaller textiles, accessories, and art. Generally, this is a great rule of thumb for a well-designed room that is both stylish yet offers longevity in it’s décor.

However, as experience has shown, some rules are meant to be broken. Certain décor pieces, styles, or an overall ‘feel’ can lead you to blend the composition within a room and gain visual aspects from unexpected areas to create a unique effect. By this, I mean that we can find interesting pieces that go beyond their expected function and visual purpose, offering an additional décor element to a space.

One such example is the newly-launched Sid Dickens rug collection for Burritt Bros., Vancouver’s flooring fashion house since 1907. The forward-thinking team behind Burritt Bros. has become well known within the design, fashion, and art communities for bringing these industries together via collaborations with leaders in the creative fields. A long-time client of the flooring house (with an admitted weakness for beautiful area rugs), I am so appreciative of the support they offer our local arts scene here in Vancouver; I fell head over heels with the line they did with my lovely friend Zoe Pawlak, and am once again met with results beyond expectations with the Sid Dickens collection.

The line is derived of a soft hand and calm palette, yet offers the illusion of striking texture through the an artistic approach to pattern. I find that these pieces offer the beauty of classic art forms with a street art undertone; it is this juxtaposition of traditional and urban references that affords this collection the versatility to work within a variety of spaces. The neutral colourway of these rugs is an inviting – and often recommended – choice for many people, while the pattern and visual content of each piece offers an artistic style that carries the rugs from the realm of a functional layering piece within décor, to that of a vibrant visual element within a room. In short, this collection brings art from it’s usual place on the walls, underfoot.

Sid Dickens is a local talent who’s artistic journey is rich with story, heritage, and experience - the culmination of which is what makes his work so inviting. From a childhood offering the remoteness to foster freedom, curiosity, and imagination, to the exploration and travel of Europe and Haida Gwaii, Dickens shares the inspiration of his voyages through his work. After training his artistic eye at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Sid explored his abilities in pen and ink, sculpture, and true mixed-media and eventually found much success with plaster. The Sid Dickens Memory Blocks have become a solidified art form that he continues to refine and explore in his studios in both Vancouver and Haida Gwaii; Sid himself describes the six-foot by eight-foot storyboards as his opportunity to bring “places and times and faces and feelings to a tactile reality.”

Now, as Sid’s art takes a new tactile journey with his collaboration with Burritt Bros., we are able to see how art can be both explored and exposed in unexpected forms to create expressive layers within the home. The collection is now on display and available at the Burritt Bros. showroom at 3594 Main.