Designer Files: Winterize your decor



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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 of  winter 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.


My Digs: Christina Richards

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Designer Files: Sid Dickens hits the floor

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

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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.

Designer Files: three Vancouver vintage hotspots

The most common reason that potential clients reach out to me for design help is not because they have no idea what they like; nor is it because they don’t know what to buy. It’s because they don’t know how to put all the things they like together in a cohesive, but also personalized fashion. People want to work with me to help them write their own style story.

There is a wide variety of clients who are still looking for their story: from those who are moving into a new space, to those who have been there for years and never advanced past the ‘we just moved in’ look to a place that is reflective of their individuality. One of my first questions for clients is “are you comfortable with vintage pieces?”; some people are already in-the-know about the cool factor of vintage, while others are both surprised and hesitant with my ask.

From an environmental standpoint, opting for vintage items is awesome because it keeps pieces out of our landfills, while also reducing consumer demand for new production. From a design perspective, I find it important to bring in vintage for the variety it provides to the overall look and feel of a room. When you are looking to create a style story, what better place to start than with pieces that have a story of their own.

Vancouver is a hot-spot for vintage finds. There are so many fabulous hidden (or not-so-hidden) gems to scour for something unique for your home, whether it be large or small. I have a few favourites that I have worked with for years, and lean on when I’m in need of super cool items to pull a project together.


Located at 230 East Pender, Space Lab has a more industrial take on vintage; this incredible house of curiosities offers many found items, antique art and artifacts, as well as an in-house design studio for custom lighting, woodwork and furniture. Clint Moroz (owner) has recently partnered with Draft Dodger Designs and Bootleg Barbers to create The Longwalk Lodge at the East Pender shop; together with these allies, Space Lab is bringing a heavy dose of creativity and community to Chinatown.

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A long-running Main Street staple for the mid-century market (4609 Main Street to be exact), ReFind brings high level nostalgia and charm to all that enter. Specializing in high quality decor from the 50’s and 60’s, Bart Taylor (owner) offers his clientele everything you can remember or even imagine from the mid-century period; from teak furniture to mod lamps to kitschy oddities, ReFind is a stellar source for whatever you’re on the hunt for. And so much more.


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Lillian Reimer (owner) was bang-on when choosing her shop’s name – this Commercial Drive destination (944 Commercial) is a sure win for those on a vintage decor treasure hunt. Featuring designer pieces from the 30’s to 70’s, Attic Treasures is a fun spot to spend time perusing through mid-century housewares, jewellery, lighting and furniture. If you’re cruising the Drive, keep a lookout for the shop’s signature vibrant orange outdoor trim, beckoning locals and visitors since 1988.

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My Digs: Jamie Mann

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As a designer, and notably nosey chick, I love touring homes. I enjoy seeing how people live and showcase their unique interests through dwelling spaces. My Digs offers all of us a chance to do the same – glimpse the way our fellow city-goers style up their spaces – and provides a straight line of inspiration.

This week we’re checking in to the ultra chic live/ work pad of the fabulous fashion photographer, Jamie Mann.

When he’s not touring the world capturing stunning images, he spends his days in a hip loft in Railtown. I’m loving the way he’s been able to capture the tricky balance of a place to be inspired for creative projects, while also creating an inviting and polished place to call home.

First thing I changed:

The wall colors! Since my home/studio is one large rectangle, I wanted to visually break the space up with different color tones. I introduced a cyan tone for the kitchen & sitting area, white for the studio space and “Dior” grey for the gallery wall and front entrance.

Feature I brag about:

The rooftop. Rain or shine, it is the one place I can always get away to.

That one conversation piece:

The fact that I sleep in the closet (the walk-in closet that is). Everyone finds this quite interesting, as this is the most commonly asked question by first time visitors’. The closet features a queen bed and is extremely cozy, especially in the winter months.

The story behind the art/antiques/collectibles:

The art collection that continuously rotates throughout my space has been in the works for the last couple of years. Jonah Samson, Jessica Bell, Zoe Pawlak, Jenny Shipper, The Dark, and other artists are some of my favorite pieces – so far.


The trains in the summer when the windows are open can be very loud at times. Some days not at all, others at 3am…however I am used to it by now. After living here for four years, I find it somewhat relaxing.

Compared to your last place:

My last place was a basic two bedroom on 49th and Victoria, while I was studying photography at Langara College. The cool factor has been most certainly amplified with this space, as well as providing an opportunity to create a professional studio.

Favorite activity at home:

Organizing the studio, clothing, and props for a shoot, while listening to some great music… as well as doing the actual photo-shoot itself. There is nothing better then working with a great team where we are all in our element creating beautiful images together. I love that my “digs” are the hub of all this.

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Five Finds for the Fall season


1950’s Chinese Navy Diving Helmet

Available at Space Lab, 230 East Pender. $2,995

Every space should have a statement piece – something that draws focus and offers insight into the overall style perspective of the room. This vintage diving helmet takes that to a whole new level; an original, this was the Chinese version of the American Mark V. The piece offers great interest as a historical artifact, but from an aesthetic level, it is simply stunning. Solid brass with some nickel plating, it fits perfectly into one of the strongest design trends for the upcoming season – warm mixed metals. Standing roughly 16 inches in height and depth, this helmet is ready to steal the show in your style story.

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Vintage Kimono

Available at Duchesse Vintage and Such, 430 Columbia. $120

As we move into cooler weather, every girl is hitting the streets hunting down a collection of fabulous pieces to layer up without dragging down her style. Ladies, the hunt is over; add some style to your wardrobe with this vintage kimono. A thin piece perfect for layering, it is made from a mix of raw and soft silk (read: Fits comfortably under your well-loved denim jacket for an ideal Vancouver autumn outerwear combo). Try it as an alternative to a blazer to amp up the style at work, or over your fave little number for a knockout evening getup. The palette adds some summertime warmth with a saturated apricot, perfect for a rainy Van-city day!

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Mantel Blue Area Rug

Available at Burritt Bros, 3594 Main. $9,440 at an 8’x10′ size

Area rugs are one of the fundamental elements of successful design; not only do they offer functional warmth and softness underfoot, but they also visually ground a room, offering a perceived area for room decor to develop. Whether oversized or an accent piece, rugs provide an opportunity to play with pattern and texture. My recent love has been for tone on tone neutral rugs (think – a white on white silk blend for an ultra glam appeal) but I have also found myself attracted to a new palette – muted blues. This Mantel Blue rug from Burritt Bros offers an old-world feel with the distressed effect of the medallion, beautifully accentuated by the soft steely blue and natural colourway. The epitome of handcrafted, this beauty is 100 per cent hand spun, hand dyed, and hand knotted in Nepal from a 50/50 blend of Himalayan wool and Chinese silk.

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Alex Coral Cuff by Loren Hope

Available at LYNNsteven Boutique, 225 Carrall. $95

Art Deco glamour meets modern day edge with this handmade piece by Loren Hope. The stronger elements of the wide antiqued brass cuff are juxtaposed by the feminine Austrian rhinestones and large coral stone; true to the brand’s design philosophy, each piece is handmade, offering both style and quality. This collection by Loren Hope is the only non-Canadian line carried within the LYNNsteven boutique, a must-stop shop for those in the know. This Gastown gem has been bringing the women of Vancouver a fun, flirty, and fashion-forward style selection five years next month.

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Bingo modular table/seat/bed

Available at Vancouver Special, 3612 Main. $395

Bingo is multi-functional living at its finest. Ideal for small space urban homes, the piece is a convertible three-in-one furniture element that solves the logistical dilemma of guest comfort versus floorspace, in style. When completely closed, the Bingo is a chic side- or coffee-table with a metal top tray and cool folded effect. Remove the tray, and you have an accordion-esque pouff for extra seating. The most awesome feature? Unfold it altogether and you’ve got a chic guest bed for one. Constructed of high density polyurethane foam with a (removable) wool felt fabric finish, the Bingo is available in fifteen colours. I love pieces that add functionality with a big dose of awesome! If you’ve got more room to play, try using multiples as statement seating within an open concept space.