Homeowner Wing Lau dashes around her immaculate, one-bedroom condo grabbing a jug of water from an otherwise barren fridge and nods toward the bedroom door, behind which things are apparently not so perfect
“We just got back from a weekend in New York City and are still unpacking,” says Wing with a smile. Wing, 28, and her husband, Kevin Teo, 31, bought their downtown Vancouver property overlooking BC Place stadium just last year and were in a similar rush to furnish it.
Wing had recently moved from Chicago to join her new husband. They were living in the basement of his parents’ home in Coquitlam while Kevin was working in downtown Vancouver.
“We were so desperate to have our own space,” says Wing. “We had lived apart and then with his parents. We were newlyweds. It was important to create something that was all our own.”
The busy professional couple – both are accountants – hired interior designers Jennifer Scott and Megan Baker of A Good Chick to Know to help transform their 601-square-foot condo into a personalized space that does double duty. Many areas of their diminutive home serve multiple functions. A former closet was converted into a mini office and feature wall while a flex room is a walk-in closet and foyer all in one.
The attractive kitchen was a selling point for the couple. They made it their own by adding sparkly hardware and mismatched seating.
The bigger obstacle was the fact that the couple had nothing at the start of the project but a mattress and a few books.
“They were newlyweds and just starting out,” says Jennifer. “The challenge was how to create a first home with personality when they literally owned nothing.”
Armed with a mere $13,000 budget, the designers worked with the couple to source a quality sofa and bed that would anchor the space.
“The biggest mistake people make when dealing with small spaces is loading a tiny place with tiny things,” says Megan. “This will not be their last home. They needed to find normal-sized furniture that they could take with them.”
Megan adds that larger pieces actually create the illusion of space if arranged correctly. In the couple’s bedroom, a queen-sized upholstered bed frame is the focal point. There is no dresser and only one side table, but the bed alone is able to carry the room.
The queen-sized bed is an example of an investment piece that the couple can take with them when they move. It is a misnomer that you should fill a small place with small furniture, says interior design Megan Baker of A Good Chick to Know.
The designers applied texture in the form of four different wallpapers to give the space depth. A large, graphic wallpaper in red, black and white was used for the office nook while a muted white-on-white pattern was placed on the surrounding wall.
In the bathroom, wallpaper featuring a Parisian street scene forms a second feature wall and another white-on-white pattern embossed with random words like “dragon,” “camouflage” and “flash” covers the ceiling.
“It can seem crazy to include so much pattern, but go into any hotel room and you will find all kinds of patterns and tiles,” says Megan. “It makes the room feel expensive.” Guided by Wing’s love of black and white, the designers chose tone-on-tone colours for the main room feature wall and bathroom ceiling. They kept things unified by varying the scale and pattern and relegating bold colour to just one wall.
Four different types of wallpaper were used throughout the diminutive space. Here a graphic red, white and black print splashed across a nook creates a distinct room and conversation piece all in one.
Custom weathered metal and wood shelving in the bathroom and vintage lighting used throughout injects the space with an on-trend industrial edge. Kevin jokes that his parents remain a bit confused by their choice of lighting.
“My parents are both architects,” says Kevin, in reference to an old metal light pulled from a movie set. “They came in our house and asked why we would put an old rusted light in our living room.” The designers add that buying vintage in any form can be an inexpensive and quick way to give a place a lived-in feel.
A standout for Wing is the mini home office that was created by detaching the door off a standard hall closet and adding a small desk and floating shelves. Dramatic and colourful wallpaper was then applied – even over the electrical cover – to make it a central design element in the room. Accessories like a vintage restaurant wheel used to hold mail and party invitations give the space a sense of whimsy. “We are very happy with our decision to have a small space,” says Wing. “We could have found something bigger, but we wouldn’t have been able to give it this personality.”
Industrial lighting like this pendant, pulled from a local movie set, gives Wing and Kevin's condo instant personality.
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