Main Street Townhouse for a Family of 5

The year was 2011, and we were tasked with designing for this family of five in a 1,600 square foot three-bedroom townhouse. The most challenging aspect was that the three grown sons (age 19, 23, & 25) each wanted their own bedroom. Did I mention that this was a three bedroom townhouse? Are we to kick the parents out? Read on to find out how we used good design to solve this problem.

During our initial consultation, it was important that we took the time to talk to each person and find out their likes and dislikes. Although this process was time consuming, but at the end, we were able to deliver a home that was custom tailored to their need and tastes.

BC West Coast Feel

The family was moving here from Singapore, and they wanted a home that was "Canadian," warm and inviting (would anyone ever say that they want a home that's cold and uninviting?). So, our design concept was to do a urban cabin home with trees and bears to reflect the beautiful BC wilderness.

And as luck would have it, we found the perfect coffee table at Home Sense for $499. It was compiled of small pieces of wood put together. The only thing that we added was the glass top so food crumbs would not fall into the cracks and make cleaning a nightmare. And after we sourced out the rest of the furniture pieces, we accessorized the space with a faux fur cushions and throw to complete the grizzly bear feel.

As anyone who has lived in Vancouver know, it gets dark quite early in the Fall and Winter. And since this long and narrow living/dining room only has one patio to let light in, we felt that it was important to pay attention to lighting. We opted for a lighting fixture in the dining room that is clear so the illumination can spread into the living room. In addition to two side table lamps, the main light source is from the floor lamp we placed in the corner. It provided great indirect lighting while acting as a nice piece of fixture in the room.

Tofino Coastal Escape

For the master bedroom, the homeowners wanted a relaxing feel. So we chose a colour scheme and concept that has more of a coastal feel while staying true to the BC West Coast feel. Our design inspiration was one of BC's top tourist destination - Tofino. Thus, you can still see the dark brown that was used in the living room, as well as a lighter brown that ties into the master en suite. In addition, a lighter coral blue was introduced.

As storage is always a plus, we opted for bigger cabinets as bedside tables as well as bed with storage underneath to house winter jackets and suitcases.

A Room That Pleases the Son While Satisfying the Mom

The 25 year old son gave us two requests: paint the room black and hang his three black superhero t-shirts on the wall. Needless to say, the mom did not allow us to paint the room black. So we chose a lot of furniture pieces that are black and a darker shade of blue. However, we wanted to make the mom happy, who requested a happier and brighter room. So we opted for a glass corner desk with black frames, and other chrome and grey metal to reflect light so it would not become too dark.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with three black superhero t-shirts. At the end, I decided to frame them into shadow boxes and featured them as wall art. So I went to a comic book store on Granville Street in downtown and got three comic books that corresponds to the characters on the t-shirts. I tore out some of the pages (gasp!) and used the pages as background. The eldest son was a happy camper! In fact, he loved them so much that even after he got married and was moving out, he wanted to take these frames with him.

For the baby brother, I mean youngest son, we chose a lighter shade of blue for his room. By mounting the desk and shelves onto the wall, it gave the room a light and airy feel. In fact, many things were mounted onto the wall to utilize vertical space.


In both of these boys' room, we were able to fit a single sofa in to facilitate reading/lounging as well as a pulled out sofa for sleepover for their friends.

No One Has Heard of a Junior One Bedroom in 2011?

As mentioned earlier, this was a three-bedroom townhouse, with the master bedroom on the top floor and two bedrooms on the second floor. To give everyone their own room, we had to turn this tiny flex room into a bedroom. It was a narrow room (4'x7), so in reality, it really was a storage room. By this time, the bylaw in Vancouver doesn't allow this to be called a bedroom because it doesn't have a window and a closet. By the time I am writing this (2018), how things have changed. Developers now sell unit with this kind of room and marketed them as Jr. one bedroom. Looking back, we were ahead of our time since this was designed in 2011.

Because the room was only 4 wide, a conventional bed would pretty much take up the whole room. So, we had to use a Murphy bed. But we didn't want the bed to be the focal point of the room. So we designed a custom Murphy bed unit that would fold down horizontally instead of vertically. At the time, the bed company wasn't sure if that could be done as they have never done that before. After we added carpet and rug (instead of the plastic vinyl), extra lighting, and wall treatments, this tiny storage room is now the coziest room in the house.

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