See how this senior couple happily downsized from their 5,000 s.f. home in West Vancouver to this luxury condo in downtown Vancouver, and learn how they are happier than ever.
For many aging seniors, maintaining a big home can become a heavy burden. This home belongs to an empty nester who decided to downsize from their 5,000+ square foot home in West Vancouver to a 1,200 square foot two bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver. During our initial consultation, the couples told us they wanted a fresh start and were only wanting to keep a few of the pieces from their former home. I was happy to hear that as most of their furniture from the house were mostly quite large and traditional looking. After all, they were meant for a much bigger home and some of the pieces have been with the couples for over 20 years. When moving into a smaller home, the scale of the furniture should also be smaller so not to overcrowd the space. The items that they wanted to keep included a green Italian marble dining table set, a green Persian rug, and a British hunting scene oil painting with an ornate gold frame that used to hang above their living room's fireplace. Read on to see how we incorporate them into our design.
TWO MAJOR CHALLENGES
Two major challenges that we faced were 1) a massive column right in the middle of the apartment, and 2) the circular shape of the living and dining room. Located high up in the Trump Tower, the apartment has over 180 degree of unobstructed view, and that also became our priority to showcase the stunning view of English Bay!
TURNING AN EYESORE INTO A FEATURE
Many developers in Vancouver have been building condos with floor-to-ceiling glass to maximize daylight. One annoying byproduct is that often times, there is a massive column in many of the newly built condos. This was also the case and the homeowners really didn't like it. Instead of wishing that it weren't there, we applied a wallpaper with a subtle metallic sheen wallpaper and magically turned this eyesore into a feature. We then used to same wallpaper in the hallway to create a sense of harmony and continuity.
CHOOSE ONLY ONE OR TWO COLOURS TO CREATE A SENSE OF CALMNESS AND HARMONY
When I talked to the homeowners, they told me that they wanted their home to feel restful and calm, and yet, they dislike seeing all the white-on-white interiors in many magazines. One way to ensure that the space won't feel too busy is to limit the colour scheme to one or two colours. As I mentioned earlier, the homeowners wanted to reuse their green marble dining table and Persian rug, so that became the colour palette in the living & dining areas. To create visual interests, we mixed various shades of green as well as adding texture through the fabrics. We also added a lot of gold metals for a sense of luxury.
We love using custom built-in units because we can maximize wall space and have full control of exactly how we want it to be. In collaboration with David Adamian form California Closet, we designed this wall mounted wall cabinet to house the homeowners' knickknacks. Over the years, the homeowners have collected a lot more than what's shown here. But instead of displaying everything and making the space feel clutter, we encouraged them to choose only a few really special items. It was the famous Japanese organizer Marie Kondo who says to only keep things that "spark joy" when you see them. In this case, the green vase and the bronze woman were very special to them. So we designed two tall and narrow boxes and white background to elevate their importance. The idea of less is more is applied here. And by eliminating the legs, the space stays airy and spacious.
The second bedroom was used as a TV room as well as a guest room for the grandchildren. We wanted a room that was gender neutral so all the grandchildren would enjoy spending time there. We created a memorable gallery wall by using the same size picture frames, printed photos of each of their grandchildren, and grouped them into a grid. When choosing photos, we like to use black and white photos so not to compete with the colour palette of the room. In this case, the colour is Benjamin Moore's Blue Seafoam (2056-60). It has a light reflective value (LRV) of 70.49, making it a bright and cherry colour for the room. One could say that it's a more youthful green than the green in the living room.
The inspiration actually came from the windows across the street as well as the rooftop of Hotel Vancouver.
Since the second bedroom also acted as a guest room, the clean designed and firm sofa that we chose was not only comfortable to sit on to watch TV, but it also pulls out into a very comfortable sofa bed. It features an orthopedic foam mattress, so I wouldn't be surprised if the homeowners will have a hard time asking their guests to leave.
The master bedroom is a very important space for us to design because it's a very intimate space, We didn't want to just paint the walls, but instead, chose this modern houndstooth wallpaper from Graham & Brown. Adding matte gold accessories gives a sense of understated luxury.
Remember I spoke about a British oil painting that the homeowners wanted to keep? The challenge was that it was very traditional and doesn't seem to fit the modern feel of the new condo. At the end, we decided to juxtapose the old with the new. We centered it on the long wall in the small powder room, applied a faux croc wallpaper all around and painted the ceiling black as a backdrop to allow the painting to stand out. The end result was something unexpected that made this bold powder room every guest's favourite room.
Now, the senior couple are happier than ever living in this smaller condo. No more lawn mowing or gutter cleaning, but a well-designed space to be their happy place.