Photos by Janis Nicolay

Good things come to those who wait… and who also happen to have have a designer as their BFF.

Though the homeowners of this three-level Mount Pleasant constantly had ideas for improvements, it wound up taking 15 years for them to actually take the plunge into renovating. But when they finally did, they couldn’t have had a better person to hold their hands through it. Denise Ashmore runs Vancouver-based studio Project 22 Design, but she’s also a dear pal.

“They’re my very best friends in the world,” says Ashmore. “I spent a lot of time in the house before we did this project.”

So when the couple took the leap in January last year, Ashmore was more than clear on their vision for the space. “The townhouse was traditional looking, but they aren’t traditional people. All their furniture was in juxtaposition with the house, and the spaces were really chopped up so they couldn’t entertain,” she says. And so, with the help of Line Contracting, Ashmore gutted it down to the studs and started to design a place to love for the people she loves. 

The tiny living room and entrance way were opened up to create a more expansive space, and Ashmore installed a custom-built in dining table to squeeze in plenty of dinner guests. White oak posts separate the living room and dining room to make the most of an un-moveable supporting structure: they create a wooden screen which allows light to flow through, while giving the unavoidable drywall post some meaning and purpose.

From top to bottom, the 1,800-square-foot home got a refresh with Scandinavian-inspired furniture and thoughtful finishing touches — like textured Mutina tile in the bathroom, or the built-in nook in the stairwell for the record player.

Fifteen years in, it seems like this house has become the home its always longed to be. Though it may not always be a good idea to mix business and friendship, in this case, the combination was a beautiful one. “They were so trusting and very supportive,” says Ashmore. Of course: what are friends for?

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TOP TABLE Birdman the Welder created a custom base for the table, which is flanked by Article chairs and a bench sourced from Vancouver Special.

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TOUGH STUFF All new appliances, plumbing, and finishes freshened up the cozy kitchen, alongside white oak cabinetry by Divert Millwork and ultra-durable Fenix countertops. (“This stuff is bomb-proof,” laughs Ashmore.)

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LOVE FOR LIFE The Cassina sofa was actually picked out 18 years ago with Ashmore’s help. “It’s been recovered twice, this is its third life,” says Ashmore. “Buy good furniture… it lasts.” The piece is updated with fresh Hay cushions, surrounded by Article chairs and a Salari carpet. A piece by artist Meghan Bustard hangs on the wall.

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GETTING WARMER The fireplace here got a makeover too, with fresh porcelain tiles that hit the same height as the landing. Around the corner from the mantle, Ashmore designed a little nook for the turntable to tuck into.

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DELIGHTFUL DETAILS The Mutina tile in the bathroom was a splurge, but one that was “so worth it,” says Ashmore. The playful, ticker-tape-like pattern covers a whole wall in the ensuite.

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BY YOUR SIDE In the bedroom, new furniture and accessories from EQ3, Nineteen Ten, and Flax Sleep upgrade the room.

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