“A project is always a project,” says Fredrick Orling, half of the duo behind both Orling and Wu and Somn Home. When he and his partner Julie Wu bought their 1959 Vancouver bungalow in 2016, they knew it would be a big reno—but the walls (and floor) held another surprise. “First things first, we did an asbestos test, and there was asbestos in the kitchen floor,” recalls Orling, “so we obviously couldn’t keep it.” For health reasons, the whole floor had to go. And for aesthetic reasons, much of the 1960s design and décor had to go, too.
They transformed the kitchen from a dark, closed-off space to a clean-lined, functional one. The '60s-era single-glazed windows were replaced with larger, better insulated panes. The couple got the white cabinets and white Corian countertop from Ikea, which actually wasn’t their first choice—but after receiving quotes from other companies, they decided on an Ikea kitchen to shave off some of the cost of the reno. Orling, who is Swedish by origin, says he liked strolling through the store and picking out his materials. “We love the fact that we don't have to be too precious working in the kitchen since we love to cook have family around,” says the couple. Plus, their low-budget kitchen allowed them to splurge in other areas.
Photo by Julie Wu.
Case in point is in the living room, where the couple invested in a Moroso sofa from Inform Interiors. They paired that with a Foscarini Twiggy overreach floor lamp and Swedese Flower Mono tables, creating a simple, modern look.
Photo by Francis Lai Photography.
Most of the renovation goals were focused on practicality and the quality of the materials. Like the kitchen, the master bath got a major makeover. Custom glass had to be fitted around the window frame, and tight clearance on the shower door was improved by a handle that also serves as a towel rack. The couple was looking for easy maintenance in this space, so the floor and all four walls were decked out with 2x2 inch matte tiles (in Lake Blue, from Olympia Tile).
Functionality ruled this reno; prioritizing the necessities helped keep the space clean and the budget friendly.