Photos by Jesse Laver
This striking penthouse wasn’t just &Daughters’ first project — it was the catalyst to start the firm in the first place.
“This one’s pretty special to us,” says Emma Simms, co-principal of the multi-discipline design firm alongside Darcy Hanna. In the midst of a “crazy summer,” Sims and Hanna were approached by a young family looking to overhaul a two-level, 1,200-square-foot penthouse in the West End. The pair had met studying architecture at UBC and were both working at design firms when the opportunity came along to tackle a renovation of their own. It was an irresistible tipping point. “Darcy and I took the terrifying step of quitting our jobs,” says Simms.
The fact that the homeowners were open to some adventurous design decisions to upgrade the space (first built in the 1970s) made the leap all the more worthwhile. When Sims and Hanna pitched the idea of forgoing the formal living room in favour of elongating the stone island into a dining table, they enthusiastically rolled with it. “They wanted to make their living room as big as possible and the kitchen as big as possible,” recalls Sims.
Over by the sink, the backsplash echoes the lightly veined Quartzite countertop. The cabinetry, by Baumeister Eurotech, is in a soothing and sophisticated blue, which infuses the open-concept layout with colour (often a necessity in grey Vancouver). Though the lines here are clean and modern, there’s no lack of attention to detail: Baumaster added a reveal between where the cabinetry begins and where the stone sits; a small stone ledge on the wall creates a spot to stow cooking oils or glassware.
“These kind of details often get eliminated at some point in a project because they’re not as functional, but to have someone build out a stone ledge like that… it’s a special, subtle design moment that breaks up the large expanse of stone,” says Sims. “I’m happy it survived.”
Photos: West End Penthouse Renovation
SWEET STAIRCASE One special design feature of the penthouse was the “totally non-code-compliant” spiral staircase that had been grandfathered into the space. There was no way that was coming out, so &Daughters created a special custom rail to update the look.
GOING GREEN Sims and Hanna spent a lot of time trying to find the exact right green marble. “It was so hard to find at that point,” says Sims. “In the industry, we were becoming interested in this colour, but distributors hadn’t caught up.”
STORAGE SOLUTION The original layout had a large square footage, but sub-par closets. So Baumeister got to work in the primary bedroom as well, with a corridor of built-in cabinets in the same kitchen blue that gave twice as much space for storage. “It provides a little privacy, instead of walking directly into the room,” says Hanna. A custom walnut headboard matches the walnut flooring throughout; a mirror opposite helps the space still feel large.