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Introducing Western Living’s 2023 Designers of the Year Award Winners
Robert Ledingham Memorial Award winner Amanda Evans brings glam and global inspiration to the West Coast.
In a world of West Coast modernism, Amanda Evans is a woman of the world, stirring in European and East Coast influence into her luxurious, layered spaces. I know It's cliché, but travel is a huge inspiration, says the winner of the Robert Ledingham Memorial Award for an emerging designer. It just exposes you to so much more than what's in your citydifferent cultures, materials, textures, colours. It's fun to try to be a bit different from what you see here all the time.
But though the Vancouver-based designer's work skews toward global glamour and elegance, there'sa grounded warmth at play with her eponymous firm even in the most luxurious of penthouses. And, as a mother of two, she's discovered a personal passion for storage solutions and for creating upscale homes that still function with family in mind.
Designer Amanda Evans dropped the ceiling two inches in this condo renovation (a unit in the Vancouver House building) to install LED fixtures that would sufficiently light up the space.
This savvy mix of layered luxury and practicality wowed our judges. Different, wonderful, love love love! praised Paul Lavoie of Paul Lavoie Interior Design. Mitchell Freedland (principal of his own eponymous interior design firm) agreed, citing Evans's fresh and mature approach to her projects design languageshe shows a great sensitivity to the built environment. (And we're not the only one lauding Evans's work: last year, the B.C. Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bathroom Association named her their top designer.)
Evans grew up on a steady diet of decorating shows, and when she found herself in career-exploration mode at age 18ending up as the only teenager in a continuing studies interior design course full of lovely older womensomething clicked. I just fell in love, she says. She powered through BCIt's interior design programs and landed a dream job at a firm right away… only to watch it go under in the 2008 crash. The whole industry kind of crumbled, Evans recalls. And so, at 25, she decided to launch a firm of her own. It was a little premature, she laughs, but I made it work.
The homeowners in this Vancouver House condo are avid art collectors, so Evans incorporated paintings by Bobbie Burgers, Carla Tak, Pamela Masik and other local artists throughout the space.
Vancouver House condo.
For the first five years, Amanda Evans Interiors was more of a side project, but as Evans's own personal life evolvedgetting married, becoming a parentso too did her commitment to the business. In growing up, it changes the perspective on how you like to live in a home, she says. You also realize: if I'm going to be away from my kids, it better be damn worth it.
Her firm now employs three others. Time also helped hone her own design preferences, crystallizing her eye for colour and texture into a distinct aesthetic: one that's transitional and sophisticated, layering modern details with traditional fabrics, mixed metallics and plenty of thoughtful touches, no matter the scope of the project: condo suites and mansions each get the glam treatment.
The renovation of a 6,800-square-foot West Vancouver home also involved a reconfigured kitchen, complete with a 13-foot island and custom cabinets that conceal everyday countertop appliances.
For instance, Evans and team recently tackled the design of a unit in the swanky Vancouver House building, armed with both bold ideas and the trust of the client. That relationship made such a difference to the outcome, she says. The fact they were willing to take chances, that they listened to what our vision was and valued our expertisethat changes everything.
Evans went all out with a custom-millwork dressing room, designing every detail down to the leather drawer inserts. Wallpaper wraps the entire condo; lush drapery covers the bedrooms; a wet bar went in off of the kitchen to accommodate the owners busy social schedule.
A wood-panelled office in the West Vancouver reno was lacquered in a rich bluea nod to Ralph Lauren.
Elsewhere, a full gut job over in West Vancouver offered Evans the chance to go big and boldthough under a compressed timeline. In just nine months, the 6,800-square-foot home was rebuilt from the studs and finished with bold grasscloth wallpaper, brushed gold fixtures and rich Statuario marble.
But for all the luxurious looks Evans has brought into the world, comfort always comes first. The materials are on the higher end, but It's still approachable. It's not so precious, she says. The test for each space: can your friends put their feet up on the coffee table or move the pillows around on the sofa, and make themselves at home?
West Vancouver house reno.
For Evans, finding that balance often means leaning toward materials and textures that are natural… and perfectly imperfect. Rift-cut oak instead of laminate, marble instead of quartz. These are products that are going to patina and weather with elegance over time. I talk until I'm blue in the face about marble. It's not going to look perfect, but the whole point is to live in it and enjoy it.
The element of livability has been particularly important to Evans post-lockdown. Luxury has always been subjective, and COVID has certainly changed that definition for me, she says. To me, comfortable luxury is about having a space that's fully complete, all the details thought through. It's about the little things: investing in beautiful sheets and pillows to make a bedroom a sanctuary, for instance.
Designer Amanda Evans
Her favourite thing about design, though, isnt a material or a great linen duvet: It's opening a homeowner's eyes to what's possible. Like the time she proposed a splurge-y, sculptural light fixture to an art-loving client. It was the cost of a car, she admits. But I educated him on why I chose it, and why It's such a showstopper, and who the designer was, and he came around.
Now, It's one of his favourite parts of the home. I love to surprise someone with what they didnt know they wanted, she says. And really, her body of workbreaking Vancouver's minimalist mould, surprising and delighting our editors and judgesdoes just that.
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