The Vancouver designer’s sophisticated contemporary style has us crushing hard.

Trade Secrets

Vancouver-based designer Gillian Segal has popped up fairly regularly in the magazine over the past few years, but it’s easy to see why her work has caught the eye of our editorial team: elegantly executed and simply sophisticated, her spaces are at once aspirational and relatable. As the year draws to a close, we’re feeling a little nostalgic.. so here, we’re taking a look back at some of our favourite Segal-designed secrets (Photo: Ema Peter.)

The Look: Farmhouse Modern

How do you imbue modern architecture with farmhouse style? You find a beautiful middle ground—or at least that’s what Segal did when she mixed rustic details with modern finishes in this renovated Vancouver Special. Man-made quartz counters and marble subway tiles add the character and luxury of natural stone, while the grain of the hardwood floor brings the texture and keeps things down to earth. Cooler tones (blue-grey cabinets and glossy white surfaces) play off warm accents like the brass faucet, gold light fixture and bronze table legs for a glam-but-unfussy mix. “The best way to get a contemporary look that feels warm is by layering texture and not sticking to one colour or metal type,” says Segal. “Don’t be scared to mix it up—it helps contribute to a more eclectic, lived-in look.” (Photo: Tracey Ayton.)

The Look: Grey on Grey

This Yaletown condo featured a dated ’90s black-slate-and-cherry-wood fireplace, but rather than tear it out “and open a whole can of worms,” says Segal, she decided “to paint the mantel the same colour as the walls.” It was an instant update: a coat of Benjamin Moore in Sweatshirt Gray on both the fireplace and the wall softens the ornate detailing and creates a modern feel. “It lets your eye go and focus on the art, because it’s so white against this grey background,” says Segal. From there, the soft pastels in the NG Collective painting inspired the rest of the decor picks: a grey sofa with powder-blue cushions from the Cross, a subtly striped blue-and-grey rug, and the blush-pink lip sculpture on the mantel that seals the look with a kiss.

(Photo: Tracey Ayton.)

The Look: Cool Contemporary

Segal is the first to admit that she’s her own toughest client. “I constantly see what’s new in the marketplace, which makes it difficult to commit in my own space,” says the designer. Segal took the time to curate gender-neutral favourites for her own living room which blends contemporary and traditional styles. Here, she plays with contrast: When paired with ample natural light, a few darker accents don’t shrink a small space. This charcoal feature wall sets the tone for drama, while an eclectic mix of wood species adds warmth and texture. Light fixtures are the perfect opportunity to experiment with mixed metals (a brass pharmacy lamp creates flattering eye-level light and the perfect reading nook), while a glass coffee table helps natural light bounce around the room, and makes show-stopping pieces—like this gorgeous Burritt Bros. rug—stand out.

(Photo: Ema Peter.)

The Look: Black and White Beauty

Not to dis the classic white kitchen (we’ll happily admit that we’re suckers for a subway tile), but it’s nice to see some darker shades sneaking their way into kitchen designs, too. Black accents, deployed with care, can add depth to a space. For Segal, black window and door frames (and matching Louis-chair-style bar stools) give an airy space some moments of focus in the Vancouver kitchen she designed for clients.