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Interior designer Annaliesse Kelly of AK Design embraces her wildest design dreams with her most personal project yet.
You could call Annaliesse Kelly’s style modern eclectic. Or, you could refer to it as she does: “Smash a 90-year-old British grannie with a ’90s rave kid, and then put it all in a pretty, white, super-modern box,” says the B.C.-based interior designer with a laugh.
That radical study of contrasts is on full display in her own, newly renovated 1,800-square-foot Squamish, B.C., duplex that she shares with partner Warren Barrow. And while it’s not the first home she’s designed for herself (tour her previous condo here), it’s absolutely the most “Annaliesse” one so far. “I’m learning every day in my work, and my personal aesthetic has evolved over the years,” says Kelly. “I’m able to be more brave. I want to do all the things. I want florals, I want Laura Ashley to come back, I want some big crazy colours.”
She embraces all of these playful details and more against the backdrop of a freshly remodelled duplex. Built in the 2000s, the home featured a spacious layout that’s rare in most modern developments—a wide, high-ceilinged living space, three bedrooms and two and a half baths, plus a double-car garage and roomy yard. Kelly knocked down a few strategic walls, and the place opened right up.
Despite her playful references, the house is quietly luxurious—while still being durable enough to handle her always-covered-in-Squamish-mud dog, Bob. “I know this might sound a little silly, but I wanted it to feel like a grown-up house,” says the 40-year-old with a sly smile. That meant investing in high-quality, natural materials wherever possible: think stone countertops and hardwood floors.
Kelly calls the house “a personal exercise in colour,” though she grins as she acknowledges how relative “a lot” of colour can be: “Okay, it’s still really black-and-white.” The high-contrast monochrome base (crisp white walls and Corian Glacier White countertops; black cabinetry in the kitchen; dramatic black marble on the fireplace) is accented by colourful pops throughout: the mustard yellow and ruby-red Bensen armchairs in the living room, the blue-black feature wall in the dining room, the bold swath of crimson in the eye-catching Zoë Pawlak paintings.
“The goal was to try things I haven’t tried for myself, and make mistakes on my own house,” says Kelly. This is a home she’s designing not to eventually sell, but to truly live in. That means she can be a little more committed—case in point: those two huge paintings commissioned from Pawlak. “If I ever move, they’ll fit nowhere,” she laughs.
The windows in the living room face west, drinking in mountain views and allowing the space to be washed in evening sun. In the kitchen, Thomas Hayes stools line an oversized island. An appliance garage places the toaster and coffee grinder out of sight. The stove is Fulgor (“supposedly very nice to cook on,” laughs Kelly). Plumbing and hardware in the kitchen is unlacquered brass, which ties into some of the vintage pieces the designer has peppered throughout the home. In the bathrooms, she installed Kohler Kallista sinks and faucets; the primary ensuite features Maori granite sourced from SSC Countertops, while the powder room uses white soapstone marble.
But her favourite place in a home designed to indulge every whim is the bedroom. “My bedroom is honestly everything,” says Kelly. “I wake up and I have the most beautiful view of the mountains and snow, and I turn on my super-bougie fireplace.” Her “grownup sheets” come from Au Lit Fine Linens.
It’s not the only place you’ll find her getting down to business. In the open loft, Kelly has placed her home office, partially enclosed by a half-wall. From her sit-stand desk, she can look out the top of the double-height window. “I’m not generally a gallery-wall person, but I love this,” says Kelly of the art display here, which includes a sketch from Pawlak, vintage prints and photos of her and Barrow’s grandparents.
Doing her own space again has helped Kelly keep her empathy for her clients fresh. “Sometimes you get jaded but this is always a good reminder about just how stressful this process is, and how much trust people need to put in us for these ideas they can’t test drive or see until it’s too late,” she says.
And being her own client again, at a time in her life where she feels “more comfortable,” has also reinforced the power and magic of interior design. “Your home is sacred and you need to walk in and feel heard and seen and loved by yourself,” says Kelly, reflectively. “It’s a beautiful opportunity to tell yourself you love you. And in this house, I absolutely feel it.”
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