Western Living Magazine
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Designers of the Year 2023: Meet the All-Star Industrial Design Judges
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Designer solutions to six common interior design problems.
No home is perfect—but with a few designer tricks up our sleeve, we can definitely optimize our spaces. So we’ve compiled some common mistakes and misconceptions and taken a cue or two from the inspiring homes we feature in the magazine.
The best spaces are full of stories…and that’s just not going to happen if the whole room was obtained at Ikea over one weekend (as much as we love Ikea!). Mix and match from different sources, and different periods of time, and you’ll curate a look that’s rich and layered. High and low, vintage and designer, kitchsy and polished—a room that’s built over time is going to be more beautiful than one that you bought off the shelf.DO THIS INSTEAD: Take a cue from this Moss and Oak-designed Mount Pleasant condo, and try mismatched chairs that you collect over time. Another personal touch: the table here is a gift from furniture designer Christian Woo.
Sometimes we get stuck on the idea that a home has to have a living room, a dining room, a separate bedroom, because that’s what we expect a house to have, or that’s how the developer laid things out on the floor plan. But the perfect layout is one that actually works for the way you live.DO THIS INSTEAD: Fox Design skipped the dining room table when designing this Coal Harbour condo, because the homeowners prefer to eat at the breakfast bar. Instead the designated “dining room” was outfitted with more seating to expand the living room area.
Bookshelves are certainly practical places to stow your fave novels, but that means all the tattered spines and dogeared pages are on full display. Open shelving is an opportunity to curate a mix of your treasured processions that are both meaningful and beautiful…save your worn out copy of Pride and Prejudice for the cabinet.DO THIS INSTEAD: In Cedric Burger’s renovated home, beautiful and beloved coffee table books and pretty novels were carefully selected to display.
If you’ve got great views, why have all your furniture facing the TV? You’ll catch every moment of Westworld, sure, but you’ll miss some great sunsets.DO THIS INSTEAD: Play with orientation and maximize views, whether that’s aligning the TV between the windows themselves (like Gaile Guevara does here, on a black wall that disguises the screen when not in use) or putting the television to the side (it’s not visible here, because designer Denise Ashmore has hidden it with a panel, but there’s a TV over that fireplace on the left; to the right of the couch, there’s a big beautiful window.)
We love a classic white kitchen, and wood or black are beautiful, too. But don’t feel hemmed in by tradition—some of our favourite kitchens from the past few years have gotten experimental with colour. Whether it’s the backsplash, cabinetry or countertop, try breaking the mould.DO THIS INSTEAD: In this transitional Vancouver kitchen, designer Kelly Deck went with navy for the cabinets. It’s still elegant and classic, but totally unique, too.
With the trend towards minimalism, we’ve been seeing a lot of concrete floors and sleek surfaces. But as beautiful as that can be, done wrong, it can be cool and unwelcoming…not to mention unpleasant acoustically when sound bounces off of hard surfaces. It’s a simple remedy, though: a throw rug here, a light fixture with a fabric shade there, and you’ve instantly warmed up the space (without sacrificing minimalist cred.)DO THIS INSTEAD: Bruce Carscadden went bare bones with this super cool renovation. Without finishes, it’s not a great place to curl up with the fam at night, but the addition of warm oak on the ceiling and wicker stools turn a majorly minimalist space into something homey.
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