Western Living Magazine
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Interior design duo Ivan Quintana and Erica Schmidt transform a pro poker players stock condo into a hybrid of West Coast-meets-Las Vegas luxury.
When a jet-setting pro poker player in his late 20s moved into a cookie-cutter condo in Coquitlam Town Centre, designer partners Ivan Quintana and Erica Schmidt of Medina Design House had their work cut out for them. “There was no charm, no charisma,” Quintana says—and, most crucially for their client, “no feel of ‘metropolitan’ whatsoever.” The homeowner wanted to trade the plain stock interiors for a look more like the high-end hotels he’d grown accustomed to while travelling around the world playing in casinos; sumptuous penthouse suites where a grand piano or crystal chandelier wouldn’t look too out of place. A Moooi Non-Random light hangs above the dining table, which is lined with Eiffel chairs and a custom banquette upholstered in Designers Guild houndstooth fabric.Quintana and Schmidt had carte blanche for the condo makeover, with one stipulation: the designers had to make room for a 10-foot L-shaped Bensen sectional to accommodate the homeowner (who stands at six feet four inches) and his trusty 100-pound pup (Hodor, the Bernese mountain dog). Billowy drapes run the length of the bedroom, a clever optical illusion. A Sin City touch: the custom neon sign above the bed: “Who dares, wins.”The requisite deep-set sectional was massive, but the designers kept things airy by strategically paring back the living room furniture to just three key pieces—the sectional, a side chair and a coffee table—to allow for generous breathing room in between. They banned space-stealing side tables and floor lamps to cut the clutter and preserve the open feel (and also to make husky Hodor less likely to bump into the furniture). The custom oversized area rug in the living room is made from banana silk and wool, giving it a shimmer that subtly references Vegas bling. Floor lamps and side tables were all verboten, a strategy that made the whole condo appear more spacious and airy—even with 8.5-foot ceilings.The designers also used a custom charcoal area rug—which has a slight shimmer for an extra dose of glamour—to make the place feel more spacious. Using area rugs to define the perimeter of a space is a classic interior design trick, but here, instead of opting for the usual six-by-eight, they went with an oversized option that visually pushes the boundaries of the room.A coffee table made of gold wire (one of the few outward touches of Vegas-style bling) sits at the area rug’s centre, but a glass top allows the eye to move through it easily. Similarly, the living room’s only light fixture is a thin black-wire Serge Mouille lamp with three robot-like arms that reach out in all directions. It’s this wingspan that Quintana says makes it feel big in scale without obstructing sightlines: “It has enough visual weight to go with everything else that’s in the room.”On the wall, the duo mounted a custom-designed media unit with shallow shelves to display an edited list of accents (the golden hand statue throwing up a peace sign is a playful counterpoint to a macabre skull illustration) and to hide everything else. “We didn’t want the TV to be the focal point,” says Quintana, who camouflaged a massive flat screen in plain sight by painting the wall behind it black. Taupe-coloured cabinets frame the black rectilinear shape top and bottom and act like a gradient to soften its presence in the room.The designers took particular aim at the dining area to bring in the luxe factor. “He didn’t want it to be a conventional dining room,” says Quintana, but liked the idea of a communal-table dining nook for entertaining and playing exhibition games with friends and family. Instead of the traditional four chairs, Quintana and Schmidt designed a custom banquette for one side, with extra layers of seat padding for those long nights of Texas hold ’em—all wrapped in a sumptuous black-and-grey Designers Guild houndstooth. Above the dining nook sit six black-and-white photographs of the world’s metropolitan cities. Closely mounted on a grid, they act as one unit, another trick for making the space appear larger than it is.Walls were kept mostly clear to allow for breathing room and the condo owner’s growing global art collection, but above the dining nook sits one of the poker star’s favourite pieces: six black-and-white photographs of the world’s metropolitan cities, among them L.A. and New York. Closely mounted on a grid, they act as one unit, another trick for making the space appear larger than it is. A dramatic floor-to-ceiling mirror gives the illusion of doubling the dining nook’s square footage, while Eiffel chairs complement the industrial black wire that repeats in the Moooi Non-Random light above.In the bedroom, the most striking feature is the half-inch-thick Cultured Brick veneer installed on the back wall. Quintana says most people walk in and can’t believe it’s real: “They go into his bedroom and just start touching the wall,” laughs the designer. In the bedroom, a vibrant painting by Rob Nicholls adds a punch of warmth to the grey-and-white space.The predominantly neutral palette of warm greys and whites changes ever so slightly in the bedroom, with a pair of throw pillows featuring bright orange splashes. “We used the orange to bring in a bit of youth and sophistication and fun to the bedroom,” explains Quintana, who plays with tonality throughout the home to divert and draw the eye. Even orange is downplayed in the living room’s burnt-orange U Turn Bensen chair, so subdued it acts as a neutral despite being one of the loudest colours on the spectrum.The result is a space that transports visitors as soon as they walk in the door, “like you’re in a city somewhere instead of suburbia. Walking in, you can’t help but think, ‘Wow, that’s a big sectional,’ or ‘Wow, that’s a big wall of drapery,’ but it makes so much sense in a smaller space,” says the designer. “It’s not big, but it feels big.” Plush white towels and original artwork decorate the guest bathroom for that high-end-hotel feel. Cloud wallpaper stays on the colour palette but adds visual interest.