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Inspired by chic hotels, a jet-setting writer brings the look home.
From Mexico City to Tasmania, acclaimed food and travel writer Kasey Wilson has slept in a thousand inns, resorts and hotels (and brought home a thousand more souvenirs). But these mementos from her life on the road just weren’t enough—what she really wanted was to bring the boutique hotel room look home, too. “I’ve always been inspired by hotel spaces. The best ones have a clean, modern feel and subtle colour schemes—and you always know where to find everything,” says Wilson. In her own space, she was having a hard time finding anything among a lifetime of keepsakes. It was time for a change.While Wilson’s Yaletown condo had good bones—the building was designed by Bing Thom—the oh-so-’90s scheme of dark walls and terracotta tiles was in serious need of an upgrade. She turned to principal Kelly Fast and design associate Brittany Judd of Scout Modern to help achieve a simple-yet-luxurious hotel room vibe without the $300-a-night tab.One of Scout’s first tasks was to get Wilson to take inventory—that meant sorting and purging the clutter, and stowing any remaining items she couldn’t part with in her building’s storage. “It was about creating effective storage solutions and a more simplified life for her,” says Judd. What could have been a Herculean task ended up being simpler than anyone had predicted—including Wilson herself. “I’m not very sentimental,” she says. “I was very open to it, as I’m more interested in collecting experiences than things.” Out went the boxes filled with press kits, maps and mementos, as well as a lifetime’s supply of corkscrews, framed menus and wine glasses. Shelves that groaned with cookbooks were lightened, and grandkids’ toys were stored at her daughter’s.Wilson’s relentless decluttering was the first step in stripping the home back to a blank slate. She then promptly packed her bags, handed the keys to her design team and left for Ukraine for three weeks of work. “She had a lot of trust in us,” notes Fast. “And we had her email to ask her opinion when we needed it!” The designers set to work. To lighten the room, they painted out the 1,000-square-foot space in crisp Oxford white; to warm it up, they installed 10-inch laminate grey wood flooring. To create flexibility, they replaced the threesolid-core office doors with frosted glass Shaker-style panels on tracking systems, able to slide shut for privacy or open up for additional entertaining space when needed. The master ensuite and the kitchen were updated with oversized marble-like porcelain tiles and quartz countertops. With only one real hiccup while Wilson was away (the concrete subfloor was too uneven to salvage when the existing tiles were jackhammered out, so laminate flooring had to be laid over top), the construction played out smoothly—on time and on budget.Form and function are now the operating system. Timeless wood stools add West Coast warmth (and, of course, offer seating when pressed into service). Poufs double as a soft seat in a pinch, too, but primarily serve as playful beanbags for the grandkids. Carpet tiles were laid down in the bedroom, but segments can easily be replaced with new ones should wear and tear necessitate. Chalkboard paint creates a dramatic feature wall that doubles as a useful writing surface for reminders and inspiration. “I can never find a pen, but nobody ever steals chalk,” laughs Wilson. Bar stools line the expanded kitchen countertop, perfect for serving breakfast to the kids or entertaining friends while prepping veggies for dinner parties. “I entertain a lot more spontaneously now,” she says. “The space is so much easier to keep clean and tidy with upgraded surfaces.” The hidden wine cooler—tucked into the kitchen pantry behind white Shaker-style doors with frosted glass centre panels—doesn’t hurt the party vibe, either.When Wilson returned from her trip for the big reveal, she loved her minimalistic space so much she was inspired to get rid of most of what she had put in storage. She then signed up for several home-exchange websites: within a month she’d had countless offers from all over Europe and Asia from people vying for a stay in her own personal hotel room. “That’s how I feel when I open my door,” she says. “It’s like I’m walking into a high-end hotel suite. The clutter is gone and I’m motivated to keep it that way—you don’t realize how ‘stuff’ takes away from your quality of life.” Colour comes to the white-on-white kitchen from easy-to-swap-out accessories like the turquoise “Sky” KitchenAid mixer stationed on the countertop. Throughout the home, modern touches (a glossy dining table with crisp lines) are balanced by organic elements (acacia-handled Schmidt Brothers knives). A glass top popped onto a plain white desk is a simple Ikea hack that elevates Wilson’s workspace. Inspired by the full walls of drapery found in luxe hotels, the designers layered sheer Ikea curtains in front of the windows; the fabric diffuses the light beautifully, creating a soft, elegant glow. Other luxurious textiles—an upholstered headboard, crisp white sheets and a cozy throw blanket—complete the upscale vibe. Turkish cotton towels hang off a vintage ladder. While the room wasn’t renovated, a fresh coat of paint on the feature wall—Benjamin Moore’s Willow—makes the space feel new.
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