A pied-à-terre at Vancouver's Hotel Georgia offers one family a beautiful space to work and play.

For a home away from home, it’s hard to beat the glossy grandeur of the Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver—and so thought one Calgary businessman whose work frequently takes him to the West Coast. After years of near-weekly stays, he’d become accustomed to the property’s conveniently central location (along with perks like a 24-hour concierge and a tricked-out fitness centre). So he and his wife were elated to learn that the hotel’s 2011 revitalization would include Residences at Hotel Georgia. They pounced on the chance to buy a permanent pied-à-terre.

The task of outfitting their new one-bedroom condo, however, required a little more deliberation: the space needed to be sophisticated enough to serve as a setting for business meetings, but comfortable enough for entertaining.

Daunted by the prospect of the long-distance project, the couple called on designer Nyla Free, who had helped them redecorate a pair of rooms in their Calgary home. While their principal residence is decked out in rich, warm hues—a counterpoint to Alberta’s sweeping vistas and chilly climate—Free’s clients were looking to embrace the brighter, more open feel of their Vancouver digs. Apart from that directive, they left everything up to the designer: she’d need to outfit the entire place, from the forks on the table to the spare linens in the closet. “We had a running list of what they needed: how many table settings, how many serving bowls. And then we went shopping,” says Free. “It’s a designer’s dream because you can take your vision to that next level.”

nyla free kitchen residences at hotel georgia

DESIGNER TIP: Add warmth and texture to an open, airy space.

As her point of departure, Free took inspiration from the builder finishes, a pleasing mix of creams and maple wood. “Mitchell Freedman’s design gave us a beautiful base to work with,” she says. “It was light and airy, so my job was to maintain that clean, modern feel, but add warmth and texture.” She chose a palette of grey, lilac and steel blue to create a suitably soothing space for working, introducing colour in small, subtle bursts of tone and pattern. Several reflective elements—including an oversized framed mirror from Restoration Hardware that resembles a salvaged antique window—play up the sunlight that streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows.

nyla free kitchen residences at hotel georgia

DESIGNER TIP: Use clever storage to facilitate the transformation of dining room into a workspace.

Rather than a dedicated home office, the dining room doubles as a workspace. Modern upholstered dining chairs are comfortable enough to put in a full eight hours, while an armoire with mirrored insets functions as a mini-office, containing a printer and office supplies. Nearby, a burnished brass-plated bar cart from Crate and Barrel holds all the ingredients for a post-meeting drink.


DESIGNER TIP: Divide an open space with strategically placed furniture.

In this open-layout unit, one of two seven-foot-long custom grey sofas—the largest that would fit—separates the dining area from the living room, where a clutch of print cushions and a luxurious damask rug supply a punch of personality. Indeed, though the condo is above all a space for business, it’s far from characterless. A bold copper and rose-coloured glass light fixture and a pair of vibrant paintings by Vancouver artist Zoë Pawlak—picked by the clients themselves—speak to an appreciation for eye-grabbing pieces.


DESIGNER TIP: Add personality with bold finishes and fun accessories.

Away from the main living space, the aesthetic is cozier and even less formal. The media room that doubles as a spare bedroom contains a plush blue sectional and a grasscloth wall treatment, while chevron wallpaper livens up the second bathroom. The master bedroom blends a range of quirky pieces: a nubbly blue lamp, a paisley print chair and a duo of scrolled mirrors—the last being a lucky find from the clearance section of Country Furniture in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood. The crowning touch? A roomy marble ensuite that evokes a boutique hotel—the perfect place to relax after a long day’s work.