Interior designer Karla Dreyer uses full-height windows to her advantage in this chic Vancouver condo.

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This great room in the heart of downtown Vancouver proves that even if a space looks like a million bucks, it doesn’t need to have cost it. Thanks to the right mixture of a creative designer, adventurous clients and budget-conscious finds, these empty nesters have made the transition from a large suburban home to a downtown condo in style.Moving from a large home in the suburbs to a smaller condo in the heart of the city meant these homeowners had to purge most of their belongings. Their new condo in downtown Vancouver was an opportunity to begin a new chapter of their lives with a lighter palette, contemporary furniture and glamorous accessories.

At a Glance

Location: VancouverSize: Approximately 700 square feet (65 square meters)Designer: Karla Dreyer Design

White walls, extensive windows and white porcelain tile make the space feel bright and airy. But designer Karla Dreyer says it was a challenge to keep the room from feeling too sterile.To rise to this challenge, Dreyer chose her colour palette carefully and adhered to her design philosophy: “My rule of thumb is to go neutral on larger pieces of furniture and to bring in colours through accessories. Pillows are often the best way, but throw blankets, trays, books and candlesticks are also great ways to add personality to a space,” she says.Most of the wall surfaces are taken up by windows, which contribute gorgeous natural light but leave few solid walls for anchoring furniture or adding decor. Since the large TV needed a solid wall as a backdrop, the designer chose a punchy graphic wallpaper to help it blend in more than it would have against a stark white wall.The wallpaper was created by a local artist who runs a shop called The Red Palette. The pattern has hummingbirds on it, and was selected to reflect the homeowners’ love of birds. Dreyer cites the wallpaper as one of her favourite features of the room’s design.The homeowners were eager to move right in, so the project adhered to a strict timeline and was completed within a couple of months. Dreyer used a combination of big retailers and boutique shops to find furniture and accessories. The sofa is from EQ3, the area rugs are from Restoration Hardware, and The Cross Decor and Design provided many of the accessories.The emphasis on accessible retail items over custom pieces derives in part from Dreyer’s own strategy: “I shop for clients like I shop for myself. You can find beautiful pieces at reasonable prices if you know where to look.”A large painting by local artist Zoë Pawlak is one of the only pieces from the owners’ previous home that made the trip with them to the city. With limited wall space, only so much can be added, so the painting’s punch of colour makes a strong impact here.In the office nook and throughout the home, roller blinds mounted stealthily at the top of the window frames allow for unobstructed views when up.

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