Juli Hodgson's down-to-earth design sense results in quietly glam interiors that exude West Coast appeal.
Designer Juli Hodgson's work will be familiar to readers of this magazine—her jaw-dropping, spa-like bathrooms have graced more than a few covers, and one Hodgson-designed house landed in our Dream Homes issue last year. And with her win as this year's Interior Designer of the Year, she breaks a Western Living record: she's the first to win it twice. Hodgson, who was named Interior Designer of the Year in our inaugural awards in 2008, had a lucky break early in her career: after acting as an "assistant to an assistant" for iconoclastic designer Coco Cran in Calgary, she landed a gig in Victoria as an in-house designer for Città Construction. "Bill Patterson was a great guy to work for, the kind of guy who gave you a lot of rope to hang yourself," she laughs. "I really learned how to design things so they work." It gave Hodgson—who later gained fame designing Aritzia's retail outlets for 15 years—the kind of on-the-job training that's helped her build the six-person, multi-service business she runs today. The playful, modern design she's become known for doesn't stop at the threshold: Hodgson and her team carry it through outside to the building itself, and the landscape surrounding. It's also no small part of how she managed to save this West Coast modernist building, which was designed by Douglas Simpson in the early '70s. Where most clients would have torn down the 3,000-square-foot rancher, Hodgson worked with the City of Vancouver to create zoning relaxations that would save the structure—resulting in an 8,800-square-foot home that's become Hodgson's career favourite. The home, a classic modernist rectangle, had one small addition (it housed the master bedroom) a number of years back. Hodgson extended that piece of the home, and added an accessory building on the lot—the future home of the spa and gym—creating a U-shaped courtyard in the sunny backyard. She preserved the original rustic stone wall in the entranceway, but upped the drama with a six-foot-wide pivot door, and an Iroko-wood ceiling that travels through to the inside. In deference to West Coast modern living, Hodgson made the home indoor-outdoor. The master bedroom and kids' playrooms each open to their own courtyards, and a run of glass on the rear wall—where the living room, dining room and home office are positioned—opens 32 feet across; paired with electric awnings and patio heaters, the home is accessible to the outside 365 days of the year. Inside, a dark and narrow hallway is brightened with slot skylights, allowing for sun to pour down in square beams. But there's privacy where it's needed, too: the home office can be closed off with elegant, oversize Iroko doors on industrial rails. Hodgson also took care to extensively design the outdoor spaces: a side yard is lined with sliced, curving logs that act as rustic patio steps and surrounded by soft moss. An infinity pool graces the centre courtyard, connected with the spa and gym; in another corner of the yard, a putting green awaits. It's a home that exemplifies the hallmarks of Hodgson's design: rich detail and smart, luxe materials; elegant and spacious planning; and, most of all, livability. It's that troika of design that draws clients to her again and again. "I'm extremely practical," explains Hodgson. "I don't want to make something what it's not—I wouldn't be the person to hire if you wanted a penthouse in a tower to look like Versailles. "There's someone out there for that job," she smiles, "but it's not me." wl