The imprint of many hands is felt in Sophie Burke’s home during the holidays. There’s her mark, as the interior designer who orchestrated a simple-yet-sophisticated renovation; her children’s playful touch, in handcrafted decorations and Christmas-cookie making; and the many-layered patina of the grande-dame house itself, graced by almost a century of character.

The 1927 property, long overlooked in West Vancouver’s hot real-estate market, was once part of a shingle mill set on a half acre alongside the creek that carried logs to be processed. Many people viewed it as a teardown, but Burke, who’s revamped quite a few homes through her eponymous design studio, saw otherwise: “We can breathe life into this house and make it come alive again.”




She and husband Cameron bought the 3,500-square-foot house and, rather than gut the insides, chose to leave as much intact as possible, from the mullioned windows to the coffered ceiling in the kitchen. “We like that the house had that history and we didn’t want to erase it, we just wanted to update it,” says Burke. So they embraced all the nooks, crannies and oddities—like the various widths and angles of panelling—and coated them in white paint to transform the “fishing lodge” vibe into a blank slate to which Burke could apply her signature style.

READ MORE: A Scandi-Cool Home Decorated for Christmas

“I like a more Scandinavian aesthetic,” says Burke, and its underlying simplicity now anchors clean-lined pieces of mid-century-modern design, like Wegner’s Sawbuck and Wishbone chairs. “I think because it’s a character house it already has a lot of personality you’re working with,” says Burke. “And then you add the more contemporary feel, create that juxtaposition, that tension, and it becomes more interesting.”




This push-and-pull includes natural, handmade elements—a bowl brimming with found objects, like shells and cotton tufts, and her children’s seasonal and holiday creations, such as 11-year-old Tom’s star made out of twigs. Burke also layers in antiques, like an old French butcher block that now serves as an island in the kitchen, the family’s gathering place for craft- and cookie-making. The butcher block’s timeworn, much-used surface reiterates the wood of the original leaded-glass cabinet doors. “We try to create warmth, balance the crispness and cleanness of architecture with that personal touch that comes from natural materials,” says Burke.

It’s all a bit wabi-sabi, a celebration of patina. And to balance this hand-touched quality and the home’s inherent quirkiness, Burke stuck to a minimalist colour scheme. “I had this vision of the house being very neutral in palette: black and white and grey,” she says. Interior doors were painted Off Black (Farrow and Ball) as a graphic contrast to the Cloud White (Benjamin Moore) walls, while tactile textiles are many shades of grey in between—from soft-grey linen drapery and felted-wool art to lambskin throws and charcoal-wool armchairs.

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Those statement-making Utrecht armchairs (a 1935 design by Dutch architect Rietveld, co-founder of the De Stijl movement with Mondrian) are a grounding, inspired touch in the living room. “One of my favourite designers of all time, Ilse Crawford, she always uses these chairs and I always admire them in her work,” says Burke. “I just think they’re really kind of unusual looking.”

READ MORE: 8 Stylish Recliners to Keep Cozy All Winter Long

Such pieces are Burke’s way of adding her own quirk. A pair of vintage safari chairs, tracked down on the 1stdibs website from a seller in Amsterdam, and a Tolomeo floor lamp, which the couple has had for years, also make distinctive marks. These higher-end elements are then juxtaposed with a daybed from Ikea (designed by Ilse Crawford for the big-box retailer). It all works together as a very now and diverse mix within this stately house.



It’s also a home in which you won’t find anything fake during the holiday season. “I just like super-natural. I hate glitzy Christmas decorations with a passion,” says Burke. As with everything else, ornaments are largely homespun. Mobile-like hangings formed out of branches are strung from light fixtures. The fireplace mantel is adorned with magnolia leaves from her sister’s backyard, and pine cones and boughs she foraged and cut herself. This natural greenery is paired with winter fruit and more felted wool: ornaments from Ikea and garlands from West Elm. “Basically, felted wool is the theme for my tree,” laughs the designer. Paper angels, crafted by her kids with an artist friend as part of a Christmas tradition, are another au naturel decoration.

“No bright colours” is Burke’s mantra. “I just feel like there are so many pretty things in nature, like berries to put on a present or dried hops or a piece of fir, little bits of greenery with simple twine or ribbon.” It’s fitting that the words she uses to describe the aesthetic achieved in this home are similarly fuss-free: “A bit Scandinavian, eclectic, warm and natural.” An haute hand-wrought home for the holidays.

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LIVING ROOM Cloud White CC40 wall colour, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Artimide Tolomeo Floor lamp, Gabriel Ross, Victoria,; Livingspace, Vancouver,; Vivid Concepts, Edmonton,; Le Belle Arti, Calgary, Bensen sofa, Inform Interiors, Vancouver,; House Brand, Calgary,; Hutk, Winnipeg, Cassina Utrecht armchairs, Gabriel Ross, Victoria,; Inform Interiors, Vancouver,; Dwell Modern, Edmonton,; Le Belle Arti, Calgary, Ilse Crawford for Ikea daybed, Ikea, across the West, Heather Ross Pillows, Heather Ross, Vancouver, B.C., White abstract art, Tina Cullen Figure Painting: “Sophie in Red” by Angela Grossman. Salari Pouf, Salari Fine Carpet Collections, Vancouver, Throw blanket, Provide, Vancouver, Light fittings, Schoolhouse Electric, online, Coffee table, Inform Interiors, Vancouver,; House Brand, Calgary,; Hutk, Winnipeg, Throw pillows, Provide, Vancouver, Tina Cullen white-framed artwork, online, mutualart.comArtemide lamp on bookcase, Gabriel Ross, Victoria,; Livingspace, Vancouver,; Vivid Concepts, Edmonton,; Le Belle Arti, Calgary, lebellearti.comBasket on coffee table, Vancouver, Drapery, Restoration Hardware, Vancouver; Calgary; Edmonton, restorationhardware.comBar tray and garlands, West Elm, Vancouver, Calgary, westelm.caVintage safari chairs, 1st Dibs, online, 1stdibs.comOrnaments, various, homeowners own.
FRONT ENTRY Cloud White CC40 wall colour, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Sawbuck Chair CH29 by Hans Wegner, Gabriel Ross, Victoria,; Rove Concepts, Vancouver,; Kit, Calgary,
KITCHEN Cloud White CC40 wall colour, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, benjaminmoore.comLa Cornue butcher-block table and range stove, Colony Appliance Warehouse, Vancouver,; Jerome’s Appliance Gallery, Calgary,; Avenue Appliance, Edmonton, 2141 Blizzard Caesarstone counters, Colonial Countertops, Victoria,; Paragon Surfacing, Vancouver,; Jade Stone, Calgary,; Atlas Granite, Edmonton, Cabinet knobs and pulls, pendant light, Schoolhouse Electric, online, Blanco Faucet, Andrew Sheret, Victoria and Vancouver,; The Ensuite Kitchen and Bath Centre, Calgary, Edmonton, Apronfront sink, Ikea, across the West, Hardwood flooring, European Touch Hardwood, Vancouver, Off Black (57) by Farrow & Ball, Bespoke Design, Victoria,; Perry and Co.,; Maria Tomas, Calgary, Muuto table stool and kitchen table, Vancouver Special, Vancouver,; KitInterior, Calgary, Blackboard paint, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Fruit bowls, Vancouver,
DINING ROOM Cloud White CC40 wall colour, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Wishbone Chairs by Hans Wegner, Gabriel Ross, Victoria,; Rove Concepts, Vancouver,; KitInterior, Calgary, kitinteriorobjects.comGrey sheepskin, Orling and Wu, Vancouver, Schumacher Grey Grasscloth textured wallpaper, Anne Starr, Vancouver, Grey felt-art, Fei Disbrow, online, Poliform marble-top concorde table, Inform Interiors, Vancouver,; Shaun Ford and Co., Calgary, Glasses and champagne holder, vintage. Candlestick holder, CB2, Vancouver, Tablecloth runner, Pottery Barn, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Mercer Collection plates and bowls, Crate and Barrel, Vancouver; Calgary; Edmonton; Linen napkins, Heather Ross, Vancouver, heatherross.caChopping board, West Elm, Vancouver, Calgary, White-framed artwork on right of window, Fei Disbrow, online, White-framed artwork on left of window, Simon Montgomery, online,
BEDROOM Cloud White CC40 wall colour, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, benjaminmoore.comHeadboard, CB2 Vancouver, Bedding and wall hanging, Orling and Wu, Vancouver, Bed throw, Inform Interiors Vancouver, Muuto Bedside table, Vancouver Special, Vancouver,; KitInterior, Calgary, Mud Australia teapot and mugs, Provide, Vancouver, Meal tray and throw pillows, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, George Nelson light fitting, Victoria,; Inform Interiors, Vancouver,; KitInterior, Calgary, Christian Woo walnut coffee table, Provide, Vancouver,
OFFICE Cloud White CC40 wall colour, Benjamin Moore, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, benjaminmoore.comBensen homework desk, Inform Interiors, Vancouver,; House Brand, Calgary,; Hutk, Winnipeg, 1940’s French chair, vintage. Misch pillows, Provide, Vancouver, Vase, CB2, Vancouver, Schumacher wallpaper, Anne Starr, Vancouver, Rug, Urban Outfitters, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg,

This story was originally published on November 27, 2017.