When a world-travelling couple collects furniture from every country they’ve lived in, their designer might be tempted to encourage the use of a storage unit. Or they could borrow a tactic from Jennifer Heffel and Alex McFadyen of HB Design: craft the collection into a source of decor inspiration. From the woven baskets tucked into the niches of the fireplace to the African prayer chair in the master bedroom, mementos from their clients’ travels provide a warm anchor to this modern home on Vancouver’s west side. “The homeowners were very keen on creating a collected type of feel to the home,” says Heffel. “They didn’t want everything to match. So we repurposed a lot of the furniture and designed it into new pieces, whether it be a big table leg we cut down and sliced up, or adding a cool colour.”
There’s perhaps no better illustration of the concept than on the main floor, where the dining room is a mash-up of wicker, leather and wooden chairs around a live-edge dining table, paired with an organic chandelier and an asymmetrically designed fireplace. Polished concrete floors lead right outside, blurring a sense of whether this space is primarily indoors or out. “It’s meant to feel like it’s been gathered over time,” says Heffel.
In the adjacent kitchen, a bold colour palette began with the selection of a gorgeous Bordeaux-coloured La Cornue range. The homeowners’ years in Mauritius developed their love for warm ambers and reds, and so Heffel commissioned custom resin wall panels from artist Alex Turco, creating a multidimensional backsplash of aqua, navy, oranges and golds, and an elegant contrast to the punchy mint-green barstools that line the island. A hand-rubbed antique bronze hood fan is a match to the unusual bronze faucet and sink.
Those warm accents of colour are spotted throughout the home: in the poppy-red front door and matching sculptural side table in the entrance; and in the main floor master bedroom, where grasscloth-covered walls provide an organic backdrop to a vermillion-orange duvet and rust-coloured accents throughout. The egg-yolk yellow table lamps in an otherwise woodsy home study were once floor lamps, damaged in transit from Mauritius. The team at HB Design had them cut down and refinished in that sunny shade, and rewired them for perfect bright spots in this otherwise neutral space.
Where the colour palette is more natural, as in the main floor powder room, drama is introduced with pattern: a Zebrano marble sink and backsplash fabricated from one slab of stone. Or a detailed, custom iron screen that runs as a guardrail along the stairs to the second floor and is also repeated over the fireplace, as well as on the front door.
In all of the work that the team did to update the homeowners’ furniture collection, one piece almost didn’t make it in—and not because of any veto from the designers. A majestic teak table from Mauritius was brought to a local fabricator to have a bright red, laser-cut metal base constructed for it… and then the whole shop burned to the ground. “We lost all of the metalwork, but because it was solid teak, it didn’t burn,” says McFadyen. “It took a month and a half to get through the rubble to find it. It had such strong sentimental value.”
The team removed a half-inch of char from the wood before reconstructing its bold red base, with a little of that burn left behind to show the evolution of the table, says McFadyen. While no one would wish that kind of damage on a beloved piece, its result is actually a flawless fit for this home—a wabi-sabi, perfectly imperfect design for this well-loved space.