Chic Black-and-White Condo
A beautiful condo styled with a mix of modernity and old-world beauty.
Monica Dussa was happily ensconced in an urban penthouse with no plans to move when a routine outing with her pooch turned everything upside down. When she came across the Grace, a European-style condo development that was then in its initial phases of construction, she knew she had to call it home. “The building’s architecture and charm are so unique in this city that I thought, ‘I have to have a piece of it!’“ It was a departure from the usual Vancouver condo suspects—sleek highrises clad in linear rows of glass. In place of square urbanity, the Grace has Gothic gargoyles perched atop brick walls.
Dussa attributes her readiness to switch things up to her European roots (“we moved all over the place”) and to two years of living in Japan. Those experiences, combined with an abiding love of travel, fuel her creativity; in fact, Dussa designed this space herself. “I don’t want to call myself a designer. I am more of a self-taught design wannabe,” she explains. “I’m inspired by architecture, street fashion and interiors in all iterations, including fashion boutiques and edgy hair salons.” While she favours a less-is-more ethos gleaned from her tenure in Asia, she also likes to mix in old-world beauty.
But before Dussa could start packing, she needed the property developer to agree to let her make some changes. “I’m a very impatient person and I want everything yesterday,” she laughs. While Dussa loved the 1,980-square-foot layout with bedrooms in opposite wings, she wasn’t keen on the existing finishes. The developer agreed to her wish list: tile floors were switched to a sleek, beige Italian marble for an upscale interpretation; dark mahogany fireplace surrounds were scrapped for more contemporary frames in mother-of-pearl tile from Japan. She toned down the kitchen’s red, mahogany-stained cabinets with a darker, more classic hue, creating a warm vibe that contrasts with white walls and floors.
In her previous space, Dussa had collected a medley of modern and antique pieces, but for her Grace furnishings she wanted a clean slate and a crisp look. “I believe what we do in life, the places we go and the people we meet, all have some impact on our taste and what we like at that particular time,” she says. “At this moment, I like everything scaled down, light and clean with no big pieces in the house.” When she spotted a white sectional at a boutique in L.A., she realized she had found a centrepiece for her neutral collection. “Some may call it safe,” says Dussa of her monochrome palette, “but it easily transforms from season to season with bold flowers or colourful fruits and vegetables.” Visuals are broken up with hits of pattern, like a custom black-and-white striped fabric wall feature that anchors the cavernous greatroom; further texture appears in patterned pillows, fur throws and leather chairs.
Meanwhile, both bedrooms stray from the all-white scheme with a moody palette that incorporates indigo blue and deep purple with some playful metallics. The beds have ceiling-height patent leather headboards; one blocks out a window to darken the room. (“I didn’t need another window in that room,” she says. “Now, it’’s a little more glamorous and dramatic.“) In the master bathroom, a cast-iron tub and antique vanity bring “a touch of the old to my modern place.”
The finished home is an ideal reflection of Dussa’s initial vision. “My goal was to make this place elegantly chic based on a minimalist concept—yet keep it cozy and inviting,” she says. And her dog? They aren’t planning any life-changing walks anytime soon. “My little Italian greyhound is loving the new luxury!”
THE INSIDE SCOOP
From the crisp Wassily chairs and ottoman to the plush fur throw and zebra-print rug, to the oversized marble tiles, to the relaxed Molteni lounger, everything in the living room stays as clean and light as the “Snowfall White” paint on the walls.
A Kartell chair in the office delivers a punch of red. On the sideboard: a whitewashed concrete sculpture imported by Canatrade, plus an antique toy and potted orchid. The artwork is by Milan Uher and Deborah Michalski.
In the bedroom, strips of “St. Antoine” wallpaper flank a custom Robert Allan GoGo headboard in marshmallow. The scene is lit by a chic black chandelier by Bethel International.
A vintage clawfoot tub gets royal accompaniments: Missoni “Keith” bath towels, a Martha Sturdy white resin vase, candles and a Harman Imports bathtub tray.
The dining room is centred by a custom black oak table. The chrome and linen pendant light is by Pacific Connections. Figurative drawings on the wall are by Edmonton artist Milan Uher. The guest bedroom features a custom heardboard made with “Syx” fabric by Jab.
In the kitchen, custom black granite countertops and dark millwork make for a severe contrast to the rest of the home. Fuzion crystal pendant lights and a white resin tray by Martha Sturdy lighten the mood, as does the glint from a cute, pyramid-shaped Alessi kettle.