How to Bring Hotel Style to a 1,341-Square Foot Penthouse
A sleek hotel-lobby vibe comes home in this Vancouver penthouse.
At 1,341 square feet, walking into this penthouse condo in Yaletown is a spacious surprise—almost like a hotel lobby. And that’s the point. Much like a boutique bolthole, it’s a downtown Vancouver “crash pad” for its Calgary-based owner, says designer Charlotte Fenton of Form West Interiors. “Luxurious and sophisticated…swanky but also welcoming.” A hotel lobby at home.
But originally, what this two-bedroom condo had in space, it lacked in style. When Fenton’s client bought it a couple of years ago, he enlisted another designer to do a full gut, which Fenton then took over. She inherited an established palette of grey tones, which was “a really good jumping-off point because it was very neutral,” she says. In the otherwise blank slate, the only thing that stood out was a huge yellow sofa (essentially a permanent fixture in the living room; at one point, a crane was considered to get it inside). Fenton was inspired by its big-and-bold punch of yellow, “flipping that into gold and metallics.”
She played off that glitz with navy blue to create a new glam palette. That vibe greets you just beyond the front door, where Fenton’s client (whose extended family uses the condo as an out-of-town base) wanted a revamped flex space to serve as a third bedroom, office and TV room—all in one. “I just kind of thought ‘lounge,’” says Fenton, “and it’s also right as you enter.”
Because her client travels frequently and loves luxury hotels and their martini bars and posh lounges (“He’s kind of a masculine flip on glitz and glam,” the designer says), Fenton wanted to recreate that feeling: a relaxing vacation getaway but also a cool entertaining place for cocktail and dinner parties. “That was the whole inspiration for me,” says Fenton, “mimicking the swanky hotel-lobby vibe,” and then adding “little pockets of outdoor space that are really relaxing oases,” just like a retreat-atop-the-city hotel deck—think W Hotel. Fenton’s client loved the concept (his response to her concept was simply, “Boom!”), and other than asking for a few functional pieces, like a desk for working remotely and a sofa bed for extra guests, he gave Fenton free rein. She went with blue velvet for the sofa bed, funky wallpaper and swish elements—from gold coffee tables to smoky Roll and Hill sconces. Other sleek accents include a sinuous Gweilo lamp, a spiky Roche Bobois mirror and high-gloss black-piano-finish custom shelving (millwork with a loungey look that also hides an awkward point).
The reflective quality of the mirror and shiny surfaces all bring in the luxe factor while lightening up and further expanding the space. These lustrous pieces are then tempered by quieter accents like matte-black bathroom fixtures and 3D tiles in the guest bedroom, grounding everything in a masculine feel that ties into the industrial backdrop (an exposed concrete ceiling) and adding subtle variations to the overall grey (including some 15 shades of black tiles). Even that blingy wallpapered wall is toned down in a matte black and white.
“It’s a fine line doing metallics and also making them masculine enough,” says Fenton. But winks—quiet yet bold, glam but grounded—are everywhere. Like the curvaceous office chair made out of seat belts. “I just wanted little cheeky areas where you turn a corner and are like, ‘Whoa, what?’” says Fenton. Her client now likens the space to a masculine oasis. “I feel like I overuse ‘laid-back luxury,’ but it’s really at the forefront of the whole concept,” says Fenton. “Welcoming and not pretentious.” Like walking into that dream-hotel lobby.