Interiors Photo Credit: Tracey Ayton

Photos: Industrial Chic Goes Modern in a Dreamy Yaletown Condo

A stunning staircase, eclectic artwork and treasures from around the world punctuate an industrial and modern Yaletown space.

It seems impossible to imagine this Yaletown loft without its signature double staircase. The symmetry, the bold contrast of black iron railings against a pristine white wall—it’s a striking element that sets the tone for the whole space. But it wasn’t, in fact, part of the original design at all; rather, it’s just one part of a huge renovation done by Jamie Hamilton and Greer Nelson of Oliver Simon Design, the duo tasked with remodeling this once-dated 1,200-square-foot ’80s condo for a newlywed couple.

The stairs are wood and stained a durable almost-black that will be able to withstand wear and tear. Soon after the renovations began, the homeowners found out they were pregnant. Luckily, with the addition of a dresser and crib, a solarium was easily converted into a cozy nursery, and the stroller tucks away under the staircase.
With the way the ceiling hung, regular pendants just weren’t going to work over the kitchen counter, so Nelson and Hamilton attached vintage-inspired sconces to the overhang. “It turned out to make a nice impact,” says Hamilton. They also offered an interesting sculptural element, much like the Nuevo Living chandelier in the living room.
Bar-style seating made more sense for the homeowners than a big, bulky dining room table. Now the Charlie counter stools Oliver Simon selected are actually one of guests’ favourite elements in the home, thanks to the warm worn distressed leather that gets softer over time.

In the original layout, there was just one set of stairs that led to the loft sleeping area; across the suite, a makeshift office had been assembled precariously on the ledge above the solarium, with only a wobbly ladder to access it. Meanwhile, on the main floor, “it was really, really dark,” recalls Nelson. “The layout of the previous kitchen really made it feel like a cave.”

Right away, the designers knew they would need to open things up. “We wanted to make it brighter and take advantage of the high ceilings,” explains Hamilton. That meant starting from scratch with the bathroom and kitchen, coating the walls in a fresh layer of Benjamin Moore’s Oxford White and creating smart storage solutions to keep the space uncluttered. A full dining table was eschewed in favour of simple countertop seating, a washer and dryer set is hidden seamlessly behind panels, and the island that sits behind the sofa has double-sided cabinets.

The Original Style Babylonian backsplash nods to the couple’s travels in Morocco (and echoes the pretty monochromatic tiles in the nearby bathroom), though they weren’t necessarily on board when Nelson and Hamilton first presented the option. “They were afraid of the backsplash!” laughs Hamilton. “But they put their trust in us. It wasn’t a safe choice, but it turned out to be one of their favourite things.”

And not only does the new double staircase (built with the help of contractor PGC Enterprises) add great visual balance to the space, it also created an opportunity to sneak in an extra closet—an invisible door with a touch latch offers easy access beneath the left-hand stairs, where the couple stores the stroller for their new baby.

For the finishes and details, Nelson and Hamilton took inspiration from the homeowners’ travels. They had just returned from a year-long around-the-world honeymoon, and “they had pictures and some treasures they’d picked up along the way that we wanted to incorporate,” explains Hamilton. One of those pieces was a 30-inch-wide golden Moroccan platter, which the designers mounted overtop of a light to create a custom sconce with a beautiful golden glow. In the bedroom, blown-up photos from their trip hang modestly from antique coat hangers on a drapery rod. “We didn’t want to just put them in frames,” explains Hamilton. “This was an inexpensive, interesting way of putting them up.”

In the renovated bathroom, the custom vanity by Sofo Kitchens was painted with Benjamin Moore’s Black Top to tie in to the ornate floor tiles from Creekside Tile, inspired by Morocco; the brushed brass Aquabrass faucet and a Caesarstone counter brighten up the space.
A golden bowl purchased in Morocco during the homeowners’ honeymoon was transformed into an artful wall sconce.
Schoolhouse Electric Envoy wall sconces flank the bed in the loft sleeping area. A feature wall decked out in Kravet wallpaper adds a layer of texture to the cool white-and-concrete space, as do the photos and fabric displayed from vintage coat hangers.

These aren’t the only ways the duo got creative with the art and decor. Nelson and Hamilton sourced a sushi-restaurant curtain from a vintage shop (a reference to the couple’s time in Japan) and hung it front and centre where the twin staircases meet. In the living room, a bus route scroll, a collection of masks, a large unframed canvas by painter Janine M. Ray (“They gave us a deal because it wasn’t stretched or framed,” says Hamilton) and a paint-by-numbers clown picture collected from a vintage shop are displayed together to create an eclectic feature wall. “The white walls gave us the perfect template to work with,” says Nelson. “And with a big, open space like that, you can kind of go crazy.”

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