Condos Photo Credit: Ema Peter

Photos: Inside a Gorgeous Modern Coal Harbour Penthouse

In a Vancouver penthouse with a view to thrill, designer Andrea McLean helps a family embrace a modern touch.

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Any design job is a balancing act of sorts—at least it is for designer Andrea McLean. For her, it’s about listening to her clients and then marrying what she hears with a modern, timeless ethos—an ethos that doesn’t follow trends, but sets the bar instead. “I don’t want them to call up another designer in five years and say ‘This is out of date,’” she says.

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Rain Over Lençois Maranhenses I, Brazil, 2013. Archival pigment print, copyright of David Burdeny. Courtesy of Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

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But for one design job in particular—tackling a window-laden suite in Coal Harbour—there were other components to consider, too. For starters, the clients, who had purchased a unit in this modern downtown tower, didn’t live in town. They and their daughter were originally from Vancouver but had since moved to the U.S. The second challenge? The couple lived in a far more traditional space south of the border, while McLean’s expertise was firmly rooted in the contemporary. “My thinking is very rational,” says the designer. “I don’t like using a lot of extraneous details just for decoration—everything needs a purpose.”


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Skjalfandi River I & II, Iceland, 2013. Archival pigment print, copyright of David Burdeny. Courtesy of Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

Finding a way to work together could have been a Herculean task from the outset. However, the couple knew they wanted to try their hand at a modern expression in their Canadian property. “It was a huge departure for them,” says McLean. “They weren’t familiar with it and were taking a big risk.” But the space was just asking for that modern touch: the 26-storey building of concrete and steel with a glass curtain wall afforded the owners expansive 180-degree views from Stanley Park to the downtown core to Burnaby Mountain. As a result, everything in their 3,000-square-foot sub-penthouse became a backdrop to the view. “They didn’t have a lot of interior walls, so art was not going to be a major component—the view is really the art,” says McLean. Every decision the owner and client contemplated was always prefaced with “What’s it doing for the view?”

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While the vistas would take centre stage, the rest of the long suite still needed to feel warm. McLean worked collaboratively with Michael Macartney of Woodquest Construction, and Intempo Interiors’ Robin Woronko (who handled the millwork). “We wanted to make every room feel connected in some way,” McLean explains. “We needed to pick a few intelligent details to carry through.” First up, the flooring: it’s a key element of any home and shouldn’t overwhelm or overpower the other elements. Here, the clients gravitated toward a white oak, but they wanted it finished on-site for a more seamless look. The challenge was to emulate the stain on the engineered sample. The installer brought a dozen swatches to ensure the colour was perfectly matched, and a matte sheen was chosen. (“With so much light in here, a shiny floor would’ve been too reflective,” says McLean.) The millwork, another key element woven throughout, is the same material in a lighter shade.

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Miami Beach, January 2013, 2013. Acrylic on Canvas, copyright of William Betts. Courtesy of Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

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Every decision the owner and client contemplated was always prefaced with: “What’s it doing for the view?”

Furniture came next. “Because the shell was so clean, they could have a bit of fun here,” says McLean. For the sofa, the family wanted to be able to snuggle up and watch movies, so the modular Bend sofa by Patricia Urquiola in charcoal grey was chosen for its tailored-yet-cozy design. The B&B Italia dining room chairs swivel to make for easy conversation, and the lighting, an angular 14-bulb Agnes chandelier designed by Lindsey Adelman, stretches and spans as needed.

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Despite such whimsy, the space—like the relationship between client and designer—remains timeless. “I like to measure my success by whether the relationship goes beyond the project,” says McLean. “I still see them when they come into town, and I’m watching their daughter grow up.”

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SOURCES
General Contractor, Michael Macartney, Woodquest Construction, woodquest.caMillwork, Robin Woronko, Intempo Interiors, intempointeriors.com.
LIVING ROOM B&B Italia Bend sofa, B&B Italia Bend large throw pillow, B&B Italia Bend ottoman, Lithos side tables, and B&B Italia Metropolitan chair, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; Robert Sweep, Calgary, robertsweep.com; Le Belle Arti, Edmonton, lebellearti.com. Bensen U-Turn chairs, Inform Interior, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; House Brand, Calgary, housebrand.ca; Chester Fields, Victoria, chester-fields.com. White oak flooring, Restoration Hardwood, Vancouver, restorationhardwood.ca. Creative Matters Orchestra Dark rug, Salari Fine Carpets, salari.com. Lori Harrison small throw pillow, Provide Home, Vancouver, providehome.com. Barter Revolve side table, Walrus, Vancouver, walrushome.com; Provide Home, Vancouver, providehome.com; Nineteen Ten, Vancouver, nineteenten.ca; Charlie & Lee, Vancouver, charlieandlee.com; Pomp and Circumstance, Calgary, pompandcircumstance.ca; Fresh Laundry, Calgary, freshlaundry.co. La Palma barstools, , Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com.
DINING ROOM B&B Italia Mini Papillio chairs, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; Robert Sweep, Calgary, robertsweep.com; Le Belle Arti, Edmonton, lebellearti.com. Roll & Hill Agness Chandelier, Lightform, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, lightform.ca; Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com. David Burdeny Skjalfandi River I & II, Iceland, Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, kostuikgallery.com. Bronze Shaker table, Jeff Martin Joinery, Vancouver, jeffmartinjoinery.ca.
HALLWAY Steven Pollock Cliff Series, Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, kostuikgallery.com. David Burdeny Rain Over Lençois Maranhenses I, Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, kostuikgallery.com. White oak flooring, Restoration Hardwood, Vancouver, restorationhardwood.ca.
KITCHEN Pentalquartz countertops, Bordignon Marble & Granite, Vancouver, bordignon.ca. Aplomb suspension lamps, Foscarini, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; Gabriel Ross, Victoria, grshop.com; Lightform, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, lightform.ca; Living Space, Vancouver, livingspace.com; Robert Sweep Home Furnishing, Calgary, robertsweep.com. Gaggenau cabinet handles, Coast Appliances, Victoria and Vancouver, coastappliances.com; Trail Appliances, across the West, trailappliances.com; Midland Appliances, Vancouver, midlandappliance.com; Redl Kitchen Studio Inc., Vancouver, redlkitchenstudio.com; Denca Distributors, Calgary, denca.ca; Edmonton Appliance Gallery, Edmonton, edmontonappliancegallery.ca.
BEDROOM B&B Italia chair husk, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; Robert Sweep, Calgary, robertsweep.com; Le Belle Arti, Edmonton, lebellearti.com. Zinc Textiles custom pillows, Annestarr Agencies, Vancouver, annestarr.ca. Elvang Alpaca throw, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; Designhouse, Vancouver, designhouse.ca; Puddifoot, Vancouver, puddifoot.com. Dimplex fireplace, Capital Iron Ltd., Victoria, capitaliron.net; Pacific Fireplaces, Victoria, warmupyourlife.com; Brick, across the West, thebrick.com; Mortons Stoves, Pool and Spa, Vancouver, motonsstoves.com; Revolve Furnishings, Calgary, revolvefurnishings.com. Eames House Bird, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com. Barter Revolve side table, Walrus, Vancouver, walrushome.com; Provide Home, Vancouver, providehome.com; Nineteen Ten, Vancouver, nineteenten.ca; Charlie & Lee, Vancouver, charlieandlee.com; Pomp and Circumstance, Calgary, pompandcircumstance.ca; Fresh Laundry, Calgary, freshlaundry.co. Sand T Kalloch High Force, England; Waterville Cascades, New Hampshire; Black Forrest, Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, kostuikgallery.com. Vases, West Elm, Vancouver and Calgary, westelm.ca.
BATHROOM Ash floor tile and Matrix Arena wall tile, Fontile, Vancouver, fontile.com. Vase, homeowner’s own. Dornbracht faucet, Cantu Bathrooms & Hardware, Vancouver, cantubathrooms.com. Americh bathtub, Ambient Bathrooms, Ltd., Vancouver, ambientshowroom.com; Cantu Bathrooms & Hardware, Vancouver, cantubathrooms.com. Merimekko towel, Marimekko, Vancouver and Calgary, marimekko.com. Barter Revolve table, Walrus, Vancouver, walrushome.com; Provide Home, Vancouver, providehome.com; Nineteen Ten, Vancouver, nineteenten.ca; Charlie & Lee, Vancouver, charlieandlee.com; Pomp and Circumstance, Calgary, pompandcircumstance.ca; Fresh Laundry, Calgary, freshlaundry.co.
TEEN BEDROOM Ligne Roset Togo chair, Livingspace, Vancouver, livingspace.com; Le Belle Arti, Calgary, lebellearti.com; Dwell Modern, Edmonton, dwellmodern.ca. Hay table and Hay Dot cushion, Vancouver Special, Vancouver, vanspecial.com. Merimekko bedspread, Marimekko, Vancouver and Calgary, marimekko.com; Caboche ceiling light, Foscarini, Inform Interiors, Vancouver, informinteriors.com; Gabriel Ross, Victoria, grshop.com; Lightform, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, lightform.ca; Living Space, Vancouver, livingspace.com; Robert Sweep Home Furnishing, Calgary, robertsweep.com. Hexagonal felt pin-up wall, custom by Andrea McLean Design Office, Vancouver, andreamclean.ca. Wood wall magnets, custom by Andrea McLean Design Office, Vancouver, andreamclean.ca; fabricated by Lock & Martice Build Co., Vancouver, lockandmortice.com. Throw pillow, custom by Andrea McLean Design Office, Vancouver, andreamclean.ca; fabric from Annestarr Agencies, Vancouver, annestarr.ca.

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