Home Tour: Playful and Elegant Coal Harbour Condo
A Coal Harbour condo pairs feminine charm with a masculine edge—and some seriously cool wall treatments.
Compromise can be tough: when two people share a space, whose sense of style gets to take centre stage? When it came time to make over this Coal Harbour condo last year, the homeowners—a couple in their 30s—outsourced the decision-making to Ben Leavitt, lead designer for Vancouver’s Fox Design. “They told us they wanted a luxe feeling, and left the rest up to our interpretation,” he explains. “This project was all about creating a balance, about having something in every room that each of the homeowners would love.” He set out to do just that, bringing in a sense of eclectic playfulness that would appeal to both masculine and feminine sensibilities.
DESIGN TIP: Warm up a cool space with cozy textiles.
Before turning over the space to Fox Design, the homeowners stripped the 2,000-square-foot, three-storey suite of its dated terracotta tiles and orange cabinetry and installed cool white marble flooring and granite countertops. Leavitt’s first goal was to warm up the space: “Everything was so cold—cement walls, the tile, the countertops.” The Fox Design team—including project manager Kevin Riback and general manager Dave Leavitt—sourced cozy textiles to incorporate throughout. A sheepskin is layered on top of a patterned teal area rug in the living area; fur pillows are arranged just so atop a textured, down-filled grey sofa; full-sized, camel-coloured drapes frame a window wall.
DESIGN TIP: You don’t have to have a dining table.
It’s a spacious living room, in part because it takes over an area that would have otherwise been occupied by a dining table, an element the homeowners decided to forgo. “They never used the kitchen table, and I think for a young, modern couple, it’s smart to take that out,” says Leavitt. “If you’re living in a house and not using that space, replace it with something you actually will use, like a sitting area.” Now, a pair of ikat-inspired armchairs bridges the space between the simple, modern kitchen and the dramatic living room (and adds a hit of colour).
DESIGN TIP: Bold patterns in neutral colours are fun but sophisticated.
The long, narrow layout is emphasized by painted horizontal stripes that stretch from the front door to the back patio. It’s a bold look, but one that works thanks to a subtle palette of grey and white. “By nature, I’m a maximalist,” admits Leavitt. “I say, if you’re going to do it, go big or go home, and if you’re scared about going big, then use neutral colours. Even the most insane pattern seems bearable in neutrals.” The stripes are not the only stunning wall treatment in the home—the office features a rich blue Benjamin Moore grasscloth wallpaper, while the bedroom is finished with grey-stained, angular wood panelling.
DESIGN TIP: Embrace the feature wall.
That bedroom wall is one of Leavitt’s favourite elements in the condo, in fact. “We took a posh, sleek townhouse and covered it with old wood,” he laughs, “but I think it makes it feel special.” The rest of the bedroom is a tribute to the condo’s seaside locale: an oversized oyster-shell lamp (“It barely fit through the door!” exclaims Leavitt) hangs overhead and breezy turquoise curtains bring a splash of ocean cool into the space. “The bedroom is decidedly more feminine,” Leavitt notes, though a masculine side isn’t completely ignored here: a black leather bed with gold studs adds an edge to the otherwise ethereal room.
DESIGN TIP: Don’t take any space too seriously.
Though the home is luxe, as requested, “We definitely don’t like to take any space too seriously,” Leavitt says. That sense of play is infused throughout the home. Wooden taxidermy heads oversee the office (which is accented with a cowhide rug), and an oversized deer painting—picked up by Leavitt in China—anchors the living room. A chic Arteriors lamp with a unique curving form tops an industrial iron desk, while in the bedroom a regal armchair made from transparent acrylic sits by the bed. In every room, layering in surprises and interesting objects was key for Leavitt. “We didn’t want it to look like everything is from one store; it’s about mixing products and textures for a collected feel.” The result is a space that balances luxe with quirkiness, masculinity with femininity, and style with plenty of substance.