Homes & Design Photo Credit: Ema Peter

Great Spaces: 12 Gorgeous Rooms to Inspire

A dozen stunning residential spaces from across the West.

Every home has a magic spot that deserves the spotlight. Here, we’ve gathered a dozen of our favourite rooms, from an entryway with surprising detail, to a playroom made for climbing the walls—and each great space offers a little snapshot of inspiration.

(Photo: Janis Nicolay.)

Add an Element of Surprise

The entry to this Vancouver home is beautiful in its simplicity—quiet millwork for a hall closet, a dark wood screen lining the stairwell—but designer Ami McKay of Pure Design wanted to add a little something more. “Everything in there is white and bright,” she explains. “And we wanted to have something with a bit more punctuation.” Inspired by her travels to Mexico and Spain, McKay selected hand-painted tiles from World Mosaic for the stair risers. “I think it’s a perfect opportunity to make you smile when you walk up the stairs,” says McKay. “There’s something beautiful there.”

(Photo: Robert Lemermeyer.)

Get Flexible with Your Seating

For this riverside home in Calgary, architect Anita Gunther of Sturgess Architecture intentionally kept the design of the main floor flexible. When the conversation is flowing and guests are gathered in the living room, the
furniture, of course, faces toward the party. But should any guest wish to face the river on the left, or the internal courtyard on the right, each piece can rotate—including the Living Landscape sofa, which can turn in any direction. And the space just feels playful—geometrics on the carpet and side table pair up with clean lines throughout, along with vibrant hits of colour in the red Muuto chairs and canary yellow chaise longue.

(Photo: Ema Peter.)

Add Luxury with Layers

The stunning Gordon Smith painting in this master bedroom is the showpiece of the room, but it didn’t mean the rest of the space had to disappear. Instead, designer Jennifer Heffel of HB Design created a luxe palette of materials and colours that would complement the painting, and hold its own, too. A silk wallcovering lines the space in a soft grey, while the area rug was selected both for its rich texture and its branch-like pattern—a nod to the painting, as are the softly coloured chartreuse pillows on the bed. Touches of antique brass in the reading lamps and bed frame give warmth to the space.

(Photo: Cheryl Silsbe.)

Personalize Your Home Office

Edmonton designer Melissa Ennis brought plenty of wow into her home-based office: a mural-like wallpaper, a metal screen perfectly aligned to the organic waves of the wallpaper behind it, and a cozy Mongolian stool for guests. Just as important for a space like this, she says, is to bring personal pieces in as well. To balance utilitarian pieces like the file cabinet and the printer, Ennis added a sewing machine from her husband’s grandmother, pictures from her travels and a touch of greenery. “As clients visit, they know a bit about who I am, and they can feel comfortable,” says Ennis.

(Photo: Jackie Brown.)

Add Interest to a Door

The pocket doors in designer Tina Wilson’s Vancouver condo were more than 100 years old—and had seen better days. When they sanded the fir doors down to remove the dark cherry stain, the panels within the doors were revealed to be little more than plywood. Rather than paint and disguise the flaw, Wilson decided to add some interest to the door faces. Drafting her skilled seamstress mother into action, Wilson created linen-covered
inserts for the bedroom-facing side of the door, and mirrored pieces for the living-room side to make the space feel larger. No mirrors on the bedroom side? “I wasn’t into that,” laughs Wilson.

(Photo: Ema Peter.)

Make It Matte

Powder rooms can be the jewel box of the home—but they don’t have to literally sparkle. Designed by Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds of Falken Reynolds Interiors, this room features matte finishes throughout—from the faucets to the basalt stone on the wall behind the sink—but plenty of texture, too. The Rombini tiles from Mutina cast strong shadows thanks to a floating mirror, and subtle veining in the basalt stone provides visual interest, too. It’s a simple palette, but with striking results.

(Photo: Joel Klassen.)

Treat a Wall as Art

When designer Aly Velji spotted the large, two-storey wall that lined the staircase in this Calgary home, he knew he wanted to do more than just the standard framed artwork. “I said to the homeowners, ‘Let’s do something that’s more impactful,’” he says. After poring through wallpaper designs and not finding the right fit, he turned to local company Interiors to Inspire to commission a custom wall treatment. Working with a palette of navies and rusts with touches of gold and silver, the company designed a custom treatment constructed from layers of plaster. The results are as spectacular as he’d hoped they be. “It’s the first wall that people see when they turn the corner.”

(Photo: Phil Crozier.)

Get Creative with Your Storage

In the master bedroom of this Calgary home, designer Nyla Free wanted to create something unexpected. Designed in partnership with intern architect Marvin DeJong, the millwork on either side of the entrance doors features storage in the lower half, and built-in niches for displaying artwork on top. The black inserts were painted to look like metal.

(Photo: Ema Peter.)

Keep the Focus on a Dramatic Ceiling

The breathtaking vaulted ceiling in this West Van home wasn’t always the focus of this master bedroom. Dark wallpaper behind the bed drew the eye away from it, says designer Lucila Diaz of Harmony Sense Interiors, so she swapped out the wallpaper for a white and subtly textured design from Phillip Jeffries, and selected a pair of dramatic Foscarini pendants to immediately draw the eye up to the ceiling. A neutral palette in the room is dotted with supportive accents of black in the throw pillows and Platner side table.

Make a Space Cozy with a Tone-on-Tone Palette

This cozy nook in the bonus room of a Calgary home was designed to be both a focal point and a comfy spot in which a kid can hang out and read before bed. Veranda Estate Homes created the millwork for the nook, and designer Nyla Free went for both drama, with the rich charcoal colour of Benjamin Moore’s Witching Hour, and warmth, with wool plaid seating and nubbly textured throw cushions. The navy throw invites a snuggle up for an hour or two—and also nods to the pale blue sofa that sits directly across from the nook.

(Photo: Ema Peter.)

Turn a Beam into a Custom Playroom

High ceilings on the main floor can sometimes result in lower ceilings in the basement, but designer Denise Ashmore came up with a creative solution for her clients: keep the support beam exposed to gain height, rather than dropping the ceilings to mask it. The result was the starting point of something just as inspired: the homeowners turned the playroom into a custom ninja warrior course for the kids, thanks to that beam. Sturdy hexagonal commercial floor tiles from Shaw Contract are both stylish and durable (if a juice box stains the floor, they can be popped out and replaced), and are ready to handle whatever these young warriors have for them.

(Photo: Ema Peter.)

Play with Your Verticals and Horizontals

The gorgeous renovation of this West Vancouver townhouse actually started as the solution to a problem: namely, a skylight that was a bit of an eyesore. Designer Geralynne Mitschke had a millwork column detail installed that lined up perfectly along each mullion in the skylight, and then carried it down to the floor along the wall. Wood slats in between these columns add visual interest, and their angled descent down the wall mimics the terraced view outside the windows. Finally, dark wood shelving was cantilevered into the columns, a space for the downsizing owners to showcase their personal collections.

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