October 24, 2016
Story Kathleen Freimond
Photos Andrew Latreille
For the owners of this penthouse in Vancouver’s stylish Kitsilano neighbourhood, the lines between home and work are decidedly blurred. Surrounded by works of art in their day jobs at two of the city’s top galleries, their home reflects the same ambience: elegant and uncluttered; fun, but always functional.
The extension from gallery to home didn’t happen by accident. Measured Architecture’s Clinton Cuddington—who had previously designed the art gallery owned by one of the homeowners—was tasked with reimagining the 2,050-square-foot condo penthouse with the mandate to connect the spaces.
To support the concept of the home-as-gallery, the paint colour—General Paint’s Breeze white eggshell latex—is the same in both spaces. “It’s a great colour,” says Cuddington. “It provides the perfect backdrop. It has no blue or parchment tones so as the owners rotate art through the condo, it works to showcase any art without attracting any attention itself.”
In the open-plan living space, the light above the white lacquer dining room table and the two fixtures illuminating pieces of art were custom designed by Vancouver-based Andlight. Cuddington describes the powder-white fixtures as contributing “moments of fun” while retrofitted pot lights with LED bulbs produce the 2700K light that enhances the art and provides ambient and task lighting in other areas.
To provide more natural light for the staircase between the main and second floor, the height of the pony wall was reduced on one side and a bookshelf was built into the wall to provide extra storage.
“Space is at a premium in Vancouver, so we find ways to include shallow storage in every room. If we can create storage in the place where the objects are used, then having them on display puts people in a constant state of editing. It’s amazing how an interior design can urge someone to prevent unnecessary clutter and only keep the most important things in their life,” says Cuddington.
A wall was opened to create additional concealed storage space in the living room where three flush panels conceal AV equipment. In the bedroom, storage space was tucked away behind the brow of the ceiling.
Cuddington approached the 1980s-era kitchen with the same philosophy he applies to homeowners’ possessions. “I encourage people to look at what they own with fresh eyes and imagine those pieces in the new space, not in the existing space.”
He kept one bank of original high-gloss cupboards and the more recently purchased major appliances. The island was repanelled and the range hood replaced. Cuddington also kept the granite floor tiles and countertop, although he wanted a more muted look than the original glossy finish. Huard Marble and Tile honed both granite surfaces using a vacuum system to minimize stone dust.
Drywall dust was a constant challenge as the construction crews worked around the homeowners, who continued to live in the two-bedroom condo during the three-month renovation.
“Sometimes people just can’t move out and the hardest thing for most people to contend with is drywall dust—it brings out lots of emotions,” he says.
I encourage people to look at what they own with fresh eyes and imagine those pieces in the new space, not in the existing space.
To further reduce troublesome dust, millwork was completed offsite, pre-painted and then mudded into place.
“We closed off a room, finished it and moved to the next room. We moved the homeowners around, but we got it done,” says Cuddington.
The same approach to updating existing installations was applied to the flooring. The dated wall-to-wall carpets were removed and the underlying concrete floor was refinished with an epoxy. The addition of carpets, from Salari Fine Carpets, softens the industrial look of the concrete and also dampens sound.
Cuddington says one of his greatest fears as an architect is to create a space that requires a client to leave their past behind.
“Early on we go into a home and look at how we can incorporate what they already own to bring their history into the new space,” he says. “In the living room we used the old, worn Barcelona chairs to create a great counterpoint to the more contemporary elements and we had new legs attached to the stone-slab table in the living room.”
Making a gallery-like space do double duty as a home was a tough challenge, says Cuddington, but ultimately it was achieved by providing all the elements of domesticity: a functional kitchen, storage, textiles to soften hard surfaces and backdrop that showcases treasured personal possessions.