March 29, 2012

Wilds’ Way With White

Designer Peter Wilds likes white – classic, serene and pure – with touches of colour, such as happy pink, for fun.

story FELICITY STONE | photos gerry kahrmann

“To me, white is the bravest choice of all,” says Peter Wilds – and white is the colour he painted the new design studio/showroom he opened in February after 6½ years designing for The Cross, the Yaletown décor and design store.

“People day after day are coming in going, ‘You really like white don’t you?’” Yet they also comment that while the space is white, it’s not clinical. “I’m not interested in a sterile environment,” says Wilds. “I’m interested in using [white] to layer in. It’s the layering that keeps it from being clinical or sterile.” He also likes white “because it’s serene, because it’s classic, because it’s timeless, because there’s a purity to it,” plus it makes small spaces like a studio or one-bedroom apartment feel bigger.

The interior of his home is equally white, but the feel is completely different. The studio is a lofty Gastown space with brick walls, wainscoting and library-motif wallpaper. The furniture, a mix of traditional and modern, formal and casual, has a neutral palette: black, grey, beige and, of course, white.

His living space, on the other hand, is a one-bedroom condo on the 18th floor of a 1970s West End highrise. Here the lines are simple and modern, walls and cabinetry are white, furniture is black, white or natural wood, but accessories inject hits of red and pink. “When you walk in, it’s the colour that your eye bounces to first,” says Wilds. “I use pink a lot. It’s a colour that I think is pretty, it makes me smile, and it’s just a happy tone. And I think it can be used in edgy, unexpected, sometimes subversive ways, especially if there is a guy in the house.”

“It’s like Converse mixed with Hermès.That’s totally my vibe.”

Wilds designed the space to be like a white cloud. Because there are no high buildings across the street, he can lie in bed and see nothing but sky. There are no window treatments, nothing heavy, nothing dark, simply elements that visually and psychologically keep the space open, light and airy. When he purchased the condo six years ago, he gutted and renovated the interior, using reflective surfaces like mirrors and white lacquer cabinets to maximize the light. The cabinets reflect city lights at night, the sky and clouds during the day.

They also provide the storage so critical in small spaces. Wilds customized Ikea cabinets, using them throughout the home: as a wall-hung armoire in the dining room, the bathroom vanity and built-in bedroom closets. “Particularly in small spaces, if you can stand in one spot and look into numerous rooms, there has to be a unity,” he says. “The rooms have to communicate and tie in together.”

His furniture is eclectic, or, as Wilds describes it, a “mash-up.” The classic but traditional black leather tufted rolled-arm chesterfield is mixed with classic but modern moulded Eames chairs. The antique coffee table was originally a stepping stool for a Chinese opium bed. One side table is a pile of books topped with a transparent Kartell Bourgie lamp; the other is a sculptural piece of driftwood that is both functional and a conversation piece. “It’s like Converse mixed with Hermès,” says Wilds. “That’s totally my vibe.”


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