Houzz Tour: A Dark, Cramped Home Gets a Light, Open Makeover
Meticulous space planning, clean, simple style and bespoke joinery hugely improved flow and brightened a duplex home
Interior designers Sarah Gallop and Jamie Judd of Top Shelf Design reconfigured the layout and gave the space a clean, minimalist style, while also adding clever bespoke features.
Who lives here? A couple
Location Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Size Two bedrooms and one bathroom; 1,250 sq ft (116 sq m)
Designers Sarah Gallop and Jamie Judd of Top Shelf Design
Photos by ISHOT
The home occupies the back half of a duplex. “Our clients had recently had given their backyard a makeover,” Sarah says. “They wanted to be able to view it and to create stronger connections to it from inside.”
To get a good sense of their clients’ style, the designers asked them to share Houzz ideabooks full of spaces they liked, along with comments. Then they asked about the specific aspects they liked about each photo. “We could see they liked a clean and bright, minimalist look,” Sarah says.
Space planning was of the utmost importance. “This home had a modest footprint, so it was really important that we make the most of every inch,” Jamie says.
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The block narrowed the main room to [just over 2m] wide. And the hallway it formed to the right was a waste of space. The desk under the window served as the home’s only office space.
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The top left corner contained the desk that served as the home office. Because one of the homeowners worked from home full time, the main living space had a cluttered look.
“The fireplace location split up the windows – we couldn’t fully open it up to the backyard,” Sarah says. “The location of the fireplace also made it difficult to furnish the room.”
“It also allowed us to pull the kitchen forwards for a better connection to the backyard and the natural light,” Sarah says. The new kitchen location is convenient for serving people on the patio.
“Furniture placement was tricky in here, but this side of the room gave us enough space for two chairs and the reclining sofa our clients wanted,” Jamie says. The armchairs can swivel to face the fireplace, the view outdoors or the sofa for conversation.
“This wall also provides a focal point, and the brown colour made it cohesive with the slatted wall,” Jamie says. “It also tied in the veining on the fireplace surround. And it kept the TV from sticking out as a big black box, as it would have on a lighter wall.”
On the back left, the slatted room divider helps form the den area and adds visual interest to the room.
The designers added windows between the worktop and upper cabinets on either side of the cooker to let in more light.
This photo shows how the kitchen, dining area and den work together within the open floor plan. Before, the cloakroom block was in the middle of this space, blocking the view of the staircase.
They designed a 3D wall with MDF and had it painted a warm grey. New white oak treads and risers match the new flooring. Glass balustrades provide an open view of this feature from both floors of the house.
“The light provides a moment, draws the eye around and looks cool from different angles,” Jamie says.
The dark wood seen inside the bed alcove provides warm contrast, much like the staircase feature wall and fireplace accent wall do. The designers also built in the bedside tables and lighting to save space and maintain the clean, minimalist look.
On the other side of the room, they took space from the adjacent bedroom’s wardrobes to create a wall of built-in cupboards. “Setting them up as cabinetry saved about [11.5cm] over using [freestanding] wardrobes with full doors – the built-ins have thinner doors. Again, every inch counted,” Sarah says.
Note the way the designers covered the bath surround in large-format porcelain tiles with marble-like veining – it makes the bath surround appear to be carved from one big block of stone. The block extends into the shower enclosure, forming the bench that was on the homeowners’ must-have list.
They designed a built-in desk and shelves, using wood for contrast like they did downstairs and in the main bedroom alcove. Repeating these materials and colours created a pleasingly cohesive feel throughout the home. The location under the window provides more garden views.
Because they had taken over this bedroom’s existing wardrobe space for the main bedroom, they also included wardrobe cabinets around the Murphy bed.
What are your thoughts on this reworked layout? Share your thoughts in the Comments.