Every time I visit Melissa, my longtime friend from childhood, I notice different pieces of art on the wall, the furniture slightly rearranged, or a beautiful display of plants. She has a knack for making her home feel fresh, happy and put together with unexpected little touches. (Needless to say, her style has changed a lot since the forest green walls and New Kids on the Block posters of her middle school-era bedroom, where we spent A LOT of time. :))
Melissa and her partner Steve live in a 750 sq ft condo in Vancouver’s Fairview Slopes neighbourhood with their 10-month old daughter Lily and dog Rufus. I’m thrilled to give you a glimpse of their home and Melissa’s approach to decorating in my first Home Tour on the blog! She shares secrets to reviving a small space, a cool option for kitchen flooring, her (very early) morning routine and more…
What made you choose this home as ‘the one’?
We liked that it has a large patio and a small garden plot for us to do as we wish. Very rare for condos around here. We also liked that it was mostly a blank canvas. All the walls were painted white and the flooring laminate, which we didn’t mind, but we had a vision of how to improve the space and make it ours.
Fairview Slopes is about a 20 minute walk to downtown. It has a massive park, the ocean and Granville Island just a stroll away.
Did you have a design theme in mind when you started decorating?
I didn’t initially have a theme in mind but I found myself very drawn to Scandinavian decor so it has just kind of evolved. I would describe it as Scandinavian eclectic. Our place is north facing so it doesn’t get direct sunlight. I knew I wanted to keep things bright and have pops of colour throughout.
What renovations have you done?
We (and when I say “we” it has been mostly Steve doing the labour. I love to collaborate on the design part!) started with removing the popcorn/stucco ceiling in the bedrooms. It was fairly messy and time consuming but it really does look better. Then all of the baseboards got replaced with taller ones. We painted both of the bedrooms. Our bedroom is “soft grey” by Behr.
The nursery is “sky blue” by Benjamin Moore.
We installed blackout blinds, painted the trim on the closets white (they used to be an ugly brass colour), and added a couple of shelves and a rod to hang clothes behind our bedroom door. We also installed organizers in both bedroom closets.
The most significant change has been the kitchen. When we bought the place it had a functional but dated look and not much for counter space. We ripped out the old laminate countertops and replace them with Ikea butcher block. We also extended the counter beside the stove by about three feet and added open shelving above and a pull out drawer for pots below, with a place for microwave.
There was no backsplash originally so we put in a white, porcelain subway tile with a unique relief. We replaced the sink for a larger one and the faucet is also new.
The flooring was replaced due to a flood from our dishwasher. It was originally the same laminate throughout the home but when the leak ruined the kitchen flooring we decided instead of having to replace the entire unit, we would just get rid of the kitchen laminate and polish the concrete underneath. I love the concrete floor. We added under cabinet lighting and new ceiling light fixtures, all of which are LED.
How has your home changed since Lily was born? What’s your approach to keeping it from getting overrun with baby items?
Well we no longer have a guest room as it is Lily’s room now. Both Steve and I don’t feel like having a ton of toys is necessary so we have asked grandparents to not give too many to Lily! We keep the ones we do have in a couple of baskets and Lily has her bookshelf which her stuffed toys and books live on. The “ExerSaucer” has been lent to us from friends. I really didn’t like it at first but Lily loves it and I realized it’s good for her both mentally and physically. As she grows out of things, we donate them or pass them on to friends who can use them. I clean up her things and put them back in the basket at the end of every day to keep it tidy.
You’ve always been a morning person. What’s your morning routine, and how does your space play into that?
I have always been a morning person although it has been a bit earlier than I am used to the past ten months. :)
My morning starts between 5-5:30 am when Lily begins chattering away in her crib. I listen to her chatter for a while but by 5:30 she is ready to go! After taking care of her immediate needs (diaper change, feeding etc.) I make myself a strong americano. Because our place is small and we share walls with neighbours, I try to play quietly with Lily so that Daddy can sleep a bit longer and that we remain friendly with our neighbours. I usually get out for our first walk to the nearby park around 7:30. We all (Lily, Rufus and I) enjoy that.
You have beautiful artwork. Where are some of the photographs and other pieces from?
Most of the photography is by me. Steve took the black and white one of the building while in India. My friend Erin painted the one of Rufus. The old wooden framed one of a village in France, I got at a flea market in Vancouver for $10.00. The landscape painting in our kitchen we brought back from Greece.
Can you tell me about decorating Lily’s nursery? What are some of the handmade features?
Other than her crib (which is still in our room), everything is either second hand or handmade. All of the furniture was found on Craigslist. The artwork is a mix of my photography, a self portrait Steve did in University, and some crafty projects I made, like the mobile.
Decorating seems like a such a creative expression for you. How does creating a home you love impact you mentally and emotionally?
I am sensitive to my surroundings and so having a home that I am comfortable in is very important. Since having a baby though I have had to let go a little bit of my urge to decorate mostly because of space and because Lily’s things are always spread out around our living room. I feel like our place now is how it will be until we move on. I am fine with that though. I enjoy having a family home.
How do you keep a small home feeling fresh? Any tips for reviving the space without buying new stuff all the time?
The things I find work best are fresh flowers and changing up art work. Whether that is printing different photography to put in existing frames or simply rearranging art on our walls. A good cleaning and keeping “stuff” tidy doesn’t hurt either.
What are some of the favourite ‘moments’ this space enables you to enjoy?
Being a small and open space we are able to get a lot of quality time together. When one of us is cooking the other can be playing with Lily and still be able to have a conversation together. Having the large patio space off our living room is where we spend so much of our time in the warmer months. We love to garden together and Lily loves to be out there watching us while playing with her toys. Rufus loves to lay in the sun and greet all of our neighbours.
What do you turn to for decor inspiration?
Lastly, what is your dream for a future home?
As much as I love this place, I dream of a small character home with a lovely yard and garden. But that will not be in Vancouver unless something drastic changes with this insane housing market!
Thank you so much, Melissa! I look forward to seeing the evolution of your homes throughout our lifetime.
(Photos by Melissa.)
p.s. Check out Melissa and Steve’s One Room Loft they lived in a few years back…it was featured in Apartment Therapy’s ‘Small Cool Contest’!