May 27, 2024
West Van home home renovation maximizes small space

After two decades in the house, and raising four children there, it felt like a good time to renovate

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Steven and Jen Fitzgerald thought about tearing down their circa 1952 West Vancouver home and building bigger. But they prefer a small footprint, even with a family of six.

“We didn’t want to change that; we just wanted it to work better,” says Steven.

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After two decades in the house, and raising four children there, it felt like a good time to renovate, says Steven. “It was a transition time for us, thinking that down the road, eventually, the kids will move out,” he adds. “We wanted something that works for now, but it also really works for us in the long term.”

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The home’s shared living spaces amount to just 500 square feet, so a redesign would need to be thoughtful and strategic. The couple would also have to find common ground on style; Jen adoring all things bright and bold, and Steven leaning to the understated.

Through a referral, they met Lori Steeves, founder and creative director of Simply Home Decorating, who was game to work it out. Steeves quickly deduced that the pair share a love of mid-century modern design. “It’s ultimately a very simple style, but there are opportunities for bolder graphic patterns and pops of colour,” she says. “That was something we all easily identified as a middle ground.”

After the owners' daughter raised concerns about buying everything new, Steeves helped the family source a vintage Danish teak credenza for the living room – in a large size to keep the space visually streamlined. A Frank Herzog print complements the piece perfectly.
After the owners’ daughter raised concerns about buying everything new, Steeves helped the family source a vintage Danish teak credenza for the living room – in a large size to keep the space visually streamlined. A Frank Herzog print complements the piece perfectly. Photo by Provoke Studios
To define the home's entrance, which opens into the middle of the living room, designer Lori Steeves added a slatted divider wall, which suits the mid-century esthetic of the house. Muuto Dot wall hooks –purchased from Gabriel Ross – and a custom walnut console-shoe shelf by Enrique Morales of Madera Fina Studio Furniture provide storage in the absence of a front closet.
To define the home’s entrance, which opens into the middle of the living room, designer Lori Steeves added a slatted divider wall, which suits the mid-century esthetic of the house. Muuto Dot wall hooks –purchased from Gabriel Ross – and a custom walnut console-shoe shelf by Enrique Morales of Madera Fina Studio Furniture provide storage in the absence of a front closet. Photo by Provoke Studios

The project included a kitchen and bathroom update, new flooring throughout and full furnishing of the living and dining rooms. During construction from February to March of 2023, the family lived in the basement and rarely felt the need to go upstairs or check on progress, says Steven – a measure of confidence he attributes to Steeves and her team.

“Almost everyone I know has done some form of reno at some point. And I swear we’re the only couple I’ve ever met who had a project come in right on time and under budget,” says Steven. “It’s almost awkward talking about it with other people.”

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The finished space delivered on the family’s design dreams, too. To define the home’s entrance, which opens straight to the living room, Steeves added a mid-century-inspired wood-slat divider. Stylish circular wall hooks and a custom walnut shoe console provide “drop zone” storage, to address the absence of a front closet.

A vintage teak credenza brings much-needed storage to the living room, too. The piece is surprisingly wide for the small space, at 86 inches. “Running through this project are a lot of great small-space maximizing tips. And one of these is using fewer, but large-scale, pieces,” says Steeves.

Fluted marble terrazzo tile – Terrazzo Renata Fluted Field tile from Ann Sacks – runs from fireplace to ceiling, creating a textured focal point in the living room.
Fluted marble terrazzo tile – Terrazzo Renata Fluted Field tile from Ann Sacks – runs from fireplace to ceiling, creating a textured focal point in the living room. Photo by Provoke Studios

Following the same logic, a large L-shaped sectional provides ample yet streamlined seating, while multi-tasking round ottomans complement a curvy coffee table. Steeves also pulled a pair of bent-wood Eames chairs (already owned by the family) into the room for another vintage mid-century touch. And fluted marble terrazzo tile, running from fireplace to ceiling, gives the space an arresting and textured focal point.

In the dining room, a plush banquette bench tucks between two built-in cabinets against the wall, adding extra seating to a traditional MCM tulip table, while allowing space for egress to a patio door.

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In the dining room, a banquette bench tucks between two built-in cabinets against the wall, maintaining egress to a patio door. Artwork created by the couple's children in earlier years sits opposite a Hayes Linear Chandelier from West Elm.
In the dining room, a banquette bench tucks between two built-in cabinets against the wall, maintaining egress to a patio door. Artwork created by the couple’s children in earlier years sits opposite a Hayes Linear Chandelier from West Elm. Photo by Provoke Studios
In the kitchen, rift-cut oak cabinetry mingles with mixed metals, and a soft blue-grey backsplash – Trapezoid Tile from Cepac via Daltile – creating a calming palette, and highly functional cooking space for the home's six inhabitants.
In the kitchen, rift-cut oak cabinetry mingles with mixed metals, and a soft blue-grey backsplash – Trapezoid Tile from Cepac via Daltile – creating a calming palette. Photo by Provoke Studios
The kitchen is a highly functional cooking space for the home's six inhabitants.
The kitchen is a highly functional cooking space for the home’s six inhabitants. Photo by Provoke Studios

The kitchen carries this airy feel, with flat-front rift-cut-oak cabinetry against a soft blue-grey trapezoid-tile backsplash. “When we first went over there and met them, [Jen] had all these little origami birds sitting around the dining area, and this backsplash reminds me of origami,” says Steeves.

But for the homeowners, the highlight of the new kitchen is function. “Now I find that two or three of us can be in there cooking at the same time,” says Steven.

Functionality also improved drastically in the bathrooms. With the powder room and main bath sharing a wall, Steeves was able to remove an unused shower from the powder room, and add the footprint to the main bath, for a more spacious and spa-like feel.

And while the main bathroom picks up the calming palette of the kitchen and dining area, Jen’s vibrant taste and sense of humour come out to play in the powder room, where bold red wallpaper makes an eye-catching statement. The pattern, “Drunk Monkeys” by Andrew Alford for Astek Home, looks like a normal tropical print at first glance, but on closer inspection, reveals cheeky figures smoking cigars, drinking martinis and more. It’s bold and irreverent, which satisfies Jen, but it can also be closed away behind a door to keep things calm, which appeals to Steven.

powder room
Bold red wallpaper makes an eye-catching statement in the powder room. Photo by Provoke Studios

“The drunk monkeys are literally my daily joy,” says Jen.

“Steven has yet to close the door on that supposed chaos.”

It’s emblematic of the renovated home as a whole. “What’s lovely is that it’s definitely not what I would have designed, and definitely not what Jen would have designed,” says Steven. “But it really works for both of us, and there’s a little magic in that.”

Design: Lori Steeves, Simply Home Decorating

Construction: Lotos Construction

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