Image: Janis Nicolay
A lively home with scattered greenery quietly and beautifully celebrates the season.
It was a last-minute decision to bring on help designing their Craftsman-style new build in Vancouver’s Renfrew Heights neighbourhood. The young couple – together with their tween-aged son and daughter – faced 4,200 square feet of charmless drywall and a big empty box for a kitchen and didn’t know where to start. Luckily, local designer Ami McKay of was game to stylishly fuse the family’s traditional tastes with the modern-meets-livable look they were keen to embrace.
Leaving the interior envelope white to maximize the light and bright feel of the space, Ami introduced splashes of colour and pattern for high-contrast impact. She selected eclectic furniture for personality and then incorporated plenty of natural wood and greenery to soften the design and prevent the house from feeling too stuffy for the young family. “The homeowners like that mix of heritage and contemporary, so we picked playful modern elements, such as the light fixtures, kitchen backsplash and fireplace tile, which we paired with the traditional pieces,” says Ami, referring to the living room’s coffered ceiling, the office’s wall panelling, the kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinetry and the wide trim used throughout.
The homeowners were so pleased with the results, it was only fitting that Ami came back to bring a foraged-from-the-forest aesthetic into their home for the holidays. And the seasonal scheme is equally fresh and eclectic: Instead of red, green and lots of sparkle, Ami (who once worked as a florist) sprinkled soft greenery throughout the home. She hung sprigs from doorknobs, laid garlands over bookcases and headboards, went wild with small wreaths and nosegays, and placed several Christmas trees in various rooms. The effect is casual and collected but totally unexpected.
“I went to a flower supplier and bought paper ornaments, wax flowers and pompoms to adorn the trees,” says Ami, who likes the stylish surprise of using things out of context. “I got creative and hung crocheted doilies, which are actually coasters for drinks, on the trees!” In other areas, she tied lengths of thin ribbon together and draped them like tinsel.
The result is a home that seems substantially different from its big-white-box-of-drywall beginnings – it now feels like home. And during the holidays, it sure looks like it’s ready for (a very snazzy) Christmas – even with its unique approach.
The captivating living room is all about the mix of details, from the chevron tile on the fireplace surround (reminiscent of a cable-knit sweater) to the eclectic furnishings. A sparse tree with gold ribbon tassels offers zany cheer.
For a lush, surprising and inexpensive centrepiece, set out vases of feathery ferns and dainty white blooms.
Who says you can only have one tree, and who says it has to be loud? In this subdued scene, handmade pompoms and paper fans achieve a modern boho feel befitting the overall look of the home.
White kitchens are classic, but contrast makes them perfect. That’s why Ami chose to add dark tones via the backsplash, island base and flooring to break up all the white cabinetry (which is a storage dream). There’s also a contrast of styles at play here: Traditional Shaker-style cabinetry is set off by more contemporary elements like the stools, light fixture and countertops.
To keep the eye moving around the large kitchen, Ami introduced interesting attention-grabbing elements like the metallic backsplash tile with its hammered handmade feel, the brass Sputnik-style chandelier and the generous mix of cabinetry knobs and pulls. The effect is modern yet collected and packed with personality.
With its saturated inky blue walls, colourful artwork and patterned rug, the office located off the foyer (and visible from the street) is a total showstopper. Panelling provides a traditional back-drop for the modern furnishings and boho accents. As a nod to the holidays, an evergreen branch juts out of a vase, while vine-like boughs are tucked into the light fixture. “It’s a fun way of making the room feel Christmassy without going overboard,” says Ami.
Draping greenery along the headboard and bringing in baskets of festive decor and cozy accents are simple ways to dress your home for the season. “I’ve always been a fan of using natural elements against modern furnishings,” says Ami.