Most homeowners see a “new build” and are in awe of the fresh flooring, new cabinets and design. But what I love about Erin and Darren is that they had a different vision for their new townhome in Vancouver, British Columbia. For this couple, it was a priority to truly love their home and everything about it, so they reached out to family friend and designer April Tidey for some help.
The new 1,250-square-foot townhome was dominated with builder basics like brown melamine cabinets and, for a purpose-driven foodie, an uninspriring kitchen. Erin, a small business owner and food reporter, is passionate about spotlighting the restaurants and businesses that prioritize responsibly sourced ingredients. She is also the co-host of Mindful Movie Nights — a series of documentary screenings which aim to raise public awareness about the impact our food industry has on our health and our planet — and Mindful Book Club, which largely focuses on books about veganism and animal rights. She and Darren wanted a space that represented their values and lifestyle.
Darren — who is partner and head of digital strategy at independent creative agency Rethink — and Erin love nature and natural materials. They wanted to fill their home with quality items made by local artisans. “We avoided the ‘big shops’ as much as possible and instead worked with local crafts and trades people,” Erin shares.
So the renovation began to make the new house accommodate their needs and reflect their personalities. Erin and her dad ripped out all the upper cabinets in the kitchen. They were replaced with 12-foot exposed iron shelving, complete with a tall ladder, designed by April and built by Erin’s uncle Russ. A second similar shelf was also installed on the opposite wall. They left the space around the oven vent bare and wrapped it in iron. An iron shelf was also installed above the stove for ingredients Erin uses often while cooking. It completelty transformed the space, creating a setting you might see in a European restaurant. The lower cabinets were replaced with a light, ashy plywood. The kitchen island was given a new look thanks to concrete artist Brett Riekert, who poured white slabs of concrete for new countertops. Brett also poured a beautiful piece which would become a kitchen desk.
The couple’s lifestyle continued to influence the interior design as Erin had a web-based cooking show in mind when making their home choices. “My goal is to showcase how easy plant-based cooking can be — and how vegans enjoy eating more than salad and tofu,” Erin says. They wanted the kitchen to be a simple yet attractive backdrop for the show.
For flooring, they ripped up their wide-slat dark hardwood to expose the concrete underneath. Concrete worker Brett Mauer ground the floor down leaving a matte finish with natural imperfections. In all, the whole home’s design process took about five months.
With many condos and townhomes out there today that are stocked with builder basics, Erin and Darren’s home is an inspiration on how we can still create a home that feels unique and aligned to our indiviual preferences and lifestyle. —Karla
Photography by Janis Nicolay