The custom quandry
Photography by Provoke Studios
In an age where big box stores are quickly gaining popularity for the ease and instant gratification they offer, there’s still a massive consumer market for well-made, thoughtfully designed, custom pieces. From our professional experience, many will gladly pay a premium for something that is tailor-made to their needs and their desired dimensions. Consider: clothes, cars, homes and everything that goes inside them, made just so. If there’s a way to customize a product’s features to the end user, you can be sure that designers are trying. And it’s a good thing too, as custom work happens to be one of the most popular design requests we get from our clients.
But custom details don’t have to be all-encompassing or wallet-draining. A few, simple and thoughtful elements can go a long way to the overall look and feel of a home. For example, we incorporated some unique custom millwork details into an otherwise cookie-cutter condo, our client’s primary focus was largely to add much needed storage. The result is a fabulous focal point that truly transformed the home’s overall function and esthetic.
Designer Tip – When selecting the features and finishes for an open-concept space, sit in adjacent areas, such as a connected living room or dining room. Ask yourself, what will you be looking at when you’re trying to relax, or when seated at your dining table? Streamlining the style and colours of the space helps to create a harmonious and well-curated home.
The most wonderful quality of this condo was its exposure. The condo was flooded with wonderful natural light through the wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows. We strategically positioned the furniture in a way that allows the homeowner and guests to sit and socialize in front of the television and fireplace – that is, if they can tear their eyes away from that view! We custom-designed a large millwork feature and builtin to house the television, the large linear fireplace, storage and display area, making this the focal point in the room.
We offset the unit’s cool tones with a rich walnut finish, which adds much-needed warmth and character. A walnut hexagon tile nicely frames the TV area adding texture, pattern and detail.
In the dining room, a custom millwork cabinet houses a wine fridge and the client’s extensive collection of scotch. The colour of the cabinet was painted a grey tone to complement the adjacent kitchen cabinets. Overhead, the kitchen chandelier harmonizes with the one in the adjoining living/dining area while adding further architectural interest. This style of fixture was chosen specifically for its “lightness,” not to compete with the sweeping views beyond, neutral in tone with a minimal, sleek profile.
The expansive sliding doors open onto two entertaining-worthy patio spaces where guests can sit and relax in front of the firepit on a crisp Vancouver evening. Planter boxes filled with ornamental grasses line the perimeter of the patio, providing privacy from below without obstructing the views of False Creek and beyond.
Bedrooms are another great place to incorporate some custom storage details. Even though this guest bedroom was smaller in size, we were able to achieve an abundance of storage through a custom millwork built-in unit that encapsulated nightstands flanking either side of the bed. Additionally, bedside lighting was incorporated into the millwork, leaving no detail overlooked. The bedframe, sourced from Style In Form, also features a lift mechanism, offering further storage in an otherwise small space.
Replacing the previous lacklustre ceiling fixture to an unexpected chandelier, we added an even more custom detail to the space, and a wow-feature worthy of any guest.
“As designers, our work is driven by our clients’ needs, wants, preferences and whims. Custom is the best way to deliver that.”
Last but certainly not least, the master bedroom was large enough to comfortably house a king-sized bed and frame. However, to truly achieve a high-end boutique hotel look and feel, we custom- designed a fluted headboard, which we paired with a large-scale geometric wallpaper layered behind. This dramatic wallpaper selection was then balanced with simple lighter tones, such as the streamlined bedding, to keep the space bright and airy. To further expand the visual space in the room and help balance the bold wallpaper, we opted for mirrored nightstands that are neutral and reflective. To complete the space, final touches include custom pillows, including a quirky tiger pillow to contrast the patterns and reflect the fun nature of our client and the space.
As designers, our work is driven by our clients’ needs, wants, preferences and whims. Custom is the best way to deliver that. Tailored furnishings, storage systems and details all play together to transform a project from four walls to a home that offers comfort, function and style. Think outside the box, work with the right professionals to create a custom design that works for how you wish to live. Perhaps what your space needs most, is your personal imprint.
Award-winning designers, Phyllis Lui & Aleem Kassam, are the principal designers for Kalu Interiors. For more than a decade, this Vancouver-based design firm has become known for creating thoughtfully curated interiors that enhance and inspire how you live. The firm provides bespoke design services for clientele throughout Canada. kaluinteriors.com