Tag Archives: Phyllis Lui

Spotlight: Kalu Interiors

Kalu Interiors – Cornered and loving it

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Kalu Interiors – Cornered and loving it

Like true love, when it comes to real estate and you find “the one,” you’ve got to jump on it. This was my experience when my two-bedroom unit in Yaletown’s trendy Donovan Building hit the market. The 10-year-old, 19th floor sub-penthouse packed plenty of promise, with its coveted corner placement, stunning views, and 1,150 sq. ft. of living space to work with. Here’s how I made every inch my own.

Contrary to my typical professional experience of designing on deadline, one of the benefits of being both designer and client in this case, was not having to adhere to a strict timeline. Another big advantage was the opportunity to live in and experience the space, which allowed me to assess its functionality first-hand. With time on my side and a clear view of what worked in the space — and perhaps more importantly, what didn’t — I had a great launching point for my pending project.

Now, before we get into the design side of things, let’s revert to myself in client form. I love dinner parties. Entertaining is important in our household, so this was a key consideration, from concept to completion.


As it was, our new home’s layout wasn’t conducive to how we live. The kitchen was tiny, with an adjacent bedroom that didn’t offer proper privacy. This would require moving walls, but the result was well worth the effort. The new kitchen is twice as large and stocked with all the trimmings, including a butler’s pantry, corner cabinets, a 36-in. fridge, full-sized wall oven, microwave, wine fridge and coffee maker. Essentially, everything you need to throw a good dinner party. Designer advice: Function first!


The condo boasted a good balance of wall space and windows, which facilitated ample natural light throughout. The finishes, on the other hand, were much too dark. We replaced the circa-1990s dark-stained floors and cabinets with white oak millwork, serving to lighten up the interiors. And since it’s an open floorplan, the impact benefits the entire space. Light in this space also comes via mirrors – a trick of the trade, when used correctly. By positioning mirrors opposite windows, you’ll double the view and bounce natural light throughout the room.


Gold is the trending embellishment in this space. I love its warm glow and simple opulence — if there is such a thing. This modern metal became a running theme throughout this space, carrying from the kitchen and dining area, into the bedroom and retreating to the bath. But notice that this trendy addition comes in the form of “soft” accessories. Translation: Relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, when this trend eventually runs its course (which it will). Behind that, you’ll find a space that is neutral with solid staying power.

Yin and Yang: A cool white kitchen backsplash balances the lavish gold touches, and makes the black granite kitchen island pop.

Thank goodness this reno didn’t have a tight deadline or too many other restrictions – yet another benefit of being both the client and the designer!

Award-winning interior Designers PHYLLIS LUI and ALEEM KASSAM are the principal designer duo for Kalu Interiors. For more than a decade, this Vancouver based design firm has become known and for focus on creating thoughtfully curated interiors that enhance and inspire how you live. the firm provides bespoke design services for clientele throughout Canada.


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Palm Springs style, Vancouver views

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Palm Springs style, Vancouver views

• Photography By Provoke Studios

When the sun beckons, saying no to outdoor living is simply not an option. That’s the unwritten rule here in Canada, where our winters are bitter and the summers are never quite long enough. But a well-designed al fresco living and entertaining area will take you from early spring into late fall without a second thought – and if it’s really well done, it’ll carry you through those lingering winter months as well. That was the goal for the designer and owner of this home, Phyllis Lui, who together with her friend and business partner, Aleem Kassam, founded Vancouver-based design firm Kalu Interiors.

This particular project is especially close to Lui’s heart, being her own private residence. She offers a sneak peek of her always-sunny, Palm Springs-inspired abode.

Killer views

“The views are killer,” admits Lui, who’s steadfast mission to embrace nature seems to be worth every effort. Interestingly, her journey to maximize the outdoors began with her home’s interior.

“I was aiming to achieve a cohesive style between indoors and out, which meant echoing similar elements throughout,” Lui notes, pointing out the continuous colour scheme of cream, coral and royal blue, which pairs beautifully with a palette of soft finishes.

Esthetically speaking, the style is cool and contemporary, yet friendly and fun – the sheer essence of West Coast life. The easygoing, open-concept floor plan ushers you past the kitchen and family room, through stacking glass doors that all but disappear to reveal a breathtaking mountain view, best enjoyed from the adjoining main-floor patio.

Outdoor bliss

“The goal was to make this feel like a fun extension of the indoors,” Lui explains. The uninterrupted indoor-outdoor experience is achieved by taking those traditional “interior” elements outside. A rug underfoot, beautiful quality furnishings, accessories and art deliver comfort and style that invite early mornings and long evenings under the stars.

Warm it up

Lui incorporated wood soffits and pavers layered with rugs, to instantly bring a sense of warmth and welcome to this otherwise contemporary exterior. An oversized barbecue provides all-season cooking and entertaining under the covered outdoor dining and lounging area, complete with integrated heaters mounted overhead for year-round use of the space.

Multi-Level Magnificence

The master bedroom features another walkout and, arguably, a dream come true – a luxurious hot tub steps from the bed and with a breathtaking mountain view. Does it get any better than this? Perhaps it does from the vantage point of the upper-level deck, where a firepit area and lounger seating capture mountains, sea and sky.

Is that artificial turf underfoot? You bet it is! This evergreen landscaping option is gaining popularity, and was an ideal choice for this rooftop patio – and equally appreciated by anyone seeking something that looks lush year-round, is low-maintenance, and likely to induce green-envy glances from the neighbours.

Encircling the upper deck is a frameless glass railing, which maintains the clean and modern esthetic that characterizes this home and provides unobstructed views of the water and the mountains on the horizon.

Outdoor living is certainly top of mind in these weeks leading up to summer, but with a decked-out deck like this, Lui is no slave to Mother Nature. A warm, Palm Springs-style with cosy comforts make this al fresco living space a hot spot, regardless of the weather.

SOURCES LOWER DECK: Navy Blue SOFA, COFFEE TABLE & DINING SET, CHAIRS around firepit, Crate & Barrel Gold easy CHAIRS, CB2 Flamingo ART, Leftbank Art RUG, Chilewich PILLOWS, Etsy CHAIRS & COFFEE TABLE beside hot tub, West Elm PLANTERS, Canadian Sunlight HOT TUB, Beachcomber Hot Tubs UPPER DECK: FIREPIT, Dreamcast LOUNGERS, CB2 SIDE TABLES between loungers, Anthropologie UMBRELLA, Ginger Jar

Lydia McNutt is an award-winning writer, editor, journalist pro based in the Greater Toronto Area.


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