Friday, February 22, 2008

House Voyeur: Small Space Living in Vancouver

As I mentioned earlier, I've been lurking on Tracey Falk's flickr page for a long time, admiring her beautiful photographs. When I noticed a set of shots of her new apartment recently, I saw that her knack for gorgeous compositions and her subtle mastery of color extended beyond arresting still lifes and evocative portraiture and into the realm of home design as well. I immediately asked Tracey if she would share her lovely home with my readers -- and happily, she agreed.

Here, the freelance web designer and photographer gives us a virtual tour of her Vancouver, British Columbia, abode:

“I recently moved out of a large apartment that I shared with two roommates and into this 450-square-foot studio space in a 1930s building. It's in a beautiful, established neighborhood in Vancouver, on a busy city corner. It's tiny -- essentially a one-room space, though I'm lucky to have not only an added eating nook and separate kitchen but also a large closet that gives me a good amount of storage.

The thing with a studio is that you need to maximize every corner without making it feel cluttered and chaotic. I sat in this apartment, largely unfurnished except for a bed and a table, for four months before I started decorating it. I went a little crazy sitting on the floor -- but in the end, waiting instead of rushing in allowed me to see space-dividing solutions that I didn't necessarily get right away.

I was inspired by the space itself. I think studio apartments are a great challenge -- they definitely make you rethink how you live and what you need or don't need in order to have a home life that’s comfortable, expressive, and balanced.

I'm constantly changing things up, both in terms of style and arrangement. My style is rather broad, shifting, evolving. It’s graphic, eclectic, a little midcentury, geometric. I love white paint, and used Benjamin Moore’s White Down here.

I’m so inspired by design blogs. I never knew they existed until I started decorating this apartment, and since then, I've devoured them. What a great collection of ideas and resources! And I love seeing what ‘real’ people do with their homes.

My favorite thing about my home is the big closet/storage space. I don't know what I'd do without it. That and the wood floors, the big windows, and the entry vestibule that I painted entirely -- ceiling included -- in latex chalkboard paint from Home Depot.

I love that I look out onto a busy intersection, as well. I canceled my cable TV when I moved here, but the action outside my window is proving to be constant entertainment.

I work from home most of the time, and I also wanted the space to be company-friendly. So it was a challenge to make separate ‘zones of activity.’ The fact that I had access to a three-quarter-size bed that fit perfectly into the eating nook proved to be a major blessing. It almost turned the studio into a one-bedroom, leaving the main living area open for work and entertaining. Granted, it's a little odd to have the bed situated right off the kitchen, but I think it beats the alternative.

My oh-so-handy father and I built a picture-rail divider that we slotted into an open doorway to cordon off the sleeping area. I love it -- it looks like it's been there forever. The photography on these shelves and around the rest of the apartment is my own.

I painted the bedroom space a deep brown that I had custom mixed.

Beyond that, I made and added buttons to my fairly standard 'economy' sofa, which was from Urban Barn, to help customize and retro-ize it a bit.

I also put up wall-mounted bookshelves and a floating work surface, and painted the entire apartment. The artwork on the mantel is by Vancouver artist Jeremy Crowle.

I had a budget of only $1,000 to tackle the entire space, including buying all of the accessories, textiles, supplies, and furniture. In addition to the sofa, I already had the Saarinen dining set and my bed, but everything else is 'new to me.' Most of it's hand-me-downs or thrift-store finds.

The lantern over the dining table is from Pier 1, and the floor lamp is from Home Depot.

The unbleached linen Aina curtain panels and the white Britt sheers are from IKEA, as is the black-and-white Alvine Triangel rug.

All of the accessories come from HomeSense or thrift stores. I left the majority of my purchasing until after Christmas, and then stumbled onto some amazing post-holiday sales. Even thrift stores were offering 50 percent off on Boxing Day.

What I've learned from working on this project is that you need to have a well-thought-out marriage between form and function. This was the first home I've been in that I really analyzed how I needed to use the space and what sort of feeling I wanted it to evoke before I began doing anything. Knowing that ahead of time was definitely helpful, particularly because I was on a super-tight budget and couldn't waste money on mistakes.

I've also learned that if you're on a tight budget and know you'll be antsy for changes down the road, it's important to keep your big pieces neutral so you can redecorate around them. With new throw cushions, rugs, and curtains, I could have a completely different feel in this space. The neutral pallet allows me to easily feed my need for new looks.”

Click here to see more shots of Tracey's enviable nest, and check out the rest of her amazing photography here.

Thank you so much for the intimate look at your beautiful space, Tracey!

(P.S. Want to see more? Click here for a peek inside other readers' homes.)

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lovely, well thought-out and wonderful, personal home. My compliments ! And on such a tight budget. Thank you for the excellent pictures.
Lucia

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

Ingenious choices. Love the blackboard paint.

iftimeexists said...

Wow. Just, wow. She did an amazing job with such a tiny space. I love that sliding space divider, the shelf/workspace (the bookshelves look built in), and the chalkboard paint! Very inspiring.

Reckless Glue said...

wow, I can't believe she did all this on a thousand dollar budget! Thanks so much for posting this, I am totally inspired :)

deerseason87 said...

This space is beautfiul. I had a walk-in closet in my old studio apartment that was also the perfect fit for my bed. It was a great solution, since I didn't want my bed out in the middle of the living room, and I could always shut the doors if I didn't feel like making the bed!

JJ said...

THANK YOU! This is exactly what I wanted to see today. I don't think there's nearly enough of this on the design blogs right now. Even Decorno needs to do this and I'm going to go tell her right now.

This is a fabulous little space. I am in love. I am so happy that she listed where she got things and how she made decisions. This is just the perfect post.

Kate of All Trades said...

Oooh, good House Voyeur! I'm totally impressed and inspired by what Tracey did. Thanks, to both of you, for sharing!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

holy cow. $1000? All I want to know is can she come and decorate my space in Marrakech?

Leslie said...

How easy is it to paint over the chalkboard paint? I've been wanting to use it for a while but I rent, so painting over it is a concern.

Denise said...

jealous! I actually have a small-home blog and shop. I sell some magnetic paint additive which is fun too. You can mix it with any color paint and paint a wall or just an area of a wall and use it as a bulletin board. citymouseshop if you're interested. Pardon the "ad" - I just thought people might be interested in that.

Dani said...

Wow! What sanctuary! I would love to come home to a space like that! I wish I could tuck my bed in a nook, but there is none to be had in my studio. I'll have to ask the designed what type pf rail system she used. I think that divider is the exact thing I need. I don't have a design bone im my body and desperately want my studio to feel put together and grown up. Is there a blog/site that you know of where pictures can be submitted and ideas shared? Spending time at home is depressive :( but this post gives me hope.

kay* said...

this has just become one of my favourite interiors. love absolutely everything about it.

Anonymous said...

It's terrific!

What kind of shelves and tracks did you use for your floating shelves?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful space!

Would have liked to see the kitchen to see how it fits with the bedroom.

Handy to have a kitchen right there for those late night snack attacks! :)

Zoe said...

Your place looks great and show-cases your photography very nicely. I'm wondering where you got your velvety taupe duvet cover?

Awesome job! I just moved into a new place with little more than a bed, and your labors are inspiring me to tackle to the task of decorating on the cheap. Thanks!

 

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