sneak peek: emira


good morning! today is going to a be a festival of sorts- a festival of sneak peeks! we’ll be sharing four homes today and then tomorrow we’ll be returning to regular content. i’ve had a few of these homes sitting in my drafts folder for a bit so i thought today would be a great day to bring them out. so, off we go…

today’s sneak peek is all about what you can do with a good shell and a creative mind (and a handy and fearless partner helps too). three years ago emira mears and her partner martin bought this mid-40s “shack” during vancouver’s crazy real estate market. the house had hardly been touched since the 40s, so they had their work cut out for them, “making it not only a livable, but also a beautiful place to live.” also impressive is that they did almost all the work themselves. you can find more full-sized images of their home right here. also, be sure to check out the boss of you, all about running your business your own way – emira’s project with lauren bacon. [thanks, emira!] anne

Martin has an eye for modern design and we’ve inherited some great pieces from his Danish parents (not furniture but enamel pots, bowls etc.). I’m a fan of modern design, but also love handcrafted and vintage pieces. We’re fortunate have a lot of artwork from local Vancouver designers, many of whom are friends as well as some choice pieces purchased online or on our travels in Denmark and Amsterdam.

Front door. Continuing the circle theme. Martin customized this door over the summer.

The couch in this photo is always the clincher that blows people away when I tell them that Martin made all the furniture in our house. Most of it is wood work, so this upholstered couch seems pretty darned impressive. The base is made primarily of found materials including old 70s chrome office chairs which are used for the legs and supports (the cushions and fabric are all new material). We need to recover it as it is starting to show some wear and tear, but can never decide on a colour. The coffee table Martin made for me to go in my old flat. It’s upholstered in off-white vinyl and then has blue mosaic tile insets for putting down a tea pot/cup of tea. It’s pretty darned swell. The painting on the wall is by a local Vancouver artist, Jude Griebel. Martin and I bought it kind of on a whim at a gallery opening when we first started dating. It was a big/risky co-purchase as we both loved it and we hadn’t been together all that long. Fortunately that all worked out ;) Since then Jude has gone onto be very successful and we’re really glad we were able to purchase one of his pieces when we did.

Family portraits in black and white. Floating bookshelf made by Martin.

Martin made me this bench as a birthday gift the first year we were dating. I remember looking out the livingroom window and seeing him bring it up the walk to the one bedroom flat I was living in at the time. I was totally floored. He has a thing for circles/holes in things, so that’s why the circle motif. The lid lifts up to reveal some basic storage below. I used to use it for storing table cloths in the kitchen of my old flat. Here in our office it holds phone books and paperwork.

CLICK HERE to see the rest of Emira’s home after the jump…

Martin made the table and bench here to maximize space in our small kitchen. The table can be expanded to include a leaf (it’s attached on one side to the wall on a runner system). The table top is just two layers of plywood glued together and then cut on a bevel to expose the ply. The legs are Ikea.

The bench has storage for all kinds of biggish awkward kitchen stuff that isn’t for every day use like the juicer, the canning pot, cookie tins etc.

The print on the wall is of course Camilla Engman.

We redid the kitchen last Spring putting in Ikea cabinets and counter tops and redoing the floor with Armstrong red tiles. The kitchen, like the rest of the house, had not been updated since it was built in the 40s. It is so very nice to have big wide drawers for storage, it was totally worth all the money/effort. The walls are painted Yolo Water .02 which turned out to be a bit more green than I had thought it would be (I was going for a robin’s egg blue). That said, I love how it goes with the cherry red floor and the overall palette is very retro which works well with the kitchen. The only part of the kitchen we kept is the old white enamel gas stove you see here which we positively love and which is really the “feature piece” of the whole room.

We recently had to redo our bathroom sink as the wood counter top Martin had original made was rotting (ick!) due to some sink leakage. We got this cute little sink at the hardware store and then Martin built the base cabinet to match the rest of our bathroom fixtures that he built. The plywood edges are exposed on the front of the base there and the door features his signature circle cut-out as the handle.
  1. Nikki says:

    Oh geeze, am I ever jealous! What a beautiful home and what a handy partner! Mine’s good at… um… playing video games?

  2. Vanessa Vandersande says:

    All the handmade furniture is amazing!! I especially like the front door. Can the construction for that be explained, or maybe we could get a picture of the inside of the door? Hooray for sneak peak, I’ll be refreshing all day at work!

  3. Thanks for introducing us to Emira and Martin’s house in Vancouver. Also I am so glad to have found the ‘boss of you’ link and all the resources on their site – can’t believe I don’t all ready know about this – great stuff from BC !

  4. Renae says:

    Your kitchen is so simple, yet so cheery! I just love it!!!

  5. Karen says:

    Martin sounds like every designers dream man.

  6. Heather Carr says:

    I have the same shower curtain, it’s the coolest!

    Great home, I love everything about it!

  7. I’d LOVE to see a few of my prints on those walls.

    Very nice.

  8. visualingual says:

    I really love all the handmade touches in this home. I love seeing all these pieces without the kneejerk reaction of “I just saw this in the new Ikea catalog” or whatever. This is lovely; congratulations!

  9. Kristan says:

    Oh wow, I love the details of this house. Each room has just a little something to make it personal and out of the ordinary. Particularly the furniture. Lovely, thanks for sharing!

  10. Sera says:

    where is that shower curtain from???

  11. Marisol says:

    love the bedroom wall!

  12. Charlene says:

    Ditto on the shower curtain question!!

  13. Amanda says:

    I second Sera, wheres the shower curtain from?

  14. nely says:

    I love the touches of red (that floor!) and green and the handmade furniture! What a great space.

    Where is the bedding from?

  15. Melora says:

    The shower curtain is by Marimekko from Anthropologie. I don’t think it’s sold there anymore, but I loved it as soon as I saw it in the store!

  16. Cinnamon says:

    I’ve been a huge fan of Emira’s work for a couple of years now, but I had no idea her guy was so amazing, too. What great furniture! I particularly love the small bench with storage and the circle/hole motif is a very nice and subtle touch.

  17. mandy says:

    I am incredibly impressed with all the furniture – I love all of it, especially since it’s handmade! Also love that shower curtain (I have a thing for lime green).

  18. Sondra's Ink says:

    I LOVE THIS!! The door, the painting of the circles w/ flowers, the STOVE. Absolutely awesome space!! :-) I am officially adding you under my “daily reads” link love!! Can you please come and redo my dwelling? lol.

  19. I love those wall decals! I think they really can brighten any room :-)

  20. quelle says:

    wow! this is very weird for me… i’ve been admiring this door and repainting job forever because this house is barely a block down from where i live! and now to see the inside without ever meeting the owners… it feels very strange, but i do admire this entire house!

  21. ess says:

    there’s a little glitch with emira’s web link. i know how important these things are to drive business :)

  22. Lauren says:

    Hey there all — Emira is away from her computer today so I thought I’d take the liberty of thanking you all on her behalf, for all the lovely comments.

    @Karen and @Cinnamon: Yes, Martin is definitely quite a catch. :)

    @Melora, you nailed it — the shower curtain is indeed Marimekko.

  23. Kazeme says:

    You can buy the Marimekko shower curtain from many sites in the internet ^___^ The print is called Kaiku (echo), so just google “Marimekko Kaiku shower curtain” ;)

  24. eleanor says:

    Just found the shower curtain online! I love it!

  25. hillary says:

    super cute apartment! where is the calendar that’s in the kitchen from?

  26. Cheryl R says:

    I’m jealous! Your place looks awesome. Tell Martin I love the floating bookshelves and covet them.

  27. Emira says:

    Hey folks! Thanks for all the awesome comments. Martin and I did indeed just have an offline kind of a day so are just checking in now.

    @quelle: Hey neighbour! That’s awesome. What a funny small world the internet can be. You should say hi next time you see us out in the garden or on the deck, we’re friendly and promise we don’ t bite!

    @Nicodermus Green: Martin has already decided he’d like to buy some of your pieces from Etsy, so expect an order as soon as we make a decision. As a veggie (me) and a non-veggie (him) we’re disputing over the “bacon” print and the “hummus” option ;)

    And to answer some questions:

    Yes, you’ve nailed it the shower curtain is Merimekko, we got it from the Merimekko store here in town, but you can find it many places online. We liked it cuz it went with our bathroom and it’s a non-plastic shower curtain option.

    The bed sheets on my step-daughter’s bed are Ikea. The wall decals in her room are from Surface Collective.

  28. Tara says:

    Ya Vancouver!!
    FLICKR LINK please!!!

  29. Ellen says:

    Love your place. I really like the new vanity you built in the bathroom. Who makes the square sink? If you don’t know who makes it, can you pass along the hardware store you purchased it at so I can contact them. We have a small bathroom and this sink would be a perfect fit and looks great!

  30. Lindsay says:

    Is the 3 square x 3 square shelving unit a home made piece? If not I’m wondering where it was purchased.

  31. Colleen says:

    Wonderful Emira & Martin!

    I recognised that it was yours immediately- on the picture with the lovely red door. Right after thinking, “I’d love a red door with circles in it”.

    And the couch.
    & the bookshelves.
    Great design!

  32. Sarah says:

    I love the floating shelves (the shorter shelves with the black framed pictures on top) and hope you might reveal how you get them to appear to be floating. They don’t appear to be mounted to the wall and also don’t appear to have a spacer between them.

    A very beautiful and cozy home!


  33. Julie says:

    Wow! I love this. The handmade furniture is so awesome. I’m laughing at the poster who said her partner is good at video games…ditto! :)

  34. serina says:

    yes, FLICKR link please!

  35. Emira says:

    For those who asked, you can see the full Flickr set I sent in to Design*Sponge here, and your questions and comments have pushed me to thinking about documenting some of the DIY furniture projects around our house in more detail. So if you want to check out our house blog at I’ll be updating it with answers to some of your questions.

  36. cee says:

    Wonderful ! We also have a red floor/white cabinet/wood countertop combo in our kitchen. I love it.

    I can tell you guys have been really busy – we’re doing a lot of the work on our home ourselves, and it can really take it’s toll ! Hats off to you both.

    Also, @Quelle and Emira, spookily, I also live in your ‘hood and have been admiring Emira’s front door since last year !

  37. Em says:

    My partner and I live very close by! We have often admired the grey & red-orange of your home’s exterior, with the charming circle details in the door. So exciting to see the interior! The work you’ve put into your home appears well worth the result.

  38. Kris Klaasen says:

    I’m super impressed.

    Fantastic work!

  39. anon says:

    am i the only one that’s confused why this feature is called “sneak peek”? that term infers a preview of sorts, like when you get a sneak peek at a movie they don’t show you the whole thing. consider me “nit picky.” :)

    1. grace says:

      anon- you’re not the only one.

      when i started the column a while back i called it a sneak peek because i showed just one room from two people’s homes, with the full tours to follow. hence, a sneak peek of their home to come. but the name sort of stuck and people kept emailing asking to see more “d*s sneak peeks” so i just kept it ;)


  40. Sara says:

    Hi Emira,
    I tried to go to your house blog site , however it was not working. Is there another way of visiting the site?

  41. Emira says:

    Oops. Broken link there. It’s (Missed a “p” there). Thanks again for all your kind comments!

  42. Moe says:

    Lovely, lovely home.
    And the cat model who seems to pose on demand is just adorable.

  43. erin says:

    Lovely. Thank you. I have all kinds of new ideas for my home now. That IS a cute little square sink, and my bathroom is small, too. Can you tell us what model it is? I’m looking for something just like that!

  44. angle says:

    hey only like the bed room

  45. bojana says:

    i love how the cats always like to be photographed

  46. Nice and Clean.. I love it. :)

  47. melanie says:

    it’s so nice to see something from vancouver! i live about an hour out and i’m moving into the city in 5 days! but the home is fantastic, and all the custom furniture is beautiful! i especially love the floating bookshelf :)


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