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Interiorssneak peeks

A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community

by Sabrina Smelko

When you renovate a home by yourself, everything is a challenge and invariably takes far more time than planned for. I know firsthand there’s almost always more involved than you initially anticipated — meaning an extra 20 trips or so to the hardware store! Add converting spaces into rental units, and it’s cause for a headache, albeit one that pays off in the end! This was most definitely the case for Diane Thompson and her partner (and owner of the home for over 20 years) Blair Gardner, who live in this gorgeous 1911 Edwardian three-story home in East Vancouver, BC. Diane is a modern quilter and the founder of Clothlab and Blair is a freelance interior and industrial designer, so they both spend a lot of time at home, which is also their respective workspace. And though today their household looks seamless from the outside, they had a heck of a time fixing up the home while keeping the original features intact. “It didn’t help that the house is as crooked as a fun house,” laughs Diane, “None of the floors, doorways, window frames and walls are straight or square. Not even close!”

Diane and Blair share their home with five other people (who live on the first and second floor) and Diane and Blair inhabit the third floor, with just over 600 square feet for the both of them, but they don’t mind in the least; rather, they feel incredibly fortunate to be part of a small community that all share in the home and outdoor space. Their home reflects their collaborative lifestyle and careers, and on most days, you’ll find Diane designing and producing her wares from their 100-year-old converted garage in the backyard. When they aren’t working and running around, you’ll find the couple making and fixing things, cooking, eating, drinking craft beer, and wrestling on their sofa — “And pretty much in that order,” says Diane. —x, Sabrina

Photographs by Michelle Fattore

A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The pineapple was a gift purchased at a Buddhist supply shop. The antique round mirror is from Diane's grandmother. The red painting is a "Zagros" restaurant sign, rescued from an Arabic restaurant that used to be in Vancouver’s west end.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The layout of their third-floor abode.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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During the summertime, the doors and windows are often left open, allowing warm breezes to blow through the hallway. The paintings are by Tanya Salas.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Blair designed and built the floor-to-ceiling millwork, which provides ample hidden storage. Diane’s favorite detail is the hole for the garbage, which always reminds her of being on a plane or in a fast food restaurant.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Out the backdoor is an expansive view out to North Shore mountains, Vancouver, weather permitting.
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After stripping the bathroom down to the studs, new drywall, subway tile, bathtub, sink, lighting and millwork were added.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The before and after of their bathroom.
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Just outside the window is a gorgeous, massive cedar tree in the front yard which provides greenery (and privacy!) year-round.
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The yellow stool was a hand-me-down BubuIer stool by Philippe Starck. The surface was quite stained and damaged when they got it, so it was renewed with a few coats of citron lacquer left over from the kitchen backsplash. The beloved monkey lamp was a thrift store find. "The toddler living on the main floor comes upstairs regularly to visit it!" says Diane.
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The dresser was a free find on Craigslist. Blair and Diane sanded it down, removed the legs, gave it a coat of white lacquer and mounted it directly onto the wall.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The lamp was another Craigslist find. Diane loves how its black circles echo the handles of the dresser it sits on.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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This painting is from a series by Vancouver artist Suzanne Summersgill, "Birds and Their Junk." Real birds can often be seen outside the window, just to the right of the painting! How cute.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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This treasured painting is by Diane’s childhood neighbour, Bill Holmes. It depicts a scene two blocks from their homes, which, even on a bright, sunny day, is that dark and dense with foliage. His daughter gave it to Diane after he passed away.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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This is the view to the living room. The concrete tile is from Solas Décor, laid by Blair after some very dramatic leveling of the sub-floor.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The large sofa sectional makes the small living room comfortable and functional. The solid grey upholstery provides an excellent backdrop for displaying colorful textiles, including some of Diane's quilted pillows. The teak coffee table belonged to her dad during his young bachelor days.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Blair made Diane the cedar strip lamp as a birthday gift. The black and chrome table is part of a three-piece set by Breuer purchased at an auction.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The teak arm chair by Grete Jalk was found at an auction. Diane made new cushions for it, as well as the awesome "Space Invader" pillow. The framed piece is a new item she's been experimenting with, "quilts under glass."
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The Japanese TV series character "Ultraman" surveys the living room from a stack of books.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Water closets were often included in Vancouver homes built in the early 1900s. "It’s a shame that they have lost their popularity," says Blair, "Having a toilet separate from the bathroom is a wonderful thing!"
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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The yellow painting is by B.C. Binning, a gift from Vancouver artist Gordon Smith. Diane made the geometric paper piecing and then sewed it on a machine.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Choosing to do most of the work themselves, the kitchen was also a full demolition project. The flooring was rescued from a film set and serendipitously happened to be the exact same floor Diane had previously chosen from a sample.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Both avid home cooks, the couple enjoy spending a great deal of time here, experimenting with ingredients and preparing meals.
A 1911 Edwardian Home Filled With Collaboration and Community in East Vancouver, BC
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Blair did all of the kitchen millwork and the beautiful yellow lacquered glass backsplash. The Pillsbury Dough Boy cookie jar was a thrift store find.
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The kitchen table is a frequent gathering spot for small groups only, as it is very difficult to open the fridge and oven doors when more than four are at the table. Seven people is the maximum, and only if meals are prepared ahead.
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Comments

  • Hello Design*Sponge – For the second day in a row, despite repeated attempts, at different times of the day, I cannot open the photo sequence in your “Interiors” articles, either yesterdays about the leather worker’s home nor today’s Edwardian. So frustrating. It may be some newly introduced quirk of my computer, but could you check on your end.

    Thank you

  • Hi. To add to the comment above, the photo sequence also doesn’t work for me for these 2 posts. I just have one image of the bathroom in this post and no arrows to advance to other photos. I am using safari on a mac.

  • Same here! Older version of Safari on a Mac Air. Frustrating that the ads are all there, but not the pics. I also tried a few times yesterday and no luck so far!

    • hi guys

      i’m not having any problems on the current version- have you tried upgrading? i did a quick search and the old version of safari was updated because of browser bugs, so this could be something effecting that. i can’t replicate the error on my end using the current safari on my macbook.

      g

  • I have recently been trying to work out how to put a dado rail up my stairs and intercept it with the window at the top. Now I know! Some great artwork in the home.

    P.S. I am also on Safari 8.0.3 and I usually have to reload the page for the photo sequence to appear. First time no pictures. Second time they always appear.

  • I’m using Safari 8.0.3 and it’s still not loading the pic’s of the Edwardian house in Canada. Other pages on your site are fine.

  • Hi
    I’m using Firefox on an old Windows XP and can’t get the images, which is really frustrating as I live in East Vancouver and want to see the house and whether I recognise it, (and the people):)

  • Same for me on my iPad. I have 8.1.3. I’ve tried within FB and also using Safari. In fact, it hangs my iPad and I have to reboot.

  • Oh…I see I am not the only one unable to see the pics…I’ve never had that problem before the 19th and did not make any changes on my Mac…odd…hope it gets resolved soon so that I can get my daily eye-candy fix :) thanks for a lovely site guys!

  • I am in awe of anyone who tackles this level of renovation. This home is perfection! I love every single thing about this – the colors, the clean, minimal design, the artwork, the quilts and the way it all works in an older building.

  • I suggest the problem with the photos loading may be 25 photos of up to a MB each (after scaling). It seems that all photos need to be downloaded before the first one shows up. It may take a while if the internet connection is slow.

  • I can rarely see the photos since you have changed the format of your webpage. Seems like sometimes it works, but usually it doesn’t.

  • I thought I was the only one having this problem,! I can’t open the Edwardian tour on (updated) iPad or Macbook Pro. The closest I came was seeing the stairwell photo and the floor plan and then got a message that there “a problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded”, except it never would reload. I have been able to see other home tours, but have not rechecked today.

  • Well, it must be magic; as soon as I posted my comment, the Edwardian home tour opened on my Macbook Pro, but still won’t on my iPad.

  • Hey Grace –

    Thought I’d reply since I saw nobody had – I’m having the same issue, the images in the slideshow are just taking forever to load (I think that’s why it seems like they’re not there). After a few page refreshes and a long wait they seem to eventually show up.

    It’s on *all* of the tours that I checked, and I’m on MB Air using Chrome (most recent), so I don’t think it’s browser dependent. Possibly the image hosting servers are slow for some reason…? Thx!

    • hi guys

      we’re looking into this. we honestly can’t replicate these errors over here, so we’re stumped. i have our tech guy looking into it now to see if we can replicate it to find any error.

      grace

  • Hi Grace, it’s just the past two entries that the images don’t load for. I’m using an older version of Safari on a Macbook Pro. I can still see the images on earlier posts.

    • Liza

      The old layout doesn’t have anything to do with this issue. We haven’t had any errors until this home tour, but we can’t seem to find any problem with this tour and coding. We’re looking into Safari, but we’ve spot checked every browser and version and can’t replicate this error.

      Grace

  • Hello, just to confirm previous comments, it did take a very looong time to open this interior and the previous. Yesterday they wouldn’t open at all. Now that I have seen the post I’m just gonna say swoon!!

  • I love the everything about the geometric quilt in the bedroom – does anyone know where it is from or if it is handmade?

  • This may be a vestige of my architecture academic days, but I love the inclusion of the floor plan in this tour. I’ve been wishing more tours had one because it really helps tie the photos together. I’m also loving that doughboy! :)

  • Is there anyway to find out the ceiling height in the bedroom? It looks similiar to ours not too tall :) But it looks so light and airy!!

  • Thanks Grace. It’s all working now. It was only this and one other post but whatever you’ve done, it’s worked. By the way, I am really enjoying the new Design Sponge layout with more interiors.

  • I love your home! So clean and crisp. Really beautiful! And I love your quilt designs. I have long been wanting to ” paint” a “quilt” on the side of my barn and you are inspiring me! I think the juxtaposition of a contemporary design on a barn that was built in 1777 would be really interesting.

  • The home is gorgeous! It’s inspiring to see such a magical result after so much elbow grease. And I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those quilts from your website!

  • Love this home. I’m am both inspired and envious as I am a renter of an Edwardian in sanfrancisco! Thank you for sharing<3

  • Really beautiful! I see lots of comments about display issues, but I am having no problems at all on chrome. I want to see more of clothlab’s work up here!

  • I would Love to know more about he quit on the bed. It is beautiful..modern but still very “homey!”

  • Would like to know more about the quilt pictured! A shame nothing was mentioned about it, it is so beautiful!! I love that design! Is there a pattern? Where can I find that?

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