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Interiors

An Airy, Mid-Century Modern Vancouver Apartment

by Sabrina Smelko

Home is often a reflection of those who live in it — and for lifestyle photographer Gillian Stevens and her husband Mark, an electrical engineer, this is not only true of themselves, but of the friends and family whom they frequently entertain. When Mark and Gillian moved to Kitsilano three years ago, they knew right away that this Vancouver neighbourhood would be home for a while. Located across from Kits Beach in a friendly, family-oriented suburb, this 1930’s heritage building caught their eye and they waited months for a unit to become available. Their last space was just a block away, and whenever Gillian would pass the building on her daily runs, she would glance at it longingly. The moment a unit became available, they jumped — or, more appropriately, ran — at the chance, and this charming, 870-square-foot, 1-bedroom apartment became theirs.

It took a while (and lots of fiddling) to find the right pieces for the space, but as Gillian explains, “moving in was the final push we needed to get rid of the furniture that didn’t fit, and purchase those last couple of pieces that brought everything together.” Though not intentional, it wasn’t until the last rug and side table were positioned that Gillian realized her affinity for mid-century modern style. “It actually suited our apartment really well!” she says, but the process isn’t totally complete. As Gillian says, “We definitely [still] need a couple more storage pieces to host those few last things that don’t quite have a spot yet [as] our apartment [lacks] storage space in the main room.” But the lack of walls and nooks has its perks, too: The open-concept layout where the living and dining areas flow into each other makes dinner parties seamless and that much more enjoyable. “I am [so] thankful that others feel at home here,” Gillian says, “We have always loved the idea of our home being a safe and welcoming space for our community.”

Another benefit to the apartment’s layout is the room sizes and natural light that comes from the windows. Since Gillian works from home, the large rooms allow her to push all of the furniture against the wall as needed to make room for backdrops for various photo shoots. This triple-threat of function is one of the many things she loves most about their home, but not as much as she adores the view from their bedroom. The couple’s apartment is close to both the water and the mountains, and from her bedside as she wakes up and falls asleep, she can see both. “It’s quite beautiful!” Gillian says, “I am thankful for our view every day.” –Sabrina

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"Our living room is my favorite room in the house," Gillian says, "It's so open and bright." Because it's open to the dining room, separating the spaces was a bit of a challenge. Gillian has arranged and moved her furniture around many times. She jokes, "My husband never quite knows what he is going to come home to, and oftentimes I've rearranged everything so that our home looks completely different!" Their tripod lamp was found at an antique marketplace in Portland and the sofa is from Bryght.com.
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Their super-high ceilings help bring in a lot of light through tall windows, which also breeze in plenty of fresh ocean air. Their neutral, mid-century furniture pieces help tie the airy feel of their home together. The rug is an antique, the table is a DIY piece, and the fireplace was a Craigslist find.
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Though is isn't functioning, the fireplace helps anchor the living room and becomes a beautiful art piece and focal point of the space.
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The circular mirror was the perfect thrift store find! It helps reflect light and fill the empty space above the fireplace.
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Gillian enjoying her sofa, surrounded by pillows from CB2.
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The view from the far corner of the living room into Gillian's office nook.
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This is where you can find Gillian most of the day. She says, "I keep my workspace pretty clean all the time as it helps me focus on what I am doing. I purposefully bought a small desk so that I wouldn't be able to clutter it."
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This dresser acts as a linen closet, housing their sheets, pillow cases, towels and assorted linens.
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"I love burning candles in the fall and winter time and recently picked up this one from Woodlot called Heat," Gillian shares.
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Beside the living room is Gillian and Mark's dining area. These vintage chairs were purchased for just $6 each from a thrift store. "They have signatures and notes scratched into them (including ACDC, and J+M with a heart around it)," Gillian says, "and when I bought them there was even an old piece of gum on the bottom. I love those quirks, and thinking about who sat on them always makes me laugh."
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Gillian and Mark had this table made by a Vancouver-local antique dealer and furniture designer, Scott Landon. "It's a little narrower than an average table, so it feels perfect for apartment living," Gillian says. "We can get eight people around comfortably without having it take up too much space."
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Their apartment unit is on street-level, so the large windows not only bring in light, but Gillian and Mark enjoy waving at passersby during dinner parties.
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In their kitchen, the same tile used on the floors was used as the counter-tops. "Old buildings have such funny little details," laughs Gillian, "the cupboard at the end on the right is actually an old ice box, it even has an old ice tray in it and everything. Now it stores all our liquor!"
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One place where storage isn't lacking is in their kitchen! With built-ins that reach the ceiling, there's plenty of room for all of their dishes, and even room for displaying more decorative items.
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"We ended up buying a separate kitchen block for extra counter space. Now I feel like I can move around and prepare things pretty easily, and the flow feels good when I am cooking," which is important as Gillian spends a lot of time cooking and preparing meals for the week ahead.
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These hanging utensils are from Much & Little, a shop on Main Street in Vancouver with tons of amazing home goods.
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The open shelves were the first thing Gillian styled, even before everything else was unpacked!
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The circular cutting board is from a new favorite antique shop of Gillian's called Gild & Co. The napkin is a beautiful Fog Linen from the online shop, Mur Lifestyle.
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"Most of our dishes were gifts from our wedding, which I am so thankful for," Gillian says. "Our friends and family have great taste, and we got many wonderful gifts that we use all the time."
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In their bathroom is an old wire rack that Gillian and Mark purchased at a thrift shop for $1! It has been used in almost every room of their home for various things, but has found its home in their bathroom, for now. "It definitely looks a bit rough around the edges, but I still love it," Gillian says.
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Tons of natural light streams into their bathroom, which is a feature Gillian doesn't take for granted as their last apartment didn't have any windows. "Our friend brought that lavender all the way from Provence. It's so delicate, but I love thinking about the distance it's traveled."
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"We picked up these Turkish towels at the market in Aix-En-Provence last fall," Gillian says, "I love collecting things for our home on our travels, they help me reflect on the amazing places we've been together."
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In the bedroom, Gillian kept the decor very simple and minimal. "It helps me feel calm and relaxed before going to sleep."
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This chair, from Canadian furniture company Structube, is one of Gillian's favorite pieces. "It's so incredibly comfortable and easy to move around from room to room," she says.
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Their dresser is from an antique shop in Vancouver that is no longer open called The Blue Owl. "The owners had a family and they closed the shop, but I miss it all the time," Gillian reflects. "It was my favorite antique shop in the city. We scored this dresser for $40 at their closing sale, and I wish we got more!"
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Their Restoration Hardware bedding, which Gillian had been coveting for quite some time, was a gift from Gillian's parents.
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"I was against having the TV in the bedroom at first, but we didn't want our living room to be focused around a television either. Now I love having it in here because it feels like we're in a hotel room whenever we're watching a movie!"
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"We just have so many wonderful people in our lives, and I love that our home is a small part of their lives as well!" Gillian beams.

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Comments

  • Lovely home! I’ve been following her instagram and tumblr for a while now and was particularly excited to see she was featured on here.
    We seem to share a similar color scheme, except Gillian is lucky enough to have wishbone chairs!

  • Your home is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. May I ask the source of the rod and hardware you hung your kitchen utensils from? Thank you!

  • Beautiful space. Older homes and apartments are becoming a rarity in Vancouver. On average 3 homes, many of them architectural gems, are torn down in this city every day. A newer apartment just doesn’t compare to a space this. Happy you found a home here.

  • Beautiful place! Thank you for the link to the sofa.

    However, I had to laugh at the idea of Kitsilano being a “friendly, family-oriented suburb”. Residential, yes. Family-oriented suburb, definitely not. It’s not even a suburb!

  • Hi Gillian
    Your home is just lovely. I’d love to know Ifvthe wall paint is the same as your ceiling paint…

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