Interiors

A Stylist’s Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver

by Annie Werbler

By Vancouver, Canada standards, the 1911 converted hotel building where Kendra Murphy lives is a rare antique. She enjoys thinking about the similarities and differences between the lives lived in the rental apartment before she and partner Will took up residence a year and a half ago, and their own. For one thing, Kendra runs her styling studio, online shop, and blog Kit + Forage out of the flat, with enough room for an inventory of vintage homewares and the textiles she designs in the 625-square-foot space. Also dissimilarly from previous tenants, Kendra found the West End neighborhood spot through Instagram, after seeing pretty glimpses of a friend’s place in the building and reaching out to the property manager. She didn’t even step foot in her own unit until move-in day, but was relieved to find that settling in amongst its classic features with modern updates was ultimately worth the risk. The older building, as one might expect, retains some interesting features. Both the bedroom and living room have roll-away beds that recede into the walls. Visitors often discover unique quirks for themselves as they come through.

For their part, some of the furniture pieces the couple arrived with came from Will’s family, and others Kendra built with her dad. The personal touches that have accumulated over time — like the decorative dishes and artwork, or the plants still thriving in the bright sunlight — feel like physical memories scattered around their environment. Unable to keep any secrets in the small space, Kendra and Will can’t hold onto things they don’t want to look at every day. Each corner of the apartment gets used, and often serves multiple purposes. Because Kendra runs her business from home, it needs to be functional for work and supporting all facets of her and Will’s lives; someplace in which they would be equally as happy working or relaxing. To Kendra, it’s the perfect hideaway perched above all the excitement of downtown. —Annie

Photography by Gillian Stevens

A Stylist's Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver, on Design*Sponge
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In Kendra and Will's Vancouver apartment, a revamped IKEA sofa recovered in a grey fabric and fitted with stained mid-century style tapered legs allows it to work well in the space.
A Stylist's Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver, on Design*Sponge
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Kendra adores the built-in features of her cozy historic home. "I grow to love it a little more every day that I'm here," she says.
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In the living room corner, a revolving collection of vintage dishes is always on display. A patterned throw pillow from the first textile collection by Kendra adds some graphic detail.
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Kendra's parents found the striking rug at an antique auction on Vancouver Island. "I love how the intricate pattern creates a focal point in the room, and grounds the whole area," she notes. Her dad helped her to build the coffee table, too.
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A hardy fiddle leaf fig tree thrives in the bright natural light.
A Stylist's Vintage Hotel Home in Vancouver, on Design*Sponge
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The small kitchen works well for the couple's cooking needs, and they love the classic tile combination.
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Kendra and Will installed geometric brackets for a new shelf, and stained the wood the same shade as their sofa legs. The window above the shelf looks through to the shower - a quirky feature of an older building.
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With a lot of awkward space behind the sink, Kendra and Will currently fill it with decorative objects, but hope to devise a more functional scheme for the valuable counter space.
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Renovated recently (but before their time in the apartment), the couple enjoy the modern conveniences mixed with quirky original features.
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"What I love most about my home is all of the quirky character in this 100 year old building, and spending slow mornings enjoying a cup of tea." - Kendra Murphy
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Layered shower curtains (à la Emily Henderson) in the bathroom work well to wrap all the way around the original clawfoot tub.
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Kendra and her dad also built the little bathroom table, decorated with a blue vase from a vintage shop on Vancouver Island, where she and Will both grew up.
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Open sliding doors between the bedroom and living room make the small space feel bigger and brighter. "But it's nice to be able to shut them when we have company," Kendra shares, "Or we just need a place to hide a busy week's mess."
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Kendra and her dad also built the bedroom clothing rack for some extra storage. "It tends to become a rotating display of whatever items we're favoring in our closets," she adds. Will made the bunting for her years ago.
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Two corner walls of windows in the bedroom make the design a bit tricky. "Between the built-in on the one wall, the two windows, and the sliding doors, there isn't a full wall in the bedroom," Kendra explains. "Because of all the action on the walls, I've found it tough to not let this space look cluttered." No rug, simple bedding, and clean walls allow the room to maintain a feeling of openness.
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Stacks of books and magazines in progress on Kendra's nightstand. A West Elm carpet sample adds some sparkle to her side of the bed.
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Kendra had an awkward taxi ride home with this large plant, but having green life in the bedroom makes her glad she undertook the effort.
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Working in and around built-ins, the bedroom wall serves as Kendra's small yet efficient workspace.
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A tailored vintage dresser from Will's bedroom in his parents' house. "It was hidden under high school year books when I realized how amazing it was," Kendra reveals.
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"I bought this lamp at one of those thrift stores where you really have to work for it." Kendra jokes. The nesting dolls were a present for her mom, "But one by one, they became presents from her, back to me."
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The cozy layout of Kendra and Will's hundred-year-old apartment with modern updates.

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Comments

  • What a pretty, bright space! I’m envious of the light! Could I ask whether the kitchen countertop is stone, composite, or patterned formica? (Or something else?)

  • Lovely space — we have the same IKEA couch with the custom mid century legs, the same brass lamp, and the same dish brush. ;-). And I see several other touches I may steal from you. Really beautiful home.

  • Kudos to you! That has to be the tiniest kitchen I’ve ever seen and it sounds as though it functions quite well for you.

  • Absolutely love this space! Spent many mornings + tea dates with Kendra in this beautiful space. She has such a great eye for making places unique and cosy!

  • Beautiful ! Love the combination of your style and the apartments finishes and details. The tile in both the bathroom and kitchen are awesome—-so rare for rentals. Enjoyed seeing your bright, eclectic lovely home.

  • I love the style and light in this apartment. Every time I go to Vancouver Island I try to pop into a thrift or vintage store because you can find some real treasures. Luckily, I live not to far away in Washington, so it’s not that hard or monetarily prohibitive to bring something back in my trunk! Just make sure to have your receipt ready for customs!

  • Your home is so beautiful! I love how you manage to have so many interesting decorations and maintaining a visually uncluttered space. Can I ask where you got the geometric brackets in your kitchen?

  • Where did you find the bed frame? I like that it’s a simple design and that it’s not too high off the floor.

  • I really admire the renovations done to the Greenwood House. The modern aspects added to the 1973 home give off a certain charm that speaks to me of comfort and quiet elegance. It’s also amazing how they were able to infuse glass elements and skylights to the home to bring in more natural light and give the illusion of being outdoors. Every aspect of the renovation has brought on an airy feeling to the entire abode.

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