Interiorssneak peeks

In Vancouver, An Old-Timer With New Design

by Karla Dreyer

High school sweethearts Claire and Dave Mandell are native Vancouverites who love the food, fashion and art of their city. So when they were looking to buy a home, they wanted to be part of a funky neighborhood and settled in East Vancouver, British Columbia.

“We have young families on literally every side of us. Our neighborhood is full of cool restaurants, little shops and is really central for both of us when going to and from work,” says Claire, owner of JoyRide Nails.

There was a quick turnover between buying this 100-year-old house and moving in, but Claire was up for the challenge to have it furnished before they got the keys. “I’m a visual person, so I just used the floor plan and the photos of the house to put it all together,” Claire explains. Some of the furniture came from their apartment and most of the knick-knacks they brought along. It took about a month to get all the new furniture ordered and the design execution was underway.

The couple’s decorating goal was to create a space with neutral, larger pieces so that they could always change the look with accents like pillows, rugs, or art to make the space fun and bright. “It [isn’t Dave’s favorite thing, but] I like to change all the throw pillows up based on the season,” Claire says. They both love mid-century modern furniture and believe in setting a solid foundation of investment pieces that can be convertible, changed, and made to feel new again.

The most challenging part of the home for the couple was sorting out storage. Without a garage, and being an older home, closet space is a premium. “I had California Closets come in and we basically have built-in storage in every single place we can,” Claire shares. And like most older homes, it is a never-ending series of projects. The basement is the newest challenge they plan to tackle this year, making it into a place where the family can lounge and relax together.

“I think one of the coolest things about our house is the exposed beams on the top floor,” Claire asserts. The attic was blown out to make the ceiling higher and to add skylights, which adds so much natural light. Instead of removing the beams, most of them are still there, adding depth and lending a nod to the old structure of the house.

As you’ll see, the Mandell family’s home is a charming example of how a combination of old and new can invigorate a space’s character and soul. —Karla 

Photography by Janis Nicolay

Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is the home's front porch. Most of the houses on the street have a front porch and the neighbors hang out every summer night and chat. “My mom has always taught me to make your outdoor living spaces as livable as your indoor spaces,” Claire says. The white chair is from Livingspace, the rugs are from IKEA.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
The dining room's table and chairs are restored vintage pieces purchased from FullHouse in Vancouver. Not only is the table gorgeous, but it has two hidden leaves that pull out to host 10 for dinner, which they do often. Claire had been coveting the chandelier (shaped like a pirate ship) for a couple of years and her mom surprised her with it as a gift. The rug, which was previously Claire’s parents', is silk and has traveled around with the couple from house to house. “It’s [incredibly] beautiful, I'll always make sure to have it somewhere,” Claire shares.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
Another shot of the dining room including a contemporary butterfly print. “I loved it because it really accented the rug and because it's big and abstract. And our cat Penelope is in her usual snooze spot,” says Claire.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This credenza is from The Cross Design & Decor and holds wine glasses and other special pieces. The little oil paintings, affectionately referred to as the three musketeers, are from The Baker's Dozen. “I use the credenza as a cocktail-making station, a spot to display a pretty dessert, or just for fun things I am really digging at the moment,” Claire says.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
The little bone table has a funny pair of antique, kid-sized red cowboy boots on it. “People always ask if they were mine, but I just thought they were cute and funny so I put them on display,” chuckles Claire. The bar cart has a cool "M" neon letter that was a wedding gift from a friend, representing the family's last name.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is the transitional space between the dining room and living room which has been dubbed "The Library." These chairs were in Claire’s dad’s old office and she snagged them when he decided to buy a couch. “Every time my parents come over, my Dad totally regrets giving me these chairs,” Claire shares. They had custom closet makers build a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf (out of frame) that holds all their cookbooks, coffee table books, novels, board games, vases and some photographs.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is right inside the front door, the hallway to the kitchen. To the right is a doorway to their open-concept living room, library and dining room. The runner is from The Cross, the propeller is from Antique Market and the oil painting is from Claire’s mom’s old art gallery.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
A look into the kitchen with its clean lines and crisp, white feel. The barstools are from Livingspace.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is the powder room, which is right off the kitchen on the main floor. It's really little and used to be all white. To add personality to the space, Claire added this whimsical wallpaper and now it’s Dave’s favorite room in the house. “Every time I open the door it just makes me so happy,” Claire says.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is their son Walter's room. When designing, they wanted to create a really fun, colorful space. The rug is from IKEA, the shelves are from CB2 and the dresser is from One Kings Lane. “My mom (Pixie) and I were walking along Main Street one afternoon and saw the little rocking chair outside of an antique store” says Claire. “We had seen it before I was expecting, but now that we could actually buy it for a reason -- and not just for fun -- we did.” They had it recovered in the funky green leather and it’s definitely one of the favorite pieces in the room.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is the opposite side of Wally's room. The chair and crib are new, the other things have traveled around with the couple like the black marble table, the Dr. Seuss print, and the turquoise beaded pillow. It was really fun for the couple to be able to put together his room to include some of their most treasured things.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
The master bedroom. The bed and bedside dressers were made by Soma Furniture because the couple couldn't find a bed with storage. This bed has really large drawers that have been very useful. The lamps are from IKEA, the pink and peach rug is silk and a hand-me-down from Claire’s parents, and the sheepskins were necessary to make the room feel cozier. The bench is vintage, and the weaving on the wall was done by a friend, Britt Buntain - she owns a store in Victoria called Picot. “I love our bedroom; unlike the rest of our home it is pretty neutral in the color department,” Claire notes.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
This is the third bedroom upstairs. For now it is a home office and TV room. The rug is another amazing hand-me-down from Claire’s parents and works so well with the marble coffee table from AllModern.com. “Dave is a car/motorcycle/anything-with-a-motor fanatic, so the Ferrari poster was going up whether I liked it or not. For the record, I like the poster,” Claire admits.
Home Tour of Claire Mandell on Design*Sponge
The front of the house. This photograph was taken in January of last year, but in the summer it is full of thriving Japanese maple trees and purple flowers lining the fence. When people come over for the first time, the couple instructs their guests: "It's the baby blue house!"

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  • I miss East Van and all the character homes. This was a blast from the past (mine lol). Have a coffee at Joe’s for me you two. Lovely remodel. Great job!!

  • Gorgeous home. I love to see an older Vancouver home cherished and cared for. Too many are being demolished!

  • Wow, what a lovely, cheerful, gorgeous warm home this is. All those silk rugs – I’m in awe…. Love simply everything and was ‘wow-ing’ about the little loo-rom too. What a lovely, lovely house this is – and from the outside. It’s what we would call (in Switzerland) A home to eat up….. so perfect – and PLS let us see the custom-Built bookshelf too. And a personal question: What happened to your French bulldog? They are supposed to have their tongue out at all times, aren’t they? LOL :)

  • Loved this! I could barely stop staring at the beautiful leather chairs in “The Library.” When I managed to look elsewhere in the photo I then couldn’t get my eyes off that beautiful table lamp. Do you have a source?