// Nat­u­ral Se­lec­tion

Van­cou­ver de­signer So­phie Burke brings a tac­tile and or­ganic new layer to her her­itage home—and to the hol­i­days.

Western Living - - CONTENTS - by BARB SLIGL // pho­to­graphs by GIL­LIAN STEVENS

Van­cou­ver de­signer So­phie Burke brings a tac­tile and or­ganic new layer to her own her­itage home—and to cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­days with her fam­ily.

The im­print of many hands is felt in So­phie Burke’s home dur­ing the hol­i­days. There’s her mark, as the in­te­rior de­signer who or­ches­trated a sim­pleyet-so­phis­ti­cated ren­o­va­tion; her chil­dren’s play­ful touch, in hand­crafted dec­o­ra­tions and Christ­mas-cookie mak­ing; and the many-lay­ered patina of the grande-dame house it­self, graced by al­most a cen­tury of char­ac­ter.

The 1927 prop­erty, long over­looked in West Van­cou­ver’s hot real-es­tate mar­ket, was once part of a shin­gle mill set on a half acre along­side the creek that car­ried logs to be pro­cessed. Many peo­ple viewed it as a tear­down, but Burke, who’s re­vamped quite a few homes through her epony­mous de­sign stu­dio, saw oth­er­wise: “We can breathe life into this house and make it come alive again.”

She and hus­band Cameron bought the 3,500-square-foot house and, rather than gut the in­sides, chose to leave as much in­tact as pos­si­ble, from the mul­lioned win­dows to the cof­fered ceil­ing in the kitchen. “We like that the house had that his­tory and we didn’t want to erase it, we just wanted to up­date it,” says Burke. So they em­braced all the nooks, cran­nies and odd­i­ties— like the var­i­ous widths and an­gles of pan­elling—and coated them in white paint to trans­form the “fish­ing lodge” vibe into a blank slate to which Burke could ap­ply her sig­na­ture style.

“I like a more Scan­di­na­vian aes­thetic,” says Burke, and its un­der­ly­ing sim­plic­ity now an­chors clean-lined pieces of mid­cen­tury-modern de­sign, like Weg­ner’s Saw­buck and Wish­bone chairs. “I think be­cause it’s a char­ac­ter house it al­ready has a lot of per­son­al­ity you’re work­ing with,” says Burke. “And then you add the more con­tem­po­rary feel, cre­ate that jux­ta­po­si­tion, that ten­sion, and it be­comes more in­ter­est­ing.”

This push-and-pull in­cludes nat­u­ral, hand­made el­e­ments—a bowl brim­ming with found ob­jects, like shells and cot­ton tufts, and her chil­dren’s sea­sonal and hol­i­day cre­ations, such as 11-year-old Tom’s star made out of twigs. Burke also lay­ers in an­tiques, like an old French butcher

Nat­u­ral Con­nec­tion De­signer So­phie Burke (pic­tured above right) brought or­ganic touches through­out the home de­sign. In the din­ing room, a grey, felted-wool art piece made by artist Fei Dis­brow hangs atop a sea- grass wall, while a grey sheep­skin is draped over a light-wood Wish­bone din­ing chair around a mar­ble-top Con­corde ta­ble by Po­liform (op­po­site and right).

block that now serves as an is­land in the kitchen, the fam­ily’s gath­er­ing place for craft- and cookie-mak­ing. The butcher block’s time­worn, much-used sur­face re­it­er­ates the wood of the orig­i­nal leaded-glass cabi­net doors. “We try to cre­ate warmth, bal­ance the crisp­ness and clean­ness of ar­chi­tec­ture with that per­sonal touch that comes from nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als,” says Burke.

It’s all a bit wabi-sabi, a cel­e­bra­tion of patina. And to bal­ance this hand-touched qual­ity and the home’s in­her­ent quirk­i­ness, Burke stuck to a min­i­mal­ist colour scheme. “I had this vi­sion of the house be­ing very neu­tral in pal­ette: black and white and grey,” she says. In­te­rior doors were painted Off Black (Far­row and Ball) as a graphic con­trast to the Cloud White (Ben­jamin Moore) walls, while tac­tile tex­tiles are many shades of grey in be­tween—from soft-grey linen drap­ery and felted-wool art to lamb­skin throws and char­coal-wool arm­chairs.

Those state­ment-mak­ing Utrecht arm­chairs (a 1935 de­sign by Dutch ar­chi­tect Ri­etveld, co-founder of the De Stijl move­ment with Mon­drian) are a ground­ing, in­spired touch in the liv­ing room. “One of my favourite de­sign­ers of all time, Ilse Craw­ford, she al­ways uses these chairs and I al­ways ad­mire them in her work,” says Burke. “I just think they’re re­ally kind of un­usual look­ing.”

Such pieces are Burke’s way of adding her own quirk. A pair of vin­tage sa­fari chairs, tracked down on the 1stdibs web­site from a seller in Am­s­ter­dam, and a Tolomeo floor lamp, which the cou­ple has had for years, also make dis­tinc­tive marks. These higher-end el­e­ments are then jux­ta­posed with a daybed from Ikea (de­signed by Ilse Craw­ford for the big-box re­tailer). It all works to­gether as a very now and di­verse mix within this stately house.

It’s also a home in which you won’t find any­thing fake dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. “I just like su­per-nat­u­ral. I hate glitzy Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions with a pas­sion,” says Burke. As with ev­ery­thing else, or­na­ments are largely home­spun. Mo­bile-like hang­ings formed out of branches are strung from light fix­tures. The fire­place man­tel is adorned with mag­no­lia leaves from her sis­ter’s back­yard, and pine cones and boughs she for­aged and cut her­self. This nat­u­ral green­ery is paired with win­ter fruit and more felted wool: or­na­ments from Ikea and gar­lands from West Elm. “Ba­si­cally, felted wool is the theme for my tree,” laughs the de­signer. Pa­per an­gels, crafted by her kids with an artist friend as part of a Christ­mas tra­di­tion, are an­other au

na­turel dec­o­ra­tion. “No bright colours” is Burke’s mantra. “I just feel like there are so many pretty things in na­ture, like berries to put on a present or dried hops or a piece of fir, lit­tle bits of green­ery with sim­ple twine or rib­bon.” It’s fit­ting that the words she uses to de­scribe the aes­thetic achieved in this home are sim­i­larly fuss-free: “A bit Scan­di­na­vian, eclec­tic, warm and nat­u­ral.” An haute hand-wrought home for the hol­i­days.

Right at Home Be­cause the house al­ready felt cot­tagey, Burke didn’t want to play that up with any­thing cutesy; she stripped down in­stead. “It’s got these quirky lit­tle things that we just went with. They add lots of char­ac­ter, but that’s why you have to sim­plify and go with a clean pal­ette.”

It’s in the Mix Burke cu­rated an eclec­tic mix of fur­ni­ture for her liv­ing room, in­clud­ing a leather sa­fari chair and a Dutch Utrecht chair (far left).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.