An interior for everyone

Step inside a green Vancouver home that's as friendly to the eye as it is to the planet.

After interior designer Michelle Lee Jin and owners Peter and Despina Kefalas built the Kefalas' 2,800-square-foot home, it was brand new, dazzlingly white and.... absolutely empty. The sustainable home had plenty of windows overlooking the gorgeous green space, but inside was a blank slate.

The Kefalas told Michelle they wanted a modern, inclusive space that would allow the family of four to combine their need for personal space with an overall sense of community. To achieve this overarching goal, some ground rules were created. The kitchen, family room and dining room would serve as one space with furnishings that were simple, durable and welcoming. The aisles would be wide so children could run freely without bumping into furniture. And the look would be.... well, it turns out it would require a little creativity.

Michelle's mission was to combine Despina's appreciation for Scandi design with Peter's preference for more traditional materials, such as dark wood. "It was definitely a challenge!" says Michelle, laughing, but in the end the compromise was its own reward. Her solution: bring a handsome, custom walnut millwork into an all-white interior with light-colored, straight lines, creating a soft backdrop for delicate accents and splashes of fresh color.

"We started with a pendant above the dining room table," says Michelle. "It had to be modern enough to double as art, but cheerful enough to be family-friendly." She then layered in natural materials, including textured wool rugs and throw pillows, wooden cutting boards, ceramic vases and handmade wax candles. "Everything in this house is simple and beautiful," she says. "The emphasis is on materials and silhouettes. And because clutter is easily hidden in the workings of a nut mill, there's a sense of calm, even when there's a lot going on."

In closing, Michelle tapped into Peter and Despina's desire for a Dutch modern aesthetic by bringing abstract art into the white walls of the space. And not just any art - local art. What is local, even with the artwork, reflects the couple's commitment to a sustainable home that is connected to its surroundings, which for this family deepens the sense of truly being at home.


Bubbling glass pendants and a trio of pastel abstracts with curvy patterns define the dining room space. "The horizontal lines of the modern window are accentuated by the built-in walnut sideboard and dining table," says Michelle. Houseplants, draped sheepskin and ceramics in warm tones add texture, while black chairs provide contrast.


The 3-in-1 dining-cafeteria-family room space keeps the family connected. The deck can also be accessed from here, extending the communal living space to the outdoors. "The wide-open circulation spaces were created with the active boys of homeowners in mind," says Michelle. A modern glass wall and railing ensure the light-filled room stays that way, while warm wool carpeting on the stairs and local art in earth tones provide a counterpoint.


Houseplants and design books celebrate the fresh simplicity of Swedish design.

Custom walnut cabinets serve as a backdrop for a comfortable leather armchair. A minimalist floor lamp provides light for reading. A modern nightstand is within easy reach.


The fireplace has a plaster front that mimics cement and is outlined in black stone. "Its bold lines are softened by the log-style tables, wool rug and wool pillows," says Michelle. For a whisper of formality, the sofa is velvet and one of the tabletops has a marble top. The art above the fireplace is local.


The landing area inside the front door nods to the home's Dutch Modern aesthetic. The mirror is suspended from a leather strap looped around a wooden dowel. A tiny, two-legged table is perfect for dropping keys.


Whether your destination is the dining room table or the couch in the family room, the kitchen is on the move. This family-friendly space features high-ceilinged cabinets and plenty of island drawers for storage. "The shaped pendants are like colorful bubbles in the dining room, but they're transparent so they don't compete with each other," - Michelle says. White quartz countertops are easy to care for. Open wooden shelves echo the walnut island. Black stools anchor the light aesthetic.


For visual harmony, Michelle brought natural wood tones into the white home. Above, to the left, is a legendary floor mirror that adds sparkle and warmth. Upstairs, custom walnut mimics the furniture, and Michelle's signature touches of black appear in the iconic black nickel fixtures and fittings. To the left, a black cotton runner leads to a luxurious floor-to-ceiling glass shower.


Most of the walls in the home are white, but in the master bedroom, Michelle opted for full walnut walls and warm textures, including an upholstered wool headboard in moody gray. Black architectural-style icons contrast with the room's simple, fresh white bedding. "There's a spa-like warmth in this space that sets it apart from the rest of the house," - Michelle says.

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