Home renovation: From 80s capsule to modern icon

Among their impressive collection: an Eames moulded plywood chair, a Le Corbusier cowhide chaise longue and Breuer steel dining chairs

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Classics never go out of style. Which is why a Vancouver family’s classic-modern furniture pieces were perfect seeds of inspiration for a reno of their West Side home.

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Among their impressive collection: an Eames moulded plywood chair, a Le Corbusier cowhide chaise longue and Breuer steel dining chairs.

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“These pieces have been around for many, many years, and they’re still really iconic,” says Shora Parvaresh, principal of Noble Architecture, who designed the 2019 renovation of the three-bedroom structure. The owners, a couple, had bought the items years before their two kids and dog arrived on the scene. Yet the pieces were holding up beautifully — a testament to their quality and durability.

But these high-design treasures were also getting lost in a dated and cluttered-feeling decor. A dramatic redesign was in order: “There was a sense of urgency to create something timeless to hold these classics,” says Parveresh.

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Noble Architecture principal Shora Parvaresh helped a family of four create a multifunctional and flowing space on their home's main floor. Opening walls between a series of small, closed-in spaces created a bright and flexible great room. Matching millwork runs the length of the floor, transitioning in use depending on the space.
Noble Architecture principal Shora Parvaresh helped a family of four create a multifunctional and flowing space on their home’s main floor. Opening walls between a series of small, closed-in spaces created a bright and flexible great room. Matching millwork runs the length of the floor, transitioning in use depending on the space. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNG

Referred by the project’s contractor, Hayden Bavin of HB Builders, Parveresh quickly grasped what the clients were looking for. “They showed me some photos, and I knew right away what their esthetic was,” she says. Spare, modern, bold; just like their furniture.

With so much change in the air, why not knock down and rebuild? Renovating was the environmentally conscious choice compared to demolishing, says Parvaresh. And the owners liked the home’s basic form and location. The floor plan, not so much.

Built in 1989, the home had been partitioned into small room after small room. Dark paint and wall-to-wall carpeting added to the closed-off feel, especially on the main floor. “By its nature, the middle room of the main floor didn’t get any window light from the north or south, so it was pretty dark,” recalls Parvaresh. “They really wanted to open it up, to create a flow between the living and family room, kitchen and dining room.”

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Opening the main floor gave the family flexibility to use their new spaces multi-functionally as well — for instance, to fold out an extra-long dining table (beyond the bounds of the old dining area) when entertaining. Knowing the table would move around and expand, Parvaresh sourced an asymmetrical light fixture to hang overhead — from Australian design house Volker Haug Studio — that complements the table in any configuration.

To tie the spaces together visually, Parvaresh designed matching millwork that runs the length of the main floor. “We decided to go with this wall of millwork that basically had the same language or look from the kitchen all the way into the front living room,” she says. In the kitchen, it takes the form of traditional cabinets, then transitions to a drink station and bar opposite the dining area — then multimedia storage in the living spaces.

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At the back of the home, new sliding-glass doors flood a small sitting area with light — one of Parvaresh’s favourite spots in the renovated home. “You can just sit right beside those doors that open into the backyard,” she says. “It’s just a nice quiet moment where one can drink morning coffee.”

A stuffy stairwell was brightened up and streamlined with oak flooring and painted periwinkle.
A stuffy stairwell was brightened up and streamlined with oak flooring and painted periwinkle. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNG

To bounce natural light from the northeast and south, Parvaresh incorporated reflective surfaces. A glossy black marble fireplace surround reflects window light and trees, for instance, while a matching marble-slab backsplash in the kitchen reflects light streaming in from the back windows.

“The south light that comes back from the backyard reflects in the tile, and it travels all the way to the centre of this big room now,” she says. “So we achieved a bunch of things, like harmonizing all of these rooms together, opening it up and bringing light inside.”

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Mimicking tubular forms from the clients’ furniture pieces, Parvaresh sourced cylindrical light fixtures to illuminate a long-line kitchen island, along with a set of dual cylindrical Faber range hoods.

To streamline and brighten a stuffy stairwell, she replaced turned-wood rails and dingy carpet with drywall and oak flooring — and a wall painted periwinkle. “The blue was actually my client’s idea.She really wanted something that pops but is not too in-your-face,” says Parvaresh.

This sitting area at the back of the home centres around the family's Eames moulded plywood chair; a perfect spot to sip coffee, bathed in natural light from new sliding-glass doors to the backyard.
This sitting area at the back of the home centres around the family’s Eames moulded plywood chair; a perfect spot to sip coffee, bathed in natural light from new sliding-glass doors to the backyard. Photo by Janis Nicolay /PNG

Bathrooms on both floors got a brightening overhaul. The ensuite, upstairs, was expanded to absorb some much-needed real estate from an oversize primary bedroom. This made space for a floating oak vanity with double sinks, plus a soaker tub and roomy shower.

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The project wrapped up in 2019, before the pandemic lockdowns, so Parvaresh didn’t get to see her work in person again for a few years. But when she checked back in with the homeowners recently, they were still happy — and everything looked as “spotless and beautiful” as the day it was installed, she says. Much like the furniture pieces that inspired the design, the project was standing the test of time. More proof it’s wise to invest in quality.

Design: Noble Architecture

Construction: HB Builders

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