April 18, 2024

Design firm reversed the open-plan design, creating a tranquil, calm environment

Article content

Architect and designer Darcy Hanna co-founded Vancouver-based design firm &Daughters around seven years ago with fellow architect Emma Sims.

Hanna and Sims met while studying architecture at the University of British Columbia and share a love of natural materials, quiet minimalism and hyper-focus on how materials transition in any design concept — cohesive flow being the aim.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

Postmedia sat down with Hanna to hear about a Mount Pleasant loft renovation &Daughters recently completed for a wedding photographer, his partner, and their beloved cats, as well as changes happening within the building and renovation industry.

Beloved cats belonging to loft owners. Plenty of design details to suit the cats' needs.
Beloved cats belonging to loft owners. Plenty of design details to suit the cats’ needs. Photo by Tomasz Wagner

How have things changed in the last few years?

House prices have gone a little crazy (they were also crazy before), and interest rates have gone up, so there’s been a bit of a slowdown in people building new homes, although they are still happening. Renovations have definitely taken off, says Hanna.

Prior to COVID, when people didn’t work from home as much, open-plan design was definitely popular. People wanted big open spaces, with everything connected within their homes.

During COVID, people were stuck at home and had to be in virtual meetings, and suddenly, “acoustic control” became a real issue. Open-plan suddenly didn’t seem so desirable, she says.

By enclosing the stairwell, the designers created another storage space.
By enclosing the stairwell, the designers created another storage space. Photo by Tomasz Wagner

Breaking up open space

Hanna and Sims recently renovated a loft in Mount Pleasant for a couple. The building was built in the 90s, and units were basically sold as shells that people could renovate to their own needs as “artists’ live-work spaces,” says Hanna.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

In this loft renovation, &Daughters reversed the open plan design.

When the couple purchased it, it was fairly open, and they wanted to “create enclosed spaces within the larger loft.” The design team broke the downstairs into a work studio in the front with a separate living area at the back. A bedroom and an additional ensuite bathroom are situated on the mezzanine level.

A structure within a structure

This loft is blessed with large windows, making it a lovely, light space, says Hanna. The couple decided they wanted their work area to be at the front of the loft, where you enter the building, so &Daughters clad this area in Maple plywood.

Cabin structure created within this loft renovation.
Cabin structure created within this loft renovation. Photo by Tomasz Wagner

Because it gets a little chilly in winter, they opted for an “enclosed cabin space” in this area. This little cabin, where their work desks are located, can be closed off from the rest of the room with a beautiful curtain front.

“We built a structure within the structure,” says Hanna.

Just beyond this cabin is a space for meetings with clients.

Big on transitions

Hanna says she and Sims aren’t fixated on any particular esthetic, but they favour natural materials and are fanatical about how “materials come together” as “transitions.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

For this loft project, Hanna says the couple wanted a tranquil, calm environment where they could decompress.

The Maple plywood creates a feeling of quiet minimalism, says Hanna. They also included an extra powder room and sliding door that the couple can close if they want to separate their private and work areas. &Daughters added a powder room in the work area, so there’s no reason for people to cross into the couples’ private living areas.

New kitchen in False Creek loft renovation.Photo credit:
New kitchen in Mount Pleasant loft renovation Photo by Tomasz Wagner
Newly added ensuite bathroom on the loft's mezzanine level. A darker palette was chosen to create feeling of intimacy in the otherwise light and airy home.
Newly added ensuite bathroom on the loft’s mezzanine level. A darker palette was chosen to create feeling of intimacy in the otherwise light and airy home. Photo by Tomasz Wagner

Smart storage

The loft isn’t huge, around 900 square feet, says Hanna. So, they enclosed the stairs and created a storage solution underneath.

For the cats, &Daughters created two discreet and out-of-sight locations for the kitty litter.

Nook between the living room and kitchen in a space created by enclosing the stairs.
Nook between the living room and kitchen in a space created by enclosing the stairs. Photo by Tomasz Wagner

A nice nook

Something the couple loves most about this renovation is the nook area (between the living room and kitchen) that resulted from the stairs being enclosed.

“There’s something very primal about being cosy and tucked away,” says Hanna.

Industry reflections – new builds and renovations

For many people, it can be a challenge to buy new properties in Vancouver or build new at the moment, says Hanna. Renovations have become more prevalent.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Renovating can also save people money by not having to pay for two places (the home you’re building and where you’re living while it’s being constructed) while waiting on the permitting process.

There is a big push, at the moment, for building permits to be processed faster. And judging by the last four months, this seems to be happening, says Hanna.

Vertigo pendant by Petite Friture, which hangs in the living room corner, suspended from the highest point of the loft's ceiling.
Vertigo pendant by Petite Friture, which hangs in the living room corner, suspended from the highest point of the loft’s ceiling. Photo by Tomasz Wagner

&Daugthers might have to change some of their processes as a result, says Hanna. They’re used to having about a six-month lag between submitting a building permit and getting it approved. They typically use this time to “turn their heads to the interiors,” flushing out the materials they will use — like the finishes, hardware and appliances.

“Now that permitting time is potentially fast-tracking, we may need to look at how we sequence our design process in order to make sure all these things dovetail smoothly so we’re moving as efficiently as possible, and our clients can have as short of a construction and design process as possible,” she says.

Recommended from Editorial

Article content

link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *