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The AK Design principal turns a dark, dated space into an open, modern home sweet home.
Photos by Kristen Korch
The best designers don’t just have a knack for pairing colours and textures, or laying out furniture: they can look at a totally hopeless space, and see not just the awkward drywall or dated carpet, but the gem that’s buried underneath. Call it x-ray vision, or ESP, but it’s the superpower that Vancouver-based designer Annaliesse Kelly, principal of AK Design was tapping into when she bought a dark and dreary 40-year-old suite in Burnaby, B.C.
Though it was a corner unit, the compartmentalized design left the space feeling cramped and closed off, despite its 1,000 square feet. But Kelly only saw potential. She knocked out living room walls to eliminate wasted space in the hall, adding in structural beams to allow for the widest openings possible. “The goal was to open up the space and maximize the light,” she explains. Headers were removed to connect the kitchen to the living room, while two tiny bathrooms were joined to create something larger and more luxurious.
Completed in 2019, the designer’s home barely resembles its original form — dark and dreary no more. “My favourite thing about this place is the beautiful natural light,” says Kelly. “The space is a corner with clear story windows, so it gets morning and evening light with a peek-a-boo view of downtown.” Yes, the new layout maximizes both space and sun, and it does so with plenty of style. Kelly’s ample art collection displayed on the crisp, gallery-white walls, and beautifully appointed furniture in every room. The future, as Kelly envisioned it, is now — potential fully reached.
CUSTOM KITCHEN Kelly initially had goals of opening the kitchen up entirely, but being the top floor unit, she faced a bit of a hiccup trying to contend with venting from the units below. But sometimes a challenge becomes a design opportunity. “I created a feature hood fan with the marble backsplash and as an art wall for the dining room,” says Kelly. “In the end, it turned out better than if it was all open.”
SWEET DREAMS Kelly fell in love with some fabric from Kravet and knew she had to go big with it: she commissioned a custom upholstered bed frame to put the textile front and centre.
DESIGNER TOUCH In the living room, a Mobilia pendant lights things up. Here, a CF Interiors sofa is paired with a BluDot coffee table and a blue armchair from Inform Interiors.
COUNTER CULTURE The same Glacier White Corian that’s used for the kitchen counters was also employed for the bathroom backsplash and countertops.
FRAME JOB Kelly is an art lover, and her home is filled with a mix of original works and vintage collectables. In the living room, a series by Ola Volo hangs on the wall. The dining room features pieces by artist Amelia Aclock-White, as well as a larger work by Stephan Baylis.
MIX MASTER A mix of black and white dining chairs (the black from Rove Concepts; the white from Inform) are clustered around a dining table from Article. Above it all hangs a Mitzi light fixture, by Hudson Valley Lighting.