Inside the Envy-Inducing Home of a Stylist-Turned-Chef

One stylish Vancouverite designs a peaceful-meets-playful corner of the city.

One stylish Vancouverite designs a peaceful-meets-playful corner of the city.

When Kate Horsman first laid eyes on her Railtown condo, it didn’t scream “West Coast retreat” as much as “Italian prince’s seaside villa.” Instead of doors, stone-like Roman arches divided rooms, a grand fountain held court on the patio, and the walls were awash with Tuscan-yellow paint. Horsman, a stylist turned private chef and holistic nutritionist, fell in love with the princely palace anyway (the panoramic windows, 1,000-square-foot deck and Burrard Inlet view had something to do with it) and promptly turned everything white—“It was like I snowed on the house,” she says. The patriating continued with decor additions like beachy bleached driftwood rescued from Tofino, shell lighting, dream catchers and surfboards, but also a hit of ’80s nostalgia: the E.T. doll on her bookcase is just foreshadowing for the life-sized replica in her bedroom. “He’s just a symbol of hope and innocence and pure love—I think he’s adorable,” she laughs. “The ’80s were just a little bit more magic; I guess I want to hold on to that.”

For the most part, Kate Horsman’s malamute-German shepherd cross, Mary Jane, has stopped chewing books, furniture and shoes—unless she’s angry. “She gets very upset when I leave home,” laughs Horsman. “Message received.”

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Colour-wash paintings by Canadian artist Patricia Larsen hang above a piano that was a gift from Horsman’s mom. Above the custom Union Wood Co. dining table, a capiz shell pendant “makes a beautiful sound” when breezes come through the open patio doors.

A wire-frame antique bookcase turned on its belly serves as the living room coffee table—“I’ve been asked if it was a crab trap”—while hides, animal skulls and Tofino driftwood round out her beach-meets-desert aesthetic infused throughout.

An Italian-style arched bookcase houses a crammed collection of reads and knickknacks. The coolest part? Push a lever and the structure springs open to reveal secret storage for more books and what Horsman’s husband calls “the zombie apocalypse survival kit.”

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