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In Shannon Heth’s East Van heritage home, every piece tells a story.
In a time of open-concept everything, local PR maven Shannon Heth is thankful for the cozy corners found throughout her family’s updated heritage house in East Vancouver. “There are all these little areas of refuge,” says the Milk Creative Communications founder, who shares this suburban-like slice of Hastings–Sunrise with her husband, artist George Vergette, and their two boys, Mauritz and Xavier.
From the second-storey balcony off their bedroom (“I have my morning coffee up here on weekends”) to the TV room they tuck into behind sliding doors, to the kitchen’s cushioned reading nook (decorated with hand-embroidered pillows procured on a recent trip to Sardinia), there’s ample opportunity for private(ish) moments within the bright and open reno. “I think when you live in a smaller space, it’s important to have those site-specific areas where you can kind of get away, even if there’s not a lot of space to be totally hidden,” she says with a smile, as the little ones are never too far away.
An eclectic art collection covers all free walls, comprising Vergette’s own work and pieces from a network of local artists (Evan Lee’s Lighted Bush hangs over the fireplace, a Peter Schuyff painting punches up the living room), but there are touches of the family’s creative pedigree everywhere. An inherited coffee table lives on, re-topped in white marble; a black metal Michael Steiner sculpture near the entryway was a childhood gift from Heth’s parents; a great horned owl represents Grandpa Vergette’s early experiments in taxidermy at age 13. “He was playing around with teaching himself taxidermy and so he stuffed the owl and put in the eyes and the whole thing and it’s been in the family ever since,” she laughs. “Boys, right? This is what I have to look forward to.”
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Nestled between a large-scale yellow and grey Peter Schuyff and a decades-old Curious George pillow (handmade by husband Vergette’s mom), Heth gets in some story time with her youngest son, Xavier.
After spending years renovating their old house, the family was delighted to move into this newly updated heritage home with lots of light, wooden beams and a modern kitchen—no assembly required.
“We have a lot of artwork,” says Vergette (seen here in his backyard studio), “so it’s just a matter of curating your house how you want it. What pieces do you want together; what groupings do you like? It’s no different than hanging a show.”
The telltale blooms of a Bocci 21 Series chandelier hang above a much-beloved Christian Woo dining table—all with Vergette’s Three Star Portrait in Gold (a new work showing in Toronto this summer) as the backdrop.