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A GASTOWN APARTMENT GETS A MODERN MAKEOVER WITH NODS TO ITS HERITAGE ROOTS

Interior designer Peter Wilds saved many of the original architectural details in this 1910 property, using them as the aesthetic jumping-off point for the décor throughout the home.



When a successful tech professional decided to move home to British Columbia—after ten years of living and working in San Francisco—he rented a furnished apartment in Vancouver designed by local interior designer Peter Wilds. The space boasted original beams, brick walls, and concrete floors that retained the historical charm of the heritage building's origin.


“I received an email out of the blue where [the client] stated that he was living in a space I had designed,” Wilds recalls. “He [said he] had bought an apartment in another heritage building with all the same elements and appeal. And considering he was already experiencing the details of my work, he thought I would be the perfect person [to design] the home he purchased. How could I refuse?!”



A black kitchen island in a room with concrete floors, brick walls, and dark gray cabinetry.

Interior designer Peter Wilds designed this loft-style apartment for a former San Francisco tech worker who moved back to Vancouver to be closer to family. The kitchen, like much of the home, has original brick walls and concrete floors. For the custom island top, Wilds looked at a variety of wood species and stain colors before settling on stained white oak.



The loft-style apartment is on the third floor of a four-story brick-and-concrete building in the city’s historic Gastown neighborhood. Built in 1910 as the Vancouver depot of a British glass manufacturing firm, the property was converted into residential space in the 1990s. Drawn in by its history, the client wanted Wilds to retain the space's industrial feel while creating a warm and welcoming home.


According to Wilds, the apartment had undergone a series of renovations over the years, resulting in installations of dark, red-toned wood paneling and millwork, and a gloss-red kitchen with stainless-steel counters.



A closeup of a bed with blue linens against a red brick wall in a bedroom.

The primary bedroom features a custom headboard and bedframe by Peter Wilds. The bench is by The Cross Decor & Design, the bedside tables are Bensen, and the lamps are Wo84 by Wastberg. The area rugs throughout the bedroom and bathroom are by Salari Fine Carpets. Artwork by Brian Hartley hangs above the bed.



“I wanted to bring the focus and appeal back to the building's inherent and historical appeal,” Wilds says. “The original brick, timber-clad ceiling, exposed electrical and plumbing mechanical elements, along with the patina-rich concrete floors, were the jumping-off point. A lot needed to be stripped back to highlight these features, and they would become the building blocks for the design.”


The renovation, led by Matt Glavind of Leftcoast Homes, resulted in an open-plan space that includes the living and dining rooms and the kitchen. A long hallway leads from the public area to a semi-private space with a guest bedroom and ensuite bath. Further along the hall are the principal bedroom and generous ensuite bath. Wilds’ starting point for the interior palette was the apartment’s brickwork and timber ceiling. “Nothing could compete or clash with these elements,” he says. “I wanted to nod to the past with color and details. The brick has markings of charcoal and black throughout.”



A black-and-white credenza holding two coffee makers is in a nook wallpapered with  green, leaf-patterned wallpaper.

The kitchen's coffee bar features the leafy patterns of Osborne & Little’s Green Wall wallpaper. A Vestaboard above the credenza (controlled through a smartphone app) displays a cheeky morning message.



Working from these elements, he chose dark gray and black paint for the kitchen cabinetry, with a custom-stained white oak for the island’s top (crafted by Christian Anton of Lafor Wood Products). The combination is masculine and contemporary, with a Roll & Hill Endless pendant bringing warmth and an added layer of industrialism to the room. Another industrial touch is the custom metal hood over the stove. According to Wilds, achieving the patina for that piece was a painstaking process that required numerous samples. Across from the kitchen, a coffee bar tucks into a rectangular nook; Wilds papered the nook and the surrounding wall with Osborne & Little’s Green Wall pattern in the Emerald scheme. The leafy motif brings a sense of luxury while adding a visual surprise to the otherwise minimal and pattern-lite space.



A room with brick walls and concrete floors and a dining table surrounded by gray chairs.

The dining area has a show-stopping custom table made by Union Wood Co., chairs from MDF Italia, and two pedants by Allied Maker. The mirrors are from CB2 and the vessels on the table are by Janaki Larsen.



The adjacent living and dining rooms have a lounge feel, combining leather, wood, metal, and heavy shapes for a grounded look. The dining area is anchored by a custom table designed and made by local studio Union Wood Co. The surrounding chairs are from MDF Italia, and their geometric patterns complement the striated wood that forms the table’s base. In the living room, one piece of furniture was a must.



A livening room in an industrial loft with a large leather couch, a green ottoman and yellow chair.

The large tufted leather couch is a piece from the client. Wilds got creative and mixed it with eclectic pieces including a custom green velvet ottoman, a yellow Utrecht chair by Cassina, and the Arne Jacobson Egg chair and ottoman from Fritz Hansen. White stool resembling abstract chess pieces are by The Cross Decor & Design. All the exposed electrical and plumbing lines in the apartment were painted black, allowing them to remain a feature, but in a subdued way.



“My client came to the process with one critical piece that he wanted me to build upon,” Wilds says. “And that was his sofa. I love this classic diamond tufted style and knew it would be a wonderful starting point with its lived-in and relaxed vibe.” In addition to the classic leather piece, seating includes a sunny yellow Utrecht chair by Cassina and the Arne Jacobson Egg chair and ottoman from Fritz Hansen. Central to the seating scheme is a green tufted ottoman custom-design by Wilds, and underfoot, a vintage Persian carpet from Finlay and Kath infuses faded jewel tones into the mix. “I pulled from this palette to bring pops of unexpected color into various parts of the open concept room,” Wilds notes. “The vibrancy of the custom ottoman and Utrecht chair, the lush garden wallpaper in the kitchen—all hold their own in relation to the space at large.”



The bedroom and shower area of an industrial loft space.

Wilds reconfigured the principal bathroom, swapping the tub and the shower, allowing for more separation between the bedroom and the bathroom. Millwork was done by Millwerks, and all faucets and shower controls are Kohler.



Moving into the private spaces, Wilds went with a more subdued palette: grays and blues in the principal bedroom, black and white in the ensuite bathroom, which according to Wilds, “required an incredible amount of attention.” The existing drain locations in the floor—which could not be moved—dictated the space planning. Wilds swapped the tub and the shower, which allowed him to create separation between the bedroom and the bathroom. (The previous configuration lacked any sense of privacy). “While I didn't want to close the room off or block what little natural light came in, I did want to create more designated space between the bedroom and bathroom, while still having a sense of cohesion,” he says. “That’s where my idea for the glass walls originated. The layering of the full-height curtains on the bedroom side brings softness and warmth while offering privacy to the shower and bathroom at large.”




Images by Janis Nicolay

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