We recently met with designer Michelle Law to discuss one of our favourite Glenora properties and her take on what makes for great modern family life. Her approach is at once daring, thoughtful and practical – the perfect platform for a growing clan.
Q: Every designer has a unique philosophy and approach to their work. Tell us yours.
A: I enjoy designing spaces that reflect the personalities and desires of the people who occupy them. I am always mindful of the “fine balance” that exists in the spaces we call home. My philosophy is to create an ebb and flow in each space.
Knowing when to pull back and when to move forward are all paramount in expressing the personalities of each client through the design process.
Q: Great contemporary design, while some view as minimal or simplistic, is not easily achieved. What would you highlight as key considerations in achieving the look?
A: When clients are wanting to design a contemporary home one of the sentiments I often hear is that they fear it will come off as “cold, uninviting and boring”. Contemporary design is anything but. Warmth and interest can be incorporated through textures in fabric and hard materials. Don’t be afraid to use different materials such as wool and silk, and to play around with hard material surfaces that can add a nice visual texture. For instance, forego a smooth polished tile and go for one that has a bit of distressing. Or, ddd interest to walls with plaster finishes or multidimensional tiles. I like to think of it as adding layers. If all materials have the same finish the space can come off as ‘flat’. The neutral and monochromatic palettes of contemporary design can swing both ways, lightness and openness can be achieved and, conversely, with a darker palette drama can be achieved.
Q: For many, contemporary design and a young family are two concepts that don’t mesh. What advice do you have for families looking to make ‘modern family’ happen?
A: A lot of thought was put into how the house should feel, not just look. I love walking into a space and getting a vibe. Upon entering this house I think the feeling is one of openness, calmness and family. To me everything just feels right about it. We worked to accomplish this by careful selection of materials. Nothing is matchy-matchy, but it all works very well together. From the distressed oak floors (which are great for kids and pets), to the lacquered flat surface of the cabinets (which are easily wiped from tiny little hand prints). No stone was left unturned as to how this home was going to function for the entire family. The light colour palette and open concept of the house makes it an inviting space for the owners and guests; it’s the kind of house you just don’t want to leave. Storage was also a huge component in this house and keeping cabinet materials and colours consistent lends to blending in with the overall look and feel in the house and not taking over the space visually. This house was really well thought out and planned. It’s evident from the moment you walk in the door.
Q: This home feels almost ‘ethereal’ when you walk in. How?
A: The design of this house has a very open feel with the large windows and high ceilings. I wanted to keep that vibe consistent with the material selection.
One of the tricks I like to use when working with a lighter colour palette, specifically on the walls, is to paint the walls, ceiling, casing, and baseboards the same colour.
The baseboards and casings are very simple and there is no reason to draw attention to these elements. This really lends itself to the airiness of the space and other elements such as floors, metal fireplace, open tread staircase really have a chance to shine. There is no visual disturbance and your eye is therefore drawn to the huge windows that make this space so lovely and inviting.
Q: You had some fun with the design selections that make the house feel like kiddos can be truly comfortable there.
A: Consistency with a neutral colour palette was really important in the main living spaces of the house but the homeowners really wanted to add some colour. We wanted to do something for the boys that was fun but would stand the test of time and wouldn’t become obsolete over time. In the boys bathroom, we added pops of colour with the 2″ x 12″ tile pattern and that was all that was needed in that space. The colour works really nicely with the neutral palette while not overtaking it completely. Second to that, artwork that holds a place dear to the heart of the homeowners was used as inspiration for the boys rooms. Paint colour is a great way to add fun to a child’s bedroom and changing it down the road when they are ready for something else does not come at a great expense.
Q: How about the powder room? In high contrast to the light color palette of the rest of the house, this space brings the drama.
A: I always say to my clients that this is the bathroom your guests will see, so why not make it a bit more special? It doesn’t have to be a bathroom where storage is the biggest consideration. So have fun with it! I love the dark palette of this bathroom , it’s dramatic yet simple at the same time. All the pieces in the space shine on their own, from the Blu Bathworks stone pedestal basin to the Blu dot mirror. All of the elements also work nicely together to create a special space that leaves a lasting impact.
A little bit more about Michelle Law.
Michelle is a passionate design professional with seven years in the design business, focusing on extensive residential renovations and infill projects in Central Edmonton. Michelle incorporates the wealth of knowledge she has gained over the last 7 years into every project she undertakes as an independent designer for her own firm Michelle Law Interior Design.
“Design is not an instantaneous process, it requires thought, foresight, attention to detail and the ability to determine what is appropriate for each client and their space.”