Desk 101

It has been a hot summer and we have been enjoying almost endless amounts of sunshine. As vacations and weekend getaways wrap up in the next few weeks, many students will be getting ready to spend more time inside… at school. Yes, I said it, it’s almost time to get ready to go back to school. Homework and studying is on the horizon, but there is still reason to get excited. Why not create a study space that is functional, stylish and fun?  It can be a quick weekend project that will get the students a little more excited to hit the books again. Before you go out and shop, here are a few things to keep in mind.


The bare bone essentials for a study space begins with a good desk, task chair and lighting. If homework isn’t done at the dining table, a desk and task chair is a must. It creates a space where they can have everything they need so they can get their work done. A study space doesn’t have to be a dedicated room either, it can be a corner!  A simple desk doesn’t have to be expensive, you can pick one up at IKEA for less than $25. If you want something a bit nicer, we like the industrial looking go-cart rolling desk from CB2. For those who would like the option to work standing up, a desk with adjustable legs is worth considering. Investing in a good task chair is crucial as it can make a huge difference in the long run for your back. The ones we have at our office are the Sayl Chairs from Herman Miller. Beautiful, yet so comfortable because of its ability to be adjusted. When looking for a good task chair, things you should consider is if you need the seat height, seat depth and arm rests to be adjustable?  Will your chair be stationary or on castors?  Did you know that at time of order, we specify if it will be used on carpet or a hard surface?  Don’t forget about a good task lamp. There are so many options available now – you are sure to find one that suits your style and budget. A few of our favorites include the clean and simple Pablo Lim C Table Lamp (is always stunning). The Artemide Demetra table lamp and West Elm Industrial table lamp offer an adjustable option. The IKEA Harte LED work lamp is quite unique and gentle on the wallet.

Stay Organized

From pens and paper to binders and textbooks, there is no shortage of stuff that end up in a study space. Having some storage is necessary to keep the clutter on your work surface manageable and organized. Depending on the size of your space, you can have a combination of wall shelves, bookcases, drawer units and storage cabinets. Desk accessories such as pen holders as well as boxes and magazine holders are also great to keep smaller items and loose paper organized on your desk. If you find that drawers are always an endless mess, trays and little boxes are super helpful. Take a browse through The Container Store or All Modern for inspiration. Cutlery trays are also a great solution!  No more digging around for your favorite pen or a paper clip!  To keep track of exams and due dates, a calendar drawn on a magnetic dry erase board is functional and can be easily maintained. For something a little fun, CB2 also has a brick wall corkboard for something more interesting than the usual Staples “special”. One accessory we love, love, love is the Kartell Uten.silo which was originally marketed for the kitchen. We love filling the various size pockets with tape, pens, rulers, envelopes, etc. Who says your study has to be boring?


What would you like to have in your study space? Share it with us using the hashtag #area3study

Blog 12 Study Space

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Cool Kids Rooms

Remember making forts out of blankets and sheets as a kid? It was your favorite escape, a world that you created and where your imagination ran wild. In the same way we need a space to call our own, so do the kids. However, not everyone is lucky enough to have a playroom so your child’s bedroom is their haven. Designing a kids’ room doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. There is a whole world of design possibilities even for small spaces. It’s the perfect excuse to try something bold, fun and whimsical that your kids are sure to love. Let your imagination run wild!


First things first, a kids’ bedroom has many changing functions. If this is the bedroom your child will be growing into, you need it to be able to transform as they get older. Determine the core functions of the room first, you will be glad you did. Will your child need a desk?  How about future play dates and sleepovers?  If your child loves to read do arts and crafts or have lots of toys, you will need to allow for plenty of shelving and storage. Make sure to mount freestanding storage such as dressers and bookcases to the wall so they don’t fall over if your child likes to climb (I was that child). If your child is still in a crib or toddlers bed, you will need to make sure there is room for a twin or larger bed in the future. Chances are, you will not want to redo their room over and over (nor have the budget to) so give this some good thought!

European Inspiration

In Canada you might find that furniture shopping for kids and teens is a bit challenging. We don’t have nearly as many options as those in Europe. I often turn to the web for inspiration. How about turning a daybed into a sofa – multi function is great for teen rooms. Have you noticed in nursery and children’s rooms they tend to stay away from cutesy themes like “Walt Disney” (no offence Mickey) and they instead turn to color and graphics. They use color blocking and bold colorful accents and keep patterns to a minimum. As your child grows it’s much easier to re-paint a feature wall then strip the Winnie the Pooh wallpaper. If you really have your heart set on a “theme” room. Why not source a print of Winnie, wall decal  or a toss cushion? These are easy to change in a year when the next new fad is all your child is talking about. Trust me you will thank us!


Send us your ideas #area3kidsroom


kids room

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3 Tips to Transform Your Entry

Everyone knows that first impressions are important. Within moments of meeting someone we leave an impression – good or bad. It is the same principle with your space, the front entry or foyer is the first place your guests experience. Although we don’t usually spend more than a few minutes in the foyer, this space is still important! It’s the perfect place to express your style and create a welcoming transition space from the public areas to your private home.

Light the Way

Yes, we love light… we can’t emphasize enough how important it is!  After all, what use is a good design if you can’t see it?  Your front entry needs to be well lit. Ever had the challenge of digging through your bag or a drawer for your keys?  You know the importance of good lighting! There are many options to light up your front entry depending on how big it is. If your foyer is large with high ceilings, definitely consider having a chandelier. It becomes not only a source of light but a focal piece that can be quite stunning. Got a smaller front entry?  A couple of wall sconces will provide plenty of lighting without taking up space. If you have the space for an entry table, a beautiful lamp will also do the trick!

Seating & Storage

Not matter how small or large your foyer is, you need seating and storage. Coming through the door, you are bound to have keys, a bag or two to put down. Wouldn’t it be nice to have somewhere to put them all down right away without creating a mess on the floor?  An entry table or a shelf is the perfect spot to put down your keys and some mail. Make room for a chair or if you have the space, a bench works double duty as a place to take off and put on your shoes with space to put down your bags and storage below. Of course, a place to store coats is important. If you don’t have an entry closet, install a few hooks or a coat rack to put your wet coats after coming in from the Vancouver rain. Gloves, umbrellas and other accessories need a home as well, so make sure to provide storage for those items as well!

Make a Statement

If you are unsure of trying something bold anywhere else in your space, the front entry is the best spot to try!  It’s not a huge space and you only spend so much time there a day so why not try something bold. If you have never had wallpaper, this is a good opportunity to find one that you love. Mirrors are always a must as they are not only functional but also makes your space feel bigger and brighter. Hang one above your entry table with wall sconces on either side for a tried-and-true pairing. Of course, accessorize your entry table with a vase of fresh flowers (or faux for easy maintenance) and other décor in your style. To add more character to your front entry, a nice rug pulls the space together. If you have a great piece of art (or a few), the foyer is a wonderful place for display. Refer back to one of our previous blogs “All You Need Is Art” for tips and inspiration. No matter what your style is, there is an opportunity to make a statement in your foyer!


What are your first impressions when you enter a foyer? Share with us a front entry that you love with the hashtag #area3foyer

Blog Post 8

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Books Are Worth More Than Their Cover

With e-books and e-readers escalating in popularity, books and libraries tend to be forgotten and are thought of as a thing of the past. Remember being a child and devouring endless amounts of books on a day-to-day basis?  Some of us have collected vast amounts of books over the years, which now sit in cardboard boxes in the garage. What a shame!  No matter what size space you have, books can add character. From a stack of coffee table books to a home library, there are plenty of ways to get inspired by books all over again. Below are some of our favorite ways to create a space inspired by books.

Stack ‘em

Coffee table looking a little bare?  We love keeping a few books stacked up on a coffee table or side table in the living room. Find a few great books with interesting covers or catchy titles (these can be great conversation starters). Pile them up and place a stack on the floor next to a floor lamp and vase to create a vignette. This adds visual interest. I truly believe every home needs art and books; these are two things that give your home a personality. Isn’t it fun to see what someone is currently reading?  Fiction, non-fiction, college text books?  What are you currently reading?  Are you more of an avid reader but don’t have a big enough of a collection to fill a bookshelf?  That’s okay!  Display your books along with some decorative accessories and family photos on a shelf, console or nightstand.


Bookshelves don’t have to be boring like the endless ones at the library. We are loving Crate & Barrel’s Leaning Wall Shelf and West Elm’s Lacquer Storage Bookshelf. Also check out IKEA for a variety of options. From tall linear bookshelves to ones that have a mix of rectangular compartments, there is no shortage of interesting bookshelves on the market to suit your style and budget. Get one without a back and use it as a room divider!  Fill it with your favorite books, some decorative pieces, framed photographs and perhaps some items you have collected over the years.

Get Inspired

Locally we have some restaurants and shops that have used books to add character to a space. Since it is still summer and patio season, go check out Tap & Barrel in Olympic Village. Before you go out to the second floor patio for a couple drinks, check out the “The Library,” the 12-seat private dining area tucked in the back. If you are downtown and in the Waterfront area, Tap & Barrel has another location which also has a library area that is worth taking a gander at. Then why not head over to Gastown?  There are many stores with great products and interiors to inspire. Worthy of a visit is LYNNsteven, a women’s clothing boutique designed by local talent Michael Green Architecture. Here you will find a unique cylindrical partition built from books that MGA bought off of Craigslist. From afar the cylindrical form at LYNNsteven looks like it is made of bricks. A unique, functional and very intriguing focal piece, the design won the 2010 IIDA Project of the Year Award. Get out and get inspired!


What’s the last book you purchased? Share with us your bookshelves and a few of your favorite reads with the hashtag #area3books


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All You Need Is Art

Do you have a space that is a little ho-hum and could use a little character? Perhaps your walls are bare because you have no idea what to put up. Or do you have the opposite dilemma with far too many photographs, paintings etc. that you are not sure what to keep up and what to take down? Fear not, finding the perfect balance between bare and busy can be found! We have gathered some of our tips and tricks to create your own art inspired space.

Group ’em

You don’t need to be an art collector to have an art inspired space. Just a couple good prints can do the trick! A large over sized painting or photograph centered on a wall creates a focal piece that is hard to miss. If you have a series of prints or photographs, line them up and space them out equally and you will have a mini gallery! Just add some lighting and your prints on a budget can look like treasures only found from art dealers. If your space is smaller and less formal, don’t even bother with hanging up your art pieces. Line them up along a shelf or even place on the floor or console and prop against the wall. You can create a vignette this way by layering your art with some sculptures, accessories and books. Voila, you have created your own masterpiece. If your art is bold and loud, keep your furniture neutral in color and pick up some of the same color in toss cushions to pull the room together.


The same way a hairstyle frames a face, a frame on a photograph, print or painting can make a huge difference. A thick fame makes a bold statement whereas a thinner gallery frame barely intrudes on the image allowing the art to speak for itself. Color is also an important aspect to consider. Black and white frames keep it nice and simple. While metals such as silver add a bit more glitz and glamour or even traditional appeal. For a more eclectic look mix and match frame thicknesses and colors (this one can be a bit tricky for a first timer, be careful as it can also look like a mess. I suggest you find an inspiration photo to follow for this look). Looking for frames on a budget? Check out IKEA, or for a more professional look try the gallery collection from Pottery Barn. If you have artwork that doesn’t fit in these pre-fab frames then head down to Opus or Michaels and custom frame your pieces.


Keep your spacing between pieces consistent. We often suggest you lay the arrangement out on the floor and make sure you like it before you put the first nail in the wall!  Once you have determined your layout now you need to find the center of your wall and start with your center image and work your way out. I suggest mounting your first image around 5’-0 above the finished floor the center of the art pieces.  If all your frames are the same size you will most likely be creating a cleaner, more modern arrangement. Such as stacking a grouping of say 4 or creating a horizontal line. In which case the bottom and top of all your frames should be aligned. If you have opted for various size frames you may decide to try hanging them at various heights. This look is harder to achieve as it really depends on the amount and sizes of your art pieces. I would suggest you have a minimum of 10-12 to start your gallery wall and be sure to pre-determine your layout.

Shopping for art

Looking for a great piece of art? On a budget? Head over to art.com or allposters.com although I warn you…you may lose hours of your life. Etsy and Society are also worth a look. If you are ready to invest in an original piece we have lots of great local talent right in our own backyard. Some of our favorites include Jill Pilon, Studio N2 and Carla Tak just to name a few. Although only once a year a fun way to source up and coming artist is by visiting their studios during the Eastside Culture Crawl.


Is there a space inspired by art that you love? Have you created your own gallery wall? Share it with us using the hashtag #area3art

art images

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Old is New

Soaring double height ceilings, brick walls, reclaimed wood, concrete floors and windows that span an entire wall to frame the amazing view. Haven’t we all dreamt of this?  You are sure to have seen images of this look everywhere lately. Just open a magazine or head on over to Pinterest… Since we all can’t live in Gastown or the Armoury District, just continue reading below for some tips on how to bring this industrial look home.

Oh Natural

Finishes are everything when it comes to an industrial inspired space. Usually the first things that come to mind are concrete floors and brick walls. Concrete floors may not be possible, but that brick wall look can be achieved with the help of some new innovations in wall coverings such as this faux brick. They look just like the real thing!  Another key ingredient to the industrial look is when the finish has been distressed or has a patina. You don’t have to look far to find a flood of concrete, or reclaimed wood furniture and accessory pieces. Check out some local favorites like Old Faithful, Crate & Barrel, Style Garage and Restoration Hardware are sure to help you achieve this look. Be careful not to overdo it!  Balance it out with some white walls or other white finishes; read our previous blog “Why I Love White” for more. Of course, we can’t forget about the metals. Take your pick from the ever popular steel, copper or coated black. Don’t go with anything too shiny though (leave the glam behind), we want some patina for that unfinished, old and worn look!

Let There Be Light

We’ve mentioned it before, and we’ll say it again – lighting sets the mood!  If you don’t have huge windows to let in lots of natural light, your choices in lighting are even more important. Those old Edison light bulbs are back in a big way and can be found absolutely everywhere!  Hang just one as a pendant over a side table or cluster of them at various heights over your dining space to create a focal point that is sure to wow. There are also some great vintage looking dining pendants and desk lamps that enhance the industrial aesthetic. Have you seen the Roll & Hill, Bluff City traditional pendant shade and wire cage pendant that provides a postmodern feel?  How about the old warehouse pendant in a porcelain enamel finish from Old Faithful?  These are only a few examples of how to let the lighting enhance your mood and style.


One of the best things about the industrial look is that worn and old furniture is perfect. No need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on pristine new pieces!  Try using a mix of metal, concrete and reclaimed wood for your key furniture pieces. Locally we have J & S Reclaimed Wood who provide ready-made and custom pieces from salvaged wood from old barns (even old pipes get a new life as legs and gables). Union Wood Co. is another popular source for the reclaimed and salvaged millwork and furniture. Just one key piece of their furniture is sure to add character to your space. Metals – ever considered a rolling stainless steel cart as your dining table?  Try the one from Design Within Reach (many of us want it for ourselves here at A3)!  Crate & Barrel offers a metal base and concrete top dining table. Restoration Hardware excels in this look, from the vintage dining stool to their concrete outdoor fire pits. No matter what your budget and timeline is, there is no shortage of industrial inspired products out there. Old is new!



What are your favourite elements of an industrial influenced space? Share a picture with us by using the hashtag #area3industrial

industrial blog photo

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Why I Love White

We’ve all heard about fifty shades of grey – how about fifty shades of white!  Actually all you really need is Pratt & Lambert Designer White 33-1… Please come back!  White is fresh, clean, pure, modern, transitional, sexy, streamlined, industrial, trendy and fashionable. Oh how I love thee!  Every room should start with a base of white. In our sometimes gloomy Vancouver days why not lighten up and embrace the best color ever?  Here are a few of our favorite things about white and how you can inject this magical color in your own space.

Clean Slate

Some people think an all-white space is too sterile and bland. In fact as a designer this is one of the hardest spaces to pull off. In any case we disagree! White makes a wonderful base for any style. Think of this as a blank canvas for your space. You can choose to play with textures, small punches of color or art to really make a statement and create various effects. Those red toss cushions really pop when everything else is white. White can come across as serene, peaceful, very organic or demand attention if it’s drama you crave. White also helps create the illusion of a larger more expansive space. Great for small areas (can you say 600 sq. ft. condo?).


If you still haven’t fallen in love with white like we have, you will soon! The wonderful thing about white is the ability to play with textures. Why not have a high gloss white kitchen with beautiful white marble countertop. It’s a show stopper I assure you!  Play with tiles. Gloss on the wall and matte on the floor in the bathroom. Living spaces can be warmed up with a soft white rug beneath your sofa piled with cushions covered in various textures. If you’re still not comfortable with white yet try a white wallpaper with a bit of texture. One of our favorites by Metro wallcovering is Vescom Tonga (you should check out our washroom). It adds character and interest without being too daring!

Gallery Inspired

We’ve all been to an art gallery or a museum. Those crisp white walls make a perfect backdrop to the artwork and sculptures. Who hasn’t dreamed of living in a gallery inspired home? Try it for yourself – do you own a piece of cherished or original art? Place it on a white wall and watch it magically come to life. A popular trend is a family wall. Try framing all your photos in white on white wall and your memories will take center stage. Add some great lighting and be sure to hang at optimal viewing height and your guests are sure to be impressed.


What do you love about white?  How do you use it?  Have you ever met a designer that doesn’t like it?  Share your thoughts or image with us by using the hashtag #area3white


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Spa Retreat at Home

The view in the distance is perfectly still. You feel nothing but serene and tranquil. The smell of lavender, candle light and a perfectly warm bath is just what you need after a long day. Do you ever close your eyes and wish you were at a spa retreat?  A trip to the spa is usually pricey and an indulgence on special occasions. I am sure anyone would love to come home to a space where they can unwind and relax. If you are considering a bathroom renovation, here are some of our suggestions to create your dream spa retreat at home.

It’s all about the Details

Believe it or not, the details can make or break a space especially a small one. In fact, even more so in a small space! You will find that by just changing up your bathroom accessories your bathroom will instantly get an update. One of our favorite lines is Kartners bathroom accessories. We are loving the sleek and minimalist look. Have you seen the small 7-9” towel bars that are replacing the dated towel rings? Special details like a floating ledge allow you to line up candles while soaking in the tub. Recessed medicine cabinets that have electric outlets inside for your toothbrush and shaver keep the mess to a minimum. How about a recessed shower niche to keep all your toiletries organized?


Look at the most relaxing spaces and spas and you will usually find a very simple, clean color palette. Cool and refreshing, mostly a play on textures to create interest. Think of purity and organic. Colors such as Sherwin Williams SW 7005 Pure White, SW 7016 Sensible Gray, SW 6197 Aloof Gray & SW 6198 Sensible Hue come to mind.

Standing in the Rain

If you’re fortunate enough and have the space, the free standing tubs and roman tub fillers are a beautiful addition to any washroom. Recently we have been requested by clients for a Japanese soaker tub – these can even include Chroma therapy and jets. Doesn’t that sound spa like? Showers don’t have to be left in the dust. How about a Hansgrohe Raindance Rainfall AIR 240 showerhead that has settings such as RainAir, Rainflow Waterfall and WhirlAir. You will never want to get dressed. It’s an incredible experience!  Retreat can become a reality.


What does your dream at home spa retreat look like? Show us by using the hashtag #Area3SpaRetreat


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Patio Retreat

Ahhh summer, the long warm days and endless sunshine that we long for all year. Spending evenings and weekends on a patio with your friends or just a good book and a delicious glass of sangria… Who doesn’t love that?!  With its official arrival in less than a week, it’s time to get your outdoor space ready for the season. Whether you have a small patio, a large deck or a backyard, you can easily spice it up. When it comes to an outdoor space, it’s all about the atmosphere. From lighting to textiles, there are many ways you can make your space warm and inviting. Dust off your patio furniture and read on for some of our suggestions!

Green Galore!

We are loving the use of greenery to create a retreat and add a pop of vibrant color. Get a planter, take a trip to your local nursery and create your own beautiful piece… or a few! If you live in the city, but can’t afford to give up any of that precious patio space to a planter, consider getting some wall planters and fill them with small plants such as succulents. We have found some from West Elm that we absolutely adore! Terrariums also look amazing on your patio table and then at the end of the season you can bring them indoors to enjoy.

Oh-so-touchable Textiles

Who said that textiles must stay indoors? There’s nothing like the feeling of a soft rug under your bare feet and fluffy toss cushions you can fall into. Use the outdoor rug to define your seating arrangement. Introduce a fun pattern if you dare? Retailers such as IKEA, Crate & Barrel and West Elm to name just a few have a wide range of selection to suit any style or budget.

All about Atmosphere

If there’s anything that can transform a space, it is definitely lighting. One of the most popular trends are string lights. Whether you like vintage bulbs or cute white lanterns, a string of lights can really set the mood. The best part is that you don’t have to spend much to get the effect! Add to the atmosphere by placing a few lanterns and hurricanes on your table – simple but oh-so-moody. If you have a larger budget and want something fun, Smart & Green offer a ball LED indoor-outdoor lamp that we recently specified in one of our projects. Play with lighting and you can transform your outdoor space to look like one straight out of a magazine!

What will you choose to create your perfect outdoor space this summer? Let us know or share a photo with us with the hashtag #area3patio.


patio pics

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The Real Deal

Late nights, missed meals and countless hours spent staring bleary eyed at a screen – sound familiar? It’s the typical life of a student, a life that I know well and will be returning to in three short months. Except I am an interior design student, and school does not just consist of going to class, studying and writing exams. A typical day for me during a semester is fourteen hours spent toiling away on projects in the studio – working on group studio projects, preparing seminar presentations, making models and AutoCAD… lots of it. If you have ever come across any posts about the life of an Architecture student, you have read about my everyday struggles. While in school – if I could sleep under my desk in the studio, I would! Except all of that changed just three weeks ago when I walked through the door at Area3 and started as a junior designer for the summer.


It all began with a phone call at midnight from my good friend Allison (she had worked for Area3 last summer) and was helping them look for another student to help with projects this summer. Little did I know that I would get a call from Lisa the next day and start working there the very next week! As exciting as it all was, I was equally as scared. From Kwantlen Polytechnic University Interior Design alumni, I have heard that working and going to school is completely different – and it is completely true! I am getting regular amounts of sleep, eating regular meals and seeing daylight (lots of it)!


Working at Area3 has opened up my eyes to a different side of interior design – the “Reality” of it. In school, we start and finish entire projects in as little as three weeks. We have fictional clients, unlimited budgets and crazy concepts that you can only get away with in school – a squirrel concept loft, anyone? Every day I am at Area3 I learn something new, from timelines to budgets, not to mention real clients – it is an exciting world that I am slowly getting to know. If you asked me three weeks ago what a James Hardie plank was, I would have stared back at you with a blank expression. The world of exteriors was something I never thought I would have to know about as an Interior Designer. Something else we do not learn much about in school – is the business of interior design. It takes a lot of coordination, communication, teamwork and of course, creativity.  It takes many people to complete a project and interior designers are the important connecting link.


It is refreshing and exciting coming in everyday working with the amazing Area3 team. I have only been here for a few weeks, but it has been an amazing experience so far. I am looking forward to the rest of the summer here and sharing my experiences with you here on their blog! Stay tuned for the coming posts.


the real deal photo

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