A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2020’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on March 18, 2020:

Designer Karin Bohn purchased her Vancouver townhouse four years ago for two reasons: it had a great location and she was looking for a renovation project. “The building itself is about 30 years old and had been completely untouched,” she shares. “It still had all of the original fixtures, mint green carpets and pink laminate kitchen countertops. I lived in it for two years before I took a sledgehammer to it!”

When the renovation began, the designer knew she wanted her home to feel glamorous while still pulling inspiration from the surrounding area. “North Vancouver is known for its mountains, parks and an outdoorsy lifestyle, so having elements like wood beams, a butcher block island top, rustic white-washed floors and a cozy fireplace were super important to me,” Karin says. “I wanted my home to feel more elevated than a typical townhouse, so I incorporated details like mouldings, marble countertops, and touches of gold to make sure it was still glamorous.”

The kitchen is the first thing you see when you enter the home, so the designer wisely reconfigured it to open things up a bit. “Originally the kitchen was closed in, didn’t have an island, and had white laminate millwork with pink counters,” she recalls. “I gutted it, took out all the walls and opened it up. I transformed it into a big, full-sized kitchen, like what you’d see in a single-family home, incorporated all-black millwork and integrated all the appliances.” The choice to create a black kitchen was a bold one. “The truth is, I’ve just been sick of seeing all-white kitchens for so long, and while white is beautiful and airy, I wanted a kitchen that had more drama, so I opted for all-black. It was a bold move, but I don’t regret it at all!”

In both the dining and living areas, Karin installed wide-plank, rustic white-washed oak flooring. This keeps the space feeling light and airy, while offering a nice contrast to the darker hues. The dining room has a marble oval table that seats six, and there’s a touch of retro glam with a mid-century gold chandelier from West Elm above the table. The large oversized map on the wall has a special meaning to Karin and her husband. “My husband is a pilot, so we both travel a lot individually for work, but we also love to travel together,” she shares. “My husband sourced this map himself from a shop that carries a bunch of old maps. I took the map to TPH printing and had them rescale the image and print it on foam core. I then framed it in a custom frame and we used pins to tack all the places we’ve been, individually and together. It’s fun to see all the places we’ve traveled to, and to also see how much of the world there still is left to explore!”

The living room, which is visually connected to the dining space with big, chunky wood beams, saw a lot of changes as well. Karin explains her process: “First, I moved the fireplace from its original location on the exterior wall to the interior wall of the living room. This created an opportunity to have a huge sectional along the exterior walls. My sectional can seat up to eight people comfortably and it’s open to the rest of the room. I love this configuration so much more, because it feels spacious and inviting. The new, long linear fireplace adds a touch of coziness to the room and it’s also the main feature in the living room, which I love because it’s finished in a beautiful grey marble that complements the rest of the finishes on the main floor.”

Downstairs is also home to a powder room with tons of personality — Karin says it’s one of her favorite bathrooms she’s ever designed. There is a bold emerald green palm wallpaper from Mokum, which is complemented by an equally bold black and white mosaic tiled floor and gold accents.

Upstairs, a master bedroom and ensuite with vaulted ceilings provide a serene oasis for the couple. Karin accented the ceiling height with an over-scaled black and gold geometric chandelier, and added architectural interest by installing applied mouldings to the walls. “This adds a sense of history and tradition to the home, while the heavy grey velvet drapery is both a practical and luxurious touch,” she explains. The bathroom features a soaker tub and walk-in shower, marble mosaic floors, and a beautiful marble with a slight pink veining. “It is definitely one of my favorite rooms in the house,” Karin says.

Most designers have a love/hate relationship when it comes to designing their own homes. “Designing for myself was super fun and exhilarating, except that I was way less decisive with my own home,” she laughs. “I knew what I wanted from the start, but I would hum and haw between two different options constantly… I drove my team and my husband nuts!” Overall, the project took about a year and a half, and the designer considers it complete. “Now, when I look around, I don’t even need a single piece of art, so all of the rooms are completely done… unless I decide to have a baby, that is. Then, I’ll need to redo the second bedroom and turn it into a nursery!”