Inside a Gritty-But-Feminine Chinatown Condo

Western Living magazine gives us an all-access tour of homes in Vancouver neighbourhoods—the third installment in a five-part collaborative series.

August 11, 2015

By Western Living / Photo: Tracey Ayton

We’re peeking into the homes of Vancouverites all over the city, with a little help from our friends over at Western Living. In the third of our five-part series, a look inside a hip and homey bachelorette pad in Vancouver’s Chinatown, along with design tips so you can get the look.

The designers of this Chinatown space—Jamie Hamilton and Greer Nelson of Oliver Simon Design —describe it as “an industrial, rustic, woodsy cabin with a hint of femininity.” Though that may sound incongruous, in practice the space is tightly focused and well curated, a celebration of exposed and weathered textures in soft browns and greys with lush fabrics and fresh-cut flowers thrown in for good measure. “The homeowner is a very strong woman with a striking and classic style,” says Nelson. “We wanted to nod to that girly side of her while still embracing those rustic elements.”

5 Design Tips from a Pretty-But-Gritty Chinatown Condo



1. You can never go wrong with a feature wall. This Cole and Son birch-print wallpaper plays off the silver tones in the rest of the space, and adds a layer of pattern while staying within the neutral colour palette.


2. Custom art doesn’t have to be expensive. Here, reclaimed corrugated tin, found in a Ladner shipyard, became a piece of art; Hamilton and Nelson blew up a vintage photo of a race-car driver, printed it on bamboo paper, and plastered it onto the tin. “It was an inexpensive way to do a custom piece,” says Hamilton.


3. Soften hard surfaces with cozy textures. “We just had to add some texture to the hard finishes,” Nelson explains; a knotted wool rug and upholstered armchairs soften the main living area.


4. Look to unusual materials to create a unique headboard. You could go with wood, or an upholstered board, or you could branch out to more industrial materials, like the designers did here, using another slab of salvaged tin behind the head of the bed.


5. Choose furniture that works in small spaces. The homeowner, a talented cook with a social streak, is always entertaining, so it was important to design a flexible dining space to accommodate hungry guests. A long wooden bench seats six, but tucks easily under the custom Union Wood Co. table when not in use

For more pictures and design tips from this Chinatown condo home, check out the full story at

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