Inside the Envy-Inducing Home of a Stylist-Turned-Chef

One stylish Vancouverite designs a peaceful-meets-playful corner of the city.

April 24, 2017

By Julia Dilworth / Photo: Tracey Ayton

When Kate Horsman first laid eyes on her Railtown condo, it didn’t scream “West Coast retreat” as much as “Italian prince’s seaside villa.” Instead of doors, stone-like Roman arches divided rooms, a grand fountain held court on the patio, and the walls were awash with Tuscan-yellow paint. Horsman, a stylist turned private chef and holistic nutritionist, fell in love with the princely palace anyway (the panoramic windows, 1,000-square-foot deck and Burrard Inlet view had something to do with it) and promptly turned everything white—“It was like I snowed on the house,” she says. The patriating continued with decor additions like beachy bleached driftwood rescued from Tofino, shell lighting, dream catchers and surfboards, but also a hit of ’80s nostalgia: the E.T. doll on her bookcase is just foreshadowing for the life-sized replica in her bedroom. “He’s just a symbol of hope and innocence and pure love—I think he’s adorable,” she laughs. “The ’80s were just a little bit more magic; I guess I want to hold on to that.”

For the most part, Kate Horsman’s malamute-German shepherd cross, Mary Jane, has stopped chewing books, furniture and shoes—unless she’s angry. “She gets very upset when I leave home,” laughs Horsman. “Message received.”

Inside a Vancouver Designer’s Eclectic Gastown Apartment

Colour-wash paintings by Canadian artist Patricia Larsen hang above a piano that was a gift from Horsman’s mom. Above the custom Union Wood Co. dining table, a capiz shell pendant “makes a beautiful sound” when breezes come through the open patio doors.

A wire-frame antique bookcase turned on its belly serves as the living room coffee table—“I’ve been asked if it was a crab trap”—while hides, animal skulls and Tofino driftwood round out her beach-meets-desert aesthetic infused throughout.

An Italian-style arched bookcase houses a crammed collection of reads and knickknacks. The coolest part? Push a lever and the structure springs open to reveal secret storage for more books and what Horsman’s husband calls “the zombie apocalypse survival kit.”

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