That’s the question Deanne and Iannick Fallu were asking themselves in 2008, when they moved into their two-storey home in Secord, Edmonton’s most westerly new subdivision.
It met the conventional standards of an attractive house. It had a pleasant appearance, inside and out. It was well-proportioned, with great bones. But it was very like the homes on either side of it – like a row of beauty pageant contestants with a similar sash and smile.
The new home’s first owner lived there only a month before his job relocated him to another town, so the place was just like new. The young couple savoured the challenge of giving the blank canvas of its builder-designed space a personality.
Deanne had a head full of ideas and was ready to put her shelf full of design books into action. With a love of fashion and an eye for style, she had sharpened her skills on small design projects for friends and family and was ready to take on the dream assignment of her own home.
But the couple, who had moved to their new home from an adult-only condo with the idea of starting a family, quickly became pregnant.
It was not an easy pregnancy, so Deanne’s doctor recommended she not take on too much. “I knew what I wanted and really wanted to do it all myself, but I couldn’t even leave home to shop,” she says. Reluctantly, the Fallus abandoned their hands-on plan and began searching for a designer to fulfill their vision.
Their disappointment at losing a DIY project soon dissolved when they found designer Rosalyn Lazaruk of Wicketblue Interiors and realized they had gained a wealth of experience and creative resourcefulness. Over the next 18 months, their collaboration with Lazaruk transformed their home from bland and predictable to colourful and adventuresome.
“When I first walked in, there was nothing on the walls; the entire home was one paint shade,” says Lazaruk. “The space didn’t reflect their personal styles at all. What we ended up with is a great example of how simple additions such as lighting, paint, wallpaper and well-chosen accessories can take a home from a basic builder package into wow-factor territory, without spending a fortune.”
The redesign began with the wide-open expanse of the main floor and immediately hit a brick wall, both figuratively and literally. The Fallus had hoped to create a loft-like feel in their dining room by adding a background wall of funky red bricks. Lazaruk consulted professionals and discovered the No. 1 idea on the couple’s wish list would involve complicated structural changes that would eat up half the renovation budget. Instead, she proposed evoking a brick-like mood by creating a strong statement wall painted in terracotta tones.
Her clients were delighted with the affordable compromise, which gave the ambiance they were after. “That one wall set the tone for the rest of our design,” says Deanne. “The rest of our paint palette – charcoal and greys accentuated by pops of colour [from the decor] – flowed from it.”
Lazaruk’s other design challenge was finding decor that would meld the couple’s different esthetics into a unified look that was still pleasing to both. “Deanne’s modern and loves everything pretty, with lots of pattern and chic colours. Iannick likes more of a rustic look,” Lazaruk says. Deanne’s tastes run to minimalistic cool, while Iannick’s tend toward comfort and the warmth of tradition. “I’m not so big on chrome and metal as Deanne,” Iannick says. “I like to see more wood and natural elements.”
Lazaruk took her cue from the couple’s travels in India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, relying heavily on Asian influences to blend old and new. Deanne got her Barcelona chairs, but beside them sits a richly grained table of exotic wood. The kitchen gleams with stainless steel, but Lazaruk added warmth and depth by painting the room’s upper reaches a stone grey. Iannick picked the unique “Zen” dining table made of heavy, textured wood and the room’s matching wood-framed mirror; Deanne complemented the set’s oriental vibe by adding a whimsical chandelier that reminds them of a lotus flower.
The armless dining chairs are an au courant style, with low backs and white leather. They don’t work for Iannick’s tall frame, but he can sit comfortably in the living room’s high-backed Van Gogh sofa, which Deanne describes as “Victorian gone modern.” In the living room, a contemporary floor lamp that pays homage to designer Herman Miller looks quite at home standing over a large shag rug in earth tones.
Whether you call it Eurozen, urban traditional or East-meets-West, it’s a working marriage of complementary styles.
The Falluses home now has so much personality that they’ve named the different rooms. The main-floor powder room is “The Victoriana Room.” If any space in the house is all Deanne, it’s this little jewel of ornate Victorian style with modern accents. She loves the drama of damask and chose to wallpaper the entire room in a graphic black-and-white pattern.
The bonus room over the garage has become “The Buddha Room.” It recreates oriental tranquility, with a mock pond with ceramic swimming sealife, rice-paper-lantern lighting, warm Asian oranges and statues, including a three-panelled wooden wall Buddha the couple shipped back from Thailand. “We use the room as a multi-purpose space,” says Deanne. “Sometimes we just relax and hang out, but it’s also our office area. We often light incense and candles to inspire us as we work. It’s our little sanctuary.”
As for Lazaruk, her favourite room is the spacious front foyer, where she added an oversized bevelled mirror, eggplant-coloured velour seating benches, a teardrop crystal chandelier and a thick, draped velvet curtain inspired by one the Fallus admired in an Ottawa restaurant. “It makes for a very unexpected entrance,” says Lazaruk. “On the outside you see a home much like others in the neighbourhood. Then you step inside to a very different environment, with touches of luxury and colour. It sets the tone for all the individuality ahead.”
The master bedroom is still waiting for its makeover; the doting new parents decorated baby Noah’s room before their own. Lazaruk anticipates the bedroom will be her biggest challenge yet, marrying the couple’s different design styles in the most personal room in the house. “But we know each other well enough now to easily work it out,” she says.
Colour Me Individual
As a former colour consultant with Benjamin Moore, Rosalyn Lazaruk is a master of matching the right combination of hues to her clients’ personalities and design ideas. The designer from Wicketblue Interiors suggests a three-step plan [using the colour wheel] to make your space your own.
1. Start with the room’s fixed elements, whether that’s the floor, a countertop, curtains or a large piece of furniture. Use that shade as the base of your colour palette. “Whatever it is, it’s staying, so that’s what you have to work from,” she says.
2. Instead of heading to a paint store to stare at an endless array of colour chips, turn to textiles for some inspiration. Find a fabric you love that complements your base colour, then have it made into cushions, a throw, an ottoman, valance or curtains.
3. Use the tones of that fabric to pull out the colours for your walls and to choose accent colours when selecting furniture and accessories.
Sofa by Van Gogh Designs from Urban Barn (13620 137 Ave., 780-475-0650, and several other locations)
Lamp by EQ3 in Calgary (eq3.com)
Rug by Shaw Flooring from The Area Rug Gallery (100, 17834 106 Ave., 780-483-1992)
Barcelona chairs by Kinetic Home from Costco (2616 91 St., 780-577-1201, and several other locations)
Mirrors by Phillip Van Leeuwen (artoffurniture.ca)
Bench upholstered by Nottingham Upholstery (5927 92 St., 780-437-0933)
Flooring from Alberta Hardwood Flooring (9303 51 Ave., 780-468-9999)
Chairs from F2 Furnishings (11511 Kingsway Ave., 780-450-0897)
Lighting from Park Lighting (10353 170 St., 780-434-9600)
Cabinetry from Superior Cabinets (11045 190 St., 780-409-3400)
Storage from IKEA (1311 102 St., 780-433-6000)
Buddha bust from HomeSense (300 Mayfield Common, 780-487-9042, and several other locations)
Coffee table and couch from Revolve Furnishings (revolvefurnishings.com)
Painting, India, by Deanne Fallu
Alto 3 sink by Mansfield (mansfieldplumbing.com)
Wallpaper from Crown Wallpaper + Fabrics (crownwallpaper.com)