A young couple rejuvenates a downtown condo with style and heart.
By Kim Collins-Lauber | February 11, 2010
Photography by Eric Duffy
Above: Young homeowners Karley and Landon Schedler balance modern home design and practicality in their 1,024 sqaure-foot downtown condo.
When someone enthusiastically tells you that his mother-in-law gave him two Eames chairs as a graduation present, it’s obvious he’s passionate about design. When he tells you he bought his wife an Eames rocker for her graduation gift, you’re now dealing with a design power couple.
For Landon Schedler, a Red Seal journeyman carpenter, and Karley Schedler, an interior designer with Inspired Home Interiors, turning a 1969 condo into a contemporary home emerged from key design choices, a little do-it-yourself handiwork and lots of gift-giving.
Their home is filled with presents from family, friends and, of course, each other.
Karley and Landon, 26 and 25 respectively, purchased the 11th floor suite in June 2008, three months before their wedding. The building, just north of Jasper Avenue on 120th Street, is a nondescript high-rise, but it gave them a view of the river valley, plus a floor plan ideal for both entertaining and privacy.
Above: An Eames rocking chair invites guests to lounge in the entrance.
The Schedlers represent a decade-long trend of young, hip, first-time homebuyers resuscitating downtown. A 2009 study by the City of Edmonton predicted the number of downtown residents between 20 and 35 would rise nine per cent by 2014.
“We knew we wanted to be in a centrally located high-rise,” says Landon. “This [condo] was exactly what we were looking for. We wanted something we could completely gut and redo.”
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Landon and Karley wanted their first home, a 1,024 square-foot condo, to have a simple white palette, yet feel warm; a space that showcases their trademarks, yet is a gathering space for family and friends.
When guests enter, the first thing they see is a statement wall dividing the living room and kitchen, covered in white-and-black-striped wallpaper. The Schedlers hung it landscape-style to have the stripes running horizontally. Turning it sideways created a lengthening effect, which is fundamental to making the most of small spaces.
“My parents always joked about testing your marriage by putting up wallpaper together,” says Landon. Karley adds, “It’s so true.”
To balance the seizing effect of the wall stripes, Karley and Landon made their own statement art for the opposite wall by stretching a vivid fabric over two 120-centimetre square wood frames.
“We wanted a large piece of art over the sofa, because otherwise it would feel unbalanced with the striping on the opposite walls,” Karley says of their bold-yet-affordable solution.
A concrete table top Landon made sits on reclaimed-wood legs from old crates. It has a concrete jungle-meets-boreal forest charm. To create a more rustic look, Landon took an open Skilsaw and shaved the edges of the legs to rough them up.
“Landon is one of the most resourceful people I know,” says Larry Kwok, who, along with Devin Hobbins, sometimes assists Landon with his design company, Oliver Apt. Kwok says Landon’s background in carpentry makes him an adept problem solver.
Case in point: Landon needed a place to store his pink 10-speed bike, which he picked up from Value Village for $10. The best solution was to hang it in the corner of the living room from a single hook. Though limited space inspired the placement, it’s become a conversation piece that not only transforms the room but echoes the pink stretched fabric, too.
Above: Landon’s 10-speed bike hangs from a corner of the living room.
A second motif, animals, runs throughout the condo. “For birthdays and anniversaries, Landon always buys me animal-themed gifts,” Karley says. A resin and marble piggy bank and a cast steel owl stand in the living room, 14-cm tall plaster sheep heads protrude from the hallway wall and a cast steel lamb figure lounges in the kitchen.
The dining room is a mix of affordable design and luxury pieces. The metal and glass-topped kitchen table works nicely with Philippe Starck Ghost chairs, a “surprise” gift for Karley when she moved in. “If Landon wants something really bad, he surprises me with it,” she says.
Utilitarian white subway tiles, concrete countertops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen are balanced by a collage of pictures of loved ones on the refrigerator. They kept it light and not showy, putting in all-white cabinets, but then there’s the piece de resistance: a dishwasher that Landon just had to have. “Yeah, we paid, like, five times more for it than a regular dishwasher, but it is an amazing dishwasher,” says Landon. The two-door Fisher & Paykel dish drawer can run two loads independently, allowing the couple to clean dishes a half-load at a time.
Above: Karley and Landon’s friend made and installed the countertops in the kitchen.
The main bathroom also has subway tiles and a concrete countertop. The couple maintained a clean theme, choosing a simple caramel cabinet and white vessel sink for both bathrooms. Because of the limited closet space in the bedroom, they installed a four-by-0.5 metre Ikea cabinet above the bed to store clothing.
On the adjacent wall there’s also a horse painting by Vancouver artist Charlotte Falk. Karley gave the horse painting to Landon for Christmas.
Above: The master bedroom is built to save space – a cabinet above the bed stores clothes.
As much as they love decor, they also love having an open and uncluttered space. The size of their condo has inspired the couple to continually pare down and edit their “stuff.” Every six months, they do a big purge.
“We use every space in this apartment,” says Karley. “We don’t have extra space to hide things. When the condo is cluttered, it’s right in our faces.”
But having a small space doesn’t mean they don’t dream about adding to their collection of design. For Karley, who, in addition to her job at Inspired Home Interiors, runs her own design company, Karley Schedler Design, having ready access to all of the latest trends and design ideas means they change their minds a lot. It’s one of the reasons Alana Gannon-Schilf, owner of Inspired Home Interiors, appreciates Karley.
“She likes to stay on top of the latest trends both locally as well as around the world,” says Gannon-Schilf.
One of the unexpected joys of moving into their new home is the community they’ve found in Oliver. “We really lucked out,” says Landon. “We didn’t pick this place for that reason, but since we’ve moved in here, we’ve established really close relationships with people in the area and more of our friends have moved in to the neighbourhood. We really, really love it.”
Landon, so in love with the neighbourhood and home, named his company after it. Now, he is creating small Oliver Apt. pieces from his home, such as wooden keyhooks, candleholders and a puzzle game named after Karley.
Above: The Schedlers hung striped wallpaper horizontally, giving the small space a lengthening effect.
Cues for a Modern Home
Some people shy away from contemporary decor because they think it looks sterile. Not always the case, says Karley Schedler and Alana Gannon-Shilf of Inspired Home Interiors, a contemporary furniture store in Queen Mary Park. Here they share ideas for creating a modern space that is warm and inviting.
>>Decorate only with beautiful, quality pieces that you love. Karley says having one or two striking decor pieces or elements is much better than having a multitude of insignificant objects. In fact, having negative space, walls or corners with no objects, can highlight and accentuate the pieces that you do have.
>>Create a textured look. Gannon-Schilf recommends balancing soft upholstered decor with natural pieces and hard finishes, such as wood or steel. Schedler says mixing elements (for example, an antique chair in a contemporary room) can create an outstanding space.
>>D.I.Y. Karley says they get the most comments about the pieces they created themselves. Adding your own unique, artistic touches can personalize a space and tell your story.
>>Light up your life. Lighting can make a huge impact on the ambience of a room. Schedler suggests incorporating a few different lighting sources within a space to create a warm atmosphere.
>>Create smaller vignettes. A stack of your favourite books or a collection of quirky animal figurines makes a statement about your taste and interests. Items like Landon’s iconic Bay blanket and homemade iPod speaker box, made of a recycled surveying equipment box, make for great conversation pieces.
Art above sofa made by Karley and Landon with Marimekko fabric from Kit Interior