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Pale and Interesting: An Artful and Economical Renovation in Vancouver, BC

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Pale and Interesting: An Artful and Economical Renovation in Vancouver, BC

November 9, 2018

Steve Sims and Chessa Osburn felt lucky when they found a house in their price range in Vancouver, BC, which has a tight real estate market that rivals New York and San Francisco, even though “it was an unremarkable post-war (1945) bungalow on a busy street with two bedrooms upstairs and a basement suite,” Chessa says. “And once we bought the house, we didn’t have much of a budget to make improvements, so we were only able to do minimal work before we moved in. We painted the interiors white and upgraded the kitchen by painting the cabinetry and even the backsplash white.”

Two years after moving in, Steve and Chessa had their second child, and it was time to enlarge the house. Fortunately, Chessa’s father, Mark Osburn of Osburn/Clark, is an architect, so he designed a new master bedroom and deck extension off the back of the house. “Instead of trying to make the addition blend into the original house, we decided to highlight the difference,” Chessa says. “So we ended up with a modern addition clad in shou sugi ban attached to a modest stucco bungalow.”

Join us for a tour:

Photography by Gillian Stevens.

mary jane bolton vancouver house exgterior
Above: Chessa and Steve used wood slats to disguise the chain link fence.
mary jane bolton vancouver hallway
Above: An extra large woven Bulawayo Gourd Basket from Zimbabwe anchors a corner of the entryway; it’s $485  from Twenty One Tonnes.

The interior is painted a uniform shade of Decorator’s White from Benjamin Moore and is “full of basketry from all over the world,” Chessa says, “which I both source and design in collaboration with artisans for my business, Twenty One Tonnes, which I run with my partner Mary Jane Bolton. Throughout the house, I’ve used furniture and collections handed down from family and beachcombed treasures from coastal adventures.”

mary jane bolton living room vancouver
Above: The pendant light is the Series 21 by Bocci, available from Y Lighting, and the Tuareg Mat is from Twenty One  Tonnes.
mary jane osburn fireplace vancouver
Above: “In the living room, we had the existing gas fireplace insert removed,” Chessa says. “We restored the original brick hearth, poured a new concrete hearth extension, and had a new surround built.” The framed piece on the mantle is by Vancouver artist Simon Montgomery and the vase is by Paolo Soleri.
mary jane bolton vancouver living room 2
Above: A portable DLM (“Don’t Leave Me”) Table designed by Thomas Bentzen for Hay serves as a side table. The Tulou Coffee Table from Hay anchors the space. Chessa hangs dried kelp as a decorative note throughout the interiors.
mary jane bolton vancouver house 13
Above: In the kitchen, Chessa and Steve removed the doors from the upper cabinets to create open shelving and replaced the knobs with leather pulls.
mary jane bolton vancouver house 7
Above: The Moroccan Glassware is from Twenty One Tonnes.
mary jane bolton vancouver kitchen pot rack
Above: A La Pavoni coffee maker sits atop a birch Forhoja Cart from Ikea. “We made the pot rack from a repurposed clothing rack I found at a clothing store that was going out of business,” Chessa says. “We flipped it, trimmed it, had feet welded on, and suspended it from the ceiling.”
mary jane bolton vancouver house 4
Above: The Thonet bentwood chairs are vintage (for something similar, check out Chairish). A Ranarp Pendant Light from Ikea hangs over the table.
mary jane bolton vancouver deck
Above: The rear exterior addition is clad in shou sugi ban; the Acapulco chair is from Innit and the Bistro Round Side Table is from Fermob.
mary jane bolton vancouver house 15
Above: “The new master bedroom includes built-in cabinets made by our friend Jeff LeMay and fir flooring sourced from Vancouver Island,” Chessa says. “The Georg Mirror is by Christine Liljenberg Halstrøm for Skagerak.”
mary jane bolton master bedroom vancouver
Above: A rustic pair of Moroccan Doum Stools serve as bedside tables; they’re available from Twenty One Tonnes. The handwoven Moroccan cotton and wool Hajar Cushions are from Lrnce.
mary jane bolton vancouver house 6
Above: A row of baskets from Twenty One Tonnes serve as decor in the bedroom. A Bollard Pendant Lamp from Menu provides illumination. 

mary jane bolton vancouver bathroom
Above: A glimpse of the bathroom; the Portuguese Bathmat is available from A Detacher in NYC.
chessa osburn girls bedroom vancouver 2
Above: Chessa and Steve’s daughter’s room has a custom bed designed by a craftsman friend. Another Ranarp Pendant Light from Ikea makes an appearance. The beanbag chair is from Fatboy.

“Just a few months after we moved into our home (and a few weeks before her first birthday), our daughter was diagnosed with a rare neurogenetic condition called Angelman Syndrome,” Chessa says. “A common feature of this syndrome is sleep disturbance, and as kids with AS are often up at night, they need a safe space so the rest of the family can sleep. Our daughter’s occupational therapist recommended an enclosed bed made for kids with special needs, but the few enclosed beds we found on the market were expensive and underwhelming. So we decided to design and build our own. A talented friend and designer–Jeff LeMay, who also made our master built-ins—was up to the challenge, and he built us a custom plywood bed that resembles a playhouse. It has become the kids’ favorite spot; when we have dinner parties, six children can often be found playing inside.”

chessa osburn girls room vancouver
Above: A Ranarp Clamp Spotlight from Ikea serves as a reading light.
chessa osburn baby room vancouver
Above: In Chessa and Steve’s son’s room, the Beni Ourain rug is from Twenty One Tonnes. (The Pigeon Light, designed by Ed Carpenter for Thorsten van Elten, is no longer available, unfortunately.)

See more Vancouver favorites:

Peasant Chic: Atelier St. George in Vancouver

Utility First: Torafuku Eatery by Scott & Scott Architects in Vancouver

A Midcentury Mountain House Artfully Updated, Whitewashed Wood Edition

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