Karla Dreyer is an award winning Interior Designer in Vancouver, BC. She loves to inspire creativity through her design projects, weekly YouTube show, television segments and online Design Your Dream Home Program. We love her bright, airy design aesthetic and her masterful blend of contemporary, bohemian and glam styles.
Three years ago, Karla and her family moved back to the city after spending several years in the suburbs. We know the design challenges that often come with downsizing and a large change in lifestyle, so we were thrilled to get Karla’s insight and advice.
“We were living in a home about three times the size in the suburbs but missed city life so sold most of our items and moved into this bungalow in Vancouver”, says Karla. “Decorating it brought out a lot of creativity in function and style. Little tricks like lots of mirrors make the rooms appear bigger, to a cohesive colour palette and storage options placed everywhere.”
What do you feel you have gained by the move to the city?
“We absolutely love being walking distance to shops and restaurants and living an urban lifestyle.”
How has your family handled the move to a smaller home? What are some of the things you had to give up to make this move?
“Sharing a bathroom is probably our number one ‘pet peeve.’ Other than that the transition to a much smaller space has had more positive results than negative.”
Was this a new build or an existing home?
“This is an existing home. We have not done any renovations (as our future plan is to probably add on another level) so all the changes are completely cosmetic. Painting, furnishings, lighting, accessories — these things can transform a space without a reno.”
“With a small space it makes you clear to only bring in items you truly love and work within the home. It’s the simple things such as lighting, candles, textiles, flowers that really bring joy and soul to a home. I’m always moving things around and creating new vignettes or changing up the art. These small things can give you a fresh perspective on your space.”
What have you learned by living in a small space?
“We’ve become really intentional about what is in our home. It must function well for our family and bring us joy; if not, we clear it. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist quite yet, but I think even if we do add to our home square footage one day the lessons of ‘less is more’, creative storage solutions and being more intentional with what’s in our space, I’ll bring with me.”
Karla’s blend of modern, vintage and glam styles bring character to a clean, neutral backdrop. In the dining area, a consistent use of circles and curves in the table, chairs and sideboard give the eclectic space a cohesive feel.
You have incorporated your children’s craft center into the design in a sophisticated way. What advice would you give parents for maintaining their adult space while accommodating the reality of some child-induced chaos?
“My girls have a craft area right across from the kitchen and we all spend so much time in this area. My number one decorating tip for parents with young kids is get some stylish baskets and put them everywhere! Have a basket on either side of the couch, in the dining room, in the kids room, your bedroom etc. I find kids leave a trail of their stuff everywhere and if you have a lovely looking basket (even better if it has a lid) you can easily put it away. I find kids also like to do their activities where the parents are, so creating a zone for them like we did with their craft centre allows them to have a designated space to create and be together as a family.”
You do such a nice job of blending a light, bright, contemporary background with some touches of elegance such as your bedroom chandelier. What should our readers keep in mind when blending styles?
“Thank you for that! The chandelier was a gift from my Grandmother years ago and no matter where we have moved I always find a place for it. As for mixing styles I think start with your most favourite style as the base and then you can sprinkle in others like vintage or maybe a hit of glam. You’ll find that most things you love will end up working together. And a tip I find people like is if the style is different but the colour palette is the same, it will make mixing that much easier.”
We love the children’s room! It’s so creative. What was the inspiration for its design?
“The girls’ room all started with the bunk beds. I knew I wanted the space to be white and light and airy but also fun with a feminine touch. The bird is from a local craft store, Urban Source, just down the street from us. My girls are both very creative and there is always some new piece of art or new creation coming into the space.”
Moving into a small space, there literally is nowhere to ‘escape’ and this has made us closer as family. Karla