Erin Sousa is a content-creation whiz, counting Smash + Tess, The Pie Hole and Vintner’s Daughter among her clients, but she may as well do interiors as a side gig—so keen is her eye and refined her esthetic. Working with providers and brands like Coast Appliances, Aquabrass, CF Interiors, Pacific Rug Gallery, Bradford Hardware and Lower Mainland Ceramics, she set out to re-create the home of her dreams—at a time when doing so was key to her overall well-being. —Noa Nichol
Why this reno/update? Why now?
We have lived in our condo for the better part of five years—we bought it two years ago after renting it from our friends for three years! We love the layout, location and space so it was time to really invest in updating the look of our space. We have been putting things on hold for the last three years with fertility treatments—always waiting for things to work out. When our round of IVF wasn’t successful due to miscarriage in early 2019, we decided to put our time and energy into creating a space we loved! This isn’t our forever home so we wanted to do the reno on a more modest budget, but also didn’t want to compromise too much on the look of anything or the feel/quality.
What rooms did this reno focus on?
We focused mostly on the kitchen for a full-out reno—we kept the same layout but ripped everything out. We also refreshed our living room with a new couch, rug and coffee table, which means that the entire living area got a pretty big facelift.
What absolutely needed to change, and why?
Our kitchen was totally '90s—the white fridge didn’t match the rest of the stainless-steel appliances, the cupboards were in bad shape and the old stainless-steel sink and faucet were ready to go. Our couch was an Ikea special and we were ready to upgrade to something we could enjoy for years to come.
What did you simply wish to change, and why?
We would have loved to change the '90s block-glass window … it is original to the building and due to strata bylaws, we couldn’t get rid of it. We played with the idea of covering it with a faux window or even shelves, but chose to live with it and “make it work,” as they say! It turns out that I dislike it a lot less now and the roman blind helps kind of camouflage part of it and warm it up a little bit. Also, this style is actually coming back, so we may catch it on the upswing!
What was your "vision" for the reno?
We are real homebodies. Our couch is like an island for us and we can spend hours relaxing there. Since I love spending a lot of time at home and also work from home, I wanted a simple and clean esthetic. We really love a fresh, white and bright space. It’s important for my space to feel very open and clutter free. We had envisioned a really fresh palette of whites, creams and golds. A West Coast feel, but also a design that felt really comfy and never too precious.
Who did you work with to execute said vision?
I consulted with Karla Dryer Design at the beginning of our reno. She confirmed some of my style ideas and introduced me to our contractor. I worked with the contractor who provided the cabinets, counters, backsplash, etc., and I was very hands-on and managing the entire process. There are so many moving parts, even with something small like a kitchen reno. It can be difficult to see how the elements will work together, and I handpicked all of the finishes like the cabinets, custom corner shelves, tiles, quartz counters, knobs/handles, sink, faucet—the list goes on!
What non-negotiables did you have for this project?
We wanted the entire kitchen white-on-white and I was pretty set on a show-stopper gold faucet.
Did you discover any surprises while the work was being done?
Thank goodness, we didn’t!
Any major frustrations/headaches?
Well, things always take longer than we think. My contractor told me we could accomplish the reno in two weeks, and I held him to that as closely as possible, finishing in three. The quartz counter arrived mis-cut and had to be completely redone, the dishwasher handle made it so the corner cabinet couldn’t open (this meant we had to rip out our new dishwasher and get a new one; expensive mistake), I chose the wrong finish for the cabinet pulls because I bought them online and, when I received them, the colour was all wrong. I went into Bradford Hardware and found something perfect … these things are bound to happen and I learned a lot!
How long did it take, start to finish?
Technically, three weeks but there were little odds and ends that took a few months to wrap up—it’s impossible to choose certain styling finishes like the roman blind, shelf accessories, rug, etc., until you’ve lived in the space and can find the right items.
It's all in the details! Please talk appliances, hardware, furnishings ... everything!
I love that our canvas is super simple and pretty classic with the whites, and our finishes could really shine. The bright brushed-gold faucet and our cabinet hardware are some of my fave items. I also love the large under mount sink! I love that our stove looks like a gas range, and the open corner shelving adds a real custom and decorative touch. Our couch really brings our space together … it’s so cushy and cosy looking, plus the colour is perfect. We reflected this colour in the roman shade as well. The new area rug is the perfect size for the space whereas our old one was much too small. This makes the space actually appear larger!
The end result: how do you feel about it?
Oh my goodness, I am so happy with the result! It’s a breath of fresh air to come home to—because we have such an open-concept condo you see the kitchen and living room from almost every angle so it makes a big difference. It’s really lifted our mood through this rough year of fertility struggles and gives as a renewed sense of home. Cooking in a new kitchen really could top the list of my fave thing ever!
Dramatic, perhaps, but has this/how has this upgrade changed your life?
Well, it makes for better Instagram photos! I shoot client content in my home, and the kitchen makes for a great photo studio. It just makes me feel like a real adult now! I love cooking in the kitchen, and our new fridge is a dream because it makes water and ice—small detail but it’s a first in our life! The new couch really is a dream to nap on … the corner chaise is my fave Saturday afternoon nap spot.
I love the faucet—it’s in the middle of the space and is a real show piece on the pretty simple canvas.
Top reno tips?
Be as hands on as you can! Contractors can be difficult to keep on point so ensuring that timelines were followed came down to me managing the process and the communication. Shop around for pricing and get quotes and referrals for your service providers. Same goes for any materials—the difference in pricing can be huge so do some research whenever possible. Be aware that mistakes and delays are part of the process and to just go with the flow when they happen. Make sure your contractors know which appliances you are going to use to that cupboards and corners fit properly.
Finally, anyone you want to give a reno shout out to?!
Yes! We were lucky to have this reno sponsored by Coast Appliances, Aquabrass (faucet), CF Interiors (couch, coffee table, kitchen light), Pacific Rug Gallery (living-room carpet), Bradford Hardware (pulls) and Lower Mainland Ceramics (the subway tile for our backsplash). We also found great products at Kohler (sink), Wayfair (kitchen rug) and, believe it or not, Etsy (the faux roman shade)!