This Japandi-Inspired Loft Is Nestled in a Historical Church

I’m excited to announce that Curated Tastes & Hyppiä Homes are partnering to deliver a series of home tours this fall with emerging artists, collectors & creatives to celebrate local art and unique spaces. Curated Tastes offers us a way to develop our own artistic palette by providing approachable art events, classes and tours. RSVP to their next event here!

Now, onto the first featured home.

“A friend of mine lives in a restored church building,” Miret Rodriguez, Founder of Curated Tastes, said as floated ideas about who to launch this new apartment tour series. “And she’s an emerging art collector. I’m sure her apartment would blow you away.”

And just like that, I dropped the phone and started running around the block with excitement.

At least, that’s what was happening in my head as I replied, “Okay, I’m going to need to meet this friend of yours.”

Miret first met Claudia, said emerging art collector, at one of the Curated Tastes tours. They instantly hit it off over a shared obsession for supporting and hyping up local art.

Heading into this tour, I knew I should expect something pretty special. After all, Claudia lives in a historical church. You don’t hear that sentence everyday in Vancouver, let alone anywhere.

As soon as she opened the doors to her home, I felt like Claudia was some celebrity welcoming me into her Architectural Digest home tour. The ceilings! The windows! The brick walls! The light! My brain was pinging around like a video game from the ‘90s but I somehow managed to ask, “So, how did you find this place?”

And that’s where we’ll start.

P.S. Feel free to turn on the track that’s playing in Claudia’s home lately as you read through.

Claudia: I was studying in Europe for a couple of years and only just got home in January 2020. Yes, right before the pandemic hit us in March. I knew I was going to stay with my parents for at least a little bit when I returned, and then I’d look for an apartment and a job and all that fun stuff… but the pandemic blew up that plan.

My parents were actually looking in Vancouver for a new place around August of last year. At that point, I knew I needed to move into an apartment, a place of my own. My parents and I looked at six or seven places in one day, and nothing clicked. But as soon as we went through the door of this place, that was it. We left the building and didn’t even need to have a conversation.

Miranda: There would be zero conversation for me either. What has it been like designing such a wide-open space? Glorious?

Because my parents were moving at the same time, they gave me so much furniture. I have a dresser that’s from my childhood. And I was given this dining table, chairs, a lamp… everything you see is basically my parents’ old furniture. All that I’ve purchased is the couch, which is two weeks old, and my coffee table—because before I bought my coffee table I was using a stool which was, obviously, really great.

As much as it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to get their parents’ furniture, it has helped me to figure out what I actually want to buy versus mindlessly buying just to fill the space.

Claudia

I’m also slowly replacing pieces here and there as I go. With all the white space and the high ceilings, I want to find pieces that I really like. They don’t even necessarily need to “work” in this space. As long as I love it and want to buy it, then I’ll go for it. For example, I only somewhat knew what size this piece [gestures to Joon Lee piece] would be, but when I got it stretched onto canvas, I just thought, “Oh, wow! This really worked out.” It’s perfect for the space.

I don’t resonate with the design approach of sticking with one “colour theme” throughout. If I want one colour here and another upstairs, I don’t care. The space is so modern itself, it can be tricky to nail down exactly where I want to go with it, but, honestly, I’m 25 and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends up. I don’t have a particular vision for it, but I love it so far.

I don’t resonate with the design approach of sticking with one “colour theme” throughout. If I want one colour here and another upstairs, I don’t care… I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends up.

This is from Joon Lee’s wondrous “I Eat Colour and Talk in Shapes” series. I’ll need to do a deep dive into this incredible artist soon.

This is definitely the kind of space that you could just play around with forever, trying on different styles as your taste develops. What’s your favourite part about your home right now, or the neighbourhood you’re in?

I would say my favourite part currently is the new couch. It took a little bit to get used to because there were two white couches in here before. I mean, they were also 30 years old and I gave them away for free, so that says something. Still, bringing in this really large sectional from Costco was jarring initially, but it works in the space. And it was very cost-efficient!

And tell me about this incredible floor-to-ceiling bookcase!

The bookshelf was made custom for the space, and the one around the corner in the office is, too. The ladder came with them, too. To be honest, the ladder itself is really more decorative than anything because it’s a bit wobbly. The former owners had books from top to bottom.

I actually really like the negative space right now. It’s a blank canvas for you.

Exactly. This space is still a project—I’m not in a rush. I would rather sit with empty walls than fill them with something that I don’t 100% love.

I think it takes a lot of faith and patience to push against that desire to go out and furnish your home in one weekend. There’s this desire to have an “Instagrammable” home as quickly as possible, but a lot of us won’t feel like we want to share our home for years. Or ever! Not every home wants to be shared and that’s okay.

Our generation just spends so much time looking at what we could buy. Most of my Instagram is filled with art and other people’s homes. I constantly think, “Oh, I like this part. I don’t love that. I want this.” It’s also become really hard to discern what you genuinely like versus what you like because we’ve been influenced to like it—from how our homes look to our clothing to what we do on the weekend even. “Did you go on a hike this weekend? No? You failed this weekend.”

It’s also become really hard to discern what you genuinely like versus what you like because we’ve been influenced to like it.

Claudia

Where, or who, do you turn to for inspiration for this space?

In recent years, I’ve been drawn to Danish and Japanese design, but when it comes to this space, a lot of delicate Danish and Japanese furniture wouldn’t quite work. I try to incorporate this style where I can in a way that makes sense.

And I hear you are an emerging art collector. For those of us who get intimidated by choosing art pieces, what are a couple pieces of advice you would share with them?

My parents collect art and so I spent a lot of time in galleries as a child. We’d even sit as a family in the back room of a gallery, and when they’d put the painting up, my parents would say, “What do you like about this painting, how do you feel about it?” I think those little moments growing up influenced me to be confident in what I like. If I like something, I’ll do it. I’ll purchase it. Especially through Instagram, it has been so easy. My three pieces have all been connections through this platform. I’ll just messaged the artist directly and the whole process is super fun. I enjoy meeting new people as well. For me, I don’t find it intimidating because I find choosing art that resonates with me easy, but I recognize that’s because of my background growing up.

What has been your biggest challenge with designing this space?

There are certain things about living in a loft that I started to notice pretty quickly. For one, I have no curtains and those windows see right into my bedroom—so that was unplanned. My sleep was definitely affected because there’s no complete darkness ever, even in the bedroom on this floor. I’m getting blinds soon, though!

I was actually alone for one of the first times in my life, and I was stoked about it. I think it does take time as a young woman to be okay with that. Now I’m like, this is the best thing that has ever happened.

If your home was an Airbnb, what title would you give it? And, asking for a friend… would you ever put it up on Airbnb for real?

Something to do with a loft, or a historical church. Maybe not a church. You know, it’s funny because that was something that the builders who were converting this space in the early nineties asked themselves. “Do people want to live in a church? Is that weird?” Apparently not. No one cared.

How important is the sense of home that you’ve developed here?

This is the first time that I can actually be myself in my space. I had to get used to living alone. I’ve only ever had roommates. So, I was actually alone for one of the first times in my life, and I was stoked about it. I think it does take time as a young woman to be okay with that. It definitely took me a bit, but now I’m like, this is the best thing that has ever happened.

Star Wars fans… note the Boba Fett helmet.

Living alone is such a sacred slice in time. You can just come home, drop your shoulders, completely turn off. I live with my partner and while I love him to death, I’ll always think back to that time in my life. It was really special, and I think because I knew that it wasn’t necessarily going to be that way forever, I deeply savoured it.

It’s been really nice. I read a lot of Scandinavian books, about happiness and hyggë, and how that relates back to your space. I think that’s so important. Now, I’m finally at a place where I can say, this is my home. I love it.

Music credits go to Bensound, “Piano Moment”.

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