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Learn How to Decorate Like an Interior Designer

Are you looking for inspiration for your home, or want to know how to make a big impact in a small space? Learn some tips and tricks from interior designer Gillian Segal. You are about to see why personalizing your space is so important.

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Gillian and her Pomeranian, Bear, giving us the tour.

Whether I am designing a big space or a small one, I always like to make a statement. A very wise woman (Coco Chanel) once said, "An interior is the natural projection of the soul," and I couldn't agree more. Our homes say a lot about us -- they're an incredible form of self-expression. I also truly believe that living in an environment you respond positively to will improve your quality of life. For my husband and me, that meant creating a space that is calming, comforting, and great for entertaining, with just a few hints at our wild side (think: leopard-inspired abstract wallpaper).

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As a newly married couple, designing our home included the combining of our styles to create something that felt uniquely "us." Sometimes when working with couples, I feel like more of a marriage counselor than a designer --  I am constantly encouraging clients to try and make compromises so that both parties feel represented.

 

For my husband, Adam, and me, that meant some more masculine pieces -- like our Tom Dixon accent chairs or this Skull print atop the bar -- paired with a slightly more feminine art collection that includes the nude chalk drawing by Zoe Pawlak (above the sofa) and the pink Dana Claxton photograph that reads, "You speak much but say nothing." This sprinkling of pink accents throughout our home keeps the palette consistent and provides a hint of color and pep that we crave during the rainy Vancouver winter.

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One of my biggest challenges when designing the space was definitely addressing the size. Our 1,100-square-foot condo is certainly large enough for the two of us, but the smaller rooms presented a challenge. When I saw the size of the allocated living and dining area, I wondered what type of miniature furniture I would have to get to fit in there. As intimate as a table for two would have been for us newlyweds, it wasn't really conducive for entertaining.

 

Our first decision was to address the floor plan. We took the doors off what was once an office and turned it into a dining room. While we managed to squeeze in a six-person table, I made sure to opt for an oval shape with rounded corners (bruises on your hips from bumping corners isn't exactly a nice party gift for guests!). I also followed one of my tried-and-true rules for designing small spaces: Use your vertical space! We installed a fun and graphic wallpaper and a beautiful bright photograph that instantly added glamour and personality.  

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Another way to maximize a small space is to select storage pieces that are functional yet still add to the overall design. I mixed in closed storage (to tuck away unwanted clutter) and open storage to display some of the items I love. Make the most of other surfaces in your space, like your coffee or side tables to create vignettes filled with your favorite accents and accessories. For me, this always includes books (I am a big reader, and a good collection of books shows off your interests).

 

Fresh flowers, scented candles and the odd quirky object to keep things light are other essentials for me. I am also extremely inspired by the '60s, so any chance I have to incoporate something midcentury, I take it! What do you do in your home to express yourself?

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Styling by Rebecca Bree, Makeup by Denise Elliot, Photography by Tracey Ayton Photography. Special thanks to Granville Island FloristBurrit Bros, Peridot & The Cross Decor & Design.

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