Homes & Design Photo Credit: Martin Tessler

Designers at Home—Alda Pereira

Vancouver designer Alda Pereira has only one constant in her cozy family home: something’s always changing.

Alda Pereira loves her home, but a month from now, it may well be unrecognizable. “I like changing my surroundings,” says the acclaimed Vancouver interior designer. “I work in a 3D language, and that language is always moving and changing, so my space is, too.” Pereira has brought her elegant but lush modern design to hundreds of private homes, condo towers, shops and hotels since she first graduated from Kwantlen College in 1987. But for her own home, which she shares with her husband and teenage daughter, she takes a more casual approach, one that values functionality and flexibility over formality. “It’s experimental and eclectic. The house has evolved four or five times since we’ve moved in,” laughs Pereira. “The people and the dog stay, not the furniture.”

Pereira home
Though furniture and accessories come and go, “my art doesn’t change,” says Pereira. “I still have pieces I’ve had for most of my life.” Above the fireplace, an abstract collage by Jack Shadbolt and a photo of the Burrard Inlet provide a consistent focal point for the ever-changing room.

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Pereira stumbled across her 1,300-square-foot townhouse eight years ago as she was working with the developer to design the interiors for the complex. She and her family fell in love with the bright, streamlined space and large courtyard garden, tucked away in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood. “There’s an ‘outdoorness’ to it,” she says. “There’s a major intersection just a block away, but it feels like we’re living in the country.” Upstairs, a rooftop patio with ocean views and a fireplace (“We spend half the year up there,” Pereira jokes) offers an even more intimate sliver of peace and quiet.

Welcome to the Funhouse | Quirky details give this designer home plenty of personality. The stainless steel Hay stool (top left) is great eye candy in the mosaic-tiled hallway, but doubles as extra seating during high-capacity dinner parties.
Quirky details give this designer home plenty of personality. The stainless steel Hay stool (left) is great eye candy in the mosaic-tiled hallway, but doubles as extra seating during high-capacity dinner parties.
A Frank Sinatra doll keeps watch over a stack of Pereira's favourite design books.
A Frank Sinatra doll keeps watch over a stack of Pereira’s favourite design books.
The stairwell houses a Moooi Carbon chair.
The stairwell houses a Moooi Carbon chair.

Though it’s part of a multi-unit development, this is no cookie-cutter house. The custom pantry in the kitchen is Pereira’s invention—a wealth of shelves for stowing groceries and pretty glasses are hidden behind a frosted, oversized sliding door. The laminated glass allows light to filter to the nooks and crannies within, creating visual interest in the space. Above the white oak cabinets, Pereira added another level of crisp white lacquer cabinets to keep things organized, and rather than committing to any all-too-permanent tiles, she painted the backsplash with black chalkboard paint so it could double as a message centre. The kitchen island, though, stationed beneath a quirky Flos chandelier, is the real focal point of the room. Pereira chose not to have an island installed when the home was first built; instead, she replaced it with a lightweight, tall stainless steel table, which allows for mobility at a moment’s notice: during dinner parties it’s swapped out for a dining table. Her collection of stools helps accommodate plenty of guests during these casual soirees. (A B&B Italia goat-hair design is used daily right now, but versatile statement pieces like a stainless steel Hay chair and low cork stools act as side tables or spare seating throughout the house as needed).

In the kitchen, a Ceci n’est pas une pipe tray acts as a playful piece of art when not in use.
In the kitchen, a Ceci n’est pas une pipe tray acts as a playful piece of art when not in use.
Custom shelving in the dining area provides space for stowing all of Pereira’s books and treasures. “The small space keeps me disciplined,” laughs Pereira. “It would be horrifying how much I could accumulate if I had a larger space.” A red, sculptural Capellini storage unit offers even more hiding places for everyday clutter like bills and mail. “Pretty much everything has to function like that when you live in a home this size.”.
Custom shelving in the dining area provides space for stowing all of Pereira’s books and treasures. “The small space keeps me disciplined,” laughs Pereira. “It would be horrifying how much I could accumulate if I had a larger space.” A red, sculptural Capellini storage unit offers even more hiding places for everyday clutter like bills and mail. “Pretty much everything has to function like that when you live in a home this size.”.

As an avid collector—of stools, yes, but also of books, vintage cappuccino cups and serving trays—building in plenty of storage was a top priority. Floor-to-ceiling shelving covers the dining room wall (save for a window cut out near the top), and is stocked with gorgeous hardcovers. It would be easy for a small space like this to feel cramped, but oversized windows facing a thriving garden bring in plentiful light. The cozy bedroom, done up in creams and soft blues inspired by a wall-spanning abstract painting, gets its fair share of sunlight as well, and is warmed further by white oak closet panels.

Sweet Dreams | Cozy textures (the upholstered Flou bed, creamy Frette linens and chunky knit throw) in the master bedroom make for a pretty retreat. A Vivienne Westwood-designed rug draws out the soft blues in Carol Wainio’s dreamy abstract painting.
Cozy textures (the upholstered Flou bed, creamy Frette linens and chunky knit throw) in the master bedroom make for a pretty retreat. A Vivienne Westwood-designed rug draws out the soft blues in Carol Wainio’s dreamy abstract painting.

Perhaps even more appealing than the beautiful details that pop up throughout the house (a smattering of Mediterranean blue mosaic tiles by the foot of the stairway is a colourful switch from the understated white oak planks found elsewhere; Calacatta marble counters in the master ensuite merge seamlessly with a wall decked out in the same), is the sense of play here that reflects Pereira’s own personality, like the Pinocchio by Alessi funnel that hangs right on the wall to double as a piece of art. “I don’t take things too seriously at home,” she says. “I think interior design can set a mood, just like music does—how you live and entertain is like playing a song.”0114-alda-pereira-4

Q&A
How would you describe your personal style?
I like combining emotion and intellect to create a feeling. In my personal space, it is an accumulation of objects that create a state of mind.
Name an up-and-coming design trend you’re most excited about.
The embracing of patina.
What are the key ingredients for your perfect night in?
Books, wine and Scrabble, in any order.
What’s your favourite piece in the house?
A collage artwork by Roy Arden. The easiest thing to live with is my art—it’s one of the things in my house that never changes.
What’s an item that’s still on your wish list for the house?
Concrete Loop outdoor chairs by Willy Guhl for the roof deck. We spend all summer up there.
What’s one design trick you often come back to?
It’s not really a trick, but I always try to incorporate intelligent storage solutions into every project—I want to help people live more effortlessly. 
What three things are always in your fridge?
Fresh cilantro, kale and orange juice.
What’s on your nightstand?
A Yu-Aï scented Astier de Villatte candle, a candle snuffer, iPhone, water and a Minnie Mouse figurine that I have had forever. 
What are some of your favourite design stores in Vancouver?
My favourite Vancouver design stores are Inform, Provide, Livingspace and Bombast.
What do you like most about living and working in the West?
I just love the omnipresence of blue: the mountains, the ocean and the sky.

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