Photography: Amanda Oster and Stephen Li
Styling: Reisa Pollard, Sara King and Amanda Gillies
Reisa Pollard often has to coax clients out of their comfort zones. Not this time. The Vancouver interior designer, owner of Beyond Beige Interior Design, says she found herself in an excitingly different creative space while working on a recent project in MacKenzie Heights.
Michael and Jojo Lu were having a new home built in this leafy enclave on Vancouver’s West Side. The building itself is traditional, with a classic European-influenced limestone-look exterior and elaborate interior millwork. But the owners’ personal aesthetic is anything but traditional or conventional. Jojo is a fashionista with an unabashedly bold and confident sense of style who had in mind a house to match. Her husband, too, wanted a home with a daring look.
Pollard says the Lus came to her with myriad “wild and wonderful” ideas that reflected Jojo’s own risk-taking fashion sense. “The house is a reflection of how Jojo dresses; she loves fashion and accessories. She is not scared at all to mix colour and pattern,” Pollard says. “My job was to channel all her energy and ideas into a cohesive theme that would fit into an otherwise traditional house.
“It was a fun and unusual relationship with a client. Fabulous to have someone so ready to take risks and accept new ideas with such enthusiasm. Usually, I’m the one who is pushing the client to be risky, but in this case, I was the one stopping her from going farther and farther so that the look didn’t veer from fashion-forward into kitschy or cartoon-cute.”
Michael is the owner of a women’s fashion accessories business back in China, where the couple own another home, and he and his wife told Pollard they wanted their Vancouver space to echo the “beauty of a gorgeous handbag.” It needed to be glamorous, boldly coloured and well-organized.
The glamour can be found in the extensive detailed custom millwork featured throughout the house: panelled walls, coffered ceilings, even a dome with hand-painted gold-leaf trim in the upstairs landing. It is also on display in the porcelain floors, set in a pattern borrowed from Versace. Even the staircase to the second storey and the basement exudes understated glamour. It’s a brass and black metal replica of a stairway in a European boutique hotel.
The couple’s love of colour is evident throughout the 4,000-square-foot, three-storey home. Though the walls everywhere are painted white, artwork and furnishings in unexpected colour combinations give the decor a fresh and playful look. Pink, one of Jojo’s favourite colours, makes a cameo appearance in numerous rooms. There it is, for instance, on the kitchen’s faucet by Grohe and even in the veining of the quartzite island counter. It appears in the dining room, where the chairs are upholstered in pink velvet, and in the artwork that hangs on the wall behind the table. Pink is the defining colour in the couple’s daughter’s princess-themed bedroom. And pink is front and centre in Jojo’s dressing room, where her extensive collection of purses, shoes and jewelry is displayed in glass cases.
Early on in the project, Jojo told Pollard that she didn’t want anything “boring” or “ordinary” in the house. She wanted upholstery fabrics in numerous patterns and sharp colours. She asked for unexpected details that would please her own eye and surprise her guests. One example of that unexpected drama is on display in the living room’s translucent onyx fireplace wall, which is backlit with LED lights. When lit, the cloud-like pattern in the stone casts a warm glow.
In the media room in the basement, where the family retreats to watch movies, Pollard’s team designed a “starry night” ceiling with constellations that light up and change configuration and colour; they even twinkle.
As the parents of two small children, the Lus also wanted their home to be functional and durable and efficiently organized. The procelain floors, for example, are easy to clean. And though the large, ornate flower arrangement in the entrance is dramatic, it is also practical. The flowers are artificial and the vase is glued to its base, thereby safe from running, playing children.
“Michael and Jojo love glamour, but they are also down-to-earth people who want their home to be welcoming and relaxed,” says Pollard. “They don’t ever want to worry about spilled wine or children running and playing.” •
Originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue.
Beyond Beige Interior Design