A Home Tour with Nicole Phillips of Visual Heart.
Welcome to the Article Spaces series! In these posts, we meet up with our awesome customers around North America and get a sneak peek of their home, office, studio — wherever. Stylish and fun, our customers offer tips and insight for the modern space-haver. We’re talking weird corners, unfinished projects, future plans, DIYs, and all the other challenges and opportunities of making a space work for you. Want to jump in on the live action? Make sure to follow @article on Instagram for info on our upcoming tours. We always save some space at the end for viewers to ask questions of our featured guest.
Meet Nicole: Queen of Up-Cycled and Modern Pieces.
Nicole is a freelance graphic designer and up-cycling enthusiast. We originally got in touch through the phonebook of our generation: Instagram. Nicole had purchased an Article sofa and tagged us in a picture. A few years and DMs later, we got in touch to see if she’d test-run this idea of ours. Lucky for us, she said yes! We caught up with Nicole to chat about how up-cycled and modern pieces come together to make her space home.
Thanks for having us in your space, Nicole! Let’s get right into it. How did you get into up-cycling furniture?
All the thrifted/up-cycled pieces were made because we moved in here with zero budget for furniture. So pieces were found in the alley, through friends, or just on Craigslist. I was always on the lookout for something with clean lines that were kind of timeless or mid-century feeling. [My bedside table] is a good example! A little pop of color, but still nice and simple with a touch of wood and white.
How much work did you have to put into the project?
When I found it, it was a really bright, ugly color. I sanded it down, painted it white, and added a wooden veneer to the front. Then we added some new hardware and legs.
This is actually a good example of my partner’s and my aesthetic: we naturally gravitate towards mid-century and clean lines, but still vintage; with character. We love to mix up-cycled and modern pieces.
Is this turquiose your favorite color?
It’s definitely my go-to for a pop of color.
Can you tell us about some of the changes you made to your space when you first moved in?
The person who owned this place before us had a pretty eclectic sense of style. The stairs were painted with a red lacquer. The floors were painted blue. It took us weeks to sand down the stairs to reveal the natural wood.
You’ve got the Article Taiga console in your front hall. What made you pick that piece for this space?
We needed something that was super function-first — it also fit perfectly into the into the wall space. It’s like it was built exactly for it. It’s practical, and we love it for the industrial feel.
You’ve also got the Jota runner in your front entrance. A lot of people don’t know what to do with runners. How do you use yours?
It’s a real function thing. It stops dirt from tracking into the house, and also the floor underneath this rug isn’t finished very well… so the rug nicely hides those issues. The texture is also really nice — I like how it works with the concrete floors. Same tone, different texture.
Styling a small but open space is tough. Have you picked up any tips? Can you tell us some of the difficulties you’ve faced?
It was a big adjustment! Sound travels, light travels… we installed some blinds to mask the evening light, but there’s still some issues from the skylight. My boyfriend is a bit of a night owl, so I had to adjust to hearing sounds in the night. It’s a compromise, really. But it’s worth it.
It’s also about defining space in your home. Things like [our area rug] help to define our living room from the dining space. Tricks like that. We didn’t really know that until we’d lived in the space for a while. Things have moved and changed a lot over the years.
We talked about how when you first moved here, you had a lot of up-cycled furniture in a lot of different colors. Your space seems to have really evolved to have pieces that pop out amongst neutral whites and greys. What prompted that evolution?
In the last few years we’ve really seen minimalism become a trend, and we gravitated towards it. I wouldn’t say we’re 100% minimalist, but it definitely guided our aesthetic along the years. We mix up-cycled and modern pieces… but with living in a small space, we don’t have a lot of storage. It forces us to constantly curate, keeping the place simple and clean.
If we were talking about your style right now, how would you describe it?
I think “minimal-eclectic.” In general it’s a minimalist space because there’s a lot of white and grey, but then there are touches of curated items — again with that mix of up-cycled and modern pieces. The sentimental pieces and the items that we use every day, they all have a function. We didn’t want our place to feel sterile or clinical, or like an art gallery. We still wanted it to feel cozy.
We’re actually sitting on an Article sofa! You’ve had the Ceni sofa for about two years, is that right?
Yes! It’s wearing really well. Some of the main reasons we got it is again the simple color scheme: the wood, the grey. We also read that it’s a firm cushion, which we like. And it’s really held up!
I find grey to be a very timeless color. I’ve heard from people that say brown looks dated after a while, and black can be really heavy in a space. Grey is soft. It goes with a lot of colors. Like these pillows. Yellow is not a color I usually gravitate towards. The main reason I went for it was because I wanted to pull from some of our vintage pieces. Just something fun!
A sofa is a big part of a space. How did the Ceni compliment the rest of your scheme?
I loved the wood legs mixed with the textured grey fabric. We wanted all our furniture to be grey so that our other stuff would pop — like pillow accents that we could switch out to refresh our look.
You’ve got our 8×10 Texa rug in your living room. How’s it treating you?
Man, I love neutrals. This rug grounds our space. It also helps to separate the living room from the dining space. It also feels amazing in the winter because our concrete floors get freezing. It helps to make the space feel cozy.
Can we talk about this bookshelf? You mentioned before that it wasn’t here when you moved in.
It wasn’t! The nook was here, though. There was this weird recess in the wall, and there was one or two shelves on it. It was just calling for a library. We did it really affordably. The shelves are MDF [medium-density fibreboard]; we painted them ourselves, and we adjusted the height of each shelf based on the type of book we wanted to put on it. Somehow we had enough books to fill the whole thing up. I think it’s like 70% my boyfriend’s books, and 30% mine.
This bookshelf got a lot of attention on Pinterest. It actually ended up in Diane Keaton’s book “The House That Pinterest Built.” That’s pretty cool.
Yeah! It goes to show the power of Pinterest. You don’t know who’s looking at it, you’re just putting your content out there, and the person who finds it might just happen to be someone really cool.
We had this bookshelf but no ladder for many years. This one finally popped up on Craigslist, and somehow we got it into the back of our car and then drove really slowly on the highway to get it home. It’s an old BC Hydro ladder, so it’s got a bit of history to it. Plus, the light oak compliments our color scheme.
Being a freelancer, you work from home. How do you maintain an office space within your home?
Well… it’s very clean right now. As a graphic designer, I do work mostly in the print industry. So I have a lot of paper spread around. My office is in the middle of our home, so it’s important that it feels clean.
I try hard to keep my work at my desk. When I first started freelancing, I was a sofa person. It’s nice to have this as my “work zone.”
Your Seno sideboard is another light oak piece in your space. What drew you to that particular piece?
It was a mix of function and color. There’s a lot of wood and white in this space. The wood warms it up a bit. The Seno is compartmentalized with different things: records and my partner’s scotch collection. There are a few little decorative pieces stored in there that I like to switch out. Some glasses and kitchenware items.
Changing things up — that’s really my thing. Whether it’s seasonal or just spur of the moment… even if it’s just moving furniture. Shopping your own home is an easy way to keep things feeling fresh.