Vancouver artist Heather Ross shares secrets to unique West Coast style

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      They say never judge a book by its cover, but the earthy image that adorns Heather Ross’s newly released coffee-table hardback, The Natural Eclectic (Figure 1 Publishing), perfectly encapsulates the essence of what lies within its pages.

      Atop an abstract, blue-grey painting, a delicate bird’s nest, still entangled in its branch, cradles a Tiffany-blue robin’s egg; a white lotus bowl, holding a Japanese fishing float, sits beside a sea urchin shell and a worn, barnacle-encrusted bottle; and, front and centre, a vintage porcelain plate, washed in muted shades of azure and green, serves as a vessel for a blooming succulent.

      “It’s my signature palette, sort of watery, soft, ethereal,” Ross says of the cover’s carefully curated vignette during an interview at the Straight’s office. “I describe it as where the sea meets the shore and all the colours in between.”

      Ross's debut tome is now available in-store at Heather Ross {the natural eclectic} and Indigo's South Granville location.
      Figure 1 Publishing

      Ross’s commitment to this West Coast–inspired colour range is but one of her claims to fame. The local artist, photographer, and stylist has been crafting her design ethos for more than 20 years, though it was a two-year stint in Paris during the late ’90s that led her to expand her background in fine arts to the worlds of antiquing and foraging.

      “I’ve always loved antiquing and treasure-hunting,” she says. “I tease that I was a picker before they even came up with the expression. It’s just what I’ve always been doing.”

      After returning to Vancouver, Ross fell serendipitously into photography and her creative interests soon manifested themselves in the opening of a brick-and-mortar shop, Heather Ross [in house], which these days is known to design-savvy locals as Fairview’s Heather Ross {the natural eclectic} (2170 Fir Street). Here, Ross joins the old with the new and the found with the natural, forwarding a serene coastal-chic design philosophy through a mix of antique and organic décor finds that the store is named for.

      “It’s more sort of diverse, layered, interesting juxtapositions of things,” she explains. “Not choosing things because of their pedigree or lineage, but more just for their beauty, patina, texture, and form. I find it really interesting to bring together different things in that way.”

      Ross photographed every image in The Natural Eclectic herself, including this author's image on the back cover.
      Heather Ross Photography

      The Jill-of-all-trades is now sharing her insights in a gorgeous debut tome that’s one part art book, one part design-and-lifestyle guide. Packed with more than 200 pages of interiors advice and vibrant, full-colour imagery, the hardcover was written, produced, and photographed entirely by Ross. Her personal colour story echoes in vivid glory from front to back, though it commands the spotlight in one particular chapter where the artist speaks of dreamy mollusk blues, elegant linen greys, and mellow lavenders, among other hues, in poetic detail.

      Elsewhere, Ross offers guidance on the art of décor arrangement, where seemingly washed-ashore pieces and petrified woods have a place alongside antique French tableware and shiny, handmade vases. Another chapter walks readers through six stunning homes, including a charming Savary Island cabin, a restored 18th-century sugar mill in Maui, and a rustic Italian farmhouse that once belonged to Ross’s sister, each an embodiment of the designer’s West Coast–meets–European aesthetic.

      The artist loves bringing a seemingly random assortment of elements together to create a fresh cohesive whole.
      Heather Ross Photography

      “I want the book, hopefully, to be an experience for people where it sort of encourages them to find what they find beautiful, what they’re drawn to,” she says, “and to create personalized spaces, to go out and antique and forage and not be so worried about setting trends.”

      Flipping through The Natural Eclectic’s pages, each brimming with a visual philosophy influenced by the tranquil timelessness of nature, you’ll find that Ross has done exactly that. But just because it has the potential to stand the test of time doesn’t mean the creator is done sharing her vision with the world.

      “It was a massive undertaking and a labour of love,” she says. “And I definitely have to do more than one book, because I learned so much. So, hopefully, this is the first of many.”

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.