4 easy design tricks for creating a happier and healthier home

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      Like the realm of fashion, interior design is typically dominated by trends. Talk of renovations leads ambitious homeowners and renters to Pinterest, glossies, and Instagram feeds, where inspiration boards are crafted from staged shots of boho-chic living rooms, all-white kitchens, and bathrooms ornate enough to belong in five-star hotels.

      But according to interior designer and HGTV Canada star Tiffany Pratt, function should always precede the cosmetic. “When I’m designing a space, I don’t care right out of the gate what their [the client’s] aesthetic is,” she tells the Straight by phone. “I need to know what the problems are. I need to know what doesn’t fit where, what comes and goes, what needs to get stored in what places.”

      Whether it’s carving an office out of a tight space to instill a better work-life balance at home, creating storage solutions, or ensuring your kitchen allows room for unexpected guests, interior design should always strive to solve pitfalls and up the efficiency of one’s day-to-day life.

      Ahead of her appearance at this year’s Vancouver Fall Home Show, Pratt shares a few of her top design tricks for building a more relaxing, livable, and healthy home.

      Reduce clutter

      What’s the first step to inhabiting a cleaner, calmer, and more soothing household? Decluttering.

      “A lot of people have furniture that doesn’t fit their house because they probably downsized and they have furniture that’s too large for their space,” says Pratt, “or they’re keeping things because they inherited it or they spent a lot of money on it, but they don’t love it anymore.”

      Consider parting with anything that doesn’t bring you joy or fails to serve as a storage solution, the designer suggests. Whether it’s a boxful of china, a collection of vintage picture frames, or a full four-person dining set, chances are you’ll be making someone’s day by donating it to a thrift store or selling it online.

      “I always tell people there’s somebody who’s gonna need something that you have,” adds Pratt.

      Light it up

      The lack of sunlight during fall and winter can make it hard to get out of bed. For sufferers of mild to serious SAD—seasonal affective disorder—it can even lead to feelings of lethargy and depression. “A lot of people in Canada are always complaining about darkness, and that’s half the year,” says Pratt.

      The solution? Maximizing the light you do have and incorporating it into areas that could use a boost. Table and floor lamps are great and also function as decorative objects, says Pratt, but LED spotlights and light strips, which you can place under kitchen cabinets, in the space between your wall and sofa, and other hard-to-get-to spots, work just as well.

      “As long as there’s lighting coming from somewhere,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be the feature table lamp; it can just be a light source.”


      HGTV Canada star Tiffany Pratt is known for her unapologetic use of colourespecially shades of pinkand vibrant patterns.


      Embrace colour

      In our effort to tidy up and rid our lives of unnecessary excess, many of us have adopted the interior-design style of the Nordic: clean, minimalist, and with nary a burst of colour (no, black doesn’t count) in sight. According to Pratt, however, unexpected hues and textures are vital to creating a cozy, livable home.

      “It could be a pillow, carpeting, a piece of wall art, the ceiling, anything,” she says. “Try to incorporate colour into your home in some way.”

      At the moment, the designer is gravitating toward ’80s hues and prints, especially dusty shades of rose, orange, and blue and funky geometric patterns. She’s also a big fan of what she calls “over- or under-scaling”, where large furnishings or décor objects are placed next to ones that are significantly smaller in size.

      “I would say that’s one thing I’m loving right now,” she says, “putting something extremely big next to something extremely small and giving the eye a place to just play.”

      Renew counters

      Sometimes, clearing your mind from the day’s worries and stress is as easy as clearing off a busy countertop—especially if that countertop is visible, say, from your bedroom or that armchair you do your unwinding in.

      “You want to keep your sightlines clean so it’s like you’re sending one beautiful, modern, clean message,” explains Pratt. “So if you’ve got old countertops or dark countertops or something that’s really sucking in the visibility, that’s a really inexpensive, great way to improve your space.”

      A beautiful slab of marble is a dream for many, but Pratt encourages people to consider quartz and hybrid-quartz, which are durable, low-maintenance, and more cost effective. She’s a particular fan of Silestone, a hybrid-quartz that combines the mineral with other raw materials, in the shade Lusso.

      “It works in almost every home because it has a white, creamy background,” she says, “but it’s got a little bit of warmth and little bit of cool grey in it, too.”

      The Vancouver Fall Home Show takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre's West building (1055 Canada Place) from October 26 to 29. Tickets start at $6 online. See event listing for details.

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.