A Guiding Light

 One of Vancouver’s star designers, Teresa Cain, believes creating the right mood in each room is paramount.  Studio Two Photography One of Vancouver’s star designers, Teresa Cain, believes creating the right mood in each room is paramount.  Studio Two Photography

An interior designer isn’t simply moving furniture around or changing structures in your house. A designer is a guide for the most intimate place in your life — your home.

“On reveal day, I was nervous, but the outcome she delivered was way beyond my expectations. I cried. It was amazing.”

This excerpt is from a testimonial for Teresa Cain, founder of Vancouver-based Interior Solutions Design Group. Cain is the quintessential caring, creative guiding light to help harmonize your most personal environment.

“There’s a lot of psychology involved in design,” says Cain. “When I sit down with a client, I’ll ask, ‘How do you want people to feel when they’re in this space?’ To me, this is modern-day luxury. It’s being able to create a feeling, or a lifestyle — your image of the lifestyle that you want to have in that home, and how you want your friends and family to feel.”

Cain has a natural knack for not only absorbing her client’s characteristics and preferences, but also balancing a space.

“When I walk into a space, I immediately go to a vision where in my mind it’s finished,” says Cain. “As soon as I enter a built space, I would be able to look at the room and feel that this fireplace needs to go all the way to the ceiling, we need to add a column over here, or bring the ceiling down, or there’s too much volume in the space.”

Of course, while design challenges are often omnipresent, so too are solutions. But the key is trust between client and designer.

“Everyone is happy when the designer gets to design,” Cain says. One project, nicknamed Island Retreat on her website, illustrates that harmony at work.

 Cain harmonized heirloom pieces, such as the dinner table, with driftwood furniture, whites and blues, and even a rusty-red sofa for the perfect relaxing coastal mood.  Photography by Barry Calhoun Cain harmonized heirloom pieces, such as the dinner table, with driftwood furniture, whites and blues, and even a rusty-red sofa for the perfect relaxing coastal mood.  Photography by Barry Calhoun A driftwood table and calming blues bring the outside in for Cain’s project appropriately named Island Retreat. Photography by Barry Calhoun A driftwood table and calming blues bring the outside in for Cain’s project appropriately named Island Retreat. Photography by Barry Calhoun

Cain explains that scale can be one of the biggest hurdles in design, especially when a homeowner doesn’t work with a professional.

“People will often purchase furniture that just does not work in the space,” she says. “Often with condominiums, the pieces they purchase will be too big for the space. If it’s a large single-family dwelling, then often they pick pieces that are too small. Or even with light fixtures, being afraid to select something that’s a little larger and more impressive for the space.

In the case of Island Retreat, there was an “awkward space” near a majestic view of the water, that was too far away from the main couch, yet too small to be its own full seating area. So Cain created this charming reading nook, with a driftwood lamp on a grey-brown floor.

 Cain specializes in bringing nature into her designs, often using textures and warm earthy tones to harmonize a space. Photography by Barry Calhoun Cain specializes in bringing nature into her designs, often using textures and warm earthy tones to harmonize a space. Photography by Barry Calhoun In a West Vancouver renovation, Cain says of the backlit onyx island, “In the evening when the lights are low, that is a work of art.”Photography by Barry Calhoun In a West Vancouver renovation, Cain says of the backlit onyx island, “In the evening when the lights are low, that is a work of art.”Photography by Barry Calhoun

“We created this whole feeling of the beach, and we did it by bringing in lots of texture,” she says. “But the client also had a lot of country collections, so we brought in the embroidered drapery, just subtle elements of all of these different styles integrated to create a beachy mood.”

Those fresh, healthy, balancing sensations that nature provides are often integrated in the spaces designed by Cain, who grew up on a farm.

“I definitely think nature keeps us all real,” she says. “It’s bigger than us, and it’s certainly inspiration for almost everything that we do. Colour trends, patterns, textures, and materials come from nature. Still to this day, there is nothing I enjoy more than a walk through the woods.”

Teresa Cain’s Favourite Things:

 

 

“What woman doesn’t love all styles of shoes?” says Cain with a grin, showing off her playful Bally mules. With a style as vivacious as her personality, the designer thrives on bold, unabashedly fun details, from her gold-and-purple Versace sunnies to an oversized Kate Spade tote. The funky embroidery of Dries Van Noten, her pink Ted Baker carry-on, and the heady scent of Estée Lauder’s Tuberose Gardenia pay homage to her affinity for all things floral (peonies are a special love). Even her 50s-era Tulip chairs evokes a garden vibe. While many influences shape her tastes, Cain appreciates the glamour of Hollywood Regency style in furniture, and flaunts her decanter collection for entertaining, with the Tank whiskey decanter by Tom Dixon being a recent addition. While her own samples are a home-office inspiration, Cain admires the talent of British Columbia’s local artists, such as Ross Penhall, and Renaissance painter Caravaggio’s use of light. In music, she chooses vocals over classical pieces. Biographies are her choice in books, while Mystic River is one of the favourite films she loads on her iPad before setting off on her travels. Exotic India is on her bucket list, and wherever she goes, a stay at a boutique hotel handpicked by the Mr & Mrs Smith collection is always a first choice.

Text by J.H. White

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