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Actor Callum Keith Rennie’s edgy Vancouver loft (article)

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Personal Style
Actor Callum Keith Rennie’s edgy Vancouver loft

Actor Callum Keith Rennie’s Vancouver loft is brought to life by a quirky mix of rough and rustic finds
Text by Wendy Jacob | Photography by Sarah Murray

His fair looks have made Callum Keith Rennie Canada’s answer to Brad Pitt, but it’s the actor’s dark quality that attracts his ardent fans. Known for playing broody characters (he dryly observes, “I’m always the killer”), his roles have included Stanley Kowalski in Due South, a tormented music producer on Californication, a spurned fiancé on The Killing, and most recently, the lead character in Shattered, a police drama about a detective with multiple personalities, which won him a Gemini Award in 2011.

His downtown Vancouver loft, like his roles, is layered and full of character, an effect augmented by his own paintings. The cement floors are battered, the enamel is chipped, the leather is cracked, and there’s an animal skull here and there. This home is a perfect launching pad for an actor who needs to slip easily between light and dark. Collections of interesting objects, such as a macabre array of scissors dangling point-down over the bathtub, form a pastiche that’s slightly industrial and suggest a whiff of danger.

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Offset high celings with an art wall

The art wall is the focal point in the open living room, and includes some of homeowner Callum Keith Rennie’s own paintings (large red and black works). An industrial shelving unit from RH Restoration Hardware and a concrete floor suit the artist-loft vibe: the paint-splattered floor was reground and polished during the renovation.

Artwork by Ronan Boyle (above desk); small portrait by Pat Service; triptych by Rebecca Chaperon.

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“I had very basic ideas about the design,” says Callum. “I needed the space to be opened up in the kitchen, and I wanted the bathroom to look like it came from Europe with a French cabinet, clawfoot tub and tiling.” Designer Jamie Hamilton, a longtime friend, had been trying to convince Callum to renovate his 900-square-foot Vancouver home, origitnally built as an artist’s loft space, for 10 years. “I’ve known Jamie for a long time, and she knows my taste: designed but not too precious, more functional and manly,” the actor notes.

An eight-month shoot in Toronto proved the perfect opportunity for an overhaul. “It was kind of like a bachelor’s first place, filled with milk cartoons for books,” says Hamilton, who, along with partner Greer Nelson of Oliver Simon Design, was entrusted with the major reno.” Callum had always been able to live with the mess because he travelled so much, but we wanted to give him a more grown-up space. He did say he didn’t want it to look like a decorator did it! He’s not a fussy guy; he just wanted it to be creative and comfortable,” says Hamilton.

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Repeat finishes to unify an open-concept space

The warm wood grain of the walnut-backed leather Eames chair was the jumping-off point for everything, says designer Jamie Hamilton. The leather sofa, wood beams, stair treads and furniture all complement the chair’s honey-toned wood frame. Blackout blinds on the large windows (not visible) make it easier to accommodate an actor’s off-hours schedule, and a wool-jute rug softens the concrete floor.

Eames chair, Livingspace; rug, Pottery Barn; pendant light, Barn Light Electric; coffee table, Antique Market; sectional by Lee Industries, Brougham Interiors; throw pillows, West Elm; dog sculpture, Graeme Berglund.

The reno has caused a subtle shift in the way Callum lives in this formerly paint-splattered bachelor pad. “I’m far more tidy. I sit here and feel like an adult, and really accomplished, because my place looks nice.” He sometimes ponders turning the former artist’s atelier into a rental property, since his shooting schedule means he’s not here full-time. “In my mind, that’s always what I wanted to do, but now that it’s all snappy, I don’t know… It’s just a nice place to be now – before it was so unfinished and thrown-together,” he says. “What Jamie and Greer have done is made the rooms interesting, pleasing to look at and functional.”

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Use white to highlight industrial finds

The kitchen felt dark and cramped until new white cabinets and counters were introduced, and the footprint was opened up. The barstools and pendants have more presence against the white finishes, and the loft’s wood flooring keeps it cosy.

Cabinets, Ikea; barstools, Eclectic Living; pendants, Antique Market.

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Include a work zone

“Every man needs a desk,” asserts Callum, who keeps paperwork in a mid-century modern version he found years ago.

Artwork, Ronan Boyle; lamp, The Cross; sculpture, Da Vinci’s.

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Play up your passions

A basket of battered golf balls is a testament to Callum’s affection for putting, he frequently practises in the living room. “Black grout makes the white subway tile really pop; it’s an inexpensive way to create a lot of impact,” says Hamilton.

Lamp, antique bust, Country Furniture.

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Add custom details

Hamilton had shelves built behind the raised bed for extra storage that keeps book close at hand, and the platform doubles as a side table. Neutral linens, a cowhide rug and reclaimed wood floors create a more rustic aura.

Duvet cover, Fullhouse Modern; stripped throw, Bacci’s; cowhide, Brougham Interiors; metal trolley, Country Furniture..

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Raise bathroom furniture

The tub exterior was sprayed black to mimic the other vintage finds and add contrast, while the chrome feet match the cool metal fixtures. “It’s important to get things up off the floor in a small bathroom,’ Hamilton explains. “It makes the space feel bigger.” An antique glass-front cabinet provides lots of storage for towels. Scissors hung from a dish rack resemble an arresting art piece. “It is a little creepy, but it makes you look twice,” Hamilton says. Callum occasionally uses them to trim his hair.

Shower curtain, West Elm; cabinet, Antique Market; antique trophies, The Cross; tub, Cheviot.

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Choose outside-the-box storage

The all-in-one vintage metal vanity has storage above and below, and a built-in backsplash to strike the perfect industrial note. Found in a factory in India, it has a one-of-a-kind quality that was worth the serious refurbishing. “I have never seen anything like it,” says Hamilton.

Vanity, Antique market; toilet, Toto; faucet, Moen

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Frame finds in a niche

“We weren’t sure what we were going to put in it when we built this niche in the bathroom,” says Hamilton, but it allows for interesting display without gobbling up valuable floor space or storage. Currently, it’s a mini stage for a crocodile skull, a collection of vintage bottles and Callum’s WC sign.

Wall colour, Cloud White (CC-40), Benjamin Moore

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From House & Home, September 2013, preview and order here (thanks modueser for the tip!).


- modueser provided a link to the decorators’ site with more pics here

- added bedroom and bathroom pics which I’d completely overlooked /o\

- even more pics at the designer's site:

oliver design
Tags: .genre: article, .genre: interview, year: 2013
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