At Home With Diane Cassidy
We peek inside the interior designer’s condo to see how she navigates creating a warm, eclectic and inviting space with limited square footage.
Diane Cassidy at her Sunalta condo.
Photography by Kait Kucy
With a love for seeking out treasures in the most unexpected places, Diane Cassidy has been able to transform her 700-square-foot condo into a character-filled comfortable space. Working by day as an interior designer for Calgary firm, McKinley Burkart, Cassidy is constantly exploring the world of design and pushing boundaries in terms of colour and decor. She also comes prepared; Diane renovated her kitchen by herself, including the tile work and installing the antique hand-carved header from Uniquities Architectural Antiques under the countertop.
What is your design philosophy?
A space needs to support your activities and lifestyle. It goes way beyond making a space look beautiful. Although, when you can pair the two, that’s when design comes to life. A few years ago I heard Karim Rashid talk about “things;” how objects fill our lives in a sometimes uncontrollable way. His philosophy really resonated with me. He had defined a certain number of things that supported his lifestyle and decided he would maintain that number. For instance, if you have five vases and someone gives you a vase you need to get rid of one of your other vases. It really makes you look at the objects in your life and ask yourself some important questions: “Do I really need this? When was the last time I used this? What meaning does this hold for me?” Since adapting this philosophy into my life I have a maintained a better balance of meaningful things and attribute this philosophy to shaping my space.
What is your favourite room in your home?
My bedroom. It is truly my little oasis. It has recently gone through round two of design re-do and I am loving the result. No one thought it was a good idea to paint the walls high gloss black (Benjamin Moore Advance High Gloss) but it makes the space feel dramatic and cozy. I also love napping, so naturally this room is my favourite.
What is your most treasured item and where is it from?
My grandmother recently passed away and gave me an antique loveseat. It needs new upholstery (my next project), but I love the small shape, caning sides and wood frame. As a piece of furniture I see a lot of potential and as a gift from my beloved gram it makes it a very special piece in my home.
What’s your favourite decor find?
The black-and-white patterned bathroom sink from Kohler’s special-edition series. I love pattern and certainly don’t shy away from integrating it into everyday things. It is a real feature in the bathroom and makes me smile every time I look at it (especially because if you look closely there is a little ladybug on one of the black sketched leaves). I will be taking it with me if I ever move.
Where do you find inspiration for decor?
I’m fortunate to work in a very creative firm, Mckinley Burkart. I am endlessly inspired by our clients, projects and colleagues. Pinterest is my first go to resource however if I really need a good dose of creativity I go to Uniquities Architectural Antiques in Inglewood. The physical space is my favourite in the city and the owner Julia [Shantz] has curated a beautiful shop filled with inspiring pieces.
What is your favourite thing about living in your home?
Location and footprint. I love the community of Sunalta, a little rough around the edges but charming at the same time. Nestled just outside of the core, I have access to all I need. The building is very quiet, which I like, and so is the street. I love to have my windows open and hear the church bells ring at noon or the light bustle of 14th Street S.W. traffic. I’ve also grown to love my small but efficient 700 square feet. It’s cozy and keeps me in check with living simply.
Where do you like to shop for home decor locally?
So far I’ve had most luck at HomeSense and West Elm, although I’m constantly on the hunt for great finds, like the brass coffee table and rattan swag light I scored on Kijiji. I like to mix high and low, like splurging on a vi-spring handmade mattress from London, but then having $40 IKEA metal side tables.
Did you encounter a decor challenge?
Yes, the living room has had a few iterations of furniture arrangements. I had to live here for a few years before I decided how I wanted to use this space. To me, comfort and a lounge space took priority so I opted to create more of a living space versus pairing it with an office/desk area or dinging table. Now it seems proportionate to how I use the space the majority of the time, but can also accommodate a small group of friends or party.
What’s your favourite view from your home?
On the sofa in the living room. Since there are no tall buildings beside me there is a lot of blue sky and a glimpse of downtown. These windows also get the best sunbeams.
What do you want your next home to be?
Lately, I’ve been daydreaming about building a tiny cabin – 100 to 200 square feet on a piece of land outside the city. I’m designing it little by little and hope to have this be a weekend getaway someday soon. For city living I definitely am a downtown girl so will likely stick with condo living -maybe upgrade to having a second bedroom.
Working with only 700 square feet of space, Cassidy managed to create a space that feels much larger.
Cassidy effortlessly blends antiques (such as the loveseat she recently inherited from her grandmother) with new items to create her signature look.
Cassidy installed the hand-carved header from Uniquities Architectural Antiques herself.
A whimsical bingo cage sits on the kitchen counter.
Cassidy took a chance by painting her bedroom a glossy black, but it paid off.
Perhaps a foil to the dark, moody bedroom, Cassidy’s bathroom is bright and spa-like.