Industrial-style Overhaul: Engineer Dan Erickson Deconstructs His False Creek Condo

A minimalist reno approach turns a False Creek condo into an industrial-style loft

Credit: Terry Guscott

The success of Dan Erickson’s renovation is simplicity, straight lines and neutral colours

A room with a view: Dan Erickson saw potential for an industrial-style loft in his False Creek condo

What sold Dan Erickson on his False Creek condo was the view. At the open house he squeezed himself around the previous home-owners’ clutter to a spot where he could look out on boats bobbing in the water and high-rises towering in downtown Vancouver. Then he broke out the measuring tape on the spot, knocked on the walls, and made an offer. A month after moving in, he started his deconstruction.

As an engineer – and a participant in many a reno when growing up – Erickson made the project hands-on. He renovated the 680-square-foot condo himself – and on a limited budget. It was stripped down to the steel studs and concrete walls, and the floor plan was reconfigured and opened up to convert the one-bedroom condo into more of a studio space. 

A Lofty Vision

His vision: an industrial-style loft. And at the centre of that goal, a sleek kitchen that’s all about monochromatic minimalism with brushed steel and pale greys – an almost austere esthetic, where practicality is paramount.

Erickson describes the previous kitchen as “just trashed.” Besides being in poor shape, the walled-in space, with its small pass-through to the living room, wasn’t taking advantage of the natural light and the view that captivated Erickson from the get-go. So “we tore it apart,” he says. 

The Simple Approach to Deconstruction: Remove Anything Extraneous

One original wall, which houses the electrical, survived the reno. Otherwise, any extraneous features, including the upper cabinets that once blocked the view, were removed. “I don’t need a lot of cupboard space,” says Erickson. He got rid of every other cabinet and extended the kitchen into the living room by four feet with an island-like counter that separates the two spaces.

New, dark-stained cabinetry (with slow-close mechanisms) ties into the palette of greys and browns throughout the condo. Adding to the mix is a silvery mosaic-tile backsplash, shiny stainless steel appliances and a shimmery quartz countertop. All the fixtures – from the pot lights to the undermount sink and faucet – are brushed steel. Even the electrical sockets follow the theme in brushed steel and black. 

Out of “pure hate for tiling,” Erickson went with large-format plank-like tiles stained a steel-like grey, which mimic the hardwood floor in the rest of the condo. In fact, the scraped-steel look of the tile and hardwood is where Erickson started the design process, emulating concrete flooring to bring an urban loft feel to the once-cramped condo. 

Hands-on Enthusiasm Creates Steely Style

“It’s all about simple straight lines and little colour – very industrial style, very bachelor pad,” says Erickson. His approach was to keep the basics neutral in the small space and then “put colour in with paintings or other things that are more interesting to look at.”

Erickson gets his hits of colour from the action outside on False Creek and the sky and surrounding greenery. Inside, the huge aquarium he installed between the bedroom area and living room is a vibrant diorama of marine life amid all the shades of grey. 

In the end, Erickson managed to pull this trim kitchen together in less than three weeks, despite the chaotic challenge of completing a full-on reno by himself. “At one point I was living on a single mattress by the window and there was a pile of debris a foot from the ceiling,” Erickson recalls.

Now that the dust has settled, he says his kitchen turned out “better than I could have imagined.” This industrial-style pad just took a little bit of engineering acumen and a lot of hands-on enthusiasm. Steely resolve turned to steely style.

Engineering Elegance

  • Purge: “A lot of people hold on to their stuff,” says Erickson. “You have to purge your little belongings and trinkets that you pick up from place to place. Put them in storage and let the space just be.” Being neat goes a long way to making a small space seem big.

  • Skip the storage: “People have a bit of an obsession with storage and cabinets,” says Erickson. “People are very afraid to take away cabinets, but you can find creative ways to put cabinets inside walls.” Today’s condos are built to maximize space for the developer, not the homeowner. Inside those flat intermediate walls is a goldmine of under-utilized space. “If you can push speakers and plants inside walls, it’s esthetically pleasing and makes your place look bigger,” advises Erickson.

  • Go neutral: Keep big-ticket features – floors, cabinetry, appliances, countertops – as minimal and neutral as possible (then add colour through artwork). Neutral doesn’t have to be white: Choose rich, deep browns and sleek greys. “People usually give up and go white,” says Erickson.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.