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Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon could easily be mistaken for a luxury boutique hotel hidden amid landscaped patios and towering arbutus trees in a picturesque neighbourhood on the west side of Vancouver.
“It’s the fifth largest in the world; 74,000 square feet designed by Vancouver architect Michael Green, housing 73 families with children and teens undergoing life-saving oncology treatments,” says CEO Richard Pass. “And like many people stuck at home during two years of COVID, we also took the opportunity to renovate and refresh,” he explains on a recent tour.
“Rather than just put our own ideas into how the kids’ playroom and teen lounge should look, we asked them directly what they’d like, with several surprises,” admits interior designer Jamie Banfield of Jamie Banfield Design, who worked with Alair Homes on the imaginative build. “For example, in the playroom, boys wanted the colour magenta, and girls wanted blue. And it was important to me to create different vignettes that were gender fluid,” Banfield explains.
The amount of detail in the decor, props and dress-up costumes Banfield and his team researched then installed in the playroom is astounding. The dressing room features a vanity with ultra-stylish hardware pulls and wall sconces, and fun pink faux fur on the stool.
“We found a fantastic hair blower, scissors, even a shaving kit with razors and clippers online and all made of wood that could be easily sanitized. Imaginative play is what we wanted to emphasize, and once when I was visiting, a little girl dressed as an astronaut sat me down in front of the mirror for a haircut,” laughs Banfield.
The kitchenette uses a real sink originally designed for a small powder room, and the faucet (if hooked up) could run water.
“We even took real knobs from a stove and added them to the kitchen play oven, ” adds Banfield.
Several design students of Banfield’s teaching alma mater, Vancouver Community College, volunteered to paint the scenic wall mural behind the three house vignettes, depicting mountains, bridges and tourist attractions found in B.C. and the Yukon.
“We wanted the teen lounge to be recognized as their own cocooning space, almost like being in a cool rec room at home,” affirms Cathy Radcliffe of Cathy Radcliffe Design.
Radcliffe and Margot Jagger of Wilson Road Window Coverings created a cosy, natural vibe and set the tone with a carpet in subdued blues and greens from Banner Carpets. Furniture designer Brent Comer supplied the tables.
“When the arrival of repro Egg Chairs was suddenly cancelled during COVID delivery interruptions, Inform Interiors saved the day with swivel My Turn Chairs in three different colours, designed by Niels Bendtsen,” adds Radcliffe.
A lava lamp, neon sign and a re-purposed sofa in leather for easy sanitation completed the look.
Outside on the RMH BC sport court, the under five-year-olds were participating in their own Indy 500 maneuvering electric cars in front of the vibrant new mural entitled Panorama Ridge by B.C.-born California-based artist Elyse Dodge.
Says Radcliffe: “You know this project, for Jamie and I, and all the designers and vendors who so generously donated to make it happen, was such a wonderful, heartfelt experience. It really put in perspective what’s important during these uncertain times.”
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