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Editorial Archives - Novell Design Build



Colourful Accents

  • By novelladmin
We’ve been featured in a Houzz Article:

In the bathroom and kitchen: accents with colorful fittings



Creating Meaningful Space

  • By novelladmin

Creating meaningful space through thoughtful design gets us excited.


As humans, we are complex organisms with creature needs, habits, cultural behaviours, and social requirements.

Our homes are personally reflective of these complexities. Whether intentional or not, they are an extension of ourselves, becoming intricately intertwined with our daily experiences.

Our home physiologically influences our behaviour, emotions, and overall mental health. The question then becomes: How does one insert intention and meaning into that equation?

As designers, we plan a home around universal needs such as gathering, and relaxing. We employ our technical expertise in building science, vet our work through constructability reviews, and we follow laws of good proportion, balance and rhythm through our aesthetic approach. We continually learn and look for better ways to build and better ways to create.

But that isn’t enough. We feel that in order to design well, we must go further and find out how to make space matter and how to make it matter to you. Creating meaningful space that is intended for your desired experiences is what gets us excited.  We became designers out of an interest in the psychology of space.

Any one of a thousand variables in a space can affect one’s psychology. The volume, light, material, smells, views, connections, and number of steps between experiences all shape whether a space will decompress you, excite you, relax you, facilitate gathering, facilitate retreat, or facilitate memories.

An event is a continual set of exchanges between you and your surroundings. The rooms and buildings we occupy shape us as much as we shape them.

It is incredibly rewarding to combine thoughtful and responsive attention to human needs while creatively shaping space for optimal living experiences that are important to you.

So what’s important to you?

Contact us now for your free consultation.




Back To School, Back To Basics

  • By Tudor

We’re already into a new school year and with back-to-school on the brain, we’re taking a quick look at a design trend that’s become wildly popular with one of society’s most important institutions.  Thoughtful minimalism with surprises of  bold colour characterize a recent wave of school design coming out of countries like Thailand, France and Germany.

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Colour blocking has fluctuated in popularity over the years. Recently we’ve seen its influence in many areas of design including fashion, graphics, interior design and architecture with a fresh whimsy.  We often think of these professions as being very segregated, when in reality, they’re interconnected by trends and disciplines at work in the design world at large.

The direct juxtaposition of austere and vibrancy creates a fun immediate contrast and visual interest.

In building design, perhaps surprisingly, it also has practical uses.

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Psychology plays a big role in making sure that these are effective environments for learning, wellness and growth.  The image we often have when we think of traditional school design is the oppressive massing and lifeless utilitarian interiors that were prevalent two or three decades ago. Architects and designers have jumped on the bandwagon to breathe life back into schools, redefining the image of institutionalized learning.  We’ve seen this revitalization branch out to other areas of design as well.  Decor, furniture and visual art have undergone a kind of renaissance whereby classical aesthetics and influences are re-energized – even with a touch of whimsy.


Modern take on Dandyism vs Fuzzy school

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Colours have been shown to aid learning and can promote activity. Calming colours like greens, blues and purples help to facilitate quiet study. An energetic colour like red is effective in gymnasiums, where it promotes activity.

School blog novell design build 4School blog novell design build 5Other colours like yellow and orange are better suited for hallways because they encourage movement and make sure students don’t loiter between classes.  There is more than randomness going on here.  Walking these halls, the colours serve as visual cues and prompts, helping with orientation.  Colour-coding different floors or hallways makes navigating through a building, known as ‘wayfinding’, more visceral and obvious.

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Fun to think of this sensory shift, especially when unexpected textures add a new dimension to the equation.  Textures give schools a tactile quality that aid in learning and orientation.  There’s just something comfy about a fuzzy burgundy learning space.

Hard to think of these schools as stuffy institutions.  We see new life and light in learning!








Living Small in Metro Vancouver

  • By Tudor

Living Small and Design for Small Spaces

Living small can be a challenge in Metro Vancouver. Here are some tips and tricks.

As part of the GVHBA Spring Home Renovation Seminar, Laurel, director and principal designer at Novell, conducted a presentation on living small and how to thoughtfully design a small space. We’ve dissected our presentation and compiled some of the juicy details for your perusing pleasure. You can view the entire Prezi presentation here. For more information on the projects featured, click on the thumbnails.

Create a beautiful path to a beautiful home

living small

A shipping container becomes an eye-catching home that demonstrates excellent landscape design. Source: Architizer










 Organize your desired experiences

living small

Colour is used to delineate the entryway and storage spaces in this home in Mexico. This design characteristic also separates the living and dining areas from the bedrooms. Source: Dezeen. 

living small

The floor plan of this 581sf home cleverly separates areas meant for entertaining and dining from private spaces. Source: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.

living small

This home’s design creates a psychological separation between areas used to entertain company and areas private to the homeowner. The plan also segregates the kitchen so as so facilitate undisturbed preparation of meals. Source: Slade Architects.












 Design with flexibility

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A 420sf apartment makes the most of its available space using convertible features and flexible living solutions. Source: Architizer

living small

Using tracks, the far wall of this apartment slides to reveal extra sleeping space. A murphy bed in the living area adds a third sleeping area. Source: Architizer

living small

Convertible space allows this small home to accommodate large parties, so entertaining is a breeze. Source: Architizer

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When you think of convertible features, outdoor spaces might not immediately come to mind. In this photo, a home in Australia uses a movable roof to create additional living space. Source: ArchDaily




















Be clever with storage

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A staircase is a great way to put unused space to work. In this 600sf London home, the space underneath the stairs acts as its main storage space. Source: Dwell

living small

This London home is a great example of how a small space doesn’t mean compromising on lifestyle. The owners’ bikes are neatly stored beneath the stairs. Source: Dwell











 Hide what you don’t want to see

living small

Believe it or not, this is a fully equipped kitchen. But what’s missing here? Source: Contemporist

living small

Built-ins are a clever way to hide visual clutter. In this photo, movable panels hide shelves and appliances and instantly convert this minimal space into a functional kitchen. Source: Contemporist











 Use height for more storage solutions

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In this small apartment, vertical space as well as a staircase is doing double duty as storage space. Source: Architizer

living small

Our very own laneway house uses a 12-foot tall space as storage for our clients CD collection.










 Go big or go home

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Less space means your dollar goes further. Have fun with your home using bold accents and fixtures. Source: Dwell

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A smaller kitchen means choosing high quality finishes like marble won’t break the bank. Source: Canadian House and Home











For more small space inspiration, check out our newly completed (and very first) laneway house! You can also vote for it as part of Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Contest 2014.




The Urban Garden: Tomato, Tomahto

  • By Tudor

You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.



Tomatoes grow in an urban farm atop a roof in New York City. Source: National Geographic


Tomatoes growing a vertical garden. Source: Chez Co


Ripe tomatoes harvested on a rooftop. Source: 66 Square Feet


Locally sourced tomatoes in an urban context. Source: Lufa Farms


A colourful collection of grape tomatoes. Source: New City Neighbors









The Urban Garden: Saying Hello to Spring

  • By Tudor

With spring in full bloom, Vancouver residents are ready and eager to put their green thumbs to work.  But because the city isn’t known for its sprawling backyards and enormous lots, amateur horticulturists may be left wanting.

Vancouverites are in luck!

The City of Vancouver has over 70 community gardens that allow residents to grow, tend, and harvest their own crops.  Some of them include Sole Food Street Farms, which operates four urban farms, with three located in East Vancouver.  Their fourth farm is probably the most well known as it sits on land donated by Concord Pacific and is located just steps from BC Place.  Another notable urban farm that caught our eye is Hastings Urban Farm (HUF), located in the Downtown Eastside (DTES).  In addition to veggies and fruits, this farm also produces honey!  By bringing together residents of the DTES, the HUF also does its part in reducing poverty and crime.  The Village on False Creek Community Garden is an urban garden that provides space to a community of residents that otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to grow produce and plant flowers.  If you’re interested in joining an urban garden, My Garden Footprint is a great resource for garden locations and other fun information.

It may or may not surprise you, but urban gardens have flourished all over the world—not just in Vancouver!

An urban garden reclaims spaces that are either disused or repurposed.  London’s WWII bomb shelters are a great example as the gardens make use of existing space that serves no other contemporary purpose.  Detroit, a city that’s often in the spotlight for the state of its urban infrastructure, is trying to revive a deserted neighbourhood with what it’s claiming is the world’s largest urban farm .  In Tokyo, a recruitment firm (pictured above) converted a bunch of space into a farm so that its employees can do some gardening on their free time.  The food grown is also used at the company’s cafeterias to provide workers with locally grown and fresh ingredients.  And while it’s not an urban farm in the way we normally think, a Bangkok skyscraper is home to a symmetrical setup of barrels that are slowly growing edible algae .

Inspired yet?  Grab a spade and get out there and enjoy the sun (while it lasts)!

Photo credits: Kono Designs