Bringing the Beauty
When people walk by the Emerge Design studio in Sechelt, they can’t help but stop and peek in the windows. What attracts them is a light-filled sophisticated space, with material vignettes styled neatly on narrow shelves and lots of open, uncluttered work surfaces. Sometimes the public just walks in, intrigued, or industry creatives—tradespeople, artists—stop in to introduce themselves and pitch their work. Clients sometimes drop in just to hang out. The Emerge office perfectly reflects the copmany’s ethos: creating beautiful spaces and facilitating interior design experiences for their clients that are transparent, collaborative and fun.
Established by Principal Interior Designer Gwyntie van Tuyl Weswick 10 years ago, Emerge Design is a team of dynamic women who live and breathe interior design. Their passion is obvious: “We love design so much that we want everyone to love it, too,” van Tuyl Weswick enthuses. Part of fostering that passion is their approach to the design process, especially in their relationships with clients. The team gets to know a client’s personality, inspiration, requirements and wishes, sometimes even meeting their families, or learning about their pets and favourite vacation spots. “Some of the details they share with us become the inspiration for the whole design,” explains Morgan Seeber, Emerge’s Associate Interior Designer
Clients are also welcome to stop by anytime and have their own access to their project’s material samples, plans, and notes. A client can independently show a tile sample to a friend, or pick up an upholstery swatch to mull over at home. “Renovations and builds can be incredibly stressful, so we really try to create an environment internally, as well as for our clients and the trades, that is as relaxed and enjoyable as possible,” describes van Tuyl Weswick. Emerge also provides a comprehensive project package so that all involved have clear direction for every stage of a project.
As a boutique studio, Emerge is able to ensure that every team member in the studio is familiar with every file. If van Tuyl Weswick is unavailable, Seeber will most likely have an answer, or Coordinator Natalie Chell can quickly find out the details, or Design Assistant Jenna Fouillard can offer a familiar face. “It creates such a nice experience when clients come in that they know all our faces,” explains Fouillard. This attentive approach not only enriches client relationships but also brings the whole Emerge team a sense of pride and ownership over every project.
Van Tuyl Weswick is a Registered Interior Designer. As such, she is well-versed in all aspects of the design process, from style and materials, to structural considerations, building practices and permitting. Emerge works with a lot of architects, engineers, and contractors. “We have a really good relationship with our trades,” reflects van Tuyl Weswick. ”Even when we work with new contractors, or vice versa, we try to make it an easy process getting to know us and developing an enjoyable time working together on site.”
One project that required a truly seamless relationship with their tradespeople was the renovation of Dr. Emery Bland’s dental office in Gibsons. Emerge and Spani Developments worked together to tackle several unique logistical challenges: the office had to remain open throughout the entire process, they were doubling their square footage, and strict criteria had to be met because of dental equipment and healthcare standards.
It was important that the design also honour the practice’s existing spirit. “One of the most important things for this project was maintaining the family feel that Dr. Bland’s parents had instilled,” describes van Tuyl Weswick. One of their kid-friendly solutions was designing a play area in the waiting room that is interactive and welcoming: kids can draw at the desk, display their artwork, or lay down on a kid-sized bench if needed.
The office is now imbued with an airy, contemporary West Coast feel, yet it retains the welcoming vibe that existed before. “We love the bright spaces that were created with all the windows, colours and materials that were implemented into the design,” says Dr. Bland. “It feels like we have stepped into the present and are set up for the future,” he continues. “The office was cozy and warm before the renovation and now we still get those feelings but with a fresh, bright and elegant twist.”
While commercial spaces are where van Tuyl Weswick began, Emerge Design’s present clientele is predominantly residential. Homeowners Sheryl and Bob Warner were introduced to van Tuyl Weswick through their contractor Clark Hamilton. The Warners liked van Tuyl Weswick right away and entrusted Emerge to overhaul their 1970’s family home in Sechelt into a modern, serene coastal haven. Gone is the green shag carpeting, the dark cabinets and the avocado green appliances. Now, the three-storey, 2800-square-foot house is filled with airy whites, pops of blue, contemporary furnishings and natural finishes. The open layout on the main floor brings a sense of refined ease and showcases the ocean views beyond.
Emerge also incorporated a selection of the homeowner’s special pieces, reimagined to fit the new scheme: a boat porthole graces the door to the basement, a prized dresser is reworked into built-in storage in the master bedroom. New details such as intricate, custom-etched glasswork in a salmon motif welcomes guests by the front door, the glasswork continues in the kitchen island in a kelp motif.
Everyday life is now a refreshing experience for the Warners. “It feels like we are living the West Coast dream in our newly-renovated home,” describes Sheryl. “We no longer feel like we are stuck in the 70's … The heaviness and clutter have disappeared. The renovation has brought a lightness and tranquility into our lives.”
“We want to create beautiful things, and beautiful things for other people,” van Tuyl Weswick summarizes. “And I love that each project is completely different. Design is such a great challenge—it’s engaging, inspiring and I feel pretty fortunate to be in this industry.” With each renovation, redesign and relationship, Emerge Design is elevating the Sunshine Coast, one space at a time.