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How Sascha Lafleur of West of Main Offsets the Cost of a Custom Sofa

Words by Morgan Goldberg
two women sitting at a counter in a kitchen

Photo courtesy of West of Main

For West of Main co-founder Sascha Lafleur, the ultimate luxury is a turnkey design service.

That’s why the Ottawa-based interior design firm she launched with her husband often handles the creation of a home from start to finish. “Over the last eight years, we've perfected our service to provide everything that a client could possibly be looking for,” she explains. “When we do a project, it's move-in ready. Because a house can have beautiful finishes, but it's not going to feel like a home without furniture and layers. We've even laundered the sheets, so the clients literally come home and go to bed.”

If that sounds like a dream come true, that’s because it is. And West of Main has the accolades to prove it, with a 2020 win from The International Design & Architecture Awards and a Style at Home magazine cover under its belt. For a deeper look at how Sascha and her Canadian team achieved this great success—and how they’re moving forward with more new build projects this year—keep on reading.

a bedroom with a large bed and a chandelier

Photo by JPT Media; Design by West of Main

a beige striped pillow on a white background
Editor's PickFilling Spaces Stripe Shades PillowSHOP NOW
a beige chair with a white background
Editor's PickThe Expert Collection Classic Slip ArmchairSHOP NOW

What architectural era is inspiring you right now?

I come from a family of log home builders, so natural aesthetics jive with me most. There are things that I really loved from mid-century design—specifically Frank Lloyd Wright, like the way he would design architecture that fluidly ran through the environment. It’s like music. I don't think necessarily one genre resonates with me most. A good song is a good song. Good design is good design.

What’s your signature design move?

We like to call our style “relaxed elegance.” It always has a very comfortable and laid-back vibe. We like to use a lot of linens and really cozy materials—things that don't necessarily need to be perfect, but that look good with a little bit of a wrinkle. That whole wabi-sabi Japanese idea really resonates with us because it's human. The wrinkles are just telling a story. A home should allow you to live in it. Even if one piece is out of place, it still showcases its beauty.

If your design style was a fashion icon, who would it be?

Jennifer Aniston always had a really relaxed look to her. The way that she would dress was not too fussy, and we're not super high fashion. We're pretty approachable in our design.

What are you dying for a client to request?

We're always just dying for the client to trust us. When we're designing, we're getting to know you. We're getting to know your taste and your lifestyle. And the best thing is for the client to give us as much information as possible and then just trust the process. Trust that you have hired a professional in this.

a bathroom with a tub and a large window
a bathroom with two sinks and a tub

Photo by JPT Media; Design by West of Main

Photo by JPT Media; Design by West of Main

an antique persian rug with an intricate design
Editor's PickDistrict Loom Loma Antique Persian Malayer RunnerSHOP NOW
a wooden stool on a white background
Editor's PickThe Expert Vintage Stool SHOP NOW

What is your architectural pet peeve?

Those awkward, high, slim windows at the top of a wall are just terrible to furnish with. You're not going to put drapes on them, they just look like they're out of place, and they're really not adding a lot of light back in. Also, if you are going to add in some architectural elements, they need to fit the integrity of the home and not just look like a hodgepodge.

What’s the most underrated material that you love?

It's not really underrated in the world, but it’s underrated in Ottawa to use real, natural materials. It might have more maintenance, but it's just so beautiful to use a real stone. But it's almost like a dying art. The beauty in using something raw and manipulating it in an artisanal, expert way can be underrated.

What should always be made custom?

The sofa. Anything that you're sitting on ideally should be custom because it's way more comfortable. You can just really customize it to your lifestyle, whether that's the cushion fill, the depth, the height, the fabric. When we're putting together allowances, we most often factor custom upholstery into the price.

Where do you splurge and where do you save?

In addition to custom upholstery, lighting is another splurge because that's your ambiance. Lighting, we like to say, is the jewelry of the space. We put everything on dimmers so that you can really create that atmosphere that you want. It feeds into your functionality, too. And then you can make a $5 subway tile look like a million bucks, when it's combined with the right finishes.

a living room with a large mirror and a wooden table

Photo by JPT Media; Design by West of Main

a green lamp with a white shade on a white background
Editor's PickRose Tarlow Chinese Ceramic Jar LampSHOP NOW
a brown and white striped pillow with tassels
Editor's PickFilling Spaces Akriti ThrowSHOP NOW

What do you always buy vintage?

We love to buy vintage pottery. And artwork, too.

What’s your best small space design trick?

In a small space, you can go deep and moody. We just did a music room with this beautiful navy lime wash all over the walls, the ceiling, and the trim work. It's just so cozy and intimate. It feels like a big hug.

What is your favorite spot in your home?

My bedroom, because everywhere else is a play zone. Our bedroom is very calm and serene. It has traveled vibes to it. We have a very low bed where all of our family collects so our small dog can climb up into it. And same with our baby. It's perfection.

What’s next for you?

We have a number of really amazing projects going on. We have a few more new builds. We really love being able to start something from the beginning and finish it because that's where you can have the most influence. Our aesthetic will always be that relaxed elegance, but one of the builds has a little bit more of a modern appeal to it, so it's showcasing to people the evolution of our style and what we can do.

a kitchen with a stove, oven, cabinets and a rug
a vase of flowers is sitting on a shelf

Photo by JPT Media; Design by West of Main

Photo by JPT Media; Design by West of Main

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