meet our happy home designers
Danny Chan, M.F.A.
Interior Designer and Small Space Specialist
Danny hasn't always been an interior designer. For more than twenty years, he was an optician running his own optical store in downtown Vancouver with his father, who was an esteemed optometrist in Hong Kong. This all changed when life put him in a collision course with interior design. The year was 2011. Sandra, his wife, has been operating her decorating business as Sprout Interiors for about four years. She was hired to decorate a townhouse for a family of five. It was going to be a full house project with a very short time frame and she needed help from Danny. He thought it would be to help her with business matters and to carry heavy things around. But to his surprise, he often became a sounding board on many design matters and they worked really well together. It was clear that the synergy was there.
During the course of the project, the most challenging task of turning a small and narrow (4' x 7') flex room into a bedroom fell on him. But by the time the room was completed, everyone was surprised with the innovative solution that Danny came up with (click here to see the project). He was told again and again that he had a real hidden talent and should be a designer. While Sandra and his mother were supportive of the idea, his father was not so keen. He thought it was foolish of Danny, at age 40, to throw away a perfectly good and secure career only to do something uncertain. But Danny wanted follow his heart and see where it may lead.
Danny began by taking a diploma course online from the National Academy of Design in the U.K. By the time he was half way done, he realized that he was in love and wanted to pursue this even more seriously. He decided to attend the Academy of Art University full time to get a master degree, Juggling between his day job and taking care of three young children, he would often wake up at 4 a.m. to study because that's when the house is quiet. Through determination and hard work, he graduated in three years with honours and obtained a MFA degree in Interior Architecture and Design. He also took on the role of support instructor and student mentor at his Alma Mater to nurture the next generation of young designers. He would encourage other art students not to be afraid to pursue their passion. There is a saying that says, "Do What You Love." But Danny would say, "Get paid doing what you love." He is so glad that he made this change and is now living his dream.
Danny calls himself a small space designer. His passion is to help people love their homes in the city, even if it may mean living in smaller spaces. In 2019, he was interviewed by the Globe and Mail and the article was entitled "Smaller homes may make you happier."
His passion for design has allowed him to create beautiful and functional spaces for clients in Vancouver as well as overseas through e-design. After working three years along side with his wife, they co-founded Chan+Dee Designs together in 2014 and continue to specialize in small space design. At the end of 2017, they decided to re-brand once gain and created Happy Home Design, with the goal of making his clients' homes their happy place.
Sandra Dee, B.A.
Interior Decorator and Organizer
From a young age, Sandra has always displayed exceptional organization skills. As a child, she would rearrange her grandma's medicine cabinet whenever she went to visit her. Having graduated from Simon Fraser University with an Accounting degree, she worked for BC Hydro for several years, but eventually, she realized that her passion lied somewhere else. In 2006, she completed a diploma course with the Vancouver School Board on Interior decorating and immediately realized that this was her calling. It is not often to find a person to possess both organizational and aesthetic skills, but Sandra's instructor said that she was such a person and would be a waste not to pursue her dream to become a decorator. In 2007, she registered her business and named it Sprout Interiors.
In 2009, she gave birth to her first child, and it was difficult to run a business while being a full time mom. In 2011, while she was expecting her second child, a friend wanted to hire her to decorate their new townhouse since they were just immigrating to Canada from Asia and didn't have any clue where to shop for furniture. Sandra said yes, but because she was four months pregnant at the time, her parents in-laws told Danny to help her. Well, you already read the rest if you read through Danny's story.
why do they specialize in small spaces?
Danny and Sandra both love calling Vancouver their home. Over the years, they have seen how much this city has changed and in particular, how expensive it has become. As housing becomes more and more expensive, they witnessed friends and family moving away from this beautiful city to the suburbs in search of bigger homes. The down side is that the commute time became longer, work hours increased to keep up with mortgage payment, and there are always so much cleaning to do around a bigger house. For the couple, they love being close to school, library, banks, restaurants, grocery stores, and of course, the very walkable downtown. Instead of spending hours on transit to commute to and from work, they would rather spend that time with their young children. This is why they decided to live in a three-bedroom townhouse in the city with their three children rather than a bigger house in the suburb. You may read an article (by clicking here) in the Globe and Mail where Danny was interviewed in 2019 about why smaller homes may make you happier.
Their company mission is to help families create their happy homes. Thoughtful space planning and good design are keys to creating a functional and beautiful place you'd love to call your HAPPY HOME.