For laid-back west-coast style without the pretension (or cost) of Los Angeles, Vancouver fits the bill. A mix of the shimmering new and evocative old merges with the tribal influence of the city's first settlers to create a unique look.
Inspiration can be found at Cross Decor and Design (1198 Homer Street, tel: 604 689 2900; www.thecrossdesign.com), with a ceramic eggshell-blue stool (top right; C$450/HK$2,850), which is hard-wearing enough for outdoors, and a white leather chair (C$2,995) that would look great in any living room.
Chintz and Company (950 Homer Street, tel: 604 689 2022; www.chintz.com) sounds as if it should be awash with the purely decorative but it also has a huge range of practical furniture. A criss-cross wooden stool in ebony (price on application) folds neatly away, while throws in neutral and monochromatic tones are similarly useful.
For one-offs and locally produced work, there's the eclectic Chachkas (2423 Granville Street, tel: 604 688 6417; www.chachkas.ca). It stocks beautiful products that look like something out of a fairytale, such as an entwined candleholder (C$229) and leaf trays (starting from C$35). At Farfalla (57 Cordova Street East, tel: 604 215 8707; www. shopfarfalla.ca) there's more originality, with well-crafted ceramics and glassware, such as a hand painted jar (C$228) imported from Florence and a terracotta pot (C$60) that would look great full of flowers.
In the historic area known as Gastown, you'll find a clutch of good Native American shops. There's also Granville Island, where Circle Craft Co-op (1-1666 Johnston Street, tel: 604 669 8021; www.circlecraft.net) features the work of 200 British Columbian artists. Highlights include a red and gold vase (C$140) and a flower-patterned glass box (C$62.50). This area has established itself as a creative hub and visitors can often see the designers at work.
If you'd rather be the creative one, a visit to Surface Collective (230 Water Street, tel: 604 568 4739; www.surfacecollective.com) is a must. The store sells wall tattoos, allowing you to define your home without the need to paint. The flowering Cherry Blossom (left; C$120) or the dreamy Endless Days (C$90) capture the city's carefree attitude.