Comox 2

    March 21, 2011

    It has been a while since I wrote the last blog about a project. Time seems to fly, and we are busy looking after a large variety of very different projects, many of which are out of town, and therefore require a lot of traveling and on line communication.

    BUT – as this years competition deadlines are coming up we did manage to get at least parts of a very exciting project up island photographed. There is still more to come – the master bath hasn’t been shot yet, and Martin Zemp is still working on the realization of a Dr. Seuss style kids playroom – and I don’t expect that to be finished until the fall….Good things do take some time, and there is so much other stuff going on in Martin’s work life right now ( I am sure I will report on the outcome of the other projects at some point)…

    kids playroom 1

    The following project has been in the works for a number of years. It is a new construction, partially timber frame, split level, for a professional couple and their young twin daughters. There were 2 main challenges – the layout of the architecture, which sports extremely sharp angles on both oceanfront-facing corners of the house, and the heavily dimensioned fir posts, beams and casings throughout.


    This painting was the starting point for the colours scheme – although, to be honest, I had planned to use rich blues and reds before had even seen this piece of art, but it came as a very fitting surprise when I received an email with a photo of it attached.


    This unit is a multitasking room divider. It’s design is based on a hand, with it’s fingers stretched out like a fan. The individual elements all serve a different purpose, according to their position in the space. The natural bamboo display unit greets the visitor right at the entrance, and leads into the Great Room. The blue stained bench serves of course as a convenient spot to take shoes off, and the angled art wall above houses air conditioning vents.

    footprint 001

    On the other side a red low unit juts out facing the dining area, and it holds the appropriate paraphernalia like cutlery, place mats, candles etc.
    Protruding above is the bamboo counter, which turns into the desk top.


    The dark chocolate uppers, which are lightened up by an insert of acid etched mirror to diminish the visual weight, house fine china, and hide the typical daily clutter that surrounds a desk.
    The unit wraps around in a faux leather finish rubber gable, which also houses the home technology panel.

    Nobody would really think twice that the whole reason for the existence of this unit is the fact that I wanted to hide a structural wall, which I felt was inappropriately positioned in the middle of all the public areas.
    If you can’t hide something, make a feature out of it…

    In the background you can see the wood burning fireplace wall, which is the heart of the living area. We covered the wall in a rusted copper looking large scale tile, added some floating 2” fir shelves, which replicate the steps on the curved stair next to it. The top of the bench/hearth is poured in place blackened concrete, as is the mantel.


    Carrying on into the Great Room, which includes the kitchen with it’s long swooping island, the dining area, the banquette, an area for a lounge chair and the desk/china cabinet side of the room divider unit.

    Creating the spatial concept for this area was quite challenging. Architectural designers might come up with some really exciting exterior features, but in case the suggested kitchen footprint was just that of a very ordinary house, so it needed to be changed in order to be in sync with the architecture.
    The sharp corner needed to be accentuated yet softened, which resulted in the curved banquette with a custom made raw steel and coconut plywood table. Red leather upholstery adds a necessary punch of colour, and the playful Ant chairs in 3 different colours give stylish testament to the fact that there are kids in the house.


    The low sill height was another challenge that needed to be overcome, as it didn’t make for a comfortable back on the bench. The answer were stainless steel stand-offs, which support upholstered leather bolsters in the straight parts of the bench.


    The kitchen is been made up by 3 different elements
    the long work island, made of chocolate bamboo, with a faux leather (rubber) back and a raised, natural bamboo bar, which is a piece of master workmanship in itself( thanks, Martin!!)
    The monolithic back wall, which embeds a core of a large variety of stainless steel appliances into shimmering stainless steel laminate fronted cabinetry, around which wraps a band of chocolate bamboo pantries and uppers.


    The sculptural multilevel island, which adds playfulness and dynamic to the more stark pieces. It houses a prep sink, holds a Mixmaster on a pull-up shelf, sports an open blue shelving unit, topped by Bamboo butcher block as well as a lower stainless steel counter, on which the kids can either sit or give a hand in making cookies…


    There is in fact more storage available in the near-by pantry, which terminates into a mudroom at the back entrance (sorry, no photos yet).
    But we stayed very stylish in that area as well, with natural bamboo tall cabinets with an accents chocolate drawer front throughout. The mudroom consists of a bench and uppers on either side for shoe storage, hooks etc.
    The built-in closet received stainless steel frame doors, 2 of which have a centered panel from red laminate for a jolt of colour, and the third one in between those two has a magnetic black board, so that the kids can draw and the adults can leave easy-to-find messages.


    Adjacent to the mudroom is the guest bath, which has 2 entrances – one from the mudroom, one from the guest bedroom.
    Due to the fact that we had to accommodate 2 entrance doors the actual usable space in this space was quite diminished. Nevertheless we managed to create a thoughtful and suitable vanity complete with adequate storage for this area. The answer lay in the use of a so-called semi-incasso sink, which needs very little cabinet depth, and only protrudes at it’s very tip to a spacious 16” diameter sink. We used the 2 colours bamboo again to stay consistent, and added a blue glass strip tile with charcoal lines, which plays off the natural tones of the bamboo quite beautifully. Inset into the tile is a strip of mirror, and we mounted a very restrained contemporary up/down light onto it, which has the added benefit of doubling up the amount of light it produces.


    The powder room is a very mysterious place. The only space in the house without natural light, and with a very odd curved shape to it, I wanted to make use of those ‘disadvantages’.
    I thought of it as some sort of a ‘Grotto’, but I needed to be practical at the same time ( in order to be true to my design philosophy).
    So I used the available tall wall for a walnut storage unit, complete with tall tower, lower cabinet and a display niche in form of a black, illuminated shadowbox with a shimmering acid etched mirror back.
    The laminated-glass vessel sink sits on a verdigris-copper counter top with a 6” front, embellished with Oceanside iridescent red and copper tile. I think the photos speak for themselves as to the stunning result.
    Using mirrors in creative ways adds to the mystique of the design, and -deliberately- confuse the eye a little.
    We painted the walls and the ceiling in a gold-green Perlata Stucco to add texture and reflection to the space.


    The Kids’ Bath is one of my all-time favourite designs – many thanks to clients, who let me have this kind of fun, while still giving them a very useful piece of cabinetry…

    I designed it shortly after we had received a then-new product – man made veneers, made to look like endangered or short-in-supply real wood veneers. Just spreading out the fan deck of veneers made me want to come up with something where I could use several of them in one piece.
    As this house has been in the works for quite a while those veneers are more common now, and I have used several of them on other projects, but I think this is one of the best examples what can be achieved with this type of product.
    Each child got her own sink, under mount in an easy-care white Corian counter top with a fruity 3 colour glass tile apron front.
    Angled drawer fronts in Oak an Wenge and adorned with square glass knobs divide those sinks, and the unit is topped by a Zebrawood upper cabinet with a light hearted angled acid etched glass insert. This center tower supports a mango coloured bulkhead, into which puck lights are embedded. The counter-to-bulkhead mirrors duplicate this light and enlarge the quite normal sized bathroom.


    The same yummy tiles ( just in square) from the vanity were used for the very dynamic pinwheel pattern in the shower – combined with a simple, slightly dotted white porcelain tile they just make your head spin a little…
    At last we painted the walls a vibrant lime green – the space looks like one can take a bath in a very yummy fruit cocktail, complete with a cookie with chocolate filling, plus whip cream…
    (Just guess – do I like food???)

    This is it for now – I will update once we get more photos. There is still the Master bath to be shown, Martin is supposed to build a bed for the Master bedroom (I know I did a design a while back, but I already forgot…),and then of course this Playroom is still to be done…And we did paint the kids bedroom in a whopping 6 colours – a bit like an Easter Egg, just softer, and surprisingly calm…But the furniture is missing in there…
    Stay tuned!

    THE SKY IS THE LIMIT DESIGN is a national and international award winning, full service architectural and interior design firm. We service Vancouver, Kelowna and the BC Mainland, Victoria and Vancouver Island, Seattle and the small islands as well as international clients. Principal Ines Hanl and her team specialize in the creation of artful, bespoke interiors in any style for their discerning clientele.

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