It already seems to be another really successful year for Ines Hanl and Kimberly Lewis Manning at THE SKY IS THE LIMIT DESIGN!
In February the interior design duo was awarded with 3 Gold Awards from the BC Chapter, and 2 Gold and 3 Silver Awards from the Canadian Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
‘I am especially proud of the Canada-wide achievements’ says Principal Ines Hanl. ‘We are up against designers and architects from all over Canada, and the fact that we are able to hold our own against projects in metropolitan areas like Toronto and Vancouver speaks for the quality and ingenuity of our work.’
Hanl is also shortlisted in the annual ‘Designer of the Year’ competition by Western Living Magazine. ‘It’s already the second time that I receive this type of acknowledgment, within the short period of 2 years’, she smiles.
This year’s CARE Award competition saw the design studio enter 4 different projects in 8 categories – and all of them made it into the finals.
‘While this year’s projects are all on the modern side of design, the actual project briefs couldn’t have been more different from each other.’
Meanderings, which is a finalist in 4 categories, is the design studio’s first attempt to turn a builder’s spec home into a custom designed house. The clients, a young professional couple from Vancouver, wanted to switch gears from big city living, and move into a small up island community. They were intrigued by the idea of living on a smaller scale, with a focus on great design and high quality workmanship.
‘It was a fantastic project’ Hanl enthuses. ‘The clients let us refine the builder’s original house plans before construction started, and we were able to make adjustments to the layout, create a design theme, maximize the view, and focus on sight lines.’
‘The theme Meanderings refers to the image of waves and organic grow patterns, evoked by the vicinity of the forest and the ocean. It’s evident both in textures and materials, and in the sculptural design of the cabinetry.’
‘The clients were fantastic to work with – they got so inspired by the products we showed them, and we created a palette based on neutral shades, supported by bold graphic, strong colour blocking, and sensual surfaces.’
It’s a very modern interior, a unique combination of calm, serene and joyfully vibrant.’
The second residential project is Shawnigan, a kitchen renovation in a lakefront home in Shawnigan Lake.
‘This was quite the brain teaser’, beams Hanl – ‘I really thrive on those kinds of challenges’.
The clients felt very drawn to a Tuscan style, with the lakefront facade featuring large scale arched windows. However, the inspirational pictures from their kitchen renovation ideabook sported Arts and Crafts design.
‘And then I came into the picture…’ laughs Hanl. ‘First it was easy – reorganizing the kitchen layout, changing the facade with the location of doors and windows, and continuing the arched window design.’
‘Even the perimeter layout of the kitchen was a no-brainer. But then we worked on island designs – and I showed the client how the shape of this island affected the rest of the room. I came up with 7 different versions for the island, and they started to fall in love with my most outrageous design. At one point I had to tell them that I wasn’t be able to give them a traditional Arts and Crafts look anymore, as it wasn’t in keeping with the design language of the island.’
Instead Hanl opted for a mix of charcoal and teak wood veneer, combined with a dark grey metallic finish and lots of stainless steel accents. The colour scheme was drawn from a iridescent turtoiseshell, black and charcoal glass tile blend, which was chosen because it brought the colours of the bark of the surrounding Arbutus tree inside.’
‘I paid further tribute to the client’s style preferences by selecting a floor tile in a stylized Arts and Crafts rose motif, which also picked up on the many curved shapes in the space.’
‘The unusual stainless steel post in the island was a necessary evil – I had to get power into the island, and because I wasn’t supposed to disturb the already in place heated floor I had to come through the ceiling. I designed the island with multiple heights to integrate this post in a natural manner.’
‘It’s a really sexy space now, with a gorgeous view, a serene flow, clean lines and beautiful details.’
Behind the Venture project hides the Gunroom Bar for the Naval Education Center in Esquimalt.
‘This project was particularly dear to us’ states Hanl. ‘My coworker Kim’s husband was the Commander of the HMCS Vancouver, and all things connected to the base are very personal to Kim. We wanted to create a young interpretation of a marine themed bar, while still maintaining respect towards the long history and tradition of the Navy. I didn’t want to fall into the typical ‘West Coast’ design trap – all things big fir beams, lots of traditional wood paneling, huge slate fireplace etc…’
Instead, the design duo devised a modern take on tradition – with rift cut oak and quarter-sawn Mahagony paneling, rhythmically divided by charcoal steel supports which support the nautical flavour. A breathtaking, flaming red steel smokestack serves as an eye catching bartop, and provides traffic flow at the same time.
Marine accent lights, porthole windows, brass accents, coloured bands of navy blue and red, and a gleaming masculine interior for the bar make sure the students approve of their new hang out.
‘We cooperated with Ledcor Construction on the make-over of the bar, and I am very grateful for the fabulous and knowledgeable support they provided us with, to make our vision reality!’
The 4th project nominated for an award in the Best Commercial Interior category is ‘Eye Love You’, which is the competition name for the optometry store Fairfield Optical in the Fairfield Plaza. The store, which hadn’t had a makeover since its inception about 3 decades ago, was in dire need of a facelift.
Cooperating with Island Custom Cabinetry, the design studio gave the store a modern look appropriate to display the designer frames from Germany and France.
‘It was the first time we were working on an optometry store’ says Hanl. ‘This is part of what makes the interior design profession so exciting on the island – we get to explore all those different areas of retail, hospitality, offices.’
What’s next in store for the designer?
“We just finished a really exciting custom home in Kelowna. We also worked on a very whimsical Dr Seuss style playroom, and are often asked to design custom furniture like tables and beds. Another current pet project of mine is an Organic West Coast style residence up island, and we have been approached for a number of European and Mexican themed designs.’
‘We also get more requests which include architectural design, which is part of what I trained for at University in Germany.’ A custom designed Cape Cod style home is currently in the works in Comox.
‘ My past life in theater design, and my artistic inclinations really enable me to work in a wide spectrum of design styles. I traveled a lot throughout Europe, and spent some time in Mexico in the past years. I am also versed in historical architectural styles – for us, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT really is a life philosophy!’
‘If I could send out a wish I would really love to show what could be done with Spa environments, pharmacies, dentists and lawyers offices. In my opinion there is a lot of room for improvement in these categories here on the island.’
‘What I love right now, is to watch the development of a more unique definition of the ubiquitous West Coast Style’ enthuses Hanl.
‘Some of my local design colleagues and myself really try to stretch the interpretation of this style beyond the stereotypical use of dark wood, slate and fir…’
‘I am very grateful to all my clients who let me lead them a bit more along new avenues, as this does require a large amount of trust in my skills.’