Blog

    Kitsilano Project

    September 6, 2011

    The interior photos are courtesy of Elizabeth FitzZaland from Green City Builders in Vancouver. Many thanks to Sam FitzZaland and Owen Crane from Green City Builders for the exceptional work on this project!

     Sam, Owen and Ines celebrating the 'Almost-there' stage...

     Before

     

    Client and Agenda

     

    The client, a watercolour artist of Dutch descent, saw photos of our contemporary Landsend Project in a magazine, and asked us to assist her in the renovation of the kitchen, dining area and powder room in her Kitsilano home.

    She was looking for a contemporary design, a calm and uplifting environment with casual seating for 2 people. Due to the radiant heat in the existing floor we tried to avoid more than necessary disruption of the concrete slab in regards to changes to plumbing or electrical work.

     Pleasance

    Creating a space concept

     

    The existing footprint divided the space into a small U-shaped kitchen and a small nook with a bay window.

     Main floor footprint

    We created variations around the theme of an L-shaped perimeter, with an extension of lower cabinetry along the bay window wall, seating for 2, and an island. The shorter leg of the ‘L’ was the perfect location for the tall cabinetry, the window area along the long wall was perfect to be the clean up area, and the remainder of that outside wall was destined to be the right location for the stove and hoodfan, as this made venting the hood one easy task.

     

    Option 1                              Option 2

     

    Option 3                         Option 4

    Although this seemed to be a rather straightforward concept it took us a while to settle on the right solution for the informal seating and the island design.

    As is typical for our approach here at THE SKY IS THE LIMIT we played with a number of different approaches ( 6, to be precise), and ended up with a 7th final version.

     Final Footprint

    This final version sports a floating rectangular countertop that shoots out from the bay window, and a corresponding 4′x4′ island, which sits on metal furniture legs on a ‘sea’ of white pebbles submerged in resin.

     

     Selection of finishes

     

    Working with artists is always very rewarding. The way they express themselves in their artwork already gives a lot of clues about their preferences in terms of hues, texture and composition.

    Claudia’s atmosperic naturalistic watercolours exude a sense of energetic calm, and seeing them I knew we would be looking at a combination of tone on tone materials and a mix of soft textures.

    The energy of the space itself seemed to ask for light colours, but in the midst of my mix of materials that I brought on site in order to play with them together with the client, both of us felt the need for an energizing element. Playing upon the clients Dutch heritage we found this super-juicy high gloss mango foil, which we decided to integrate into the cabinet fronts amidst the quiet cream faux wood and textured white laminates we selected first.

     glossy foil in mango

     

     

     

     

    Close up on the Faux Wood laminate

     

    My approach to space organization and millwork design seems to lend itself for a deliberate mix of finishes and materials – in most of my projects it is always fairly easy to suggest a combination of finishes, which in my opinion helps to achieve a balance both in colour and texture. I admit I am influenced by the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui when it comes to balancing ‘elements’, and although I am by no means an expert in this ancient art I refer to Feng Shui’s cycles of elements when combining finishes.

    Granted, one could just go for one finish alone ( and –honestly– THAT is easy…), and I will certainly recommend that route should the overall ‘look’ require a more uniform feel. Depending on the size of a space this could however create an overly stark looking environment. This look is often sought out for features in high end contemporary design and architecture publications, but it might not satisfy the need for the nurturing home environment many of us are looking for in reality.

     

    Where or how do you start with the selection of finishes?

     

    Well, that ALWAYS differs, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this.

    There will be a starting point somewhere – you might fall in love with a particular product, be that what it may – flooring, backsplash material, a certain type of wood, a funky laminate, an area rug, a piece of art… The list is endless.

     

    In this case we started with the cabinet fronts, and once we had those it became clear that we were looking at a Cape Cod/ Beach inspired palette with a blend of soft tones like dried grass and sand, white pebbles and clouds, light grey stones and some very soft shades of green.

     

    I happened to have a beautiful soft grey commercial vinyl in my stack of products, which had an elegant shimmer to it, while also being reminiscent of a well done concrete finish – it just turned out to be the perfect choice for the floor throughout the area, and I didn’t even have to look far. This product is very soft to stand on, which is important if you plan on doing more in your kitchen than making coffee and toast, and super easy to maintain.

    I also had a little darling sample ( I have those – little treasures that I just keep around in case I ever find the right home for them) of small white pebbles submerged in resin with me. It’s a product from an Italian company which ‘buries’ all kinds of stuff in resin – tiny shells and starfish for shower pans for example, or coffeebeans, which would make a beautiful choice for – yeah, how creative – a coffeeshop countertop!

     

    pebbles in resin tile

      Close up on the pebbles...

    The client loved it as much as I did, so we decided that we could put the island on legs for a more airy furniture feel, and accentuate that space under the island with that product. That idea again led to the decision to use the mango foil on the island, together with a product, which was the original reason for the client choosing me as her designer – a 1” thick textured glass counter from Thinkglass. The client had called me up after having seen a kitchen of mine in a magazine, that featured one of Thinkglass’ spectacular products prominently.

    This island is a truely poetic statement – it looks like it stands in a lake, with the stainless legs almost creating a wavelike effect due to their design.

     

    The ‘Pebblo’ texture of the glass intensifies the imagery of water, and the reflection of the potlights above give this glass top a glowing, almost ethereal quality.

    Close-up of the Thinkglass countertop 

     

    We installed LED lights underneath to accentuate the pebble floor, and one can get almost transfixed staring at the optional colourful lightshow.

    And don’t forget to check out the reflection of the glass on the ceiling!

     

     

    The illuminated island at night

     

    Interstyle’s Icestix glass tile blend, which we used as the backsplash, with it’s glossy, matte and iridescent mix plays up on this effect just beautifully – although it is a mosaic made up of simple rectangular tile sticks it creates an effect like waves, with the iridescence introducing and reinforcing a variety of soft colours.

    Interstyle Icestix iridescent tile blend 

    As for the remainder of the cabinetry – once we decided on using the faux wood laminate for the long wall, and a textured white laminate for the tall units, I knew I wanted to ‘hinge’ those 2 areas together with the mango foil – that way the island was not a total stand-alone, but had a companion which tied it in.

     W14_After_Cabinets

     

    Another sumptious element which contributes nicely to the mix is the Zebrawood veneer ( the real one, not the manmade substitute) on the floating tabletop. I had used this veneer on a previous project, and we happened to have several strips of the product left over, so it was a perfect coincidence thatwe could use the remainder for this project. I learned to love the subtle yet very determined grainlines in this beautiful natural product – it doesn’t look anywhere close as busy as its manmade substitute…

     

    Zebrawood!!

    There is a challenge combining natural and fake wood products, but I for one am very satisfied with this particular outcome!

     Informal seating with clean up in the background

    Another intriguing choice was the product for the interior door. First I questioned the need for a door, but the client felt that when she was practising one of her many instruments that there would be a need to close the door for privacy.

    We decided to enlarge the door substantially heightwise to correspond with existing structural lines in the house, which also made that door more of an architectural statement instead of just a trhough-way.

    Another one of my little treasures is a translucent panel product, that has Magnolia leaves laminated between 2 layers of resin. That product put into a frame of 2” wide stainless steel made for a sensual yet modern alternative to frosted or clear glass. Clear glass might have been a bit of a safety concern, and frosted glass is always more cool in effect, so I appreciated it very much to have such a narrative product available to me. It was such a subtle, welcome addition to the whole product scheme.

     

     

     

    Magnolia leaves in resin 

     

     Peek-a-Boo into the kitchen - Magnolia leaves in resin translucent door panel

    A more tricky question was the selection of handles – as soon as you introduce several finishes on cabinetry one has to consider that they will need different hardware as well. The problem with that is that those different handles need to work together stylistically- details like the same type of metal finish or the shapes of corners and edges need to be looked at closely.

    Due to it’s contemporary flavor and the stainless steel accents throughout I wanted to find a collection in stainless steel, and believe it or not – there is not all that much out there right now.

    In addition to that I needed to find a recessed handle for the island ( I didn;t have a countertop overhang on the glass…), that was easy to grab – a lot of those recessed handles have either too small an opening, or are too harsh on the edges and therefore not nice to the touch. Or – if you have long fingernails – you end up scraping either the doors, or breaking your nails or damaging the lacquer all the time…

     

    Anyway – we did find a line from a European manufacturer, that not only gave me the selection I needed, but also featured a handle just along our theme – one with a wave design! We used that one for the long perimeter wall cabinetry, and I managed to find a long handlebar for the tall appliances including the fridge, as well as a useful recessed pull for the island – yeay! Happy me…

      Conteporary curved handle

     

    For the powder room we obviously had the vinyl floor as a guidance, and then – along the way – both the client and I really liked a companion of the mango foil – in a light seagreen, which was thematically corresponding, and perfect for its water-themed location. We combined it with a light birch laminate for the tall cabinetry hiding washer and dryer, topped it with a delightful white cement based product with green glass in it ( the product line is called Icestone), and added mother-of-pearl finished glass tile mosaic for the backsplash. 

    sage icestone

     

    Close up of Icestone counter and Mother of Pearl glass backsplash

    You see – we were totally consistent with our beach theme! But it’s subtle and elegant, quite urbane if you wish.

     Green foil vanity with wavy 2-piece knobs

     

     

    The client was very delighted and commented on the fact that she has never experienced a contemporary environment that was at the same time so calm, tactile and visually rewarding.

     

    overall view

     

     

    Colour Me Happy

    August 16, 2011

     

     

    COLOUR ME HAPPY!

     

    But how…

     

    One top priority topic for most clients is the choice of room colours – our clients, most of whom are involved in a larger scale project like building or renovating, often raise this issue way ahead of time. Most of the time it is the female member of a client-couple who is popping the

    C-question, which could either mean that amidst the flurry of technical considerations and the often overwhelming task of decision-making about the nuts and bolts of their reno they simply want to start dreaming about the feel and look of their new home environment, or it could also be that females are more emotionally affected by the effects of colour ( or at least they are more conscientious about those effects on their psyche).

    Guys usually get more of a kick out of the before mentioned technical considerations, and gladly leave the decorative stuff to the girls – a fact that comes in handy when having to mediate between partners…

     1

    It never seizes to amaze me that there are actually designers out there who feel comfortable to select room colours for a client without being IN the space. Yes, of course it is super easy for someone who is experienced with colours to make a nice paint selection at their desk on a sheet of white paper. No big deal for a professional, really, and easily earned money…

    But I bet a lot of clients go home and find that they don’t like those choices once they are on the walls.

     

    How could that be??

    Guess what – rooms themselves have personalities, and just like you yourself are not comfortable wearing colours which don’t suit your personality, so does your room.

    I am not being mystical about this, I am simply speaking from years of observing this phenomenon – it’s fascinating, but for a professional also humbling. When clients go through my selection method with me they might be at first a bit flustered by the length of time I take to figure out the right choice, but while being there with me they develop an eye and a sensibility for the process themselves, and subsequently feel empowered to make their own choice, as it takes the mystery out of picking colours.

     oliver-943

    It doesn’t matter if a client is looking for a rather monochromatic look or really enjoys a colourful look – my approach to selecting the right colour, shade and hue will always be the same.

     

    Lets look at the make-up of a colour first:

     colours 1

    It all starts with the pigment, or HUE – yellow, blue and red. Those are the so-called primary colours, out of which all other colours can be mixed. I am sure you have heard of the colour wheel (as conceived by Sir Isaac Newton), that shows how they are arranged, with the colours that result from mixing one with each other in between – yellow – orange – red- red/blue (purple) – blue – green. The more sophisticated the colour wheel, the more shades you have in between.

     

    Opposing colours on this colour wheel create a so-called complementary contrast – the most well-known one might be red/green, blue/orange is another one for example.

     colorwheel

    At university we were shown an experiment: if you use 2 dia slides, each one being tinted in each others complementary contrasting colour, and you would overlay them on a white wall, they would result in white again, and if you mixed those colours together as paint they would (ideally) result in black – however, in real life experiments that never happens – a murky, muddy, rather dead looking brown is all you will get, but you do get the point… (for gardeners – the same thing happens when all those colourful flowers go back to rich, dark brown compost)

     a fruity colour mix for a kids bath

    A simple homespun test to find the complementary colour is to concentrate your gaze on one particular colour for a few minutes, then look away onto a white surface – your eyes will show its complementary colour to help the nerves in your eye achieve balance again.

     oliver-928

    Those opposing colours can bring the best and also the worst out in each other, so it’s important to know about this phenomenon and make good use of it.

    More about this a bit later…

     Hanl019

    SATURATION is the next defining factor – how much of that pigment is actually being used to achieve the colour – think pastel shades versus jewel tones…

     

    And then there is the actual shade or LIGHTNESS – how much white or black pigment has been used to lighten or darken the pigment?

     

    In university we did a whole lot of interesting hands-on colour experiments, based on colour theories by Bauhaus members like Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, who again developed Johann Wolfgang von Goethes colours theories from 1810 further. It was fascinating training, and helps to develop colour sensitivity, but you don’t have to worry – you really don’t have to go that far to find YOUR very own colours!

     

     

    Josef Albers - Hommage to the SquareIt is indeed much easier than you might think…

     

    I would suggest the following: with all those wonderful paint stores out there, be it at your local building supply center, or at one of the independent paint dealers, you have a huge selection of colour swatches (those sample cards with several colours printed on them) available to you.

    Without putting yourself under pressure, take some time, poke around, and simply grab all the different swatches that appeal to you. Have fun with this, take a friend if you like! Don’t limit yourself from the start by fretting about the question if that colour works with your ……(fill in whatever comes to mind).

    You might have one particular colour in mind – in that case I would recommend that you grab a whole variety of that colour in a variety of shades and saturations.

    If you don’t have one particular hue in mind I would very much suggest that you go with the before mentioned approach and take home whatever seems to make your soul sing. Even better – sign out the fan deck and take it home. As mentioned before – rooms have their own sense of colour, and they will help you make a choice if you opt to listen.

    No laughing matter – I have a lot of clients who can vouch for this.

     057.1

    When I am working on a colour selection in a clients house I bring my own colour fan decks from different manufacturers with thousands of options with me. We spread them out in the room, and start what I call ‘editing’.

    Of course it depends very much what else is going to be in that room – flooring, tiles, cabinetry, countertops, furniture. Those items will sure have their own say in the colour selection, which could make the whole process either easier of more difficult…

     Overview of the millwork with the custom blend mosaic backsplashClose up o the blend, which combines all the different shades of blue and green which we used throughout the home. The bronze and pewter etal finishes paraphrase the metal finishes we used, as well as the warm and cool grey colours we used to keep all that vibrant colour in check.

    But for the novice paint-selector it will be a great experience to see how easy it is to do that first step of colour editing – a lot of the colours on the fan deck will just do nothing for you and the space, and you will be able to put them aside very quickly.

    The reason why I am able to say that the room will decide for itself has to do with the intrinsic quality of natural light in a space. Coming from a medieval small town in Germany, where the local building code only allows for slightly dull, powdery pastels on the exterior of the old houses I can relate to how much culture influences your aesthetic choices – but also how freeing it is to break out of that mold, and be influenced by different cultures and colour ways

    .

    It is so inspiring to recognize how much the quality of light influences colour choices – just think of the typical bright white and intense Lapislazuli blue of Greece, or the soft ochres, blues and yellows of the Provence. Think of the jewel tones of India, and the brisk fresh colours of Scandinavia. If you try to transport those exact colours into your particular environment it will most likely go horribly wrong – you have to adjust that colour to work with the particular light quality, and make visual corrections depending on the landscape. Evergreens, rocks and water in the landscape will have huge impact on what is going on inside.

     The glass/stone mosaic tile on this fireplace reflects the natural hues of the cliff upon the house is built

    Colour is energy, and stimulates the senses, and you want to use this tool well to make you feel good!

     

    Going back to Operation Fan Deck.

    Once you wiggled it down to the shades that seem – for whatever reason- ‘work’ in your room, you make personal choices – which of those remaining swatches do the most for YOU? Away with the rest…

     

    And when you are done with that process – which of the remaining colours work well with your furniture, your area rug, the other finishes?

    Is there a particular piece of art that is going to live in this room? Which hue works really well with the painting? Just hold the swatches up behind the frame, and you will see for yourself…

     

    A deep eggplant creates an elegant and striking backdrop for a vibrant piece of art. Notice the effect of the dark red wall in the media room in the back, and how your eye travels from the painting to that room and back

    Make sure to do this process with another person, as you will/might need a set of hands to hold swatches up in order for you to be able to step back and get a good look.

     

    By that time you might be down to 2 or 3 different colours – now it’s the time to put some double sided tape on the back of those cards and put them up on a wall. On a swatch card with a graduation of shades it will allow you to determine the intensity of the hue.

    As always, make sure to look at the colours from a distance.

     

    After that it would be the time for some hands-on home work: you could go and get small sample pots of the final 2 or 3 colours. Grab sheets of poster board and paint them up nicely. Put those larger samples on ALL the walls in your space, and look at how they change depending on their exposure to light. Give yourself 1 or 2 days at least to go through this process. You would want to experience not only the difference between day and night, but also between a sunny and an overcast day.

     

    Be advised that the window wall is always the darkest of the walls, and the colour will also be influenced by the rather blue reflection on this wall. I had an extreme case where we wanted to paint the space a powdery rose colour – beautiful calm hue, but what a surprise when it turned bright pink on the window wall. We had to put a lot of tan pigment in it to achieve the desired calm effect…

     theneutral wallcolour and the typical wood floor could be a boring combination, would not the glossy light green glass tiles on the 1950's inspired bar add an uebercool contrast

    If you find that your choices seem to be too loud, or in your face – then it’s time to utilize what you learned before about saturation of a colour, and select something that is dulled down a bit, or simply softer in shade.

     

    And one tidbit of advice – colours are best looked at on a neutral white background. If you have already a colour on the wall that’s to be painted, then this underlying colour will have an impact on the appearance of your new choice! So make sure to keep this in mind, and if you think it’s necessary put a larger sheet of something white underneath!

     

    See – that wasn’t too hard, was it? Just takes time, and deliberation – and it would take time for a designer to do that, too. There is no real magic in this process – not yet, that is, and not for a single room.

     A beautiful yellow adds some mediterranean warmth to this elegant kitchen

    The magic will be necessary when you are dealing with homes that are supposed to get a lot of colour – 16-20 is actually quite often the case with my clients and I love those kinds of challenges!

    By no means is the house supposed to look like a child’s crayon box – and that is where the artistic part of colour coordination comes into play.

    More of that later – lets just finish your room!

     

    So – what other surfaces will need colour in your space – of course the ceiling, then most likely trim (the wooden pieces around windows and doors), there could be potentially decorative paneling or wainscoting, crown molding, and of course the doors.

     

    Martha Stewart colours

    I had some of swatches of the new Martha Stewart Living colour collection in my hands yesterday – very interesting concept. I found that the line would not be working all that well here in my local digs, however, we selected quite a few of those colours for a job about 500 km from here in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. On the back of the paint chips they cleverly show you strips of complementing colours – one for the ceiling, one for the woodwork. Although the colour selection is beautifully executed, as are all of Martha Stewart’s professional endeavours, not all of them were sitting right with me. Some of the ceiling options would have been way to dark in an 8′ high room. However, I do invite you to consider using something else but white on the ceiling.

    But that could be a bit tricky – as mentioned, you need to keep the room height in mind, and how the shade of a colour can affect proportion.

     

     

    Crisp white millwork and the soft green and blue shades of the ceiling were inspired by traditional Scandinavian colour schemes

    Oftentimes a ceiling should be like a sky on a day that is not particularly sunny, but also not overcast – just neutral, not asking for any attention at all.

    You can get ceiling colours straight from the can, which is an option if you really don’t want to bother to much with the selection of off-whites.

    Or you look for well-loved off-whites, which are part of any paint manufacturers collection. The staff at your paint store will be able to advise you on this.

    One of the most favourite off-whites ever must be Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White – it is softer than a regular white, and blends beautifully with many colours…

     Off white and cream coloured millwork form the neutral base for a cheerful wall and ceiling treatment

    If I am selecting colours for a whole house I select ALL my wall colours first before selecting a suitable white – reason being that I would prefer to work with the same white throughout the house to keep things a bit more simple.

     

    But I would encourage you to consider different hues for a ceiling as well. I made really good experiences with very soft blues and blue-greens, which creates a Swedish freshness in a space.

    I have also done very bold tones for confined areas in the entrance, and in dining rooms – small spaces can take strong colour, as can rooms that are mainly used at night.

    A mysterious powder room with shimmering mushroom coloured walls and ceiling

     

    A few of my powder rooms end up without natural light – in this case I make a point out of their mysterious ambiance, and a white ceiling would absolutely not work with this. I used a dark charcoal in one instance – it was a 42”x80” room, but with 9′ ceiling, and I needed to bring the ceiling visually down, and in another case I simply used the wall colour on the ceiling as well.

     

     

    A powder room without a natural light source has been painted out in a dark teal tone. All walls as well as the ceiling were treated to this dark shade, to make the 'fake' window glow mysteriously

    For another job with stunning all white glass tiles on the wall I considered painting the ceiling a hot orange or lime green – the verdict on that one is still open…

     

    As for the colour for baseboards and casing – the easiest and most used approach must be an off-white. The advantage is that you don’t run into issues of transitioning from one room to the next.

    Sometimes those pieces are wood anyways, so you just have to make sure that the wall colour complements the wood.

    If you are asking if or if not to paint the wood – that’s a tricky question. Some houses seem to do better with wood than others.

     An intense red display cabinet holds its own against the dark stained alder cabinetry and the wood floors

     

    But it’s not always about easy and most used…

    A current job found me recommending black for the interior trim colour – picking my clues from the finishes on the floor tile, the cabinetry, countertops and the wall tile in the kitchen. This colour scheme, albeit very neutral, was so strong that we had to continue it into other areas of the house.

     

    If you are looking to paint paneled walls then of course your options are wide open – you don’t have to stick with off white, or wood. Essentially you have to treat it the same way you select a wall colour, just in this case there is a second wall colour that needs to work with it.

    2 nuances darker or lighter than the chosen wall colour might be an easy option. A complementary contrast colour could also be considered. A neutral other than white – lets say in the warm or cold grey spectrum – could also make a great colour partner.

    This is where snippets from magazines, or the brochures from paint manufacturers come in handy.

     

    OR – something that I would warmly recommend – you could go on your own quest to create something unique, and look someplace totally different for inspiration.

    How about looking at a photo book on tropical sea life, or butterflies. Shells and flowers, fruit, bark, rocks and pebbles all make for great examples of perfect colour coordination. Nature provides you with great ideas both intense and subdued, but never ever boring.

    Butterfly/Flutterby...seashellsTropical Fish

     

     

    Man-made products like graphics, fabric and fiber art, and area rugs are another good source. You might want to check out the works of Master painters and mosaic artists, too.

     

    My personal colour journey took me from the rather grey pastels from my childhood town and the proverbial yet politically incorrect statement that ‘green and blue is only the shoemakers wife’ (Gruen und Blau ist dem Schuster sein’ Frau – which, I assume now, meant, she got beaten up by her husband on a regular basis – poor woman…anyhow, the essence of this proverb was that one just did NOT combine green and blue), to the paint colours of the Blaue Reiter movement, Kandinsky, Miro, Chagall, through wild brights and stark black and white patterns of a 1980′s design movement called Memphis, the then-outrageous colour combination of red and purple by fashion Grand Seigneur Yves Saint Laurent, to psychedelic candy colours and lots of black.

     

    Although this is only a set for teddybaers ( which, by the way, Klaus and I created ourselves for a store), it reflects very clearly the muted colours of my medieval hometown, Rothenburg ob der Tauber

     

    Throughout university I learned to appreciate the calming effects of natural hues, greens and blues, the subtle elegance of neutral and wood tones mixed with bold use of colours so noticeable in Japanese design, the colour blends of India, Russia, Sweden, Bali, and then of course the intricate colour schemes of the architectural beauties of the Victorian era in North America – the Painted Ladies…

     

    Intense crisp white and royal blue are the epitomy of Greece - at least to me...

     

    Growing up in the 60′s, in a then-fashionable, but rather depressing beige household, the effects of colour on my psyche still amaze me. Upon coming to Canada, learning that wood can actually be painted – a sacrilege where I am from, as wood is to be left, or stained, brown -was a very liberating experience!

     Sitting against a dark blue background makes everything in the childrens book store pop

    I would always encourage you to explore the effects of colour on your own life and psyche.

    the exuberant colour of India

     

    I firmly believe that a lot of mental illnesses could be remedied by simply un-cluttering the living environment and selecting healing colours! Even in the work environment, and for sure in hospitals and other health-related environments the mindful use of colour should be mandatory.

    Design for a kids' playroom - who wouldn't want to chill out in this space, no matter what the age is? 

    Choosing multiple colours for a home

    When you apply the above mentioned process room by room you will end up with a whole range of those colour swatches. Lay them out on a flat surface, again on white substrate, and look at them together. They should come together like the colours of a painting, which will result in a visual flow when you travel from room to room. I am positive that you will notice if there is an odd colour out, or if there is something jarring. Having one colour standing out might be the little bit of spice that is not only acceptable, but even required to result in a, uplifting environment. Just make sure that that particular shade is used in a small amount, for example in a powder room, or on a colour-blocked accent wall, not on all the walls of the largest room in the house.

    Again, look at flowers, for example – often they sport the tiniest amount of a very bright colour accent in their center – that’s the effect you try to achieve.

     

    Cultural influences

    The other day I had a colour consultation with a client, who just returned to North America from living in Indonesia for almost 2 decades.

    Of course I had to attune to the fact that her colour sensitivity was strongly influenced by her long stay in this very different environment.

    Because my clients usually like to take charge of their choices we decided for her family to go out to the paint stores and to bring back colour swatches that appealed to them.

    We then took the 5 different shades of green they had picked for the dining room, and pasted them on the wall, so that the same values were all on the same level.

    It was very obvious, that one particular value was the right approach for the room.

    From then on we took at the hue – the bluest one was edited out, as it made the room temperature too cool.

    The second one was too intense, thus removed from the options.

     

    Next step was to bring a large painting into the room, that is going to live on one of the main walls. We tucked the 3 remaining swatches behind the frame, and edited out the third one.

     

    The difference between the 2 remaining colours was the intensity. Obviously the client opted automatically for the brighter of the two – a very understandable reaction given their previous exposure to a different culture.

    We discussed what would happen would she use this shade for her room – first of all her guests would more or less audible gasp upon entering the room, as their colour sensitivity would be more toned down. Secondly I would expect, that the family, after living in our city for a few month, will also adjust more to the local quality of light and colour, and therefore might also experience this colour as being too intense.

    We agreed that the second option would be the right one – it was still a bright colour, brighter than I might have selected for a client without her personal history, but the colour will be in tune with the Asian influenced artwork and furniture, as much as with the Arts and Crafts style of the home.

     

    As an exciting alternative we ended up choosing a blue colour for the ceiling! We started out looking at the typical off-whites, going to tan and wheat colours, even different shades of green, but nothing seemed to work with the wall colour, or just ‘do it’ for us.

    I always look for colour combinations that ‘sing’ – try that out for yourself! Once you find them, you will know what I mean…

    This happened with the blue – I was simply holding up a swatch against the green, and we instantly knew that was it.

    Coincidence that the very same colour combination was evident in the ladies’ dresses on the painting? Nooo…

     

    Because we were in the groove and I had some time left we looked at colours for the living room as well as the entrance. We ended up with a stunning chartreuse tone for the entrance (a slightly fine-tuned version of the rather loud yellow-green swatch they had in their wish-list pile of selected paint), and a dark red-blue (not quite purple) for the living room.

    After piling all of our choices up on the floor we looked over to the painting – guess what: all those shades were right in there. The colours combined beautifully, and are indeed asking for the introduction of some more shades in the red/orange spectrum – but we left it at that for that day, and the family has now the homework of looking at possible choices for the kitchen and the small office…

    Can you imagine how great an effect it will be when the huge double doors between living room and dining room are open, and your eye wanders from the painting over to the living room, and detects the same purple shades in there?

     

    The reason why these rather intense colours will work is the neutralizing effect of dark wood and strong textures of all the Asian artifacts.

     

    Colour Blocking

     

    On another project, where we ended up with a total of 16 colours throughout the house, the reason for success lies in the balancing effect of the addition of a lot of off-white and grey-brown surfaces to the mix, which makes for a modern, vibrant living space, just right for a family with 3 school aged children.

     

    While I selected very soft off white laminates for the built-in cabinetry, accented with a greyish-brown wood veneer and quartz counter, the client made it very clear that she loved colours, and she wanted to see some on her walls.

    It started actually when she rather jokingly mentioned that she ‘had threatened’ her husband she wanted to have an orange wall in the dining room.

    Oh – I can do that!

     

    great room colours

    Thing is – ‘orange’ can be a lot – rust-brown, intense orange like the fruit, or a soft mango-sherbet hue. For her personality it was more a kind of fruit punch that I wanted to achieve. While the main colour for the open plan living-dining-kitchen-home office are is an off-white that matches the cabinetry, the architecture allowed to pull out small defined wall areas, that were great for colour blocking.

    The mango colour will adorn an area of about 10′x5′ above a built-in buffet, and there will be 2 wall sconces mounted on it, plus a painting, so the actual amount of visible colour will be rather small.

    Same goes for the lipstick pink we selected after the client – again jokingly – mentioning, that her husband will be happy that we didn’t select a hot pink for the headboard wall in the master bedroom ( we chose a relaxing ocean-blue hue, and its lighter sibling for the en suite).

    Ha – I had a blast with that one… “Well” I said, “ we COULD do pink at the end wall of the hallway!” I hadn’t thought of it before – that’s why I love clients input!- but this was a perfect space for a strong accent colour. It is only 3.5′x8′, so relatively small, and it will have a piece of art on it, which in itself will tone down the impact of the colour…

    To round things off we added a beautiful lime green for the wall going down towards the garage and basement, and a, greenish blueberry shade for the built-out fireplace wall.

    Doesn’t that just sound yummy – and it actually looks like you would want to eat it up as well!

     

    To balance this colour scheme off we picked a sand tone for the guest bedroom (you don’t want to aggravate your guests, I would hope), and the overall finishing scheme for the guest bath is on the manly side – olive, charcoal, blue and taupe. It’s a family, after all, and although guys often pretend they don’t care about colour – believe me, it is not true. There needs to be balance, and throwing in some masculine elements will be good for all family members involved…

    bedroom and ensuite colours 001 

    The kids were encouraged to pick their own favourites. Young humans tend to choose brighter, more saturated colours than adults, and although I take the kids’ selection seriously, I will pick a slightly softer hue of their choice. Usually they don’t find out about this – don’t forget, colours applied on a large scale will look different than on a small swatch. If a colour is too intense I would be concerned that they will get to agitated in their room. As it is often the same space in which they play, learn and sleep, the energy level in the room should accommodate all those activities, and not overpower their young brains.

     the kids' colours

    I have been known to use 8 different colours in one children’s room alone – think soft easter egg colours, nothing loud. Indeed, the inspiration for that colour scheme was a decorative easter egg, that happened to be lying around in the kids’ room.

    This colour approach works great, as long as you tone down the hues to be proportionate with the size of the space. In a case like this no single colour stands out alone – they are all the same value, thus blending together as one.

     

    Other ideas for colour blocking are not so much walls, but small items like accent pieces of furniture, or the insides of cabinets and closets.

     

    Intense aqua colour gives energy to this office-in-a-closet

    Imagine the jolt of energy you would get when you open your coat closet, or spice cabinet, and a brilliant red or orange or blue smiles at you!

     

    A bloodred art niche creates a stunning focal point for a sculpture in this contemporary environment

    Display cabinets also benefit from a colour treatment – look at the items you want to display, and chose a colour that brings out the best in your favourite pieces. White china for example will show way better when displayed in front of something other than white – and if you prefer it to be monochromatic, then at least consider an off-white to play off the crispness of the porcelain.

     The soft green back on the open display niches assist cherished knick knacks to show off their best side...

    White on white, and other neutral insights…

     

    You might not believe it, but the most difficult colour choice in my career was picking a single white colour for a penthouse overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

    The client had a large contemporary art collection, and was looking for an art gallery type of environment, with the colourful paintings hanging on white walls.

    It took me a full day to select 2 shades of white – one for the public areas like Great room, kitchen and offices, and the second shade for the private suites. The space had huge windows facing in all directions, and the reflection of the ocean as well as the red brick pavers on the exterior deck changed the whites to all sorts of other hues like pink, yellow and blue, which means I had to find a hue that neutralized all those influences.

    On top of that I had to consider the cream and golden tones of the future furniture, which had been picked by a decorator down in Texas, the client’s main home.

    When I sent my swatches to Texas for approval, the client was so unhappy with my choices that she flew the decorator in to make the right choice

    The two of us spent the day at the condo together with a painter who rolled strips of paint on the walls for us in a variety of shades of white.

    Guess what happened…We came back to the exact shade of white I had picked in the first place!

     

    Never have I felt so ashamed and insecure about my ‘obvious’ inability to pick a white to a client’s satisfaction – the vindication sure felt very very sweet afterwards!

     

    What you should take from that story you might ask?

    As I said at the very beginning – never ever pick a colour with out being in the actual space. The light in Texas couldn’t be more different from our lush green and blue Wet Coast landscape, the brilliant sun, yet the often grey sky in the winter.

     grey blue carrara marble and white porcelain walltiles, which took on a very light pinkish hue made selecting a wallcolour a very difficult task

    Let’s continue with the white on white look.

    If you know that white on white works with your life, then by all means pursue it. If done well you can create a beautiful calm space which will be very restorative to both spirit and eye. But you want to avoid a stark hospital look under all circumstances.

    Be aware that off-whites are created by adding a tiny amount of coloured pigment into white. When your eye gets finely atuned to off-whites, it will be able to read those shades, and you have to make sure that the different hues work together just like any other colour intensity.

    The strongest difference in my opinion are between pinkish and yellowish whites – they just don’t look right in each others presence. Staying within one spectrum will be the better option.

     

    Another difficult colour choice I had to make on a project was for a bathroom that sported a combination of Carrara marble for the floor and the counter top and a white glazed subway tile. Carrara marble is a greyish white stone, with a blue undertone, and the porcelain tile turned pink when installed on a larger scale. This was not visible from the sample tile we had picked, so the soft colour nuance came as a surprise when the tiles were being installed.

    The client had requested a white-on-white bathroom, so figuring out the wall colour ended up taking me 5 hours…Did I mention that selecting white is the most difficult task of all??

    What happened was, that whatever off-white worked well with the porcelain tile made the marble look very dirty or overly blue, and when we picked a white that brought out the best in the marble the wall tile turned awfully pink.

    There is nothing else to do than to take the time and look at fan decks from different paint manufacturers until you find the right shade. With all those hundreds of choices out there, there will be eventually the right one in there for your particular scenario. In our case it was a white with a minute amount of grey-green in it.

     

    The other secret to successful white on white it the layering of textures and patterns. This, and a combination of shiny and matte surfaces, will give your eye and mind food for thought, and your senses the comforting tactile experiences we humans seem to crave to feel balanced.

    A layering of textures and a mix of glossy and matte surfaces brings tactile sensuality to an otherwise stark design approach 

    If you want to use white simply as a canvas for other colour effects, you might have to choose which way you want to go.

    A black and white colour scheme can work very successfully, and it allows you to add a few strong punches of accent colour, which will result in a contemporary, perhaps even stark look. This won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but the effect will be stunning!

     A graphic black and white backsplash pattern pulls the black stained island and the white perimeter cabinetry together

    By combining natural textures and shapes with white you create a calm, Zen-like environment. This is a good approach for a quietly uplifting space, and will appeal to many different personalities.

     

    Successful layering of textures and patterns actually will be a topic in itself at a later point, so make sure to check back in!

     

     

    Working with Neutrals

     

    Aside from the typical while safe ‘Builder’s beige’ there is in fact a whole range of fantastic neutral colours out there, which will make a statement without overpowering a space. There is nothing worse than being un-deliberate. If you want to go neutral, do it well.

    Going through spec homes often makes me wonder if those houses wouldn’t sell much faster if someone would show some guts and paint them an uplifting colour inside out…

    If you are looking for an off white, choose one with a suitable pigment in it, that will make the colour appear in slightly different hues depending on where you are in the house.

    Or try out the shade that is 2 tones darker than what you initially thought.

     

    The more masculine effect of the slate texture and the strong neutral colour add a very personal edge to the traditional style cabinetry

     An 11' long island in a soft cool grey with a black countertop compliments the warm grey walls

    Have a look outside the window and understand, that a window in itself can take the place of a painting, which means you want to give your view an adequate grounding by choosing a wall colour that frames your vista well. Warm greys ( essentially browns that have a lot of black pigment added to it to dull it down), and mossy and grey greens (yes, I count the soft greens as neutrals, at least around here) for example work wonders here on the West Coast, as they pick up on the colours of the landscape, which consists of rocks, evergreens and Arbutus trees.

     A well proportioned window frames a serene rockscape embellished with lichens and mosses

    Dark chocolates are a sensual feast for the eye and will make you feel wrapped up in a really yummy brownie. Again, keep proportion and room energy in mind – it might be more adequate for a space that is used more in the evening, like a dining room, where you can add some sparkle with chandeliers and metal accents, or for a manly bathroom, or a media room.

     While the subway tile wainscoting and the marble mosaic floor speak a traditional language, the medium chocolate wall introduces a contemporary element

    I would like to vent about something that bothered me in university – the professor who was teaching colour theory had his own ideas about colours, and one peculiar aspect was his strong aversion to the combination of brown with pink. I remember some really derogatory comments of his about this colour combination. Poor fool. Can you think of something more sumptuous and pleasing to the eye than a Black Forest Cake, with its layers of juicy cherries between dark rich chocolate, topped by whipped cream? How can that colour combination be wrong???

    But then again, he was not a sensual personality at the best times, so I guess Black Forest Trifle just didn’t do it for him…

     

    Dark chocolate wall colour, framed in whip-cream like off white, grounds the colourful ceiling treatment

    Or think about cherry blossoms on an old tree – that brown bark sure looks awful with those blooms, doesn’t it??? Hope you can feel my sarcasm here! Nature is the single most important teacher about colour, nothing could be more artistic than her.

     

    If you made it to here – thank you!

    I hope I was able to get my point across – there is nothing to fear about colour. After all, it’s just paint, and you can always paint over it again. And choosing colour as a way of self expression is cheaper than paying a therapist.

     

    Enjoy!

     

    Musings of a client – Thoughts about a designer’s work

    July 17, 2011

    Today I have the great pleasure to be lazy - a wonderful client wrote a blog for me! How  fantastic is that….

    Actually, Karen wrote the letter as a feedback to my very current previous entry about our work philosophy, and she graciously gave me permission to use it on the website.

    So without further a-do, here it is:

     I checked out your latest blog entries this evening & really enjoyed reading your thoughts.  There is a sensitivity for client “needs and wants” that comes through the writing and that is one of the many things I appreciate about both you & Kimberly.

     I can’t speak for other clients (and I ’m sure we are all entertainingly unique!) but from my perspective… I consider myself well experienced, educated and an expert in my professional field.  When I started the process of wanting to reconfigure a previously owned home to make it our home, it was very intimidating and sometimes I felt like I was back at my first day of Kindergarten, it was all so new and I had so much to learn!  In short, I felt dumb and uncomfortable.  The hundreds of books & magazines I had read did not prepare me for the reality of all the decisions involved in the process.  However, over the weeks my perspective slowly transformed and I appreciated the opportunity to exercise the creative side of my brain which is often overridden by the logical accounting side in my work world.  For example, this week I am selecting drapery for the master bedroom and I am excited rather than intimidated, keeping in mind that even small progress on the house (like curtains) is part of the realization of a personal dream.

     Even in the midst of my dumbness and hesitant decision-making, Kimberly went above and beyond and did a lot of handholding during our renovation and I will always be deeply grateful for the care and time you both gave on our project.  I think that the most important things I learned from you and Kimberly are as follows:

    1.       When you think you are losing it, be sure to hold onto your sense of humour and your professionalism.

    2.       Work with trades people who treat your home as if it were their own and anything less than excellent is not acceptable.

    3.       No matter how much you plan and prepare, renovations can be a Pandora’s box with many layers of wrapping around the box…stay calm and adjust your course as needed.

    4.       A creative designer is imperative to realize any vision you have for your home.  Most of us have the desire but the reality is that we do not have the creativity or skills.  I would encourage any of my friends to work a designer into their big or small redesign budgets.

     I sincerely appreciate not just your design skills but also your warm personalities, tactful and direct, technical and artistic, sensitive and strong, professional and patient…

     In your blog you mentioned a test as to what a client thinks “The Sky Is The Limit” means.  My initial interpretation from viewing your web site many months ago was that Ines must be very passionate as well as confident in her design work since she is offering her clients the sky.  And I think your on-line portfolio reflects your business name beautifully. 

    Sincerely,

    Karen

     P.S. – I really loved the “Royal View” floral design fireplace – it is gorgeous.

     

    I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful feedback, Karen!

     Both on Kim’s and my behalf, yours truly was a one-of-a-kind project, and we are very grateful that you entrusted us with helping you with your home.

    Karen’s long distance  project was a very unique challenge for us on various levels, and I am sure I have plenty of material to write about at a later point, when we also have some visuals for explanation…

    It’s also great feedback because it finally gives me a  spot to send my trusted and cherished collegue Kimberly Lewis Manning a huge and long overdue THANK YOU for all her hard and dedicated work, her great warm personality, her sense of humour, her patience, and her ability to keep me sane …

    We sure have a great team dynamic, and I am glad and honoured to have her in my life!

    A ‘Royal View’ of a revamped 40′s Home

    July 12, 2011

    A ROYAL VIEW – modernizing a 1940′s bungalow-style home

    When the homeowners approached me for ideas for their pending renovation, they presented me with what seemed to be a reasonable, albeit tight budget.

    After presenting the client with 3 different spatial options (of which I don’t have any visuals any more – my apologies), the financial and day-to-day reality (it’s a home for a couple with grown children) kicked in, and after careful consideration the clients adjusted the scope of the project to better reflect their reality.

    One of our previous scenarios allowed for opening up the Master Bedroom to the Living room, with a grand staircase connecting to the downstairs. However, we decided not to touch the current Master Bedroom, and left ourselves the possibility of connecting that bedroom with the downstairs oceanfacing large room, which was slated to become the Master Suite, for a later date.

    For the remainder of the space the clients asked for a slight modification of my ‘large impact’ version, in which I suggested to remove the hallway altogether, thereby enlarging the Great Room and the Media Room.

     Let’s analyze the existing space first.

    The small, set-back entrance does not make a strong enough statement as the houses first impression, plus, it has a rather dated feel with the glass block sidelites. As is typical for houses that vintage, textured stucco is on all walls, and the coves that are in some of the rooms,change the proportion of the space even further, and make the 8′ ceilings appear even lower. On a practical level, there is no coat closet for guests (as the homeowners come in through the back door at the garage), and of course only insufficient lighting.

    Archway to Living Room in Entrance Smallish picture window in Living Room Niche in Entrance 

    An archway (lacking a really nice, deliberate curve) leads into the living room, where a rectangular picture window shows only a glimpse of the serene ocean bay and the magical trees. A wood burning fireplace is surrounded by a 5′ mantel clad in high gloss black tiles. The Art Deco flair is barely noticible, visually insufficient amidst the other decorative items along this wall – in combination with the rectangular window everything is happening at the same level. 

    Before photo of the fireplace

    The dining room had been altered before, and despite already being quite small in size to begin with – especially for the rather large table – a bump-in from the kitchen side is taking a sizeable chunk out of the formerly symmetrical room, making getting around the table very awkward. A set of sliding French doors goes out to the patio, and a small door leads into a small kitchen.

                    Patio doors in Dining Room     Dining Room table impeded by kitchen/fridge bump-out 

    The kitchen sports a 50′s style black and white checkerboard vinyl floor and a typical U-shaped layout, with a small window looking out onto the cove.

                   Kitchen with 50's diner style checkerboard floor     The U-shaped cabinetry  

    The most awkward part of the house is what I dubbed the ‘endless hallway’ – out of proportion, too narrow for it’s length, without natural light, and due to it’s width not suitable as a useful art wall. A small bonus is a tiny broom closet, other than that the house is extremely storage-challenged.

     footprint after

    On a structural level, aside from removing the hallway, which was just a waste of useful square footage, we also took out the internal partitions between Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen. We opened up the exterior wall facing the ocean with floor-to-ceiling windows in the Living Room, a triple set of doors in the Dining Room, and, once we established the layout of the cabinetry, maximized the window in the Kitchen.

    As we were removing a structural wall we had to keep some posts in place, which I inteded to make invisible by hiding them inside built-in cabinetry.

    The glass blocks at the entrance were removed, and replaced by a set of French doors, which allowed the visitor to see the ocean when still standing in front of the entrance. The fact that the entrance is set back from the front of the house, and that the house is set back and shielded from the street by a large front yard, still maintains a sufficient level of privacy and security.

    The former open niche was reconfigured into a coat closet, complete with a room door. The new storage cabinetry which replaced the hallway was divided into 3 parts – the ‘Beacon’ at the entrance, combining additional coat storage with a signal-red art niche as a focal point and additional broom storage, the Buffet-style center part in the Dining area, with space for a painting above, and the tall storage at the other end, serving as a pantry for the kitchen and a linen closet for the washroom. The mix of high gloss white lacquer and matte charcoal laminate on the doors keeps the finishes within the chosen neutral black and white colour scheme.

     Beacon with buffet and pantry storage

    The woodburning fireplace was reframed all the way to the ceiling, and adorned with threedimensional ModularArts drywall panels. The very classy floral design evokes a feminine 40′s chic, while the motif also recalls a stylized leaf of a Magnolia tree, which is growing outside.

    ModularArts Fireplace

    The new floor-to-ceiling glass panels, which replaced the horizontal picture window, in conjunction with the new upright shape of the fireplace, along with the elimination of the coved ceiling totally changed the proportion and the dynamic of the Living Space significantly. 

    Enlarging the Great Room finally gave the dining room table the breathing room it required – not only to allow a managable flow, but also to give the onlooker the chance to have enough distance from it to admire the root in its entirety.

    Dining table - glass top on driftwood root 

    The kitchen is a mix of reflective high gloss white foil on the tall units, and manmade Wenge veneer on the base cabinetry. Topped with a piece of granite, this area is sleek and contemporary in a classic way. A rather typical L-shape with tall units for the fridge and storage along the only ‘useful’ wall for this purpose, and low cabinets containing the clean-up area along the window wall, and an island with the stove. Bar-height endcabinets with glass doors to showcase decorative items sit at the end of those base cabinets, defining the Kitchen space, while hiding a bit of potential mess from view.

     

    I would like to add that the original large impact version included a change to the bathroom layout as well, which subsequently switched the use of the Guest Bedroom and the Media Room. This would have allowed me to push in tall units along the current bathroom wall from the kitchen side, resulting in a much larger kitchen. As it is, the personal life of the clients did not require a larger kitchen, and it would have meant a significant increase of the budget as well, which was not desireable.

     Kitchen Pantry and Linen Storage

    The clients opted for keeping the existing oak floor with its decorative Mahagony inlay in place, and refinished it as required. Not only did this keep the cost down, it also is a beautiful way of keeping a piece of the heritage intact and of course it was ecologically correct. However, money was spent on upgrading the electrical system, with new low voltage halogen pot lights throughout the space for good general illumination, and for clean lines.

    As the client was looking for a minimal restrained look, we stayed with a neutral colour scheme of grey, black and white, and layered textures and finishes instead. There is a hint of blue on the walls, which is enough to soften an otherwise stark black and white graphic. The natural materials with their intrinsice textures, used in some of the accessories and artwork, provide a beautiful and very sensual balance.

     

    View from Kitchen to Fireplace

    The shade of red in the art niche was pulled out of one of the paintings in the room, with a mindful eye on the niches size and proportion. 

    The end result is a calm, lightfilled space, well organised and with ample storage throughout. A perfect canvas for the owners ecclectic art collection, and the perfect visual partner for the magnificent landscape outside.

     

    Thoughts about a designers work – Part 1

    July 12, 2011

    I am preparing some blogs about current projects, which all have one thing in common – the finished interiors are very unique expressions of the clients. All of them are more on the contemporary side of design, but they all showcase distinctive different flavours. They are sensual, incorporating a mix of different finishes and textures, with clean, often bold lines and some surprise elements.

    My goal is to create spaces that are calm, balanced and organized, tactile, engaging and inspiring. The starting point for this process is typically a well thought-out space concept. This step might already include the creation of a theme, albeit a theme could also be something that develops at a later point in time, f.e. during the selection of finishes. At any given time I pay strong attention to proportion, sight lines and coherence to make sure the end result is a feast for the senses.

    In my books I am the medium with which the client is able to articulate how he/she wants to live, and my clients are typically strongly involved throughout the design process. This asks for clients with a proactive stance, who want to be in control over their life. There will be surprises along the way – there always are, and that’s fantastic!

     

    First I would like to share some general thoughts about the design process…

     

    Rather than getting overly stuck with budget numbers very early in the process, my typical thought process starts with the exploration of spatial possibilities. This is by no means a disregard for the client, but strictly a brain exercise. You never know which ideas – or bits and bites of ideas – might be dreamed up that are indeed suitable both for the client and the budget!

     

    The idea is to come up with space concepts for low, medium and high impact, both on a structural and financial level.

    An intense exploration of spatial options might be compared to doing crossword puzzles, or on a physical level, with stretching exercises like Yoga or Pilates – it keeps a designer’s brain flexible and on edge. And when I develop and work through a number of possibilities instead of settling on the first idea that comes to mind, it also shows a great deal of care and commitment to a client, their home and their investment.

    The clients get the opportunity to consider a variety of options that they themselves would have never been able to imagine, and it allows both the client and the designer to engage in a discussion about the implications and possibilities of those concepts, and how those changes would impact the clients’ life.

    I have found that this thought process often catapults a homeowner and the project into a more personal and inspiring direction, and that is where the truly exciting part of the design and planning starts.

     

    People who can only think in money might not understand the following remark…

    This initial thought process is very intense work, and monetary remuneration only pays for so much of my efforts. It means, that unless I am one of those TV designers who charge unreasonable fees for them showing their face in public, or unless I charge a lump some per idea, and not by the hour, I will not get paid adequately.

    A large portion of my work is actually a gift of brainpower and creativity from me to you, the client.

    That is, why designers will care about whom they are taking on as a client, as there has to be mutual respect and inspiration – at least I do, and that is why I take the liberty to refuse some people as clients.

     

    By the way: a great initial test is simply the interpretation of our company name THE SKY IS THE LIMIT. What did you think of first?

    If it was something like ‘ I bet their services are REALLY expensive’ you totally missed the point…

     

    A home should be the expression of who you are, a reflection of your values and your personality, and it should be a space for inspiration and your safe haven. This is not about what your friends would do, or what they think you should have and portray.

    Also keep in mind when you create contemporary spaces, even cutting edge ones, that you make sure to stay away from an overall ‘trendy’ look. The nature of a trend is that it’s in flux, which means a trendy thing doesn’t last all that long.

     

    Most of the time more than one person are involved in the process of creating a home, and all of them need to be heard. Designers are relationship mediators as well, just so you know! So don’t worry if you and your relevant other don’t seem to be looking eye to eye on a home improvement project – we are there to help, and if you find the right designer you will be amazed by yourself…

     

    A lot of our clients seem to be at a crossroads in their lives. Planning a renovation or a new home is the perfect time to do some soul searching, to explore where they are coming from and where they think they would like to go from here, who they are, and who they would like to become. It might be that their children are teenagers or even leaving the home, they might be relocating and/or retiring, or they are embarking on building their dream home. Along with the physical task of editing through possessions to see which ones will make it into the new space, they will also be editing notions, values and habits. Overall this can be an intense, sometimes scary, even life transforming time. Paired with the construction process this can result in a very stressful dynamic, and the designer should act as a coach along the way.

     

    I am not talking about the simple process of maintenance, like simply replacing your existing kitchen with a newer model, but without making further modifications.

    What I am talking about requires self reflection, and I would always encourage clients to take their time with this. Sometimes we start on a project, clients disappear for one or two years, often just because ‘life happens’ and more important and pressing things have to be dealt with, then they come back and we continue with the process. Quite often their values have shifted during that time, and all of us are glad we didn’t go to far on the project the first time.

    This is not your typical ‘Honey, lets fix up the house’ type of approach. It’s more like shedding your skin and showing your true colours.

     

    I obviously deviated again into the psychological aspects of my job… later, later

     

    I have heard comments from fellow designers, who take the approach that they are the specialists, and that their clients should not even dare to question the designer’s concept, as they are questioning the designer’s authority by doing so. After all, they (the designers) are being paid for knowing best, and for telling the client what to do with their space…

     

    I could suggest that those designers might either be too lazy to come up with some alternative ideas, because there are always other options, and/or that they don’t feel secure enough in their own position to be able to discuss with their clients why they, the designer, make certain suggestions.

    In that case the root of the problem is often based in too little experience or education on the designers part. Young designers, or people who got into the field from the sidelines without professional education seem to be often prone to that type of behaviour.

    They have no training to analyze their own ideas, and present them to the client in a logical manner.

    Alternatively it could also be simply arrogance…

    In all of the above mentioned cases you, the client, might want to rethink why you are working with this person to begin with.

     

    If I think back at my time at university – we were 30 students in our semester, and there were 9 grade levels overall at any given time in the interior architecture segment, with just the same amount of students in each level, and this was just one of many universities in one little country… So at the end of each semester the professor would be discussing 30 very interesting and – believe me- VERY different ideas regarding the semester project, and we all had to be able to explain our projects. This was not about judging a wrong or right design approach – the individual solutions were simply expressions of different personalities and mindsets.

    As a homeowner you have the very same liberties – you should be allowed to share your ideas and thoughts with the designer, and the designer will try to make all those ideas come together i a coherent plan, and there is no wrong or right as long as the outcome works for you.

    It is – after all – YOUR home.

     

    Yes, clients are normally laymen in the field of design (I am talking about space planning and developing a room program here, I am not talking about decorating – a lot of clients are indeed very knowledgeable about staging, soft furnishings and have a great deal of style and taste as well as a good sense for colour), but they are the specialists when it comes to their own life. The design process is a collaboration of equal partners. In an ideal world this process will continue to be teamwork all along the many steps of the project.

    Construction is teamwork, starting with the clients and the designer, and continuing with the various trades, suppliers and skilled labourers who come in to make an idea on paper become reality. The true challenge is to gather all those members for your team – but that is where a designer should be able to assist you as well.

     

    My clients are very much encouraged to question my designs – the way I develop my concepts is both intuitive as well as very analytical, and I will be able to explain and justify any decision or idea that I present. If I am not, I haven’t done my homework.

    When I dig deep enough I find that even behind the most outrageous and intuitive idea hides in fact a very logical explanation – it might just take me some time to figure myself out…

     

    I have often surprised myself with the very different spatial treatments one can take within a given space, while still maintaining the essential necessities like functionality and practicality, a good flow between areas, and a pleasant dynamic.

    The very best part of the process – and often the most annoying and challenging one as well – is when we start picking those options of mine apart to create the final version.

    Oh, this is where I totally agree with the before mentioned ‘other’ designers – it can be SO unnerving when clients start wanting to get their own 5 cents of wisdom in, thus start to be ‘difficult’.

    Why can’t they just see it my way, and simply agree to one of my designs? Life would be so much easier, and I know I gave them the right concept to begin with…

     

    Yeah, right!

     

    In such a situation it can go 2 ways – either the client comes around and starts getting my point. Or they don’t, and I am the one doing the mental work to figure ‘them’ out….. This is where it often becomes very interesting, because no matter what, changes will happen at this point!

     

    In any event, it takes about one week to ‘get’ a new idea, and I am very conscientious about this one week process. It is a timespan that ALWAYS comes up, in every project, and often several times throughout a project.

    The human brain is sort of lazy, if you want to call it that – it needs time to digest and process. If you want to rephrase this in a more positive way, you would say that an idea, once planted in the brain, can not be ‘un-made’, and that it takes about one week for this idea to germinate and for the brain to do something creative with that seedling.

    In my professional life this means that I do encourage clients to be mindful of this ‘lazy-factor’ and to take their own sweet time. It can be sometimes tricky, as clients are eager to get going, but a lot of money a well as their future life is impacted by those planning decisions, and I for one can not see why someone would want to make rush decisions without exploring all the options.

     

    In the blogs that will follow I will look a little bit deeper into the development of space concepts. This will have to happen on real life examples, rather than theoretically…

     

     

    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.

    Hoar82308

    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.

    Hoar82318

    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.

    Hoar82328

    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.

    Hoar82422

    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.

    Hoar82353

    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.

    Hoar82379

    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.

    Hoar82415

    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…

    Hoar82402

    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.

    Hoar82447

    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.

    Hoar82432

    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.

    Hoar82463

    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.

    Hoar82476

    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.

    Canadian Immigrant

    February 5, 2011

     

     

     

     

     

     

    canadian immigrant

    2010 CARE Awards Vancouver Island

    October 11, 2010

    CARE 2010

    Gorter Construction along with architectural designer Dan Boot and interior designer Ines Hanl are proud to have their project DB3 selected as the recipient of 6 Gold CARE Awards in the 2010 Vancouver Island CHBA competition, including the very prestigious ‘Project of the Year’. In addition we were also honoured with the ‘People’s Choice Award’ for the same project.

    Interested readers will find photos of this project in the Portfolio under Residential/ LandsEnd.

    Landsend5081

    DB3 also received another 2 Silver Care Awards.

    Wilf Gorter and THE SKY IS THE LIMIT were also awarded with another Gold as well as a Silver CARE Award for their traditional style bathroom renovation on Seaview.

    BEFORE
    BEFORE

    AFTER
    AFTER

    To round up this years extremely successful winning streak, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT took home another 2 Silver CARE Awards – one for their new company website, which was designed by Star Global in Victoria, and one for the design of the elegant showroom of JIVKO Stone and Tile.

    JIVKO - reception

    Wilf, Kim, Klaus and Ines had a very good time at the beautiful event at the Crystal Ballroom at the Empress Hotel.
    We definitely owned the podium that night – it was borderline embarrassing!

    Thank you to everybody who helped us in achieving these awards – Big THANK YOU’s to the clients, the trades, the suppliers, and all the numerous people behind the scenes, without whom this work wouldn’t have been accomblished, and who assist and inspire us!

     

    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.

    A new Category…

    September 12, 2010

    I know – we should have started this way earlier…
    Anyway – I just received a lovely e-mail yesterday, and thought I share it with the readers of my blog.
    This first featured feedback is from a ‘simple’ colour consultation. Now, when we are asked to help with colours, the request comes often from people who are very fond of colours, and who don’t necessarily want to play it ‘builder-beige’ safe.
    So this one is a great example….
    If I remember correctly, I ended up with about 16 colours, as the clients were looking for strong, often jewel toned colours, and they also wanted to paint the ceilings in an accent colour. As is noticible on the pictures, the rooms, although separate spaces in an older home, flow into each other, so all the colours had to work with each other.

    Please note that the pictures are mere snapshots, so they are not quite magazine quality!

    livingroom4-0

    diningroom3-0

    hall_1-0

    livingroom6-0

    readingroom_1-0

    And here is what the clients had to say:
    It’s been about a year since we met you.  It’s been about 10 months with our walls painted.  But, finally, here are pictures of our house.  We have had innumerable unsolicited compliments about our colors.  We told people that a professional like you makes the difference, even with something as mundane as picking colors.

    James and Phyllis, Victoria
    September 2010

     

    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.

    Multisensory Room

    September 5, 2010

    Tree of Life, Bubble Tower and Somatron Recliner w/ Fibre optics

    On August 31, 2010 the newly designed Music Therapy Multi-Sensory Studio for children with critical illnesses and life-threatening conditions was unveiled.

    The Multi-Sensory Studio promotes pain relief while engaging the children in a creative journey promoting self-expression, guided imagery, relaxation and meditation. The Studio is designed for children with fragile medical conditions, but more specifically it coalesces a theme to fully engage critically ill children in a truly magical experience.
    The new Studio has been made possible by a $ 30.000,- grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities.

    So far an excert from the press relief from the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

    But let me descibe in my own words how this room came into existence…

    Sometime in Mid July I received an e-mail from Dr. Johanne Brodeur. She had visited Tall Tales Books, the bookstore we helped create in the summer of 2009. She loved the playfulness and the positive vibes of that store, and asked me if she could come and talk to me about a room she wanted to create in her Music Therapy Department at the Conservatory.
    We met one morning over coffee – Dr. Brodeur is a beautiful, elegant and highly spirited French lady, overflowing with positive energy and enthusiasm. When she started to speak passionately about her work, and described lovingly the children who come to see her, I had a very hard time to keep myself from crying.
    It was all about children who are pretty much invisible in our society – severely handicapped, mentally and/or physically challenged, having suffered amputations or organ transplants, and a lot of them bound to die at a very young age. Not only have the children to deal with so much pain and limitation, but just imagine the stress and the anxiety such conditions put on the whole family!

    Dr Brodeur had just received a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities, and her idea was to transform a dingy little practise room in the Conservatory into a magical space, that would help those kids to relax for a little while and give their parents a well deserved and much needed time of reprieve.

    Here are some impressions of that practise studio in its original state- a rather dull looking, grey room, without natural light, sporting a low ceiling and being overall quite a depressing space…

    Before - Multisensory Room

    Before - Multisensory Room - TV Wall

    I had fairly little time to make it all happen, as one of the stipulations from Ronald McDonal House was that the room had to be set up within 6 weeks.
    Coming up with an appropriate design was easy, but getting all the trades in in time was a different story. Also, albeit it sounds like a lot of money, the necessary equipment had of course a non-negotiable pricetag attached to it, so there was not all that much left over for the actual work. And I didn’t want to sacrifice equipment…
    So I sent out an e-mail to all the trades I have worked with over the last years, explained the situation and asked them to tell me if they would be able and willing to donate a day or two out of their lifes and assist me with making it all happen. It was a fantastic experience – the e-mails poured back in, promising lots of assistance!

    Thank you so very much, guys!!
    A lot of these people that helped me are quite discrete about their contribution. I am not, though, and so I would like to mention their names here and hope they understand that I am eternally grateful for their commitment! This room wouldn’t exist without you!!
    Many thanks to Rik Tacoma, Water Vanderkamp, Daniel Nadeau, Bert Neijmeijer, Warren Miller, Marshall Travis, Jack van Domselaar, Douglas Grant, Chris Stansfield and Klaus Kinast. Klaus’ contribution goes well beyond the physical help – he is a big source of my inspiration, being my harshest critic and greatest admirer in one person….
    And then of course I should also thank Kim and Angelique – while I spent hours ‘playing’ with Fibreoptics at the Conservatory those 2 ladies made sure that all our other clients were looked after appropriately!

    Fibre optics

    I made a quick sketch for Dr Brodeur to show her what I thought could be done. As you can see it was a very colourful sketch. When working on the realization I came to the conclusion that I needed to tone down the coloursceme, as the various light effects were already bringing in a lot of colour, and I wanted to avoid visual overkill in a rather small room. We ended up keeping the space in a series of soft blues and greens, with some accents in silver grey tones, and of course the natural tone of the not-so-natural tree bark.
    The weekend after I had produced the drawing I happened to watch the movie Avatar, and obviously there was a connection between my vision for the space, and that movie. The theme of the Tree of Life and its connectivity to every living entity was a powerful concept. This made it very easy to relate the design to Dr Brodeur, who, although she had seen the movie before, had not mentioned it to me…

    Concept for Multisensory Therapy Room

    Dr Brodeur was very enthusiastic about my ideas, and so we started implementing it all.
    While Johanne worked on the equipment order, I started on the renovation part together with ‘my’ guys.
    Side note: Funny little thing that happened over and over – I had told everybody that it was a small space
    (only 9′x11′) – first comment everybody would make who would see it: Oh, this IS a small space!

    I should also mention that a lot of the suppliers where we got our products from assisted us with either giving us the items for a huge discount, or even sponsoring us!
    Again, a huge Thank you to Richelieu, McLaren Lighting, PJ White, EECOL Electric and Weavercraft.

    What was wonderful to see was how enthusiasticly all those grown men ( and all the people watching us during the renovation) reacted to the space. Never mind, that it was meant to be a room for children – this space appeals to the child within you, no matter how old you are.
    The typical reaction which we get once a person sits in the recliner? Within 5 minutes the eyes start glazing over! What a wonderful compliment…
    Obviously this concept works for everybody – and I would love to see this concept incorporated in spas, hotels, care facilities or just large offices. Everybody seems to be able to benefit from a little quiet magic.

    Detail - Tree of Life

    One of the crucial elements in the space are the Tree of Life, in combination with strands of Fibre Optics.
    The Fibre Optics provide a sense of energy and creativity.

    detail Fibre Optics

    They offer scope for a tremendous tactile experience, as the children can play with them and wrap them around themselves, while sitting in the Somatron Vibro-accoustic adjustable Recliner.
    This special recliner can adjust into various positions – all the way to the same position used by NASA astronouts during take off at zero gravity. When a person is reclined in this position, their pain is alleviated as the pressure on their bodies shift. Somatrons’ recliners vibrate while driven by music, and the movements can be felt throughout the body. Music is a very powerful tool for connecting mind and body. At the same time speakers are embedded in the headrest, and each musical note played comprises several speeds of vibrations at the same time.

    Somatron Recliner

    Connected to the recliner is a Large Screen TV which is being used to play Cd’s or DVD’s specifically developed to induce relaxation, meditation or guided imagery.
    A weighted blanket can be wrapped around the person in the recliner, which provides comfort, security and a sense of calm. The blanket creates pressure points that act as inhibitors to diffuse sensory impulses and result in a soothing effect.

    TV and Laser Star Projector

    The flooring was chosen to resemble glittering sand and water - it is like sitting at the edge of a lake, overlooking the water and watching the night sky. The Laser Star Projector presents an amazing display of the night sky, using green laser and holographic technology. The projector fills the ceiling and walls with an incredible spectable of milky way formations and twinkling and shooting stars.

    The bubble tower, which was incorporated into a comfortable bench, comes to life with airbubbles and an interchanging display of colours. Touching it, children can feel the movement and listen to the sounds of playful bubbles.

    Bubble Tower - light effect 2

    Bubble Tower

    bubble Tower - light effect<

    A pair of Giant Salt crystal lamps generate healthy negative ions that cleanse the air while adding a stable warm glow in the distance.

    Adding slightly distorting mirrors on the walls blurrs the lines of the small room, while adding three-dimensionality to the tree and to the bubble tower – all of a sudden the room is transformed into an orchard filled with trees and colourful lights!
    The abstract fern leaves were installed to controll the extend of reflection, in order to present a sense of calm.

    An amazing fact – the Music Therapy Department assists more then 1500 clients a week. Sessions may take place in the studios of the Conservatory, but also in such facilities as hospitals, group homes, long term care and independant living facilities, hospice, geriatric care facilities, nursing omes, rehab centres and schools.
    Dr Johanne Brodeur and her team provide an outstanding service to the community, and I am sure I can speak for all ‘my’ crew and myself that it was a pleasure being of assistance to her work!

     

    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 Gulf 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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