Venture Naval Bar

    June 10, 2012

    About 3.5 years ago we were asked if we wanted to design an Entertainment unit for the Naval Education Center ‘Venture’ in Esquimalt.


    Venture before

    Not that we would have said no – but given that my colleague Kim’s husband was a Navy man, and Kim had lived all over the world following him in his pursuit, made this project so much closer to our hearts.

    From that simple first step we got involved in the renovation of the bar itself – a process which took 3 years to complete, because it had to get approved by so many different levels of hierarchy. We actually never thought we would see the design realized – but it did happen after all!
    The bar renovation was not big on the list of the person in charge of all the masses throughout Canada – but the Victoria crew ended up being victorious, and for the better. There were severe health violations in the existing set up, which needed to be urgently remedied.

    One has to understand that the Bar is actually considered to be the living room for the students. They are not supposed to hang out in their rooms during their off times, but rather spend time with their peers to create a strong bond and companionship in preparation for their time on sea, and in potential peril.

    The Bar is also a statement of pride in the naval history, and therefore required somewhat of a traditional approach to military symbolism. Using typical marine related finishes like oak, mahagony, brass, and adding the occassional porthole window along with the traditional colours of blue, white and red was mandatory in my eyes.
    On top of that we wanted to bring the naval crests more to the attention of the visitors – those are small version ship crests, given as a keepsake to visiting crews, and quite often they are little pieces of art, or – if not all that well executed – they are at least real conversation starters! I was intriguged by them the moment I saw them for the first time – which was very high up on the existing bulkhead that runs around the large room, so that one could hardly recognise them.
    I for one had a lot of fun trying to organize and position the 80 plus of them as one of my last tasks on site! It took about 5 hours, and involved not only the organization by size and a certain graphic component, as well as 2 naval officers, but also an insight into the relationship between the various ships ( or the lack thereof…)

    Detail of the crests


    Having said all that, I also wanted to give the students an environment that was more in touch with their own age – not the stereotypical West Coast look with some heavy oak paneling, slate floor, and a K2 stone facade thrown in somewhere.

    Instead, we opted for a smokestack clad in a contemporary, fiery red metal ( note the detail shot – this pattern is actually inherent to the metal!), framed in black steel banding, and with an oak counter for a feature. The perimeter of the bar was clad in wide rift-cut oak veneer bands, which were accentuated with a Mahagony strip. Strategically positioned black steel U-channels give the whole length on both sides of the bar structure and rhythm, while adding a nautical flair.
    The existing heavy bulkhead was adorned with some decorative marine lights, which were placed in the center of a navyblue band with red banding.

    The feature smokestack


    Detail of the smokestack


    The inside of the bar needed a complete overhaul – indeed, most of the available (and rather tight) budget was spent on the remediation of the walk in cooler, and the restructuring of the bar itself.
    We kept the existing fridges, and restored the beer taps, but everything else had to be new…


    Due to the fact that the space is often divided into 2 areas, with the larger one being rented out for family events, weddings etc., the layout had to accommodate this fact with 2 barstations including beertaps and cashcounters.


    There was one other aspect that made this project clearly unique – a government project required the services of a registered architect. We were fortunate to work with Al Hepburn from the Colbourne Architectural Group in Vancouver, who (after negotiating with me the use of the red metal for the smokestack, with which he had fallen in love when I showed it to him….) took our designs and created the necessary paperwork without any changes being made to our design intend.

    Once the project was tendered we got involved on site again – maybe a bit more than was typical on those types of project, and not so much to the amusement of the very dear construction manager, who nevertheless pretty much accommodated my requests as much as he could. Thank you for putting up with me, John!!!

    I have to say – I am definitely not used to get my choices of light fixtures and tiles changed to ‘whatever’ fits the tender budget, just because the suppliers did not think that I would be all that concerned about their replacement choices… What an odd world this kind of construction is!
    Kim ended up laughing at me a number of times, saying things like: “THIS is how the real design world works -you give out drawings to a contractor, and then they do with them whatever they want….”
    Yes, she had told me that a number of times throughout the years before, all the while with a sincere sense of surprise that our designs actually end up looking like our original drawings…. Now I learned what she meant with this!!

    Go figure this didn’t sit all that well with me, and after some initial upset I ended up getting it pretty much my way. And I won’t tell the details that are not quite what I had envisioned – no need to spoil it for anyone else….

    We are very happy with the result, and wish all visitors and students wonderful times of cameraderie in the space!


    Fairfield Eyecare

    June 10, 2012

    Time flies….

    Today we present you with the first of 2 commercial projects we were fortunate to be involved in throughout the last months.

    The first was a retail space for Fairfield Eyecare, located in the Fairfield Mall in Victoria.
    The store has been in business for about 30 years, and when the current owner took over 3 years ago he figured that it was high time to create an environment that was in keeping with the high end exclusive designer frames he was bringing in from Germany and France.

    The store when we started


    It was a real challenge to create a space concept for this rather small store – we had about 300 sq.ft. available for the merchandising area, the POS/ office and the workshop, with another 150 sq.ft. for the doctor’s examination room and back of house.

    The second challenge was to create custom millwork for the high end products, as for security reasons those were supposed to be presented behind glass doors. The owner asked us to design custom units, rather then using readily available stock products from an outfitter for eyewear stores.
    Never having worked on an eyewear store before we had to educate ourselves on the various ways for displaying and illuminating glasses.

    View of the high end display wall

    High End Products

    As for aesthetics: the client was looking for neutral, sleek, contemporary, with the incorporation of some colour in order to create a fun environment. I learned that a lot of business came through the door in form of teenagers who wanted to check out a pair of cool glasses, with the parents ending up purchasing something for themselves as well…
    Given the fabulous pieces for sale it is no surprise, though – those designers from Paris turn each frame into a piece of art!!

    View of the sunglass display case with the workshop behind– note that we arranged for storage cabinetry whereever possible!

    sunglasses and workshop

    A fun little fact – and it was not so much fun while we were at it – the previous tenant 3 decades before was a barber shop – and all the plumbing had been kept alive inside blocked off walls!! We ended up freezing the lines in order to install shut off valves, as due to the age of the mall there was no such thing as a water shut off for the individual store. We would have had to either bring the plumber in at midnight, or close the pub that was on the same plumbing circuit for the time we had to work on it!

    We started out with the selection of finishes by looking at the right type of floor, and picked an unusual white-based faux wood floor made out of commercial grade vinyl, which is tough and easy to maintain.
    From there we picked the various laminates for the cabinet fronts – mainly white faux wood ones from Italy, in both matte and glossy finish, a white leather-like wallpaper, paired those with a touch of bark-coloured faux wood and copper hued high gloss foil to introduce a masculine element, added some black and stainless accents, and threw in a few watercolour shades of blues, greens and lavender.

    View of the open merchandising area

    Product display

    And a detail shot of the POS and office area – we told you it was a tight space!

    POS and filing

    Oh – right! We also added some royal blue for low counters, and the special ‘sneaky’ little cabinet at the dispensing table, which holds ‘add-on’ sale items in its top drawer. That’s it for you for sales-psychology…
    Some curvy legs add the special something to the stylized eyeglass-shape of that dispensing unit.

    The dispensing unit

    dispensing counter with display

    It sounds so easy, right?!!

    As usual it was all about sweating the details.
    This is one of the aspects that makes the profession of design so similar to that of a dancer – no matter how much blood, sweat and tears heppen behind the scenes, the end result is suppossed to look easy and simply beautiful.

    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...



    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.


    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.



    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…



    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



    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.


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


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

    footprint 001

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

    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.

    Contemporary kitchen design – Landsend Project

    January 30, 2010

    As I just received photos of a contemporary home we recently completed on Vancouver Island, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the kitchen and some of the rational behind the design and the choice of materials.


    Infinity Island

    Infinity Island

    Inspired by the outstanding architectural design approach of Dan Boot of Studio DB3 in Sidney, BC, the kitchen’s layout consists of an L-shaped perimeter, a focal point island that I call the ‘Infinity Island’ and a sculptural eating bar.

     This highly artistic house frames incredible views of the Ocean and Piers Island, and the somewhat unusual materials chosen for the kitchen cabinetry have been pulled from the architectural language of the structure – concrete, glass, raw and stainless steel, copper and ‘wetwood’.

    The perimeter cabinetry has been made from slabs of century old Birch, which has been reclaimed from the Great Lakes. On one end a tall appliance tower holds a stainless steel band of appliances – the Miele Speed oven, the wall oven and the coffeemaker, and on the other end is the Subzero fridge positioned.

    Kitchen from Dining room

    Both tall units are being flanked by very special glass door cabinets – make sure to have a look at the frameless glass corner detail on them! This detail is an element I picked up from Dan’s architectural design as well, and the doors were certainly not easy to create.

    Thanks to the committment of the builder Wilf Gorter, site foreman Walter Vanderkamp, very dedicated metal fabricators and the ingenious cabinet maker John Lavoie the crew managed to make my idea work, including floating glass shelves.

     The perimeter cabinets are topped with black Cambria Quartz, which beautifully reflects the oustanding landscape images flooding in through the huge windows.


    Appliance tower with frameless glass corner endcabinet

    Appliance tower with frameless glass corner endcabinet

    The islands ‘theme’ has been inspired by the Infinity Pool outside, and the design of the stainless steel hood replies to the shape of a steel canopy which Dan designed for the barbecue area on the pool deck.

    From this hood fan canopy the Thinkglass Pebblo Aqua glass runs down the wall, transforms into a 1 1/2” countertop and drops down to become a custom stainless steel prepsink at the end of the island.

    The island carcass sits on a 8” high concrete base, and sports a row of wood drawers, with anther row of etched mirror drawers above it. The combination of those 2 materials allows me to emphasize the horizontal delineation of this island.





    Concrete bar, copper cabinet door, steel I-Beam and Birch Counter

    Concrete bar, copper cabinet door, steel I-Beam and Birch Counter



    The sculptural bar is inspired by Dan’s design for the wood fireplace in the living room.










    I chose to use concrete as the actual carcass of a bar cabinet (thanks for bearing with me, Wilf and Walt!), and behind the copper doors it holds liquor and bar paraphernalia. One corner of that concrete block has been spared out, and has been filled with illuminated stacked glass.

    A solid slab of Birch was used for the bar counter, and it is supported by a piece of leftover I-beam from the barrel roof construction.

     As said before, my choice of design and materials was strongly influenced by Dan’s architecture, his strong sense of proportion, assymmetrie and balance.




    View of Pier Island

    View of Pier Island



    I also wanted to invite the outside in, which is the reason behind the choice of glass counter – it looks just like a frozen piece of ocean, and with its flowing character, it’s watery texture and green hues wonderfully balances the concrete and the wood. The small amount of copper on the bar pays reference to the homes entrance door, and warms up the concrete base.











     You can find this particular project in our portfolio section under ‘Landsend’ in the Residential, Kitchen and Bathroom files.



    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.


    Heritage Style Home Renovation

    January 4, 2010

    Welcome to our first blog!

    The general idea for the blogs of THE SKY IS THE LIMIT will be to showcase current projects that are in the making, Before and After’s, discussions about new products on the market, and we might also look into technical issues of renovations in general, lighting, appliances, effects of colour and space on the human psyche…

    We are open to suggestions, so feel free to write us a note about a subject of interest!

    For today’s introduction I will present a renovation which lately has earned us several prestigious Renovation and Design Awards, and which is being featured in a number of magazines in 2010.

    It’s a single family home, built most likely in the 1920′s, 3 houses away from the ocean, in a very nice residential neighbourhood.

    This was the view from the main entrance – to the left was a space for dining, then the kitchen, and at the end of the long hall was a small home office hogging the nicest view of the garden.

    To your right would be the living room, stairs, a small hallway towards the guest bath and guest bedroom, and a closet to the right of the back door.


    web site by: starglobal