Blog – We got an ideabook dedicated to our work!

    May 8, 2012–12-Ways-to-Get-a-Designer-Kitchen-Look

    A little thing about Ines – in a humorous way…

    February 25, 2012

    Hanl 91094

    I just finished writing up a biography for a casting call for the TV design show ‘LOVE IT OR LIST IT’…
    It gives you a rather humourous insight into what Ines is all about.

    German born Ines Hanl came to Victoria, BC in 2000.
    Growing up in one of the most famous touristic hotspots of Bavaria, lovely and picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and being kind of an oddball throughout her teenage years made her destined to leave the country and make it big someplace else…

    Her background includes an apprenticeship as seamstress, followed by 6 years of hard and low paid work in costume and set design for various theaters and opera houses throughout Germany.
    After earning a Masters Degree in Interior Architecture from the University of Applied Science in Mainz, which taught her how to draw blueprints, but creatively really put the brakes on her (which was a good thing, by the way), a number of internships with architectural firms followed. Next came learning the ropes as a junior designer in a small design studio, and a stint in a high end furniture store in the Bavarian outback.
    Together with her partner Klaus Kinast, who himself had a colourful career designing theme parks and animated 3dimensional attractions, she was also very hands-on involved in the creation of whimsical and phantasic theme store environments.
    Working in carpentry shops (especially on the beltsander…) and swinging various sizes of paint brushes to achieve decorative paint finishes prepared her brillantly for the unique work environment of construction. She has never worn jeans ever since that time, though.

    Hanl cites that her strongest influences are the Renaissance, the Bauhaus, and Cirque de Soleil – along with a little bit of Dr Seuss, who was unknown to her until she came to Canada 12 years ago (seriously).

    When Hanl was finally able to land a job in the kitchen and bath industry in a town that was back in those years run by 2 well situated interior designers, she was determined to blow the townfolks’ mind – but not until learning about the local ways of building houses, which was indeed a little bit different than where she is from.

    Anyways, after 4 years of learning the ins and outs of custom cabinetry – foremost taught by a Swiss Master Cabinetmaker (with whom she speaks English, by the way, because she wouldn’t understand his heavy German accent) she decided that she had to go after bigger fish – after all, why would she have spent more than 4 years at university if she couldn’t put it all to good use.
    She started her own studio, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT DESIGN -not realizing that some people would totally misunderstand that name and only think of all that money (their own, that is) flying out the window…

    Little do they know that it is all about creativity, and endless possibilities…

    Since 2005 Hanl has been garnering local, provinicial, national and international awards for all types of renovation projects, new construction and retail space design – all in all about 26 trophies grace her shelves at the moment. Numerous magazines throughout North America have featured her work, and journalists love working with her as she always has colourful stories and thoughtful insights into her work to share.
    Maybe it is just her accent, though…

    Her range of style is broad – no limits there either. She is very apt in bringing the best out in Victorian (the decade, not the location) or Arts and Crafts period houses, and she is familiar with European design styles throughout the ages, but in the past 3 years she has begun to develop a style that is unique to herself.
    Let’s call it sensual contemporary West Coast… unless someone comes up with a better expression.

    Playful, colourful, tactile, sculptural, occassionally very bold, and always full of surprises – yet with calm spatial undernotes that make a home oh so comfortable. Great lighting on top of that, and grounded by a serious philosophic underbody which she is able to explain in a logical manner. Especially men like the fact that she is not just touchy feely about her work…
    Did we mention that Marital couselling is part of her job description? She has proven her abilities to surprise at-odds partners with solutions that are totally different from what both of them expected, yet incorporate what was important to each of them.

    Hanl is all about teamwork. Her clients, no matter how little creative they themselves think they are, are being coaxed into collaboration – and to their own surprise they love it! That, plus the homework Hanl always gives them…
    Hanl loves to empower clients to take charge and express themselves in their home.

    Creating multiple options for space concepts before blending the variations into a final version is followed by looking at (often unusual) products and finishes. Hanl expects cooperation and a can-do and wanna-do attitude from her team, and while she always asks for technical input from the specialists it will be her having the final say when it comes to design – but always in a nice way, unless the trade is an idiot.

    Hanl can’t promise that she is as attractive in real live as the picture above pretends – most likely rather not.
    But if her English turns out to be understandable, and if she doesn’t freeze up in front of a camera (because she is typically more of a behind-the-scences kind of girl) this design goddess would love to get a shot at being on TV.

    BTW – there is more to Hanl’s world than just design – she actually wiggles her goodies to Bellydance Fusion music, expresses her Bohemian Gypsy genes through Flamenco, is known for her outrageous selfmade Fascinators, her 5 (formerly stray) cats who don’t let her sleep at night, her love of gardening, and the fact that she, although a genius with kitchen design, chooses to not really swing a spoon in her own kitchen. Although she makes great cakes, that is.
    And she really doesn’t like Alcohol, as she would get drunk from a single snaps praline.

    January 23, 2012

    Recently we joined the Houzz community, and quickly became quite involved in it. Members can download inspirational photos from all over the world, find products and also ask questions to other members and designers. We created 2 ideabooks already – make sure to click on the link below, and once you are there, click on the ‘article’ icon on the very right top to make sure you can read up on the Ins and Outs on Countertops!

    Happy New Year – A January Update

    January 18, 2012

    Can it really have been 5 months since our last entry???? Gees….

    First of all – A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you! May it be filled with positive experiences, inspiration, love – all the good stuff….

    Time flies, and we have been busy, so this is just a quick summary of what has happened since September.

    Fairfield Eye Care Center
    This was a TV worthy 10 day renovation ( stay realistic and keep in mind that we typically don’t pay double and tripple shift TV crews to work all day and all night!) of a 1970′s eyewear store which, in a previous life, turned out to have been a barber shop ( I found out the hard way – there were a number of still life waterpipes buried in the wall, and NO water shut off!).
    We made it happen, and it is now a fashionable, elegant yet cheerful environment worthy to showcase the one-of-a-kind collection of German and Parisian eye-’candy’!
    The store comes with an optometrist office as well as it’s own workshop, and owners Sang and Meki along with the fabulous Lisa will be happy to outfit you with a stunning pair of glasses.

    Fairfield Eye Care

    Venture Navy Education Center, Esquimalt – The Gunroom BarWell, well, well – our first endeavour of working for the government. 3 years in the making, we are finally seeing a nautically themed bar almost completed (another week or two to go – yeay!). Of course we approached the task of designing the space a bit different – none of this “dark wood, slate and large split rock fireplace” kind of thing, that seems to be so ubiquous everywhere I go. (A hint for bar, restaurant and hotel owners – PLEASE, do yourself and your customers a favour and hire US!! Going out in Victoria could be so much more interesting!!)
    My dearest partner in crime – Kim – has a very personal relationship to the navy (having been a military wife for 15 odd years and such), and I have the suspicion that for the first time in the 4 1/2 years that she has been with THE SKY IS THE LIMIT she was a bit doubtful if I, a total landmouse, could pull it off and do this prestigious military establishment visual justice.
    We will take photos, so that you can judge for yourself, but I can say that I myself are already thrilled to bits with how it came together!
    It feels a bit like being on a ship (go figure), with riftcut oak, mahagony, some brass, porthole windows, lots of blackened steel, and a flamming red and illuminated smokestack!

    Gunroom Bar

    The condo reno from hell
    Every designer and contractor will have at least one of those in their life- and I think that is all right, as we can all learn from this experience. However, the lovely clients who endure this ordeal with a composed grace that I will be eternally grateful for, really do not deserve this!
    Everything that could possibly go wrong, did – and still does. That’s totally unfortunate, I for one am heart broken over that, but it will make a very good story at a later point. It will be one of those picturebook accounts of what to expect when renovating, which is always amusing when one is only listening to it.
    Just to say that much – no matter how fantastic a crew one has, and never mind how organised and well prepared one is – life has a way of keeping you humble…

    Nanoose Bay
    Now, that is a great project which kept the creative juices flowing those past months. It started innocently enough, with a client from Calgary asking if I wanted to have a look at their home up island.
    It turned out to be a rather large make over and a fantastic challenge to create a true West Coast home with flowing shapes, lots of texture and playing with finishes in a rather artistic manner.
    Construction is now well underway, and we will report on the outcome later in the summer.


    That one is pretty much done, and I am waiting for furniture to come in so that we can do a 2 day photoshoot. This is also a very exciting showcase of the way I really like to approach design – despite the huge scale the kitchen feels like the cabinetry is dancing in the space, and the mix of materials and colours throughout the house is a joy to see and touch.


    The ‘spec-house-in-new-neighbourhood-turned-custom-residence’ will make another great story.
    It’s a great example of how one can turn one of those non-descript builder homes ( in my native tongue I would call this a 08/15 house, but that’s a different story) into a piece of applied art.
    Very modern, it is very different from all the other before mentioned interiors, and I can’t wait to get some good pictures…
    Again, we are waiting for furniture – the Bombo bar chairs we ordered came in from Italy – but in the wrong colour – so we have to wait yet another 2 months. The sofa from France should be here anytime soon now, though!


    comox 2

    What else…
    And Martin Zemp from Zee Design is finishing off this magical kids playroom, that all of us grown ups really want to hang out in….I have been told that the 2 lucky girls insist on getting dressed in front of that princess mirror ( which is in fact a mirror laminate which can’t break) every day!

    Cinderella Mirror

    We were busy between Christmas and New Year – that ONE week a year that people in the construction business can usually take off …
    I assisted Jo Ann Richards from Works Photography who was in charge of taking about 20 (!!!!) pictures each of 2 of our projects for a book on kitchen design. 20! – on a ‘normal’ photoshoot day we might get 10 or so….But we had a tight deadline and needed to get it done…
    But then again – our work in a book!! yeay!

    Photoshoot for book

    I also got Jo Ann to take new pictures of my face…

    my new face....

    And then we were asked to do the architectural design for a new custom residence in a kind of New England style, and that had to happen in that week as well.

    New England Style

    Other than that we have a bunch of renovations to plan,and it looks like it’s going to be a busy year.

    We will do some lectures and seminars at this year’s CHBA Home Show as well, which is in April.
    Watch out for schedules and press releases for this event!

    That’s it for this time – I hope to be able to spend some time writing in the near future!

    Food for Thought

    September 25, 2011

    Psychology Today on ‘How the American Dream undermines us’ – April 2011

    Spending a quiet Sunday on the couch today with a bunch of magazines, I came across the above mentioned article, and I thought an excerpt would be quite suitable for my blog, as it relates to our work.

    I am quoting Andres Duany, coauthor of ‘Suburban Nation: The Rise of the Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream’, from an article written by Lauren Sandler


    ‘Today’s houses are’ fully equipped to compensate and mitigate the loss of the public realm’, Duany says. Fifty years ago homes averaged 1,700 square feet. Now that figure is up to 2,700, and interior architecture, in Duany’s mind, exists to mimic an urban world where few Americans dwell today. The double-height entry hall is the surrogate of the town square, the media room supplants the theater, the master suite practically exists as its own townhouse. Multiple dining areas further service our separation from the outside world: The breakfast nook is the diner, the formal dining room is the special-occasion white-tablecloth restaurant, even the kitchen island functions like a European tabac. ‘If you had a public realm’, Duany says, ‘you wouldn’t have to buy more house.’


    Your thoughts??

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