Blog by Beebe Cline

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Wood-Loving Luxuriousness in Vancouver

A large curving island that echoes the waves of the ocean outside shapes the style and functionality of this Vancouver Island kitchen. This couple wanted their second home to have a highly customized kitchen — one that would allow them to host family dinners where they could all cook and hang out together. Ines Hanl of The Sky is the Limit Design worked with the clients' wish list to design a kitchen that would honor the home's timber-frame construction, the beautiful surrounding landscape and their own personal style. "It's nothing for the faint of heart, for sure!" Hanl says.

Click photos to view larger images in a slide show.
Hanl combined the clients' design ideas with a distinct organic West Coast style that reflects the surrounding homes and environment; she used driftwood, pebbles, different types of wood and flowing shapes that mimic the water outside. "It can very easily take on a hippie flavor, which was a real risk factor for me," says Hanl.

The clients wanted the curves of the massive S-shape island to have a continuous live edge throughout. Working closely with local company Live Edge Design, Hanl found five pieces of maple to combine, creating the flowing shape. The adjacent cleanup island is a response to the larger island. A small curving natural edge allows it to tie in with the S shape.

Pebbles, tile, countertop: Jivko; bar top: Live Edge Design and ThinkGlass
The flowing shape and live edge not only evoke the outdoors, but the island provides adequate space for socializing and cooking.

Limestone with a subtle green undertone contrasts with the reddish tones of the wood. Pebbles break up the traditional limestone tile layout, washing in through the front of the room as if they were swept in by the water outside.

Bar stools: Restoration Hardware
The table for the built-in banquette is a custom blend: the clients' daughter's nightstand with a round glass top. The mix of materials in the seating areas — leather chairs, pebbles, metal bar stools and sconces — helps keep the presence of wood in check.

Wooden stools: clients' own; lighting: Tech Lighting, Terzani
A ThinkGlass feature counter brings in the feel of frozen water — a common element in cold Vancouver winters. The drum-shape cabinet hides an exhaust manifold.

"I am very careful when combining woods, because I find they can easily fight for attention with each other," says Hanl. Taking inspiration from the art of marquetry, she chose several different woods with complementary tones and grain patterns: fir cabinetry, maple countertops and scraped hickory accents.
The shape of the prep sink echoes the cylinder feature counter on the smaller island. Hanl chose a wider than standard Shaker door for the fir cabinetry, accenting with hand-scraped texture on the bar back. "This gave me the heavy dimension and scale I was looking for to balance the sheer size of the room," she says.

Hardware: Victoria Specialty Hardware; sink: Cantu
This ThinkGlass stove backsplash adds another element of visual interest. Hanl had the thickness of the charcoal-brushed granite counters doubled to continue the balance with the wood cabinetry.

The seamless induction cooktop is flanked by a convection oven and undercounter refrigerator drawers. The clients wanted their larger refrigerator in the pantry, but Hanl knew they'd need some items at hand while cooking. "I struggled a bit with this arrangement," she admits. "Only showing the stainless of the oven to the left seemed to make the whole unit lopsided. That's why I opted for the stainless/black glass fronts on the fridge drawers."