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A bunker-style kitchen is transformed with artistic flourishes, vibrant accents and plenty of space ?
Designer Ines Hanl believes creativity and functionality are key to a successful kitchen renovation
There’s nothing like the aroma of freshly baked bread or warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. In fact, most homeowners agree that the heart of their household is the kitchen. More than just a room for cooking meals, the kitchen is a home’s central hub, a space where busy family members convene to catch up on the day while grabbing a snack or sampling a new recipe.
Lisa Macquisten, Victoria homeowner and mother of two, can attest to the importance of a functional yet comfortable kitchen. Macquisten and her husband have lived in their Oak Bay home for 18 years, purchasing the property when it was a diminutive two-bedroom house.
Over the years, the couple added new rooms, extended the basement and built an upper level, but it wasn’t until 2007 that they decided the entire house needed a design overhaul. “When you’re raising kids and lead a busy life, you don’t really pay attention to home decor,” Macquisten points out. “But when our kids started getting older, we began to seriously consider it.”
The resulting do-it-yourself renovation project took two years to complete and included gutting much of the main floor and basement. But it was the kitchen that required the most drastic change. “The old kitchen was a box,” Macquisten says. “It could hold only one person at a time.”
The room was also closed off from the rest of the house, which left Macquisten feeling isolated. “I didn’t like being shut up in there while life was taking place outside,” she explains. Instead, she and her husband envisioned an open, inviting space where family and friends could gather together comfortably. Unlike the previous renovations, which the couple describe as “a massive headache,” they went straight to the professionals. “We felt it was particularly important to get professional advice for the kitchen,” says Macquisten. “After all, it’s a room that everyone will see, and we didn’t want it done shoddily.”
The homeowners hired Ines Hanl, principal of The Sky is the Limit Interior Design Concepts. Hanl, whose background is in interior architecture, believes that striking the right balance between creativity and functionality is essential to a successful renovation. “Functionality is like breathing for me,” says Hanl. “I’m very imaginative, but nothing gets out of my brain unless it has been analyzed first.”
Hanl’s distinctive ideas and client-centred focus appealed to the Macquistens straight away. “Ines gave us an amazing amount of leeway,” says Macquisten. “For example, she would say, ‘Pick whatever styles you like,’ and I would choose three. Ines would then incorporate all three into the kitchen, as opposed to making the final decision herself.”
Hanl also encouraged Lisa not to shy away from expensive or trendy materials, showing her instead how to incorporate them sporadically throughout the space. “That was really fun,” Macquisten recalls. “I would take a shine to materials that I thought were out of my price range or wouldn’t fit with the design, and Ines would say, ‘We could use this.'”
The close, collaborative relationship between designer and homeowners allowed the Macquistens to create their dream kitchen. The walls enclosing the room were knocked down, resulting in an open, airy space that’s flooded with natural light.
Dominating the length of the room is a 16-foot island split into two sections, stained denim blue with black quartz countertops. The main section is ideal for food preparation and cleanup, which Hanl says is a kitchen must. “Clearly defined work areas are essential,” she says. “I don’t go so much by the triangle. Instead, I like to organize my kitchens according to work zone: hot-food prep, general food prep, message centre….”
To Hanl, organization and smart storage are key, which is why the island also holds a compactor, dishwasher and sink, as well as storage cupboards below. The four-foot add-on houses a hideaway microwave; its curved door breaks the flow of the island’s long, rectangular shape. Anchoring the end is a red-stained lacquer post, perfect for displaying flowers or objets d’art.
Hanl also installed a hob-style hood fan over the stove, and added a customized backsplash made with blue-and-green crackled glass combined with pewter and bronze relief tiles. At the room’s far end, built-in corner seating situated next to garden-facing windows offers a welcome respite.
The oak dining table was part of the old kitchen; Hanl stained it black to match the island. The adjacent wall, visible from the home’s entryway, features an inset gas fireplace and television.
Hanl notes that most of the budget went toward cabinetry, the counter and esthetic additions like the backsplash. But she cautions that budgets will vary based on the extent of the renovation and the client’s desires. “Good electrical and lighting can cost a bundle,” she points out. “But it’s also necessary to make the kitchen functional and beautiful.”
Artistic appeal shouldn’t be sacrificed, either, which is why Hanl incorporated 16 complementary colours into the Macquistens’ kitchen walls, ceiling and cabinetry, as well as six styles of light fixture. The result is an efficient yet organic design that produces a relaxed environment – perfect for a contemporary West Coast kitchen.
The Macquistens aren’t the only ones who are pleased with the space: Hanl’s work has earned several industry accolades, including gold and silver CARE awards from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and “Best Before and After” prize at the 2010 American NKBA Art of the Industry design competition. “The awards weren’t something we went after, but it’s exciting,” Macquisten says. “I’m happy for Ines. She was a delight to work with and she’s incredibly talented.”
Macquisten loves her new kitchen so much that she now spends most of her time there. “I’ll sit and watch The Amazing Race, and then get up and make cookies,” she says. “It’s both practical and comfortable. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Best of all, the room has been instrumental in bringing the busy Macquistens together, serving as an unofficial meeting place where the family can enjoy a meal while catching up on each other’s lives – exactly what they were hoping it would be.
See more photos, including before shots, of this Kitchen Makeover
Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.