February 10, 2017

Small space. Big style.

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How HONOMOBO turns shipping containers into sleek, chic homes

By  Lucy Hyslop

High-Res-(For-Printing)-Honomobo-9736-78-Avenue-37High design is not usually synonymous with cargo containers, but there’s been a notable sea change in these industrial structures of late. Think: Sleek wall of windows on one side; clever yet cosy furniture and local art showcased throughout a stylish, clean-lined home.

Welcome to HONOMOBO’s new modern offering, deftly styled by Vancouver-based Kendall Ansell Interiors, that’s making a grand entrance at the BC Home + Garden Show (Feb. 22 to 26). “It’s all about opening the audience’s minds to other alternatives to in-foundation structures in their back yard,” designer Kendall Ansell says of the two-bedroomed 704-square-foot modular black structure with wood trim that’s manufactured in Edmonton. “We want them to see how unique, different and permanent this laneway built out of a container really is.”

So, while its robust steel frame may be braced for the choppiness of ocean life, the home itself is designed to exude savvy softness—complete, for this project, with landscaping by Surrey’s Blue Pine Enterprises. “Everybody wants to have that feeling of home—to come home to a cosy warm space, whether it’s being used as a laneway rental or Airbnb in Vancouver or on a vacation lot on Salt Spring Island, for example,” explains Ansell, who has been working on the project since the summer.

Functionality is a priority for a HONOMOBO home. The company—named for a non-existent word that was fun to say—has repurposed the decommissioned containers into five sizes from 207 to 1,380 square feet and will also launch the OBO, a new home office, home business, workout studio or man cave at the show.

High-Res-(For-Printing)-Honomobo-9736-78-Avenue-1Along with a small sofa, coffee table and TV unit, each container home will have a dining room that doubles as a set of bar stools. “In most small spaces, you are limited to just one or the other; in this we have both,” says the winner of Best of Houzz from 2014 to 2016, adding that storage beds are the strong must-haves in the space-saving homes of today.

Calling on her earlier life as the daughter of a custom-home contractor, Ansell explains, “The space has to function first before we add the pretty on top, meaning the floor must be perfect before you put a rug on top of it.”

And designing it all depends on who is going to live in the space, she emphasizes.

Tell-tale indicators include finding out, for example, how someone watches TV (legs stretched out on a chaise-longue or tucked under?) or whether they wear slippers or go barefoot (this will affect the type of flooring used). “We are all different, so it’s about designing for how the person lives,” she says. “We may all need the same basic needs, but it’s important that your space reflects who you are.” •

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