March 6, 2011
Two high-end kitchens, both entrants in this year’s Georgie Awards, are outstanding examples of innovative design, top-quality craftsmanship and the very best materials, sure to elevate meal preparation to epicurean levels.
With British Columbia’s Georgie Awards in full sway – winners to be announced in March – we ventured into two of the competing top-category homes, worth more than $2 million apiece, to see what constitutes a kitchen with an Aston Martin price tag. We selected a magnificent west-coast seaside palace and a fabulous mountain retreat in the East Kootenays, both fine examples of skilful design and craftsmanship. Both interior designers relied on exceptional teams who were willing to venture into uncharted territory to come up with new concepts and unique designs.
In North Saanich, the Lands End residence perches on a 30-metre-high sandstone cliff, a stunning natural composite of glass and cedar. Ines Hanl, of The Sky is the Limit Design, the mastermind behind the unique kitchen design, explains her approach thus: “I essentially took the architectural language of the house and continued it into the kitchen, for example I translated the concept of the infinity pool outside into a feature centre island, with a 1½-inch-thick textured-like-waterdrops glass countertop pouring down as a backsplash from the height of the hood across the work area with the cooktop then to the slightly lowered stainless steel prep sink. That was the starting point for the remainder of the kitchen design.”
All is simple, linear, perfectly integrated in this showpiece kitchen. Frameless glass doors on the display cabinetry reference the home’s frameless corner windows. Modern, streamlined appliances enhance the spacious, open concept, from the Miele speed oven, convection oven and dishwasher to the Fagor induction cooktop and the integrated Sub-Zero fridge and freezer. The all-time favourite, she says, “the built-in coffeemaker.”
The shape and design of the custom hood/fan and its support reflect the shape of the canopy on the pool side of the house as well as the deck, which hangs from steel cables. Flooring is predominantly exposed and polished concrete, however a decision was made to use charcoal marmoleum – a far more forgiving material underfoot – for the central cooking area. “Everything that was used in the house was top-notch quality,” Hanl explains. “That’s one of the things I appreciate in my clients. They’d rather go for quality and ingenuity on a smaller scale and not for big and ostentatious.”
On the other side of the province, in the East Kootenays, you’ll find a giant of a house on a rock outcropping, the Villa Gran Sasso, recently built by Quiniscoe Homes, with interior designs by Carmen Wiebe and Natalie Sands of Site Lines Architecture. As befits its role as a mountain retreat, everything is larger than life, including the imposing kitchen with a custom sculpted central island with its natural-quartz countertop and a separate 16-foot concrete eating bar.
This mountain retreat overlooking a golf course was designed for a large family ranging from toddlers to a great-grandfather. Wood dominates, from richly timbered criss-crossed rafter beams to rich cherrywood and vertical-grained fir millwork.
The natural world is very much in evidence here, in the earth-toned variegated grey porcelain backsplash tiles inset with tiny copper pieces which echo the massive hammered copper range hood. Cabinets are solid wood, with both charcoal and chocolate-brown stains.
Completing the grand scheme are oversized sile granite sinks, a 48-inch Miele hybrid induction cooktop and warming oven, Viking speed-convection wall ovens and two Sub-Zero fridges integrated into the cabinetry with custom overlay cabinet doors. The microwave is built into the island; the Bosch dishwasher hidden behind cabinetry next to the sink. Light fixtures, faucets and cabinet pulls are all oil-rubbed bronze. There’s also a separate pantry room, a large wall-mount, flat-screen TV and plenty of outdoor living space on the spacious deck, featuring a masonry fireplace and built-in masonry barbecue cooking hutch.
Villa Gran Sasso itself has five floors, accessed by both a stairway and an elevator, the house and garage joined by a two-storey passageway with glass walls. Quiniscoe Homes’ owner Dave Penner loved the considerable challenges inherent in such an ambitious project. “We’re building stuff we would never have dreamed of – so complex, so rewarding and challenging. It’s a pretty fun business. We get to work with really cool materials and get to draw on all the trades to create real craftsmanship pieces.”
Of such are dream homes and kitchens made.