May 2019

The European Kitchen

Sleek, chic and streamlined – words that describe the European kitchen. What differentiates a European kitchen from a North American one you might ask? One can argue lifestyle and taste, which we cannot disagree with. Who needs to cook or stock-up on a week’s worth of groceries in an enormous fridge when the market, bakery and a plethora of cafes and restaurants just steps away? Ultimately, the European Kitchen boils down to functionality. It also screams style. The European kitchen often looks more like a beautiful piece of furniture rather than utilitarian cabinetry. Real estate is precious in large European cities and dedicating a chunk of square footage to the kitchen just does not make sense. This sounds almost familiar to the real estate market in Vancouver where living space is paid for at a premium. What can we learn from and borrow from European kitchens? Keep reading to find out!


If you have ever stayed in a studio apartment in Paris, you will know just how tiny they can be?  The kitchen here might be compared to the size of a mini-bar in North America. I had the pleasure of staying in a hotel in Italy and the galley style kitchen had a folding screen door which conceals the cabinets. Only to be exposed when necessary. Don’t judge the sleek band of cabinetry by its cover though – all the essentials are expertly tucked away, but still easily accessible. The key to making these micro-kitchens work? Great organization. There is a spot for everything and not an inch is unused. Drawers and shelves have organizers so there is little mess. Perhaps it’s the European adoption of “less is more,” but there is nothing frivolous to be found. Are you downsizing and a smaller kitchen is on the horizon? Take inventory of what you have and pair it down to what you frequently use!


The character of a Euro kitchen is definitely in the details. We have all seen those Pinterest photos of kitchens that completely disappear – the perfectly streamlined and minimalist ones. You can just imagine opening up one of the cabinets to see what’s behind! The answer? Everything of course! What we appreciate the most about European kitchens is the craft and detail that goes into the millwork. From integral channels, gently eased cabinet corners and soft-close hardware, metal drawer boxes to sinks that are molded into the countertops – every detail is well integrated. We are inspired by companies such as Valcucine which use innovative, pure and eco-compatible materials. Grab a friend and head down to Gastown for a little lunch and then pay a visit to Inform. Here you will find the dreamy Poliform line (as pictured below) which is designed for Contemporary living and open spaces. For our Vancouverite friends here is a list of a few amazing showrooms with various European lines sure to inspire you! Bulthaup, Room8, and Habitat by Aeon to name just a few.


It is impossible to discuss the kitchen without mentioning appliances! Before we completely geek out on you about the latest and greatest, do remember that it is not necessary to splurge on every appliance for your kitchen. We would suggest spending a bit more on the ones you use the most such as the fridge and cooking elements. Some appliance brands we really like and tend to specify are Miele. Blomberg, Bosch, Liebherr, Sub-zero Wolf and Gaggenau. We love that these brands incorporate options for Integral panels and can be built-in to create the seamless look! They are also compatible with most European kitchen brands which often have a taller kick (baseboard).

What do you love about European kitchens? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designeurokitchen

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The New Vancouver Skyline

Talk to anyone who has lived in Vancouver for a few years and they will most likely tell you about how much it has changed. Where there once had panoramic views, is likely now blocked by another skyscraper. The sparse neighborhoods with huge lots and lush green front yards are now replaced with townhomes and apartments. Even alleyways are neighborhoods in themselves dotted with laneway homes. If you look at photos from even a couple of decades ago, many of the iconic buildings you recognize did not exist. Livable neighborhoods such as Olympic Village, Yaletown, and Mount Pleasant were more or less industrial. Notorious for being a city of towering glass and critiqued for looking monotonous, Vancouver is stepping up their architectural game. Daily Hive wrote an article last year noting that Vancouver is undergoing the largest architectural renaissance in its history. “Cookie Cutter Condos” be gone. Keep reading about a few of the projects that are changing Vancouver’s skyline in the near future!


Known for hiring world-renowned architects such as Bjarke Ingels and Kengo Kuma to design their iconic projects, developer Westbank does it again with Oakridge. This massive development in the namesake Oakridge neighborhood is sure to re-define how Vancouverites choose to live. The proposed development with its first phase now for sale, boasts interesting curved glass towers and a plethora of amenities. When it is complete there will be 2,600 homes and workspace for 3,000 creative professionals. For those of you wondering where Oakridge mall will go, the answer is nowhere! It remains with more than 300 stores along with a unique culinary experience featuring local and global chefs. In addition, a large community center, Vancouver’s second-largest library and a nearly 10-acre park composed of six integrated smaller parks will be located on the site. If you have not checked out their Unwritten exhibition/ sales center at Oakridge mall, you must do so!

Canada Earth Tower

The world’s tallest wood tower will be coming to Vancouver! In case you are wondering, it will not burn. A project by Delta Land Development and designed by Perkins+Will  this tower will be 35-40 stories tall and constructed out of cross-laminated timber (CLT). CLT is fire-resistant and the tower will have large quantities of wood for floor plates, structural columns, and exteriors – very different from the concrete and glass we are used to! Located on West 8th Avenue and Pine Street, the tower will include 200 homes – market housing units with at least 20% being non-market housing such as co-op or rental housing. A unique feature is an outdoor garden at every three-story section of the tower’s south façade which is accessible to residents of that section. At the podium of the complex, office space and retail will be available and wrapping an expansive horseshoe-shaped courtyard. Landscaping will be designed by the world-famous landscape architect, Cornelia Oberlander. We can’t wait to see how this project re-defines tower architecture and sustainable building for Vancouver!


Designed to blur the lines between sculpture and structure. Akimbo meaning “to stand with hands on the hips and elbows turned outward” is sure to stand apart in Brentwood. Designed by award-winning IBI Group this 40 storey building provides a bold and distinctive street and skyline presence. The impressive amenities boast a lounge, gym, boardroom, concierge, guest suite and outdoor podium courtyard. Close to transit and entertainment this building is sure to be a sought after residence.


What are you looking forward to seeing in Vancouver’s changing skyline? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designskyline



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Freshen Up – Why You Need Biophilia

There’s a new buzzword in town and it’s Biophilia. For those of you who have never heard the term before, you’re probably wondering what it is and why we’re talking about it. For some of us, it’s been a term that comes up all the time especially when we are designing spaces for clients. So what is it and why does it matter? Let us fill you in about biophilia and why you need it in your life!

It’s finally spring and every time you look out the window you catch a glimpse of something growing – something alive. As the cold slowly disappear and new life in the flora and fauna re-emerge, we cannot help but take notice. Perhaps it the color or even the gradual change, but there must be a reason as to why we are so attracted to it. Biophilia is the concept that people have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. It might explain why people become depressed when they are isolated from the outside world. Today, we spend almost 90% of our days indoors. How do we create spaces in which people can still have a connection with nature when most of our surroundings are built?

Research shows that biophilia improves productivity, well-being, and engagement. Some of the core features of biophilia include vegetation, sightlines to open landscapes such as mountains and bodies of water, daylight, use of local and natural materials, creating shelter and privacy as well as blurring the lines between the interior environment and the outdoors. Most research shows that the addition of these features and elements in the workplace has a great impact. Some benefits include improved health, a better mood, the feeling of well-being, reduced stress levels, increased engagement, and productivity, reduce fatigue and even reduced employee absenteeism. There is a reason why standards and certifications such as WELL and LEED have emerged and are being adopted. Who knew that biophilia could make such a difference in our everyday life?

There are so many benefits to biophilia, so how can you inject some into your life? It can be as simple as opening your blinds. Let daylight fill your space and in the rooms where you spend most of your time, try to have sightlines to the outdoors. Lacking views and windows? There are many other options such as the addition of a few living plants or perhaps a green wall in an office. If you have never seen one, they are stunning and provide great visual relief! looking for some inspiration? Greenery NYC has some amazing projects to illustrate the powers of plants. From Presentation Centers, Retail spaces, and Offices to name a few applications, which are sure to impress you. Warm up a space by choosing some natural materials such as wool for upholstery and wood instead of man-made materials. And if all else fails, never underestimate the power of a nice photograph of a nature scene!


How will you freshen up with biophilia this spring? Let us know with the hashtag #area3designbiophilia



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