In the News: West Van’s new hot spot; vintage planters trending

Dispatch from Vancouver’s retail, restaurant and interior design community

The West Vancouver waterfront inspired the subtly nautical décor at Ancora Ambleside. Handout

Ancora Ambleside designed to be West Van’s stylish new hot spot

When tasked with designing a West Vancouver location for Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio, SmartDesign knew it would incorporate some of the “DNA” from the original False Creek restaurant. That included using nautical touches—blue hues, brass accents—and embracing the spectacular natural scenery of the location.

In this case, that meant both waterfront and Ambleside Park.

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t block the view at all,” says interior designer Jill Danis. “We placed mirrors behind the bar so that people could see the views, even if they were facing away from the windows.”

The space has a dramatic quality, as befits the larger-than-life personality of executive chef Ricardo Valverde, says SmartDesign CEO Nick Baker. The open kitchen and bar essentially run the full length of the Peruvian-
Japanese restaurant and serve as a stage for the chef. Guests seated at the counter have a front row seat, while banquettes are tiered slightly to allow views of the show as well.

The design team opted to keep the ceilings very high to extend the dramatic feel of the room, adding acoustic tile to combat noise, and designed the space to transition seamlessly to a nightlife destination after dinner wraps up.

“All of the lighting is on dimmers to create a more moody environment at night,” explains Baker. “We created an elevated seating area next to the bar to allow people to mingle and gather there, instead of separating off the bar and dining spaces. We know this is going to become a prime West Van nightlife hotspot.”

Succulents in vintage planters welcome shoppers to The Found & The Freed. Handout

New-old vintage planters flourishing

When the owners of East Vancouver’s The Found & The Freed wanted to make their antique shop feel more welcoming, they started snugging little succulents into vintage enamelware cups and placing them here and there around the store.

Customers took notice and snapped them up. Now the store has expanded the range of plants being offered, and the types of containers they’re being placed in.

“Monsteras, philodendrons, fiddle-leaf figs, snake plants, birds of paradise—they’re all incredibly popular,” says co-owner Lindsay Burke. “It’s bringing a bit of nature inside, something alive in your house that’s not a dog or a cat.”

Burke and her team find themselves constantly on the hunt for more enamelware, graniteware and metal containers to satisfy the demand for the planters. They’ve now sized up to 10-gallon Medalta crocks. The collectible stoneware originates from Medicine Hat, Alta., and was commonly used for making pickles and sauerkraut.

At Kitchen Staples, customers can shop waste-free. Handout

Stock your kitchen without the waste

Since 2011, Vancouver’s The Soap Dispensary has tackled the issue of single-use plastic packaging by selling refills for reusable containers. Now it has expanded its offerings beyond personal-care products (soap, lotion, shampoo) to include pantry items. The low-waste pioneer has just opened Kitchen Staples in the storefront beside its Riley Park location.

The bright, airy space is stocked with dispensers for oils, vinegars and syrups, as well as big glass jars filled with dry goods such as beans, nuts, dried fruit and spices. Staff members fill your clean, reusable containers while you wait or run other errands. An online shopping component is in the works.




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