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It was hot, and the temperature was above 30 degrees Celsius. We're walking barefoot on the beautiful beachfront, and the delicate light brown sand feels so good on our feet. I can hear the mild waves overshadowing all other noises from people enjoying beach volleyball, swimming, and boat riding. It is the vibe we've been looking for for some time now- the Kelowna beach vibe.
About three weeks ago, we drove from Calgary to the beautiful city of Kelowna in British Columbia. It was a scenic seven-hour drive, and we did it to celebrate Canada Day outside our hometown and as well as to get some new fresh air and an unfamiliar environment. As a person who grew up walking distance from the beach (like the actual beach), the vibe and all other beach activities weren't new to me until I moved to Calgary, Alberta, more than four years ago.
For that long, I've been missing the beach, the smell of the ocean, affordable and super fresh seafood, boat rides, fine white sand, and of course, the hot steaming temperature. So, going to a place like Kelowna and experiencing almost the same vibe again felt exciting and unique to me. While strolling in the city's downtown area, a light bulb turned on in my head, and I thought it would be inspiring to connect my interior design blog with my traveling experience. Many designers have been doing this, and I know that, but what I see and experience will surely be unique.
Before I jump right to the body of my traveling for interior design inspiration blog, let me tell you the back story, so you’ll know why I'm sharing these valuable experiences with all of you.
Traveling to different and unfamiliar places has always been one of my goals in life. Like you or most people you know, the excitement of a new adventure and seeing those beautiful places in person makes you feel alive and hopeful. It's hard to explain, but the joy of starting to plan your travels and being on the actual adventure is beyond amazing.
While working in Singapore, I was lucky enough to travel to different Asian countries, experience their culture and food, visit some world heritage places, and meet amazing people. I almost started a blog about my travel experience but didn't have enough inspiration and drive to do it; I felt something was missing. I did a lot of research about travel blogs and articles with a niche focused on traveling and thought I was not the right person to share all the helpful tips and tricks; something was not clicking, so I dropped the idea.
Fast forward to today's modern way of life (thank goodness blogging still exists), I realized that my true calling is to share my experience and knowledge about design, mainly interior design and architecture. However, the blog about traveling I almost started seven years ago still haunts me, at least every time I travel to new and inspiring places.
So, when I was walking and taking photos of the beautiful Bernard Avenue of Kelowna, something clicked (not my camera), and I knew that I needed to write an article about this place, not as a tourist but as an interior designer traveling for inspiration. The exhilarating experience of going to new places, experiencing the local scenes, tasting new cuisines, meeting new people, and learning about their travel experiences gives me that energy and inspiration I unknowingly translate to my designs. I've been doing that for years, realizing that is the missing piece of the puzzle when I almost started my travel blog.
I know this is a lengthy introduction, but I thought I needed to explain and give you a background about this article that I'm planning to turn into a blog series, "Traveling for Interior Design Inspiration." It will be a journey for me and you as I try to discover various places that will surely inspire me to create interior design styles, concepts, and ideas. Since you're still reading up to this point of my article, I'm confident I already got your attention, so thank you for staying with me. So, without further ado, here are my Kelowna interior design inspirations that lead me to create a new kitchen style that I will reveal in the blog's last part.
First day in Kelowna
After almost seven hours of driving, we finally arrived in Kelowna. Our first day in the city was celebrating Canada Day, so we expected that there would be events and lots of people would be in their downtown area. We checked in at The Royal Anne Hotel, along Bernard Avenue, where most of the events, pubs, and restaurants are found. They even have a summer event, "Meet me on Bernard," in which they transformed the street into a pedestrian-only street to give way to the patio, performances, street markets, and art installations.
Back to the hotel where we checked in, it looked like a newly renovated hotel we thought was quite expensive. However, we're paying for the location, and most hotels in the city center are in that price range. The hotel's interior design is decent enough, and the thing that I like about it is its wall artwork. They have old photographs from the old hotel before the fire as well as black and white pictures of the town of Kelowna, complete with descriptions and dates. It's a clever way to let your guests know about all the significant history of the hotel and the city itself.
I thought the hotel's most striking feature is its lobby with the glass block features walls with fading old photographs. It was also nice that they stayed true to their classic style from the original The Royal Anne Hotel.
Meet Me on Bernard
One of the most inspiring travel highlights was when we walked along Bernard Avenue. Remember, this is where the light bulb turned on in my head, and I suddenly realized that I'm here to write a blog series like this.
I noticed they started some new high-rise construction along the avenue, transforming the town into a more modern and hipper place. However, there are still several old building along the road that tells the story of the town's exciting past and colorful history.
I hope they keep all these buildings because it makes the town unique as a place where old and new meet. Bricks, concrete, sand, steel, and colorful art scenes make all sense with the beautiful beach vibe in the background. These are the most inspiring elements of the downtown area and selling points making it a hit for travelers.
Waterfront and the Hot Sand Beach
At the end of Bernard Avenue in Kelowna City Park are the famous Waterfront path walk and Hot Sand Beach. One of the reasons why we chose Kelowna to celebrate Canada Day is their beachfront, a vast lake, and we thought this was the closest way for us to experience the summer beach vibe.
They have a fantastic downtown marina where you can book your boat, ferry ride, and other water activities. I love how colorful most of the kayaks and yachts are, and they created a lovely color blocking with the perfect blue sky and clear water. I got inspired by the play of pop of colors from outdoor chairs, grand pianos (you can play pianos outdoor), umbrellas, and kayaks.
We stayed along the Waterfront to relax, feel the sun, and listen to the calming sounds of waves. Luckily, we brought our camping chairs, so we could sit comfortably in front of the beach eating our freshly made poutine from Smoke's Poutinerie while watching the Canada Day fireworks. Such a unique and inspiring way to close off our first day in Kelowna.
Second Day in Kelowna
It was another sunny and hot day in the city when we woke up for our next day of adventure. We tried to prepare as early as possible, had our complimentary hotel breakfast, and went on to meet with our tour guide for our winery and wine tasting tour. We're hoping and expecting to see vast vineyards with lots of grapes, you know, those that you see in photos and movies.
Our first stop was the Black Swift Vineyards, about 15 minutes from the city center. Unfortunately, their vineyards had just started to flower, and we didn't see any grapes during our tour. Our tour guide told us that the vineyards might begin to produce grapes by August to September, and we were kind of early for that. Still, the place looks impressive, and they have an overlooking view of the lake, which is quite breathtaking.
Their wine selections are excellent, too. I love the red Screaming Frenzy 2019 Cabernet Franc. Most wines that they had us taste are their selections of white wines. I'm not a wine person, which is a bummer considering we are on a fantastic wine tasting tour, but I went on this tour to see the wineries and vineyards, which I know will give me tons of inspiration for my designs.
So, let's move on to their winery/ wine store/ wine showroom. I thought it looked rustic with suggestions of being a barn or farmhouse interior. I love the use of dark-toned woods on the ceiling, shelves, and other millwork. It's a bit simple, but I understand that the wine should stand out, not the actual space. One thing that sticks to my brain is their custom-made wallpaper by Paul Morstad, which features different characters with a group of screaming frenzy. I love it so much that I decided to buy one of their printed artworks that I thought would be cool for my future DIY wall gallery. I even asked if they sell the wallpaper; unfortunately, they don't.
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Our next stop is the Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery. The place is more upscale than the first winery we visited, and they have more indoor space for their shops, dining, wine market, and private or corporate events. Honestly, at this point, I'm feeling a bit tipsy from all the wine we've tasted, so all the other wines we're tasting attested the same.
Of all the wineries we went to for this tour, Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery has the most modern and I thought the newest style building with contemporary interior design for all their indoor spaces. They used grey-toned bricks combined with yellowish wood composite panels and concrete-looking tiles for the exterior of the building. The shape of their building reminded me of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, an exciting design concept for a winery.
The interior of the building is a combination of rustic and industrial styles, which I thought made it look upscale and appealing to a younger professional type of crowd. They also have a stunning view from their outdoor patio, which overlooks the mountains and a part of the lake.
Our third stop is called the Frind Estate Winery. It is said to be the first beachfront winery in North America with its location in Bennett Property, a historic place in West Kelowna. There were lots of people when we arrived at the property, so we had our wine tasting at their indoor bar. I thought their wine tasted perfect, and I loved one of our red wines. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the wine.
Frind Estate Winery is more casual than other wineries we visited. They have a clubhouse or resort vibe for their central bar, where we did our wine tasting, and it also has shops where you can buy their selections of wines. The winery's interior design is also unique from the others with its warm atmosphere because of the combination of red bricks and exposed wood beams and columns.
The famous Mission Hill Family Estate Winery was the fourth winery we visited. Initially, this wasn't part of the tour itinerary. However, one of the tourists on our tour asked our tour guide if we could quickly visit the winery since it's on the way to our final stop. Fortunately, our tour guide is kind enough to grant the request.
The Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is one of the most beautiful and picturesque wineries I have ever seen. Words and photos aren't enough to describe how gorgeous this place is. The architecture is very sculptural to the point that it looks so dramatic; you'll know right away that the site was perfectly designed for the people and showcased the existing nature and scenic views of the mountains and lake.
Finally, our last stop is the Quails' Gate Okanagan Valley. I enjoyed the wine tasting at this winery because we could walk the vineyards while tasting their selections of wine. I thought that was an exceptional experience.
Their building overlooks the massive vineyards, lake, and mountain, which is breathtaking. They also have a small market that looks like an old house and is now a shop where you can buy their selections of wines.
Overall, the wine tour was a success and the highlight of our trip to Kelowna. The trip wouldn't be complete without visiting these wineries and vineyards. And even though we did not do wine tasting in the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery. I highly recommend the place for you to see, especially their shop where you can find stuff that will surely pique your artistic imagination.
Third and Final Day in Kelowna
Our last day in the city is mainly about relaxing, discovering the place, and just walking along the promenade and beachfront. Aside from absorbing more design inspiration from the downtown area, we also decided to visit the Boyce-Gyro Beach Park, about 10 minutes drive from our hotel.
It was so calm and relaxing when we arrived at the beachfront because only a few people were walking along it. So, we decided to stay there, stop and feel the moment.
Finally, we returned to our hotel to get ready for our check-out and last stroll to Bernard Avenue. Before we hit the road, we went to see the ongoing farmer's market in the downtown area. These are some of the few things you don't want to miss before leaving this beautiful town. Also, we tried some pastries and their coffee at the Karat Chocolate + Pastry Boutique near the city center's pop-up street market. They have unique selections of bread and pastries, which we thought was a great and joyful way to say goodbye, and we will surely see you again, Kelowna.
The Design Concept
I know that was a lot of reading, but I must tell you most of the details of our trip, so you'll know the stories behind where I got my design inspirations.
From our hotel to the streets, beachfront, wineries, vineyards, and food, Kelowna has a lot to offer. I love how colorful the town is, not only their history but all their current development. It is one of the best places I recommend if you're looking for inspiration, relaxation, and peace of mind.
These are the readily available selections of wall sconces, pendant lights, cabinet handles, and counter height stools that I found online that I thought goes well with the kitchen design concept. They might not look the same as my 3D renderings, but they all serve the purpose of adding a pop of colors and boldness to the overall design. Below is the link to source these lighting, cabinet handles, and furniture.
01 Wall Sconce Option A (preferred)
04 Pendant Light Option B (preferred)
05 Cabinet Handle Option A (preferred)
08 Counter Height Stool Option B (preferred)
Most of the design elements that caught my attention are their use of bricks, yellow tone exposed beams and columns, and pop of colors (primarily red, blue, yellow, and green). And of course, the beautiful sceneries of beach or lake, mountains, clear blue skies, and light brown sands.
The Design Outcome
The kitchen design is the outcome of all the design inspiration from my trip to Kelowna. It's a collective thought of all the things I saw during my journey, and I tried my best to curate them, which resulted in my final design approach.
I can easily imagine a space that can be relaxing to someone but still full of energy and happiness. An interior style that is aery and calm but still has that strong character of stability that doesn't need to be feminine or masculine. A place where someone can live, be inspired, and work without the restriction of time and stress.
I hope that I was able to take you with me to the great town of Kelowna while you're reading my blog. I apologize for being lengthy; I thought this was a unique way to translate my excitement and happiness with traveling through my interior design interpretation. I'm looking forward to my next travel, and I can't wait to share another "Travelling for Interior Design Inspiration" adventure.
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