It’s fair to say that when Amanda Hamilton, founder and creative director of Amanda Hamilton Interiors, set out to renovate an 8,500-square-foot fortress in Bearspaw (just outside of Calgary), her work was literally cut out for her: namely, a dozen bear-shaped relief sculptures that were plastered all over the walls. The restaurant suited its former name, Bears Den, but was a dusky, windowless space that many locals protected with the ferocity of grizzlies.There are bare walls, and then there are bear walls. "They really didn't work with the concept," Hamiltons says of the 12 plaster relief sculptures. She preserved six, spraying them white to match the new, airy vibe. Great care was taken to remove the other six—they were part of the community, after all.
“There was a lot of emotional attachment and history behind Bears Den,” says Hamilton, “so we worked with the clients to pay homage to the local community.” Hamilton and her team set out to sophisticate the space, renamed Flores and Pine, without losing any of its spirit—and creating some sunshine was a good place to start.
Installing windows might seem like an obvious solution to a low light problem, but it’s also a pricey one. After popping in a few windows, Hamilton found other ways to make Flores and Pine shine brighter than its predecessor. She started by spraying the dark mahogany wall panelling—bears and all—white. In the Gallery Bar, a casual bar at the entrance of the space, she clad the bulkhead above the bar with backlit panels. In the Atrium, a circular enclosure that acted as a dance floor in the space’s past life, windows were installed in front of the original bear sculptures, then backlit to create the illusion of natural light. An oversized custom tree, bistro-style tables, and garden chairs completed the Atrium’s indoor/outdoor vibe. Emerald green bar stools and curved banquette seating complement the Gallery Bar’s quartzite counter; the blue and green veining throughout the natural stone brings out the tones of the chairs.
And nature keeps on knocking. Rich green subway tiles brighten up the open kitchen at the rear of Flores and Pine, while serpentine banquettes in the centre brasserie area give the space movement. “Because it’s a large space like that, you want to be able to partition it so it isn’t like a cafeteria,” says Hamilton. The restaurant and event space is divided into five unique parts, each incorporating earthy elements and textured luxury. “It’s all about the connection to Calgary and the local landscape,” says Hamilton. “We needed to humanize the space, and to have access to the outdoors.” Only the necessities, of course.