Taking the plunge

Owning a home with an indoor or outdoor pool is a rarity in Calgary. If you dream of owning a backyard lagoon, here are some considerations before you dive in.

Imagine having your own private swimming pool – a place to entertain, exercise or just kick back and listen to the soothing sounds of moving water.

Lynn Lucyshyn, owner of Oasis Pools & Spas, says pools are a luxury few Calgarians enjoy. Her company installs as many as 12 pools in a good year, but as few as three in slower years.

According to CREB®, only 167 properties listing pools as a feature were sold in 2016. In that same year, the average sale price of a detached home with an indoor or outdoor pool was $974,388.


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Designing kitchens

Design experts say taking advantage of existing kitchen features can help save money when it comes time to renovate

Thinking of kitchen renovations? Krista Hermanson of Krista Hermanson Design says making a list of kitchen priorities is the best place to start.

“Do you mostly eat fresh food prepared from scratch? Then you need to ensure your fridge is large enough for your family. Do you entertain often and need to refrigerate large platters? Then a French-door fridge might be the better option for you,” said Hermanson.

Where do you spend your time? Where do the kids hang out in the kitchen to do their homework? These are the kinds of questions Hermanson asks her clients. In a recent project, Hermanson’s clients wanted “a mix of vintage and new flavours” in their approximately 600-square-foot kitchen that sits adjacent to a dining area and breakfast nook.

“This is a family that loves to cook together, bake together and host huge family gatherings of 30 or more. Their dream was to build a kitchen that had a spot for everyone,” explained Hermanson.

To that end, the $100,000-plus kitchen includes “a fantasy appliance package” complete with a sub-zero refrigerator, a water-filtration system, a warming drawer, double ovens and a huge gas cooktop.

The kitchen also features a very large island with a premium marble top, one of the kitchen’s focal points. Another is the stunning chandelier in the dining area.

Lighting should be like jewellery on an outfit; you can wear a simple black dress and then a fantastic necklace will elevate it to a whole other level. It’s the same with lighting and interior finishes.

“Lighting should be like jewellery on an outfit; you can wear a simple black dress and then a fantastic necklace will elevate it to a whole other level. It’s the same with lighting and interior finishes,” she said, adding that top-of-the-line German hardware pullouts, custom-made, solid-wood cabinets and a site-finished, white oak floor were some of this kitchen’s additional finishes.

Like Hermanson’s clients, Allison Stordeur and her husband, Andrew, wanted to create a kitchen with plenty of room for guests when they renovated their 1960 Collingwood home.

“I’m from Newfoundland, so all gatherings end up in the kitchen,” said Stordeur, with a laugh.

“Originally, I wanted an island installed, but how do we have room for an island and a table?” she said.

The Stordeurs enlisted the help of Alykhan Velji of Alykhan Velji Designs for their renovation, and he came up with a solution: a counter-height table. “It can seat up to 12 people, and I can also use it as a workspace,” said Stordeur.

Other necessary kitchen features for the couple include a beer fridge, a pantry, a sink positioned so one can see the backyard (especially important as parents of four young children) and hardwood flooring.

The Stordeurs decided on a black, white and grey colour scheme with yellow accents. “The colour scheme feels airy and open, and my husband and I like how fresh and inviting the yellow feels,” she said.

It’s no surprise that designers also tackle their own homes. In fact, Hermanson also renovated her own kitchen in her Altadore home.

“This kitchen was crying for an update,” she said. “But it did not make sense to start from scratch, as the cabinets were good quality and the countertop was fine.”

For her reno, Hermanson built additional cabinets that reach the ceiling to maximize storage space. A couple of base cabinets had doors instead of drawers, so she added pullout hardware inside the cabinets. “This can be a cost-effective way to make existing cabinets more functional,” she said.

She painted her cabinets a soft black to pick up the black flecks in the existing countertop.

“I’ve wanted to have a black kitchen ever since I first saw one in California 20 years ago. It’s beautiful, stylish and always chic, like a great black pantsuit,” said Hermanson.

“You want to look for ways to provide the biggest bang for your renovation buck by looking for ways to work with what you already have,” she said, adding she installed a white oak floor and painted the walls white to offset the drama of the cabinet colour.

Hermanson added another classic touch to her kitchen with a subway backsplash. “I tell our clients that subway tile is like a Chanel suit.”

One feature Hermanson didn’t update were the appliances.

“Appliances are critical to your kitchen functioning well, but it depends on how long you plan to be in your home and how much you intend to use them that will decide how much you want to splurge on appliances,” she said, adding that “black stainless appliances” are offering kitchens a “fresh, new look” these days.

For her, another kitchen must is having a place to keep those ubiquitous recycling bins. She advises concealing them in tall, pullout cabinets.

“Kitchens are complex machines that need to look good and function exceptionally well. They are also a significant investment and can deliver terrific return,” she said.

“Besides, you spend so much time in your kitchen – make it an inspiring and cozy space.”


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Jesse Yardley Photographer - Walkable Communities

Making Strides

City planners see shorter block lengths and interconnected grids as important features in walkable communities

Sanda Peric made a happy discovery since moving into her new condo, Vivace at West 85th, in Calgary’s West Springs community.

“I basically don’t need a car,” said the 20-something of her first home purchase.
“I can go grocery shopping; I can get my nails done, all within walking distance. There are a ton of amenities nearby.”

“West Springs is the perfect mix of suburban living with its sense of quiet and community and being close to the Core. I hop on the train, and I’m there in 10 minutes,” said Peric, who takes the LRT to her job downtown.


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Appealing apartments

Whether empty nesters or new parents, in the city centre or suburbs, Calgarians find apartment-style condos a perfect fit

Matt Greer is not a fan of car travel. “Anytime I drive in Calgary, I feel it’s a disconnected, slow way to get around,” he said.

Greer’s attitude toward driving has been shaped by his decade long experience living in Calgary’s Beltline community. Greer estimates he and his wife, who also have a two-year-old daughter, only use their car once a week. They can often bike or walk where they need to go. It’s something he considers the ultimate benefit of living in the city centre.

In fact, proximity to the workplace was the main reason Greer purchased his apartment-style condo in the Beltline in 2007.


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Northwest appeal

With a diverse mix of old and new neighbourhoods, Calgary’s northwest residents say they share a common identity

Ascend to the summit of Nose Hill Park on a clear, sunny day and you’ll have a spectacular vantage from which to survey the city. It’s just one of the many parks in the city’s northwest that Calgarians know and love.

As a quadrant, northwest Calgary is an area roughly bordered by Deerfoot Trail to the east, the Bow River to the south, Calgary’s city limits to the west, and Stoney Trail to the north.

The northwest is diverse, in both demographics and geography. Several new communities now exist farther north and west of Stoney Trail and one of city’s oldest neighbourhoods, Bowness, dates back to the turn of the 20th century.


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