This house in Kingsland, one of Calgary’s middle-ring neighbourhoods, was completely stripped and rebuilt by Corefront Custom Homes & Renovations over a seven-month period. Courtesy Corefront Custom Homes & Renovations

Mid-century makeovers

Calgary’s established suburbs are full of vintage character and reno potential

There are tens of thousands of Calgary homes built from the 1950s through the early 1970s in what were then new suburbs. One thing many of those homes have in common is the need for updating to modern tastes.

When Lewis Cowie bought a home in Kingsland about six years ago, it was as if time had stood still in the classic, 1950s bungalow. Most of the home was still original, right down to the bathroom fixtures, so a major renovation project was in order.

Luckily, Cowie is a director with Corefront Custom Homes & Renovations, and his company was ready for the challenge.

“We completely gutted it down to the studs, which is common for houses of this era,” he said. “We put in all new wiring and plumbing, and changed some plumbing locations to make the floor plan work out better.

“They come into this kind of house partly because they love the character of a mid-century, vintage house, and are looking at how much of that character they want to keep.” – Keith McTaggart, Benross Home Services Ltd. owner and president

“(Then) we took out some interior walls to open the space up, enlarged the kitchen, did up the basement really nice.”

Cowie says the dining room and kitchen were combined, and one of the spare bedrooms was used to create a master bedroom ensuite with walk-in closet – both common renovations for an older home.

He says the result “really felt like a brand-new house,” but in a location with schools, mature trees, homes “that don’t all look the same,” and only a 10-minute drive to his office near the Saddledome.

“That’s a big part of Corefront’s market, renovations of those middle-ring homes from the 1950s to ’70s,” he said. “They’re fun projects to work on.”

Keith McTaggart, owner and president of Benross Home Services Ltd., says some people actually buy a middle-ring home with a view towards keeping some aspects of the original design in a renovation.

“They come into this kind of house partly because they love the character of a mid-century, vintage house, and are looking at how much of that character they want to keep,” he said. “So I think it’s a good idea to live in the house for a while and see what it has to offer you in its original design.”

McTaggart says a comprehensive renovation to an older home – taking out some walls to create a more open concept, and redoing the kitchen and bathrooms – might cost $100,000 to $150,000.

Meanwhile, something simpler like a basic new kitchen starts around $15,000 to $20,000, and a basic bathroom reno starts at about $10,000.

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