When custom-home designer Kathy Yuen purchased her first home 13 years ago, she quickly realized it wasn’t the perfect fit.

“I think your first home really teaches you what you like and what you don’t like,” she said.

The home was a 1,400-square-foot bungalow in Okotoks.

“My husband and I were really young – in our early 20s – and at the time, we really didn’t know anything about real estate,” she said. “It was a really nice house, but I found out very quickly that I am more of a city girl.”

The couple quickly put the house back on the market and moved into what Yuen calls her “real first home,” a two-storey former showhome in McKenzie Lake, built during the mid-1990s.

“The home has great bones, high ceilings and an open layout,” she said. “The square footage works really well, and the entire back wall is all windows, so there is lots of light.”

“We are always talking about big homes and small homes, but really, regardless of square footage, if the fundamentals of good design are there, a home will be impactful.”

The 2,000-square-foot home is located just off the ridge with a backyard that spills onto green space, offering ample opportunities for Yuen to walk her French bulldog Brutus

The goal was always to renovate and modernize the home’s finishings, but priorities change. After moving in, Yuen, who has a degree in architectural technology, founded Phase One Designs, a custom-home design company with offices in Calgary and Vancouver.

She admits that now her customers come first, moving her own home renovation dreams to the back burner.

Since starting the company, Yuen has worked with almost 600 clients across Western Canada to create their dream homes.

Since she was spending nearly half her time in Vancouver for work, a few years ago, Yuen and her husband purchased a 568-square-foot condo in Vancouver’s trendy Olympic Village and they now split their time between the two homes.

“Surprisingly enough, I really enjoy living in a smaller footprint,” she said. “The layout is great. There are lots of windows and the location is fantastic. Everything is close. You can walk everywhere and really enjoy your neighbourhood and your community.

“We are always talking about big homes and small homes, but really, regardless of square footage, if the fundamentals of good design are there, a home will be impactful.”