Homes Photo Credit: Phil Crozier

Photos: California Meets Calgary in This Sophisticated Home

Designer Paul Lavoie brings some California cool to a Calgary home with views for miles.

When homeowner Sherie Toner met designer Paul Lavoie, she knew she’d met the one. She and her husband, former CFLer Marshall Toner, had already interviewed several designers for a new home they were in the process of designing with Riverview Custom Homes and Matthew Klinkenborg of the design-build firm Where People Live—but it wasn’t until they walked into Lavoie’s office that the complete package came together.

“We loved the exterior of the house, but we felt the interior still needed work,” says Sherie. “Paul just came in and said, ‘Do you mind if I get to it right away?’” Out came onion-skin tracing paper, and Lavoie sketched out how, by swapping the kitchen and dining room, they’d be able to take better advantage of the spectacular views out their floor-to-ceiling windows. “I thought, this is our guy,” says Sherie.

An inset feature wall of bookmatched marble creates a dramatic moment in the entranceway without competing with the just-as-dramatic artwork from Mark Mullin.
The main floor is open concept, and nothing distracts from the view.

Lavoie brought in Julie Lanctot from his team at Paul Lavoie Design, and the pair worked with the Toners to create a space that was both stylish and comfortable—“somewhere they could live in,” says Lanctot, “and not be afraid to sit on something.” The continuous use of the same flooring material joins the interior of the home with the outdoors, and foldaway doors open up the main floor to create one pavilion-style living area. Heaters on a covered outdoor patio and bug screens that drop down from the ceiling when needed mean the fresh prairie air can be experienced well into the fall. “I call it Calgarifornian,” jokes Lavoie.

Regular readers might be surprised to see such a neutral colour palette coming from Lavoie’s team, who are known for their exuberant love of colour. But the Toners were fans of natural, organic tones, and Lavoie was happy to oblige. “There’s constant activity outside those great windows,” notes Lavoie. “The mountains, the city beyond—there’s an energy there you want to settle back into a little bit, rather than compete with.”

The light and airy pendant display above the island was made from two light fixtures strung together.
In the dining room, touch cabinetry opens up to reveal a full bar hidden within.
The dining room table has a restaurant-style spinner in its centre, perfect for larger dinner parties.

Of course, neutral doesn’t mean dull, and the materials palette features a range of textures to create visual interest, from the large-format natural stone flooring that’s richly patterned in grey veins to the velvet-and-gold side chairs and tweedy sectional in the living room (the latter accented with a pop of goldenrod-yellow throw cushions). In the nearby kitchen, white cabinetry is paired with a range hood covered in back-painted glass, which appears light and airy in contrast. The backsplash is mirrored, so those sitting at the nearby bar stools can still catch a glimpse of the view to the skyline and hills behind them.

By flipping the position of the dining room, Lavoie and Lanctot were able to find more room for the kitchen itself—including two islands. “By creating a second island for people to hang out at, they’re not always in your kitchen space while you prepare,” explains Lavoie. As a foil for the tile floor, Lavoie chose concrete for this second bar—and it quickly became a favourite spot to work for Sherie. “It’s our go-to place,” she says. “If I’m not upstairs working, that’s where I am. And when people come over, they end up at that island.”

For more intimate gatherings, a wine room is tucked away on the main floor, though it still captures the great view. “We wanted to give Marshall a spot to get away and entertain,” says Lavoie. “It’s more masculine than the rest of the house.” Comfortable leather chairs, a warm shag and floor-to-ceiling dark millwork create a moody space that’s perfectly designed for evenings with friends.

The wine room is on the main floor but has a much moodier, darker palette and has become Marshall Toner’s retreat. Millwork was taken all the way to the ceiling, emphasizing the height of the space.
The dressing room was tailored specifically for Sherie Toner: Lavoie’s team measured her clothing and designed custom pullouts for jewellery. Mirrors on the doors bring glitz to the space.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is positioned to once again take in the view. “We wanted to make sure you could actually see it from the bed,” says Lavoie. Wraparound windows meant a television couldn’t hang on a wall, so instead the team designed an ingenious structure that allows it to pop up from the foot of the bed.

The adjoining dressing room is all glitz. Mirrors line the backs of the closets to give the room sparkle, while a marble-topped island is designed to house jewellery and smaller items. “It’s really tailored to her,” says Lanctot. “We measured all of her clothes and designed pull-outs for scarves and jewellery, along with a valet rod so she can hang her outfits while she’s selecting them for the day.”

It’s a home that’s both glamorous and welcoming, just like Sherie herself. “She wanted something that was not overwhelming, something that was quite classic but modern,” says Lavoie, noting that the finished design speaks to the homeowner’s personal style. “It really feels like she lives in this house.”

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