Canmore Home Spurns Tradition, Goes Modern and Glam
A Calgary couple sidesteps alpine-ordinary in their getaway without losing the view of their rugged surroundings.
In Canmore, Alberta, where a rugged outdoor life seems to be the siren call that draws people here, you’d be forgiven for assuming that a mandatory cozy alpine-lodge aesthetic is written into the building code. Yet while Diane and Dan Tsubouchi certainly aren’t the only lateral thinkers in town, their part-time escape—located on a coveted lot in Canmore’s Three Sisters area—is a stunning example of how chic, urban design can successfully marry with a classic Rocky Mountain view (with nary a bearskin rug in sight).
Designed in 2012 by architectural designer Peter Manolakas and built by Mark Kidner, the Tsubouchis’ house has a configuration that is based on a proverbial back-of-the-napkin sketch by Diane. A designer herself who has worked on several of her own homes (including a Coal Harbour residence featured in Western Living Condo), Diane often bucks local aesthetic trends. “Even our house in Mexico has a modern edge to it,” she explains, “versus the Spanish style that is so popular down there.”
She went into the Canmore project with a crystal-clear idea of what she and Dan desired in a weekend home. (They spend their weekdays in Calgary, where Dan works in corporate finance.) Her initial sketch, and the subsequent result, put the home’s main living quarters—kitchen, dining room, living room, master bedroom and bathroom—on the vaulted-ceilinged upper floor, a plan that makes the most of the gorgeous views of the Bow River and wildlife passing by outside.
Diane thinks of the kitchen’s seven-foot quartz island as the heart of their home. She spends most of her time there, and the rest of her weekend in the 600-square-foot gym and yoga studio on the basement level—that floor is also home to a wine room that holds the couple’s extensive collection. (These are dedicated oenophiles who rescued, washed and bleached the corks of 880 bottles of wine from their Calgary basement after last year’s flood.)
Clearly an urbanite at heart—you’d be hard-pressed to find a ski pole or hiking boot in this house—Diane hired Calgary designer Paul Lavoie to help give the home a modern edge. Lavoie, who had worked with Diane on her other homes, was delighted for a couple of reasons. “Diane has excellent taste,” he says. “A lot of people think they should be interior decorators, but she actually should.” In addition to liking the happy prospect of working alongside his client, Lavoie was immediately smitten with the architecture of the home. “The layout is layered but so simple, it’s beautiful and there’s no space that’s unused,” says Lavoie, who says he’s never seen a better view in Canmore than the one from the Tsubouchis’ living room. Lavoie suggested the homeowners stain their laminate ceiling beams a contemporary ebony, and his firm designed and built most of the furniture. And while wood might have been the obvious choice for flooring, Lavoie selected a sophisticated cement-coloured two-by-two-foot tile to be used throughout the upper level.
While atypical textures and materials make the Tsubouchi home unique, the couple’s unusual art collection gives the place a cosmopolitan energy. The enormous, public-art-sized sculpture Rock, Paper, Scissors by Santa Fe artist Kevin Box holds the front entry, and Cranes, also by Box, sits in the living room. Diane credits Lavoie with making the couple’s art collection, which had been in storage for some years, “more current” by reframing much of it.
All in all, the house is proof that getting away from it all doesn’t mean leaving behind the style you love.