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Inside a 3,650-Square-Foot Bright and Modern Calgary Home

A stunning staircase and floor-to-ceiling curtain wall highlight the open design from intern architect Marvin DeJong and designer Nyla Free in the city’s Elbow Park neighbourhood.

To vote for this home for Western Living’s 2018 Home of the Year, click here. 

This bright and light-filled space is a big change for its new owners. Their former home was one of the many affected by the great flood of 2013 in Calgary, and though they repaired the damage to the basement and lower level, they were ready to move on. “I think once the dust settled, that’s when they reached out and found a new lot,” says designer Nyla Free. “They came from almost the exact opposite type of home—it was much more traditional, and quite dark. They just wanted a departure from that.”

The couple turned to intern architect Marvin DeJong to design them an open-concept plan for the new space, a shift from the carved-up traditional house they’d left behind. Free came on board to bring in a soft, neutral palette. “With the striking staircase and curtain wall of windows, we wanted the furniture to play its part, but not be overpowering,” says Free. “We just wanted to create a really calming feel to the home.”

Much of the design riffs off of the central, open staircase. The architectural element offers a striking note of black steel—mirroring the curtain wall of windows behind it.
The stringers on the stairs are raw steel that’s been specially treated to keep them from oxidizing and rusting, and were designed to pair with the curtain wall in behind.
The Knoll Saarinen Executive dining chairs were chosen for both style and comfort, and are the perfect fit to a table designed by Edmonton’s Izm. The Roll and Hill light fixture is precisely placed with the assistance of four cables that carry on up into the ceiling.
The fireplace surround features two different tiles. The large-format slate on top has the effect of helping the TV disappear, while the textured off-white tile laid vertically around the fireplace draws the eye in.
“The client really wanted white, but she also wanted warmth,” says Free. The warm walnut creates a frame around the high gloss cabinetry, and the refrigerator is integrated into cabinet doors on the left hand side. In behind the kitchen is a separate pantry.
The den is one of the only closed-off spaces on the main floor, and it was larger than the homeowner had originally anticipated. “She was worried it would feel cavernous and cold,” says Free, “and she really wanted to bring in some depth and warmth, to make it feel cozy.” The space does double duty both as an office and reading space.


The room has floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides of it, so it gets great eastern and western light. The ceiling drops down in the room to create intimacy, and the darker blues and greys give it a real menswear feeling.
In the master bedroom, Free wanted to create something unexpected. The millwork on either side of the entrance doors features storage on the lower half, and built-in niches for displaying artwork on top. The black inserts were painted to look like metal.
In the master bathroom, the tile on the backsplash is a glass tile from Edgewater. Free opted for two shades of white, to give some variation and interest to the design.
An incredible amount of storage lines the wall of the master bathroom.
In the daughter’s bedroom, privacy and light control were important, so Free used two layers of drapery: a sheer that allows for diffused light, and a blackout drapery for the night.


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