For the past 28 years, Jim and April Filewich have lived on what’s become the Parkland suburb outside of Edmonton’s west end. Until four years ago, the couple rode horses around the land on which their new neighbours now live, picked Saskatoon berries for jam and, in the fall, fed deer that came by each afternoon at 3 p.m. So when they decided to build their dream home, keeping that country feel was priority No. 1.
They started by purchasing the property next door, gaining almost an acre and ensuring their family would continue enjoying the creek that divides the two plots. While modern for its time, their first home had a Midwestern style, with lots of yellow and pink. They wanted their new place to be contemporary, opting for more neutral white and grey, with green and orange touches that could be easily changed in time, to outfit the nearly 5,000-square-foot home.
Jim owns After Eight Floorings, so that part was easy. Beyond the grey hardwood floor, the couple sought decorative and layout help from Niki Flis of Flis Interior Design, who took on a top-to-bottom project for the first time, lending her eye to every room in the house. They gave her free reign over the entire place, with one exception: Jim’s recliner, which needed to be washable, with a power outlet. “Jim’s not a big TV guy,” April says, “so when he does sit down to relax and snack, he better be comfy.”
Flis took their modern colour and style parameters and ran with them. She found the black dandelion mural for April’s office and suggested a backlit lighting fixture to accompany the bathtub’s chandelier, leading to the glassless shower in the en suite bathroom. The designer enlisted her artist father-in-law to alter the main entrance by painting a splash of green, to keep consistent with the modern highlights throughout the top floor. “We gave her a free hand to do what she thought was best, and she did a phenomenal job,” Jim says.
Flis also took cues from getting to know the couple over two years, finishing the live-edge bar with a sign showing the three kinds of service offered: good, cheap and fast, “but you can only pick two.” Instead of buying a new living room table, she redid their old one, changing the gold brackets to silver and replacing the glass, fitting it seamlessly among all the new furniture.
The couple’s leather couch and Jim’s re-clothed pool table also made the trip, along with meaningful artwork and golf pictures, which Flis reframed to blend into the basement’s relaxed atmosphere. “We can’t let everything go from the past, and we didn’t want just a decorator’s house,” Jim says. “We wanted some of our lives to move on with us too. So we put some pictures up, and Niki put some up too, and, to our eyes, it worked out perfectly.”
The spaces in which Flis really shined, according to the couple, are the two spare bedrooms in the basement – one in particular. Because of its angled corners, a standard queen-sized bed frame wouldn’t work. She found someone to build a custom frame and headboard, and two night tables that fit like puzzle pieces along the wall.
With rooms to spare, lengthy countertops and the kitchen’s butler pantry, the Filewich couple designed their home for company visits of any size, like their first Christmas party that hosted 60 family members, including 10 who spent the night. Their home is married to the land like few new houses are, ensuring their family will celebrate holidays and feed deer for decades to come.