A Renovation Revelation

A couple forgoes an infill dream in favour of a contemporary take on a classic design.

photography by Curtis Comeau

When Nathan Isbister and his wife, Belen, bought their Valleyview home in 2010, their plan for the house – a reverse walkout built in the late 1960s – was to tear it down in favour of an infill property. The designs were drafted, rejected, redrafted and rejected again as Nathan’s vision for the property, one that fit the neighbourhood’s aesthetic and character, were never quite realized by the people he had hired.

Looking past the dated trappings of the home they’d purchased, the Isbisters saw what Nathan calls the “great bones” of the house. The couple and their daughter surely didn’t need too much space – their previous home was much too large, Nathan says – but this one, at about 1,800 square feet, could be the perfect home for the family with some work.

Light fixture ordered from Spain; kitchen table set from Roche Bobois in Calgary; refrigeratorwine cooler and oven from Trail Appliances; kitchen chairs from Structube

To realize this vision, Nathan got a referral from a friend and was introduced to the president of Diamond Contracting, Sheldon Ens, and designer Kendall Judd of Diamond Contracting’s design company, Revolving Rooms Interior Design. The home was gutted from the inside, leaving only the aforementioned bones. And the team went to work on realizing the Isbisters’ ideal space.

“Part of what I really wanted to do was to keep some of the old features from the house and bring in some new,” Nathan says.

“We wanted it to be contemporary, but also comfortable, so we wanted both hard and soft surfaces throughout.”

Chairs from Structube; table from Ikeapainting by Maggie Kozina.

Today, that design is evident, with the contrasting warm looks of the original cedar ceiling in the home’s living room against the stark white of the walls and creamy mix of the Khrs hardwood flooring. The home’s interior is filled with dark wooden surfaces, from the sprawling ceiling beams to the kitchen cabinetry. The dark elements play soft against the hard industrial surfaces of the concrete pillars and fireplace. Concrete is evident, too, in the design of the kitchen table: a concrete, glass and steel beam design which rounds out the home’s industrial accents.

“I was actually brought up in the concrete industry, so I love concrete,” Nathan says. “We brought in Matt Heide from Concrete Cat to do some concrete in the design of the home and are so happy with the results.”

Softening the feel, too, are the eastern influences of the home, inspired by the couple’s daily routine. “We are both yogis, and both practice on a regular basis, so we really wanted a quiet meditation space in the house.” The solution, proposed by Ens and Judd, was to take out what was once an office space, just behind the living room fireplace, and open up the room.

Floating staircase from Prestige Railings & Stairs Ltd.; marble tile flooring from Monarch Carpet One Floor & Home; painting by Maggie Kozina.

The result was a quiet meditation space open to the kitchen, but the serene quality follows throughout.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Nathan says. “It feels like home.”

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