When Michelle Breault and Chris Rudnisky began planning to build their dream home, they sought to build a sophisticated and comfortable space that could easily meet the needs of their young and growing family. With two children under the age of 10 at home, the couple wanted to create a peaceful retreat that was still conveniently located for their day-to-day life in the city.
“When we started visualizing this place, and what we wanted, we knew we were looking to build something modern, but I still wanted it to be warm,” says Breault. “And I think we’ve managed to achieve that. We really wanted it integrated with the landscape. In our old home, we won Front Yards in Bloom in the natural category a few years ago, so it was important to us to have the landscape be part of the design.”
The importance of the natural landscape is part of the reason the couple engaged Vancouver-based BattersbyHowat architects for the design and Rescom for the build. A partnership between David Battersby and Heather Howat, the firm specialized in bringing together all elements of architecture, landscape and interior design.
“One of the reasons that we loved them is because David is also a landscape architect. All of their properties are just beautiful with all the different types of greenery they use,” says Breault. “So they seemed like a great fit for the home we wanted to build.”
The couple’s home, which backs onto the Patricia Ravine in west Edmonton, highlights natural features against stark modern materials such as glass, concrete and brushed steel. Walking through the front entryway, guests are greeted by high ceilings, wooden beams and plenty of natural light.
“It has a bit of a Scandinavian feel to it, although that wasn’t really our intention when we started out,” says Breault. “When we first moved in, it really felt like we were in a hotel in Jasper. It was almost like having a getaway every weekend, with this Alpine feel to it.”
Perhaps the most Alpine-like element of the main floor is the fireplace located in the main living and dining room. Situated near the wall of windows facing the patio, it offers a warm gathering space for the family throughout the winter months.
“I love sitting in the living room with the fire going. It was such a nice surprise to have the fireplace,” says Rudnisky. “I wouldn’t say it was something that we needed, but now that we have it, I’m so glad we do.”
Having grown up only a few blocks away, Rudnisky initially found this ravine property while out for a bike ride. An avid cyclist, he had spent countless hours exploring the many paths and trails that line the nearby river valley. When he saw the “for sale” sign, his interest was piqued. They purchased the property and rented out the house that then stood on it as they planned to build their dream home. Six years and two builders later, in late 2017, their dreams took shape and the family moved into their newly built home.
As she strolls through the front living space into the open-concept kitchen, Breault smiles. The room’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer unobstructed forest views and an abundance of natural light.
“Chris and I love to cook, so one of the things we wanted was to have this kitchen. It’s one of our favourite rooms now, really,” she says.
The understated, minimal lines of the kitchen counters and cupboards perfectly complement the ravine view. With storage and appliances tucked neatly away, and a glass railing on the walk-out patio outside, the family enjoys clean views of the natural landscape.
“We used glass as the railing, which is quite nice because it gives our house the sense of being like a treehouse outside in the summertime,” says Breault. “There’s nothing between us and the trees.”
And while the ravine views from the kitchen and patio are stunning, they’re only set to get better. With landscaping slated to begin this summer, Breault and Rudnisky are looking forward to putting the finishing touches on their river valley retreat.
“David has some pretty cool plans for all the landscaping, including a prairie meadow for the front and then some more big, lush greenery for the back as well,” says Breault. “So we’re excited to see how that’s all going to turn out.”
Already blurring the lines between inside and out, the landscaping is set to be the final brushstroke on this picture perfect home.