Everything you need to know about this homeowner’s idiosyncratic style can be found in a secret room that’s tucked off the front foyer. Dubbed “The Unicorn,” the space was once a typical home office and, following its recent reno, intended as an extension to the laundry room. “The owner told us she’d rather have a secret cocktail bar,” says designer Paul Lavoie, who admits he had doubts about the room’s functionality, particularly given a more accessible bar in the dining room. Still, the designers thoroughly infused the homeowner’s colourful personality into the tiny space: glamorous dark blue walls, leather, granite, gold accents and twisted, oversized silver-tusk pulls on the inside of the hidden door, all transporting visitors to a delightfully clandestine, prohibition-era-Chicago speakeasy—overseen by a stuffed guitar-playing unicorn holding court on the sofa. It’s not only an unexpected treasure, but also frequently occupied.
The home itself, located in a gated community backing onto the Calgary Golf and Country Club, is a circa-1990 bungalow-condo with a fairly unremarkable front exterior identical to its attached neighbours, dominated by a garage. More than a year after moving into her renovated space, however, the homeowner—recently single and busy with friends, family and myriad activities and travel—says the interior still takes her breath away every time she walks in the door. Understandably. Designed by Lavoie and Geoff Repchinsky of Paul Lavoie Interior Design, the home is a dual expression of elegant restraint and glittering exuberance.
Designed for a client who entertains myriad friends and family, this Calgary home is a dual expression of elegant restraint and glittering exuberance: case in point, the custom silver ottoman.
Doing the gutting and renovation on a faster-than-typical timeline while the owner was out of the country for a number of weeks, the designers were (quite happily) forced to restrict their choices of building materials and furniture-making to local suppliers. Sofas, chairs and shelves were made from scratch or, in the case of the dining room table, whose top was wanted but legs not, re-imagined and customized to the owner’s content. Sanguine in their approach to challenge, Lavoie and Repchinsky found inventive solutions to further limitations imposed by condo rules that disallowed changes to certain elements such as windows, some of which had bars over them or a fan on top. “We found ways to eliminate the look of those things with sheers and other textural elements,” says Lavoie.
The homeowner’s guiding instruction to the design team was “make it warm and calm, no grey, no white, and give me spaces to entertain my friends and family.” Charmed by her personal motto to “be the fountain, not the drain,” Lavoie and Repchinsky sought to express the homeowner’s need for an oasis in her busy life via a backdrop of classic wood, stone and relaxing sand and almond shades. That palette gave them a tranquil, tone-on-tone framework on which to layer interesting upholstery textures, chrome tile and an unusual glow thanks to 1930s-inspired lighting and mirrors.
The circa-1990 home (before pictures below) needed a solid refresh. The homeowner’s guiding instruction to the design team was “make it warm and calm, no grey, no white, and give me spaces to entertain my friends and family”—a directive perfectly illustrated in the roomy new kitchen.
The main-floor bedroom—there’s only one on this level—prioritizes the homeowner’s expansive wardrobe and wish for a dazzling space for bathing and grooming. The closet and open-plan bathroom are twice the size of the adjoining sleeping quarters. “I spend a lot of time in my closet and bathroom, which are so comfortable and humid,” says the homeowner, who insisted on a round bathtub. Repchinsky sourced a TV for the bedroom that the homeowner had seen at a Four Seasons in Greece; it becomes a mirror when not in use.
The basement, likewise, dovetails elegance with charisma. A full gym, brightly lit wine cellar and three earth-toned bedrooms comprise the level; most notable among these is a bedroom called “the round-up room.” Named in homage to Calgary’s Western heritage and reserved for family who visit during Stampede week, its irresistible custom-made, oversized day bed adds extra sleeping quarters to the room. On the wall is a small watercolour of a unicorn beside a framed quotation that speaks to a home designed with freedom and intentionality: “She created a life she loved.” Indeed.
The “Unicorn”—a secret bar that’s tucked off the main foyer—was once a home office, pre-renovation.
The main floor master suite prioritizes square footage to the expansive dressing room and master bath (pics below).
The lower level is comprised of a personal gym, brightly lit wine cellar (below) and three guest bedrooms, one of which has its own personal fireplace (below).