By Paul Lavoie, Paul Lavoie Interior Design

When I graduated from Mount Royal back in 1987, I had two job offers€”one was in commercial work, and the other was with Douglas Cridland. I ran the dilemma by my instructor, and she said, €œWell, you'll either get the Hollywood of Western Canada, or you'll be stuck behind a desk. You know what you need to do.€

Credit: Martin Tessler

Douglas Cridland in his home in Calgary's Eau Claire neighbourhood, from our January/February 2015 issue.

She couldn€™t have been more right. I spent 13 years in Hollywood, and it was wonderful. Back then, Douglas Cridland Interior Design was a small office. Calgary was about to hit one of its many booms, and we had an A-list clientele, which Douglas really nurtured in this wonderful way. Honestly, the city had been a desert of residential design before he brought us water.

Credit: Martin Tessler

Cridland's own home features collections of artifacts picked up on his travels, paired with a lifelong art collection€”he started it when he was just 16.

Douglas would give clients a classic collection of luxury and comfort with a wonderful sense of Western sensibility. He was the first person I ever heard use the term €œprairie palette.€ The colour palette here needs to understand soft light. That's what gives you this dense quietness you have in the Prairies. He was the only designer I knew who loves a north light, because he could control it, how you feel in a room. He really was the king of a sophisticated, muted combination of things€”in one of Douglas's designs, you felt enveloped in luxury and texture and fine detail.

Credit: Martin Tessler

Another shot of Cridland’s home in 2015.

He really taught me details, those refinements in design that you€™d never learn in school€”little tricks, like how to insert an extension cord between the carpet and the baseboard, in a way that you€™d never know there was a plug there. He was all about the details, and he never missed a thing. In his own home, he hated the look of light switches so much that he hid them in the closets.

Credit: Jack Bryan/Western Living March 1981

For a kitchen in our March 1981 issue, Cridland's clients wanted a €œlean, industrial look.€ He included open restaurant shelving€”a good 20 years ahead of his time.

If there was anything that surprised clients about Douglas, it was his vocabulary€”here was this sophisticated and sought-after designer who would easily drop an F-bomb into a sentence. But it instantly endeared his clients to him€”he had this way of connecting with people. Not only were you getting this great designer, you were also getting this larger-than-life personality€”and he made you feel like you were a part of something special.

Credit: John Sherlock/Western Living May 1990

The designer worked with architect Jeremy Sturgess on this interior from our May 1990 issue, and with many local artisans€”including Winnipeg glass artist Warren Carther.

To read about more great people, designs, homes and innovations that shaped Western Living, click here.