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A three-storey water slide brings a supersized splash of excitement to a Calgary family's already playful home.
Originally published in January/February 2011From a kid’s perspective, this house hits all the high points. Take the backyard trampoline perched on a bucolic slope overlooking a creekbed, or the secret cubbyhole play areas built into the bedroom closets. Or the Ping Pong/pool table or—for a big kid with an affinity for fast cars and motorcycles—the five impressively loaded garages.The home, located just outside the western limits of Calgary, is dreamy, all right—and that’s before your six-year-old self (literally or figuratively speaking) catches sight of the thrills on offer in a newly added 6,200-square-foot wing. Indeed, Ping Pong doesn’t stand a chance against a three-storey spiral waterslide.When the homeowners (a couple with two young kids) told designer Dana Peers of Calgary’s Urbano Design and Development they wanted a water slide—a custom-built, 600-gallons-of-rushing-water-per-minute, rec-centre-calibre waterslide—he took the request in stride. Peers had already designed and decorated three other homes for the couple (including one in Mexico and another in B.C.’s interior). “I knew this was a family that likes to have fun,” he explains. “I was intrigued by the challenge of it.”The first challenge was getting permission to build the equivalent of an attached second home on the vacant neighbouring property the couple had purchased when they (with Peers) built their original house seven years ago—a permit that took a year to obtain. After that, it was a matter of imagining a space that would somehow marry a kid’s play land with an adult’s entertainment area. For Peers, creating that union was, in part, a matter of taking advantage of the tranquil views the estate neighbourhood offers.“When I started looking at other residential indoor pools, I noticed most had lower ceilings,” says the designer. “I wanted something that gave the space an almost cathedral-like feel, with huge windows and high ceilings.” Peers housed the slide, pool and a three-storey climbing wall in a timber-frame structure with 45-foot-high ceilings. The space gets hits of elegance with five massive wrought-iron chandeliers, as well as the Mexican mosaic tiles hand-chipped into a Persian-rug style pattern on the surrounding floor. A hand-carved Cantera stone fireplace and poolside kitchen are at hand for more sophisticated entertaining.While the kids and their friends use the slide almost daily, the adjacent grotto is decidedly for grownups. A large steam shower tucked behind the slide uses the same sandblasted Greek marble flooring that surrounds the pool. A dark, wide, marble-tiled hallway leads to a media room—which is so sumptuous that using the word “grotto” to describe this part of the house is akin to calling the waterslide a tub toy. A pivoting, five-foot-wide stained white oak door opens to a soundproof cave with a coffered ceiling inlaid with velvet. Plush seating—enough for 18 to watch the game—is composed of several rust-coloured sofas and matching ottomans from L.A.’s swank A. Rudin.While the year-old rec-zone of the house no doubt draws gapes and whoops from visitors, the more conventional living space is filled with equally marvelous details. The island in the main kitchen, for instance, is a long seamless sheet of copper produced by local artist Alex Caldwell. The sink in one bathroom is a rough, ancient limestone trough; in another, it’s an oversize bronze bowl. A hand-carved limestone fireplace in the living room, walnut flooring and carved-walnut banisters, meticulously designed by Peers himself, lend warmth and intimacy to the space—not an easy feat considering the entire home comes in at over 14,000 square feet. As Peers puts it, “Despite the sense of surprise visitors experience when they walk into the house for the first time, due in large part to the sheer scale of the addition, the house feels like a home.” Indeed it does. Grab your swimsuit.Click on the image below to see photos of the rest of the home