This Rooftop Terrace is an Outdoor Oasis with Amazing City Views

Located on top of a three-storey Calgary house, this rooftop terrace acts as the home’s yard and offers serenity above the street.

Top notch: This three- storey rooftop patio is ideal for entertaining. Rooftop terrace styled for photo shoot by Katherine Kinch of Your Space By Design, with items from Mountain house Furniture. Photo by Jared Sych.

Built like “a mini-skyscraper,” Deborah Close’s three-storey house in Calgary’s southwest leaves almost no backyard space at ground level. Instead, the home’s rooftop terrace acts as a yard, offering serenity above the street, along with breathtaking city views.

Construction on the Close home completed in 2019. When it came to the terrace, it was important to the homeowners that the landscaping integrated perennial plants. This was a hurdle for designer Katherine Kinch, owner of Your Space By Design.

“A big challenge in Calgary with rooftop terraces is that everyone wants to put something in that comes back year after year, and there are literally no guarantees,” says Kinch. She explains that the city’s sub-zero winter temperatures make it difficult to successfully plant perennials in pots.

Photo by Jared Sych.
Photo by Jared Sych.

Problem-solving that challenge — by selecting hardy material, using planters and integrating turf to bring green into the space — drove the terrace’s layout and design; along with Close’s love of entertaining. Broken up into two main areas, the terrace’s upper level features a dining area and a lounge space with a fire table. “My husband and I sit out there with a warm blanket and the fire table turned on and have a glass of wine in the evening,” Close says, adding that they also use the upper half of the terrace when hosting guests.

The lower half is lined with turf, perfect for Close’s grandchildren to play on, and framed by planters. “The entertaining is all up top, and the bottom is a play space,” says Close.

Despite the technical challenge of growing perennials in pots instead of grade, the greenery Kinch chose is thriving, including the Amur maple tree, which anchors the terrace’s back corner.

“I feel very blessed,” says Close. “[The terrace] feels very peaceful to me; it’s a quiet place to be.”

Photo by Jared Sych.


The Fence

“A big part of the design is the decorative cedar fence,” says Katherine Kinch, owner of Your Space By Design. While the homeowner could have chosen a glass fence, Kinch says that having a visual solid block helps to delineate the space more effectively without taking away from the view.


The Perennials

When it came to potted perennials, Kinch chose hardy plants designed to withstand Calgary’s tough winters, including tor spirea, Amur maple and Karl Foerster grasses. In the small patch of soil at ground level, Kinch planted columnar aspens. “They will get tall enough so that you can see them on the rooftop,” she says.


The Herb Garden

Homeowner Deborah Close’s favourite part of the design is the built-in slatted planter at the back of the terrace. “We have a herb garden there on one side that we harvest all summer long,” she says. “My husband is a fabulous cook.”


The Accents

“We wanted the indoors and outdoors to feel integrated,” says Close. Her home’s interior is very neutral, save for a large, primarily red painting. This informed the terrace’s colourful accents and annual plants. “The annuals are a riot of colour, with red being an anchor throughout,” she says.

This article appears in the July 2023 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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