A Canmore Home Levels Up By Adding a Third-Floor Terrace with Mountain Views

The additional storey of indoor and outdoor living space also includes a new bedroom, bathroom and lounge/office.

Photo by Michael Ferster.

Ringed by mountains, Canmore is undeniably spectacular. But it can also be cold and sunless living in the shadows of the Rockies.

Phillip van der Merwe, a retired family physician from Calgary, has always craved the light, sun and the green, growing things of his native South Africa. So, when he bought a “dull house with good bones” as a vacation property in Canmore eight years ago, he loved its location beside Policeman’s Creek, but not its heavily shaded backyard. During the COVID-19 pandemic he decided to make the home his primary residence and hired Shugarman Architecture + Design Inc. to transform what he described as “an ’80s frat house” into a mountain oasis.

The house underwent a complete — and stunning — renovation. But the highlight (literally and figuratively) is the new third floor, a 1,200-square-foot addition that includes a tiled terrace with gardens, fire bowl and sitting area, plus a new primary bedroom and bathroom and an office/lounge. “It was a complicated project requiring a steel-beam-reinforced third-floor addition to provide us with a south exposure, magnificent mountain views and sun,” van der Merwe says.

Architectural designer Joel Piecowye worked with his colleague, interior designer Tamara LaFrenz, to make van der Merwe’s dream a reality. He says the addition is “almost a second backyard, lifted and two storeys up.”

Their client didn’t want the typical Canmore chalet look of traditional exteriors and dark interiors. Instead, “I wanted a Malibu feel, with floors of light blonde oak, white walls and a massive wall of glass drawing you out onto the light-coloured tiled deck,” van der Merwe says.

The result is a modern home with what LaFrenz describes as a “light, airy, fresh feel,” and an almost seamless connection between inside and outside in its sunny new elevated living space.

Photo by Michael Ferster.


The Tiles

Fully half of the 1,200-square-foot third-floor addition is an outdoor terrace clad in extremely hardy, slip-resistant, barefoot-friendly Aristokrat pressed porcelain tiles in Sienna Travertine. The made-in-Canada tiles are grout-free and placed in a lifted system that allows drainage between tile and roof.


The Gardens

Gracing the terrace’s garden beds are drought-resistant grasses and sedums, a perennial that provides masses of star-shaped flowers from mid-summer until fall. Around the perimeter are deep planters with pine trees, shrubs and other strategically placed plants that provide privacy while preserving views.


The Windows

Floor-to-ceiling windows let the sun shine in and reveal the mountain vistas. There’s little in the way of window treatments, save for sheers to moderate solar gain and blackout curtains to block light in the primary bedroom; all by Leading Edge Interiors.


The Office

Shugarman Architecture + Design custom-designed the office’s glass-topped desk on a simple wood base that doesn’t impede the view.

This article appears in the July 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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