When Keightley Bertram and Myles Maxey moved into their adorable 1950s rental home in 2015, it had just been completely remodeled after the 2013 flood. With a few hints of the original mid-century charm still intact but some key upgrades like big windows and skylights, Bertram and Maxey have put their personal stamp on the place through the addition of handcrafted furniture, original artwork and a bit of Southern charm.
Bertram is the community coordinator for Lululemon Calgary as well as a manager at its 4th Street location and Maxey is the owner of Little Lion Man Leather, a custom leather-working business. The two gravitated to Bowness after a friend suggested that they would enjoy living in the community. They immediately felt at home in the neighbourhood filled with interesting local businesses, people and community activities.
“When you find a community and neighbourhood that you really love, it starts to become part of your identity,” says Bertram. “We are Calgarians but we are also Bownesians. Bowness used to be its own small town and it still has that vibe. We’re proud to live here.”
Their design philosophy
Keightley Bertram: “I really love to collect things; so much of what we own is from trips we’ve taken or passed down from family members. My family is from the Southern states and I really gravitate towards that Southwestern style of decor – kind of oversized and rustic.”
Myles Maxey: “Everything we own has a value to us. Keightley takes the reins on most of what goes into this space because she is so good at curating it all together. We try to bring in pieces that are antique or one-of-a-kind. I’ve built a lot of the pieces we have in our home as well. We try to stick within those parameters of only bringing things in that have meaning to us. Functionality is also very important to me. Everything should be useful in some way.”
Their favourite rooms
KB: “The living room. We spend most of our time in there. It is great for entertaining with lots of seating and space.”
MM: “My favourite space is the studio. I’m a solitude kind of guy so I spend a lot of time in there. It makes my heart sing.”
The cozy living room has plenty of furniture pieces and accessories that Myles designed for the space, including the coffee table and leather wood-carrying bag.
Myles created this beautiful wood carrying bag out of leather for their firewood.
Most treasured items
KB: “I have two treasured items. One is the handmade dining room table top that Myles made. I know how much time, energy and effort that went into making it. It is something that we can have as an heirloom piece that can be passed down through generations. When we’re having dinner and you spill something, Myles actually encourages you to not wipe it away and allow it to become part of the story is told through all of the meals that we share.
“The second item is a pink chicken that Myles gave me early on in our relationship after I told him that one day I’d love to have chickens in our backyard. It has travelled around with us over the past six years. Maybe one day we will have chickens but for now we have this pink guy.”
MM: “My favourite piece is also the table top. The magnitude of the timbers that were used to create the table was incredible. The raw materials are absolutely stunning. I built it with a good friend of mine who is a carpenter. The finish we used on it was quite experimental. We applied a vinegar rust solution that is actually traditionally used on leather to the wood. It really changed the look and feel of the wood. We weren’t sure how it would turn out but it is beautiful. I still need to build the legs. That is the next project.”
The dining table is one of the couple’s most treasured items. The tabletop was a labour of love for Myles.
Nothing like a cocktail while you tend to your plant collection. Keightley’s love of entertaining has her bar cart ready at a moment’s notice. The vintage American flag in the background is one of her favourite decor finds. She picked it up at a flea market in Los Angeles.
This couple likes to have a story behind their personal belongings. The story of this hot pink chicken is that Myles gifted it to Keightley at the beginning of their relationship as a placeholder for the real chickens she hopes to have one day.
Favourite decor finds
KB: “I love my vintage 1960s American flag that I bought an L.A. flea market. I also love these antique doll heads that I got in Chicago. I love an Americana vibe in my decor.”
MM: “Keightley’s grandma gifted me an antique wooden brick mold that we have on display in our bedroom. It is just amazing how they made one brick at a time with these brick molds; pack it in, turn it out and let it dry. The process is fascinating.”
Amongst the treasures the couple has collected together, this antique wooden brick mold that Keightley’s grandma gifted Myles.
Where they find inspiration
KB: “My grandparents are my greatest decor inspirations. I spent a month in Georgia with them this past spring and it was so special to see how they live. One of my favourite memories is my Grandma telling me about why she has a painting hung below the bar in her kitchen: ‘I wanted my grandbabies to be able to appreciate art too.’ I love how she curated her home for others enjoyment.”
MM: “I love to build and make a lot of the pieces that go into our home versus finding them elsewhere and that just helps me elevate my creativity. With my skill set, my passions can really thrive so I just try to go with that. My design aesthetic comes from all over the place.”
Their bedroom is decorated with sentimental items including a painting by Keightley’s aunt above the nightstand.
The couple transformed what they think was the original kitchen of the home into a cozy nook off their master bedroom complete with built-in bookshelves, closet and a home office set-up.
Favourite thing about living in Bowness
MM: “I like the community aspect. When you live in a big city you’re kind of fast-moving and fast-paced. Here I feel comfortable walking across the street if we ever needed anything. One of the really beautiful things is on the shortest night of the year on the winter solstice there’s a family on the street that asks you to put out a candle and leave it out overnight and then we all do a walk down the crescent. That community vibe just comes together.”
If you’ve driven through Bowness since the flood in 2013, you’ll have seen a lot of these simple red hearts in front of houses. They’ve become a lovely symbol of the community of Bowness.
Where they shop locally
KB: “One of our favourite pastimes is checking out garage sales and estate sales. I remember when we first started dating six years ago we would spend a weekend doing that. I also love going to Plant in Inglewood to pick up new plants.”
MM: “We like to support our friends who are also makers like Camp & City. Going to Market Collective we find lots of interesting things like ceramics. We like to support local because that is what we are passionate about.”
Favourite view from their home
KB: “From the front door looking towards the back of the house with all of the windows. I love all of the skylights and windows we have. The light is beautiful and bright.”
MM: “My favourite view is the view of the house from the studio out back. There is so much natural light during the day.”
With his workshop studio in the backyard, Myles’s favourite view is looking at the house while he works.