Prairie-Style Living In Kingsland
A Calgary couple takes a non-traditional approach to building a dream home in the established neighbourhood of Kingsland, and the neighbours are loving it.
A perfect space for entertaining, Bryce Osborne and Evan Hayko’s kitchen features high ceilings, lots of floor space and a door leading to their backyard for easy access to the barbecue.
Photograph by Jared Sych
After living in their Kingsland home for almost 10 years, Bryce Osborne and Evan Hayko decided it was time to make a change. At first these changes were small – like moving a wall further out and moving the kitchen window so it faced their backyard – but the couple quickly realized that, after all was said and done, they’d still be left wanting more.
Building a dream
That was when they decided to build their dream home. Osborne is a self-professed architecture addict and familiar with the construction process from owning his own flooring company, Floorscapes Inc. The couple had plenty of contacts at their fingertips, so they soon started planning the perfect design.
“On all those renovation shows, you hear them saying, ‘Oh, this house has good bones,'” says Osborne. “You can plan those good bones ahead of time if you know what you’re doing.”
In a departure from the typical procedure, they put together a wish list and hired an interior designer first to help them design a floor plan to encompass their vision. From there, they brought in an architectural technologist to ensure the plan was to code. Hayko recalls sitting with
their technologist for hours on end, moving rooms, windows and closets around like a shell game, giving them a level of control they believe they wouldn’t have had if they had hired an architect to draft the plans.
They planned a prairie-style home with high ceilings, open spaces and vast windows. Hayko wanted more entertaining space and Osborne wanted something architecturally astounding. Now, their new home opens up into a wide-open space holding the living room, dining room, kitchen and library, all skillfully set apart from each other by a floating hearth fireplace or a height variation in the ceiling.
With ceilings standing nine and 10 feet tall and high wood-panelled windows that leave the lingering scent of fir trees, the interior of the home feels like a sanctuary from the city outside. “There’s just something about the open space,” says Osborne. “It just feels free.”
Respect thy neighbour
Osborne and Hayko have lived in Kingsland for the past 12 years, and the area has truly become their home.
“There’s always the question of moving away and buying new, or staying where you are and building new,” says Hayko. “We could have gone somewhere else and built what we wanted for a price we wanted, but we like where we live. Kingsland is kind of a well-kept secret.”
They knew they could have built on another lot in the city, but they had forged relationships with their neighbours that they felt were worth staying for. Osborne recalls their first Christmas in Kingsland when their 80-year-old neighbour, a woman from across the street, came to their door clad in a Santa hat with blinking lights and brandishing a plate of cookies exclaiming, “Welcome to the neighbourhood, boys!” Laughing, Osborne says, “You just can’t buy that.”
Out of respect for their neighbours, Osborne and Hayko wanted to make sure they didn’t raise their roof so much as to tower over the other homes or obscure sightlines. The mid-century neighbourhood off of Macleod Trail has the same distinct look as it did when it was built in the 1950s, so the couple made an effort to keep the exterior of their home from interrupting the flow of the street.
“We didn’t want to be the big hulking glass-and-steel neighbour that no one could see around the corner [because of],” explains Osborne.
Inspired by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Osborne and Hayko designed the home’s exterior in a prairie style, with low horizontal lines to maintain the low-slung look in the neighbourhood. Inside, the aesthetic is a little more modern, with clean lines and a slightly minimalist decor, but still clad with low, vertical lines throughout.
“Part of living in an architectural house is that you don’t have to over-decorate it,” says Osborne. “You let the variations in the ceiling and the staircase talk. If you have too much other stuff going on, you miss that.”
The design details
A well-insulated home
By working closely with the builder, Frank Gordon-Cooper from Kurmak Builders, Osborne and Hayko were able to ensure all of the three bases for heating were covered: insulation, heating and windows. They installed triple-pane windows, made the walls thick enough to hold good insulation, insulated the in-floor heating in the basement and insulated the attic.
Quarter-sawn elm kitchen cabinets with natural grain
This specific veneer required a custom builder. Cedro Fine Woodwork, a custom cabinetmaker, was able to accommodate the order. To keep the natural look and feel of the wood, they opted for a plant-based, non-toxic oil as opposed to a lacquer, and Osborne mixed the colour himself in order to get the perfect shade.
A spa with a heated bench and walls
After taking measurements for heating mats behind the porcelain walls of the spa and ensuite bath, Osborne and Hayko knew it was possible to heat the walls and bench. But to keep the heated bench from bending or cracking, they hired an engineer to design it and used a steel frame to reinforce it.
The interiors of the windows are lined in a vertical-grain fir panelling to exude a sense of warmth. The couple had the wood coated with the same natural oils that they used on the cabinets and floors to waterproof it, allowing an easy repair in the event mildew begins to form.
Solid white mahogany doors
All 22 doors in the home are made from solid-core mahogany, offering a weight and quality that helps to stop noise transmission in the house. After searching throughout Calgary, the couple eventually found a supplier in Kelowna with wood sourced from Brazil. They drove to B.C. to check the quality and soon after brought the doors home.