Before & After: A Global Inspired Renovation

After nearly two decades of traveling and working abroad our clients were ready to move back to Calgary. The couple had purchased a bungalow several years earlier and now it was time to make it their permanent home. While situated on a prime lot on a quiet, mature street and backing on to green space, the house was in desperate need of an update. Our client dreamed of a fresh contemporary home - a clean slate where they could surround themselves with all of the treasures they had picked up over their years of traveling. After enlisting the services of Cortina Crafted Homes, the house was completely gutted and the transformation began.


This is the exterior of the home before the renovation. The surrounding landscape is stunning but the dated facade doesn't quite feel like it fits in. 

The exterior received a major overhaul.  We opened up the courtyard, changed the roof lines, enlarged the windows and completely refinished the exterior materials. The home now feels up-to-date while fitting in to the neighbourhood.

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Here are the kitchen and living room before the renovation. The wall between the rooms was removed to create a larger, more streamlined kitchen and open dining area.

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New full height windows and patio doors let in the streaming sunlight and brighten up the space ten-fold. The glossy white cabinets and backpainted glass backsplash reflect even more light while the clear walnut pantry & fridge wall adds just the right amount of warmth. The moroccan-style pendants were sourced from Egypt and add a touch of exotic flair to the space.

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Here is a before shot of the family room backing on to the kitchen.

We removed the corner fireplace and added a contemporary 2-way fireplace dividing the dining and living room spaces. The windows in the living room were also enlarged to let in that gorgeous view.

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A before & after shot of the stairwell to the basement. A niche was designed specifically for the antique door that the client brought back from Saudi Arabia. The glass railing continues with the open concept while allowing a clear view to the artwork. 

Here is another shot of the foyer. The pottery and rugs are all from the client's collection and add so much character to the space.

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The laundry room before & after. White lacquered cabinets and carrera marble contrast beautifully with antique furniture and rugs brought back from the client's travels.

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This is the ensuite before.

The new ensuite - clear walnut contrasts with the extra thick carrera marble countertop.  The mirror reflects the gorgeous glass mosaic tile inset in the shower. 

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The hall bath before.

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Here is the new hall bath. The vanity is a Johnson & Associates custom design. The whole room is tiled with a large scale glossy ceramic tile inset with a glass match stick herringbone. The effect is light, bright & luscious.


Here are a couple of shots of the basement before. It was dark, dreary & cold, not really somewhere you'd want to spend any time. There were also a multitude of bulkheads due to the usual duct work in a basement.


The basement is now completely inhabitable, complete with media area, pool table and bar (shown above). The contractor was able to get rid of most of the bulkheads to really open up the ceiling. A soft colour palette on the walls, ceiling and floor keeps the space feeling open and airy despite the fact that the ceiling is less than 8' high. 

The tiles inset into the backsplash of the bar were found by the client on a trip to Africa - a special touch that integrates their travel history into their home.

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This is the basement guest bath. Not sure about the scale of that mirror....

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And here are the after shots of the guest bathroom. Again, the soft colours and full height mirror disguise the fact the ceilings are so low, creating a space that is open and inviting.

 This is one of our favourite projects from last year. It was such fun to see the transformation of the home from 70's drab to classic contemporary but even more amazing to see it come to life with our client's collections and personality. 

Before & After: Modern Ranch Renovation

We were lucky enough to work with our client to renovate this 70's ranch bungalow inherited from her grandparents. While it was desperately in need of an update, it was our job to reinterpret the ranch style while maintaining the home's soul. 

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Here is the back entrance before. This is a working ranch with an obvious lack of storage for hats and other cowboy paraphernalia.

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The back entrance after. We created a functional mudroom with plenty of hooks and cubbies for boots & hats. The goal was to have everything open and at an arm's reach for an easy in and out. The hard wearing basalt floors look beautiful while providing a heavy duty surface that can battle the elements. The wood from the 2 barn doors beyond were salvaged from old buildings on the ranch.

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While the existing kitchen was fairly large, the layout didn't function well for the client. We flipped it to the other side of the room, allowing us to add plenty of storage and workspace

The new kitchen. The 11' island provides ample workspace and seating while the window above the cooktop frames the stunning Alberta landscape beyond like a piece of art. The light fixture was custom made using jar pendants and reclaimed wood planks.

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The original dining room. 

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The dining room after. The existing wall separating the family room and dining room was removed to create an open, family-friendly space. A custom credenza creates a division between the rooms while housing a pop-up TV. The steel pendant is hand made by John Beck and complements the space perfectly. The table was custom made for the client and will surely be in the family for generations to come. The windows were widened so the view can take centre stage. The paintings are treasured pieces inherited from the clients' grandparents.

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This is the original front entrance. Despite all of the windows, it felt quite dark and dreary.

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The front entrance now. A lighter wall colour lightens up the room dramatically while the new stair railing adds a sculptural element. The art work brings the space to life - the pieces were commissioned by the client and depict her own horses. 

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This is the back hall leading to the bedrooms before. Excuse the action shot - this was taken on site measure day!

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The new back hall. Believe it or not, the hall wasn't widened and the ceiling wasn't raised. It's amazing what paint and lighting can do!

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This is the old master bedroom - although the swag pendants had their charm, it was time they retired.

The master bedroom now. This was the only area we replaced the wood ceilings with drywall, but maintained the rustic charm with a reclaimed wood headboard wall. And did you notice that incredible view out the window again?

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Here is the original ensuite -  a pretty typical 1970's palette.

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The new ensuite is fresh and spa-like. The double vanity has lots of storage to keep the  clutter at bay.  A textural mix of neutral tiles and simple patterning is soothing.

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This is the original spiral staircase to the lower level. 

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And here it is now. Definitely one of our favourite elements of the home. The timber-like treads appear to be rotating on a single axis. A challenging design that was artfully constructed thanks to talented trades.

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Here we have the original home office. Although this photo looks like it was taken in the 70's, it was just last spring - honest.

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The new office with a custom built-in credenza and crisp paneled walls. The furnishings are classic with a rustic twist. 


Thanks for letting us share this project with you - we hope you are as inspired by it as much as we are! 

*Photography of renovated home by Dustin Mifflin

Dreaming of Paradise

As I stare out my window watching the snow come down (yes, it's the end of April) I can’t help but daydream about my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta.  We had the pleasure of staying at a luxury condominium developed & designed by Yoo by Starck. The condo itself was fabulous…modern and spacious with the most amazing ocean view you could ask for. But what really took my breath away was the grounds. Despite being laid out in a typical long & narrow hotel zone lot on the shores of Bahía de Banderas – the grounds were anything but typical. I won’t bore you with wordy interior design lingo - take a look for yourself and see what I mean.


This is the open-air reception area. Everything from the fuchsia acrylic desk to the grouping of chairs creates a perfectly relaxed and playful ambiance. Modern and ornate furnishings mingled throughout the whole resort in typical Philippe Starck style.

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A couple of seating areas separating the pool area and condos. The use of the massive photographs adds unexpected drama.

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Another seating area with a large mirror as a backdrop. Traditional painted tiles ground the grouping.

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The grounds were never lacking a quiet place to sneak away from the crowds. The fuchsia walls peeking through the lush foliage is unexpected and fun.


The infinity edge pool overlooking the ocean. While the grounds were full of colour, the pool area was neutral and serene. There is actually a condo rule only allowing white or beige towels by the pool! 


The games room with library in the background. The library glowed with yellow glass on all four sides. 


A view from the open air lobby. The oversize leaf graphic on the ceiling is framed with a plaster molding. Love the traditional details mixed with modern graphic prints.


his little jewel box is the women's washroom in the lobby. Every surface absolutely sparkled. The photograph is actually the door to the watercloset.


Lastly, this was our view from the 18th floor. I just doesn't get any better. Sigh. 

A family friendly renovation

To many of us the 90’s doesn’t seem very long ago, but for this home built late in the decade the last fifteen years had not been so kind. Our clients have a busy family with two soon to be teenage boys and many friends close by. They had outgrown the original suburban style of the house, but loved their neighborhood and close-knit community, so a full renovation was in order. We had the pleasure to help transform this home from 90's drab into a sophisticated and contemporary family friendly home. 


The homeowners have collected artifacts from various world travels and wanted dedicated display space for their treasures. The asymmetrical walnut shelving on either side of the linear fireplace is a far cry from the honey oak it replaced. Each niche features a mini LED spotlight to highlight each piece. Lots of texture and pattern make this family room a cozy gathering place where they can enjoy their collection.


The kitchen design was kept clean & minimal, with extra thick counter tops, backpainted glass and a mix of dark stained walnut and high gloss zebrano woods. 


The dining room is intimate and comfortable with a focus on the art collection. The metallic finish on the ceiling provides a warm glow and subtle formality.


The dramatic powder room features a custom backlit agate vanity, walnut panelling and sparkling glass tile. The overall effect is truly jewel box-like.


The family library was designed as a place for the kids to do homework and crafts. This space was actually captured from above the existing family room’s two story height, giving the clients some much needed extra room. Lots of storage and a built-in bench seat help to keep things in order.


The basement media room and bar are a play room for kids and adults alike. Multiple screens allow for multi-player video games or different sporting events all at the same time.  A mobile bar island and durable tile floors make this a space easily adapted to many functions.

We love how this home has maintained a sophisticated feel while remaining family-friendly. The richness of materials, lots of intentional storage and contemporary lines keep the home clean, elegant and welcoming. 

Our Christmas Wish List

The holidays are upon us once again and while spending time with our loved ones is at the top of our wish list here are a few other things we've been daydreaming about.


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A live performance of “A Christmas Carol”  in this theatre photographed by David Burdeny. The photograph would be fantastic as a consolation gift.


A week in Palm Springs to take in the Film Festival in January.


And then pop back in February for Modernism Week.



 A trip to Bali, Indonesia – eat, pray, love style.

The Tea of the Month Collection from David’s Tea - 12 delicious sample teas to keep me warm this winter.


A Fitbit Surge – To track my runs and keep me inspired to work out.


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A pair of Pajar boots to keep warm and stylish while at the rink being a hockey mom

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This Wegner Shell Chair in cowhide would look perfect in our new house on the farm.

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A Traeger Smoker - Just because smoked food is so delicious!



 A basket of treats from the West Coast including: Cheeky Peach Craft Cider from Merridale Cider, a selection of cheeses from Saltspring Island Cheese and smoked tofu from Soya Nova Tofu Shop.

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While I’m eating and drinking the above items I’d like to be lounging with my husband poolside at the Parker in Palm Springs.

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 Lodge 13.25” Cast Iron Fry Pan and new cookbook Mastering Sauces by Susan Volland so I can look like I can cook more than I do.



A couple of weeks (or months) of sun, sand and surf in the quaint village of San Pancho, Mexico.

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This badass Burberry leather jacket so I can pretend I'm cooler than I actually am.


This Crown Minor chandelier for my dining room- and possibly a new dining room to go with the chandelier.

The last thing on our wish list is for all of our clients and friends to have a safe and merry holiday season. We'll see you in the New Year!

Colour Inspiration: Autumn

Looking for a palette to warm things up as the temperature drops? Look no further - a rich colour palette, layers of texture and a nod to nature, fall-inspired décor is worth cozying up to.

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1. Living Room design by Johnson & Associates Interior Design  2. Branches Chandelier by Brothers Dressler  3. Powder Room design by Johnson & Associates Interior Design  4. Lustre Lights by Tom Dixon  5. Long Saddle Bench by Brent Comber  6. Papillon Sink by Stone Forest  7. Design by Johnson & Associates Interior Design  8. Fur Stiletto Boot by Fendi  9. Dining Table by Philippe Hiquily (1968)

A nod to the past

Upcycle, repurpose, vintage - you hear these words used a lot lately. Whatever term you want to use, we’re definitely seeing a trend towards products and materials that have a sense of history. Perhaps our busy, plugged-in lives are giving us a yearning for a simpler time, for meals made from scratch, hand-knitted sweaters and patchwork quilts. Here are a few products that all give a nod to the past, whether it be reusing something that no longer has use in our modern world, or a cheeky twist on an antique design.


Paring down a light fixture to bare bones is nothing new - there are quite a few different versions out there. But this Crystal Bulb Pendant by Lee Broom is a cut above. This simplest form of a light is taken to a whole new level - each bulb is hand blown and then cut with a classic crystal pattern. Stunning.


This is where modern technology gets an unexpected traditional twist. Luxury watchmaker De Bethune embedded a working pocket watch into an iphone case.


Paul Cocksedge has created a smartphone speaker out of a 12" vinyl LP with his Change the Record. Repurposing at its best.


Drawing inspiration from traditional Scandinavian & Shaker designs, these chairs by O&G studio are modern yet feel as if they've been around forever.  ABCD design calls them "modern furnishings with an old soul".  We definitely agree.


These reclaimed barn wood walls in Hilary Swank's home juxtapose beautifully against the contemporary furnishings while lending a sense of history to the space. via

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This inside-out collection by Polart is so whimsical and fun. They've taken traditional favorites and created statement pieces for contemporary interiors. 

How have you added a sense of history to your interior? Is it a beloved antique or a quirky accessory with a wink to the past? We'd love to hear!

Check out our pinterest board for more ideas & inspiration.

Concrete: you thought you knew it

Concrete is no longer a material used only for structural purposes. Today's concrete designers are taking the material beyond industrial and creating sculptural, light as air pieces that surprise & delight.

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The Concrete Lace curtain by Doreen Westphal Studio is an incredible example of how the use of  concrete has evolved into an artform.


The Stitching Concrete stool is a project by industrial designer Florian Schmid. By impregnating fabric with cement and drenching it in water, he is able to create a material that has the softness of cloth and the stability of concrete.

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The Concrete Soft bathtub by Glass Idromassaggio is a like piece of art in the room.

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Dramatic necklaces by Bergnerschmidt.

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Yes, this sofa is made of concrete. Messes with your head a bit doesn't it? Concrete Chesterfield Sofa by Gray Concrete.


Bet you've never been given a concrete business card before. Designed by Murmure Creative.

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Minimalist task lighting taken a step further with a concrete shade & base. From Benjamin Hubert.

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Fabric-like concrete fixture at the office of 2Stone Designer Concrete in Calgary. 

See more cool concrete products on our concrete pinboard.

Colour inspiration: Cobalt

Rich & vibrant yet still calming, cobalt is a universally appealing hue. Whether used in small accents or boldly on whole walls, this colour can transform your space from blah to inspired.

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1. Living room design by Johnson & Associates Interior Design   2. "Bright Blue/Orange, Vertical Composition" by Suzan Frecon via 1stdibs   3. Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem shoe   4. Iris Vide-Poche by Bungalow 5   5. Kitchen design by Johnson & Associates Interior Design   6. Skyscraper Vase by Gaia & Gino   7. David Aubrey necklace   8. Mestizo Blue credenza by Espacio Sami Hayek   9. Tri-P floor lamp by Diesel with Foscarini


Dear Santa: We've been very good this year - a Tuscan Villa and a fur-lined sleeping bag isn't too much to ask, is it?Read on to see what we are coveting this holiday season.

BRUCE: After a trip to Paris and Italy this summer all I want for Christmas is:


A villa in Tuscany (naturally) – I would never leave so you would have to come visit.


“Altan” Parisian oxfords made from Italian parts –  almost as significant as Italy’s contribution to French cuisine.

JILL: Next year we're planning on doing some renovating but will still find time for lots of outdoor adventures. Here's what's on my list:

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Beton Epoque Tile from Stone Tile  for my upcoming bathroom reno.

Piano lessons.  I recently inherited a piano and, while I play a mean “Heart and Soul”, I must expand my repertoire!


Nordic ski gear from MEC for outdoor fun this winter.

SHAYLA: Building a new house is keeping my family busy but we still plan to make time to unwind and have some winter fun.

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Padraig slippers to keep cozy on those cold Prairie nights.


Cowhide chairs - perfect for for my new dining room.

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This cozy knit toque from Gorsuch. It will keep me toasty during snowball fights with my kids.

DIONE: R&R in the sun and at home is on my to do list next year. Here is what is at the top of my list:


The Noche Alpaca Blanket from The Citizenry. Perfect for Netflix binge-watching.


This Prada sleeping bag might just convince me to become a camper. 

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A trip to Casa Pericos - an open air luxury casa in Yelapa, Mexico. Maybe I'll take my Prada sleeping bag.