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June 22, 2006

Hilltop house

A tale of two condo owners

Anne Gafiuk

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Tanya Kaynes, 37, Special Events Coordinator at the Calgary Zoo and Pamela Sewers, 38, an Investment Representative at BMO Nesbitt Burns both live at Hilltop House, located in Acadia. The two friends each own a two bedroom condo but with distinct floor plans and contrasting décors in different buildings within the same complex.

When Tanya was renting her 1100 square foot unit prior to purchasing it, she found it to be “very vacuous with the beige colour” on the walls.  “I wanted to feel like I was coming to Mexico and came up with the terracotta idea.  I was going for cozier and warmer.”  The terracotta tiles in the front entry way and “hacienda” influenced kitchen came from Spain.  “My first order of business” when she bought the condo, “was to replace the stick and peel lino floor.”  She also replaced the hardware in the kitchen with funky fish door and drawer handles.

Tanya describes her condo as a “permanent vacation” using tropical themes to define her living spaces.  Her living room, dining room and kitchen with deep yellow walls, have a “South Western Mexican feel to them”, she explains.  The refrigerator door is covered with an orderly array of magnets.  “I buy a magnet from each place I visit to recall holidays.  I look at them everyday.” Tasteful and fun accents throughout her home pay homage to her many vacations.

“Ocean Spa” is how Tanya describes her bedroom.  Light blue walls and “billowing white curtains”, plus bedding with a swordfish motif make up her sanctuary, incorporating a picture she painted, entitled:  My Puerto Vallarta View.   “I have lots of stuff from my travels in here.”  The second bedroom, “Jungle”, is painted green, and “it’s awesome for visiting company”.  She finds the guest room/office to be very “serene”.  The bathroom is “African”.  Here, she has a carved stone hippo from Ghana (a gift from friends), as well as a second hippo Tanya picked up in London, England, carved from an old railway tie.  Prominently displayed is an African mask with a Mexican pedigree. “All the themes have a zoo connection,” Tanya reveals.

Initially when Tanya put the bright, cheerful colours on her walls, she found them “shocking”, but as more paint went on, the better it looked.  “I’m all  colour.”


Pamela concurs with the vibrancy found in Tanya’s condo.  “That’s her personality.”

Pamela says her own condo is “personally reflective and relaxed”.  She, too, has brightly coloured walls.  When she first moved into Hilltop House in September 2005, her condo had a wallpaper border abutting the ceiling, with some of the border going down a few corners.  “It was awful!”  She knew she had work to do.

Peruvian accents are found throughout Pamela’s home.  She gives credit to Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew books.  One mystery, The Clue of the Crossword Cipher was set in Peru.  “Since I was ten, Peru was on my travel list.” Peruvian belts and tapestries purchased on her trip in 2003 are front and centre. “I have a friend who is very artistic and I asked her to help me pick out colours.  I wanted to feature my Peruvian wallhanging.

My friend pulled the colour for my walls out from the tapestry.  I was half way through painting my walls and thought, ‘Oh no! It’s the same colour as Tanya’s’.”  Later, they discovered subtle differences in the yellows.
Pamela’s two bedroom unit is 975 square feet and includes a half bath in the periwinkle master suite.  She also has a full bath across from the guest bedroom.  The built-ins located in her master bedroom, put in by previous owners, provide “very substantial” storage space.

“I do a lot of reading. My books are a big thing.” Pamela proudly displays her large collection of hard covers, as well as “the things that make me happy.” She plans on putting up a feature wall of family photos in the reading nook/computer area, located behind her living room.

Pamela’s galley kitchen will undergo a minor renovation someday:  “I plan to put glass or subway tile behind the stove” and the tiling could make its way behind the sink.

While Tanya is settled into her home, purchasing it almost two years ago, Pamela is settling in.  “I still have boxes and am taking my time to go through them, making decisions as to what to keep or toss.  I was seven years in my 485 square feet apartment in Crescent Heights.”  She loved that location, but it was too small.  “I had been looking at condos for one to one and a half years.  I was familiar with this area because of Tanya.  I take care of her cats while she is away.  I fell prey to the hype” to buy property “but I didn’t like the new buildings because they were wood.

Downtown was too expensive.  It’s amazing square footage here for the price.”  Tanya agrees.  “It was cheaper to buy this condo than to continue to rent elsewhere.  For what I saw out there, it wasn’t worth it” to move.  “There was nothing out there, nothing of quality for the same rent.”  And thus, they bought their first homes.  “It was an easy decision,” says Tanya.

Both Pamela and Tanya praise the interior and exterior maintenance of the 35 year old buildings. “Everything is immaculate,” notes Tanya. They chose Hilltop House because of its location as well as its concrete construction which dampens sounds between units.  They like the “quietness of it.”  Tanya and Pamela really like their second bedrooms, too.

“I’ve had my parents visit more often in the last six months than in all the time I was living in Crescent Heights,” laughs Pamela.  If the friends had any suggestion to make living at Hilltop House even better, in-suite laundry would be the one.

Pamela and Tanya may live in the same complex, but each has brought forth their own individuality to make their homes special and unique – just right for them.   CL

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