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March 01, 2009

Inner-city stunner: Erlton townhome profiled

Erlton home the stuff dreams are made of

Tonya Zelinsky

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If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you’d have to be blind not to appreciate the work of art that has become home to John and Naomi Remmers.

Overlooking the Elbow River, located in the middle of Erlton in southwest Calgary, the Remmers’ three-storey townhouse is breathtaking from the moment you walk through the front door into the spacious foyer.

When John first discovered the 2,280-square-foot home in 2005 it was nothing more than drywall and plywood. In the process of being reconstructed following a neighbourhood fire, the unit was a blank canvas looking for John to make his mark.

“This was our place,” says the pulmonary physician, more famous for inventing a new and easy way of diagnosing sleep apnea and the Remmers Sleep Recorder. “We feel it’s perfect. We’ve lived here through flooding, cold weather, hot summers, and we’ve worked out all the glitches. It is functionally and aesthetically perfect.”

To some the statement of perfection may seem ostentatious but the grandeur and style of the Remmers’ townhouse is undeniable, not to mention the attention to detail, design and practicality.

The open-concept unit combines sophistication and relaxation, with an industrial and simplistic theme carried out on its many levels. The walls of each floor boast a soft, muted industrial-grey tone, while strong elements of stainless steel and wooden cabinetry can be found in the details. A honed-slate floor can be found on all three levels.

Designed by Calgary architect Douglas Cridland the theme of the Remmers’ home is, quite simply, simplicity.

“I think he listens and picks up on the mood of the person he’s working with,” says John.

Immediately off the front foyer is the large and open kitchen. A stainless steel-tiled backsplash decorates the back wall of the kitchen and granite countertops remain clutter-free from appliances and knick knacks, with exception to its five-burner stove.

Wooden cupboards line the bottom of the counter and opposite wall, concealing everyday essentials from flatware and stemware to perishable food, which can be found in the recessed under-counter refrigerator. Rather than a kitchen table, a buffet-style bar is spread before the windows of a kitchen wall, overlooking the Dickensian-style Erlton street below.

Moving further inside the eye is attracted to the unique pieces of art selectively decorating the walls and floor, and cleverly disguised as furniture.

A large, round wooden table created by Bob Horne of Northmount Industries fills the dining room, which is separated from the living room by Mediterranean-inspired sculpture made from rock.

The living room is where some of  the couple’s favourite things can be found. Sitting before the large windows overlooking the Elbow River is John’s coconut chair, designed by Herman Miller, and Naomi’s shell chair, designed by Karl Hansen. Bongo tables designed by Horne tie the two concepts together.

After a long day, the couple enjoys relaxing on the ten-foot couch and watching the flames flicker in the fireplace. Opting not to go with a traditional mantelpiece, John wanted the industrial-feel of the house to come together with a cement wall atop the fireplace.

But the piece de resistance is the large M. Filopoulous painting on the wall. With a love for the French Mediterranean, the Remmers were drawn to the fluidity and serenity of the painting’s cool blue and green tones reminiscent of the ocean.
As languid and artistic as the main floor is the second floor is functional and stylish.

A large office, doubling as a spare room and sometimes library for the couple’s hundreds of books, is an ideal space for concentration. And for visitors, a Murphy bed is hidden in the wall.

In fact, when the couple made renovations to the master bedroom, they slept on the Murphy bed for months and found it to be almost as comfortable as their own mattress.

Down the hall from the office is the media/guest room. The theme of simplicity continues into the ensuite bathroom featuring a glassed-in stand-up shower and a bathtub.

However, it’s the third floor that is the true sanctuary; the master bedroom. With an outdoor patio, fireplace, and full ensuite bathroom the couple enjoys spending lazy Sunday mornings reading the newspaper or eating breakfast outside.

Proudly showing off the details of the master suite’s walk-in closet, or his newly-renovated basement and two-car garage, it is obvious the Erlton townhouse has a place in John’s heart.

And although John’s love for his home is evident, he admits it’s time he and Naomi move onto to something new. After purchasing property in Arizona, the couple hopes to sell their townhouse and make the move south by the summer. The current asking price is $1,195,000.

“I’ve never loved a house before. You make something you love and then pass it on and move into something else that you love,” says John. CL

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