Renewed interest in the elegance of classical architecture

Designers and builders turn to the gracious elements that elevate a home inside and out.

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A return to classical architectural styling seems to be the trend for home designs in 2024 says those in the know at the multiple-award winning Calgary-based design and build firm Urban Indigo Fine Homes.

“There is definitely a move towards more classical architecture in design. People are starting to see the value in more detail. People don’t realize that they want it until they have it,” says Fatima Nasser, president of the boutique firm Urban Indigo Fine Homes.

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Case in point is the company’s latest endeavour, an elegant Regency architectural style home in the southwest inner-city community of Killarney, a community populated with 1950s bungalows amidst a peppering of hard-edged, fully glazed, contemporary two- and three-storey new build designs.

One might wonder if crafting an old-world home with neo-classical detailing would throw the streetscape in the community into a greater visual whirlwind. Instead, the home grounds the streetscape with its gracious cream-coloured facade, black detailing and elegant entranceway framed by two fluted columns. Detailing includes an upper-level black wrought iron balcony, giving it presence and solidity, a touchstone from which the rest of the street’s eclectic architecture can spin off of.

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The home, a custom-designed private commission, evolved in response to the client’s love of “older architecture,” as well as from a desire to stay put in the community. 

The 3,300-square-foot home features traditional neo-classical detailing found in designs in the later part of the Georgian architectural period (Regency period) reflected in designs produced in the early to mid-1800s in the United Kingdom.

“I had an image of the exterior that I wanted, and Fatima and Moe took the idea and tweaked it — it was really a collaboration,” says the home’s owner Tenielle Stables. “I absolutely love Georgian architecture. I always have. It’s a style that is lacking here in Calgary and that has always made me sad.”

Prior to building the home, Tenielle and her husband, Patrick, had been living in a Killarney duplex, which they purchased in 2017. Before that, they owned a fourplex in the community.

“We really wanted to stay in the community. It’s just so friendly and connected, and we have so many friends,” says Patrick Stables.

In 2021, they had put in a bid on a nearby single-family home, but lost out in a bidding war. That’s when they turned to Fatima Nasser and her husband, Moe Abdulah, at Urban Indigo Fine Homes. Tenielle had been following them on Instagram for a few years. She had seen some of their inner-city projects and found the company’s award-winning design and build esthetic resonated with her. Urban Indigo Homes earned the Single Family Builder of the Year Award, Small Volume at the Building Industry and Land Development Calgary Region housing awards in April of 2023. They’ve won the award three times.

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“After one meeting with them, we decided it was a great fit,” says Tenielle. Urban Indigo helped them to source the lot, an older bungalow and part of an estate sale. The couple purchased it in September 2022, and construction began in February 2023.

But Tenielle doesn’t just love Georgian architecture, she loves all things historical.

“I’m a fan of old churches and sandstone buildings and the Gilded Age architecture. I love the Palliser Hotel — it’s iconic, beautiful and glamourous — it’s one of my favourite spots to be in the city,” she says with a laugh.

So, it was no surprise that when it came to interior details in her new home, coffered ceilings, plenty of millwork and floor-to-ceiling wainscotting were top priorities.

“Tenielle and Patrick didn’t want the biggest house on the block; they just wanted really good finishing details. For them it was all about craftsmanship,” says Fatima.

For the couple, the home is the “right” size. At 3,300 square feet, the two-storey home features well conceived use of space with plenty of storage, and a balance of open-concept design and tucked-in, more private spaces. At the front of the home, framed by large banks of windows, is an office with custom-designed french doors and elegant millwork. The walls are swathed in a deep forest green; it’s soft and welcoming.

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Tenielle and Patrick enjoy entertaining and often host playdates for their two young boys, as well as dinner parties and fetes with their neighbours, so having both a beautiful and functional kitchen space with an open-concept great room was of high importance, as was a separate, more traditional dining room.

“The kitchen and the great room are where we spend the most time. It was really the focal point for the whole design. The whole area opens up onto the deck — it’s great for hosting,” says Patrick, noting that it was really important to the family to have that tie-in between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The home’s lower-level offers a gym area with sauna and steam shower, as well as a recreational and hang-out space for the family and friends. The upper level of the home features plenty of private space for each family member. The master is stunning with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows and a luxe ensuite. The two secondary bedrooms each have their own ensuites, with fun, custom-designed tiling.

Throughout the home, luxurious and tastefully sophisticated finishes abound — quartz stone with gold and silver veining, mixed metals in the fixtures and lighting and a La Cornue seven-burner gas range taking centre stage in the kitchen.

The couple moved in just before Christmas.

“The timing was incredible; the process was amazing. The cost was on-point and everything went extremely smoothly. I’d build with them again tomorrow, if I had to,” says Patrick.

Tenielle agrees. “I have to pinch myself every day. I can’t believe I live here. We’re so happy with the design.”

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