Re­claimed Beauty

De­signer Mar­tine Ast rad­i­cally updates a vin­tage ’70s home in Cal­gary, with more than a few play­ful nods to its orig­i­nal era.

Western Living - - CONTENTS -

De­signer Mar­tine Ast gives a dated space a sec­ond chance, re­think­ing the floor plan, open­ing up the view and cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful home for her­self and her fam­ily.

Mar­tine Ast has a knack for spot­ting po­ten­tial. Her pre­vi­ous home, fea­tured in our Jan­uary 2014 is­sue, was an un­ren­o­vated ’60s bi-level in Cal­gary’s Dal­housie neigh­bour­hood—one that she’d trans­formed into a warm, open space fea­tur­ing a riot of colour and char­ac­ter.

But even as she wrapped up the ren­o­va­tion of that home, she was al­ready itch­ing to find an­other project. “I’m just look­ing for the right place—some­thing un­touched again,” she’d said back then. And, sure enough, she found that great po­ten­tial again, this time in this ’70s-era home in Var­sity Es­tates. The two-storey walk­out was perched above a golf course that of­fered the pos­si­bil­ity of great views—if only the win­dows were big­ger and a sun­room didn’t block the way. Re­think the floor plan, pull a wall down here, open up to the view there, thought Ast, and the dated space could have a sec­ond life as a great home for her and her fam­ily—in­clud­ing her hus­band, Stephen Hub­bard, and their al­most-two-year-old son, Hugh.

“Work­ing within the con­fines of an older home, you don’t have the lux­ury to cre­ate all these new spa­ces,” says Ast, who’s worked at Paul Lavoie In­te­rior De­sign for over a decade. “You work within the foot­print and cre­ate within that area.” The first task was to capture those views out back. The sun porch that acted as a bar­rier be­tween the liv­ing room and back­yard was re­claimed as in­te­rior space in the liv­ing room. The formerly shoul­der-height win­dows on both lev­els were brought nearly to the floor, and the liv­ing ar­eas were re­worked to bet­ter fit with mod­ern liv­ing—open con­cept for the main floor save for the master bath and Hugh’s ad­join­ing room, and a new pow­der room where once was a pantry. (The home orig­i­nally had five bath­rooms, which Ast re­duced to a more user-friendly three.)

At the front of the home, Ast brought the en­try doors right up to the ceil­ing and added glass around them, bring­ing light into the liv­ing space in­side. From the en­try, guests can head up a few steps to the main floor, where a strik­ing ar­chi­tec­tural rail­ing re­places what was once a wall.

That rail­ing, a tribute to the home’s orig­i­nal era, was a project in and of it­self—Ast res­cued it from a home in Bel-Aire that was about to be de­mol­ished. “The con­trac­tor called me and said, ‘If there’s any­thing out of the house you want, come and get it,’” she says. “I had one evening. I called my brother-in-law, and we went there with a metal grinder and a sledge­ham­mer and ripped it out.” Orig­i­nally painted, the rail­ing was sand­blasted by Mod­ern Met­als, who then plated it with pol­ished chrome. “It’s lit­er­ally the high­light of the home for me,” says Ast. “And I’m so glad to have been able to re­use this, to recre­ate and rein­vent it for our space.”

Through­out the house, there’s a play­ful use of both high con­trast (all of the mill­work is a com­bi­na­tion of a rich char­coal stain paired with painted warm-white cab­i­netry) and bold colour and pat­tern— Ast is known for fear­lessly in­tro­duc­ing cre­ative com­bi­na­tions. In the liv­ing room, for ex­am­ple, a pair of vin­tage chairs have their orig­i­nal fab­ric, a play­ful bird mo­tif that has be­come stylish and cur­rent in a way that “al­most feels full cir­cle,” says Ast. The nearby main fea­ture wall is painted a strik­ing black, the per­fect con­trast for boldly colour­ful art­work from artist Aron Hill. And tex­tured and pat­terned throw cush­ions cre­ate points of con­trast in shades of lemon­grass, char­treuse, lime and co­ral.

In the master bed­room, Ast wasn’t able to find the square footage for a walk-in closet, so in­stead she lined one wall with stor­age, clev­erly com­bin­ing the in­te­ri­ors from Ikea’s Pax wardrobe in­serts with cus­tom-mill­work doors. The black and white mill­work is thor­oughly mod­ern, while boldly flo­ral drapes—Chi­ang Mai Dragon by Schu­macher—nod to the orig­i­nal era of the home. “They’re a very heavy, tex­tu­ral linen,” says Ast. “It’s re­ally rem­i­nis­cent of what would have been

hang­ing in this house in the ’70s when it was first built.”

Down­stairs, the loungey vibe of the main liv­ing space, where vin­tage pieces com­bine with more con­tem­po­rary finds, is in­spired by the cou­ple’s ex­ten­sive record col­lec­tion ( lat­est favourites: Dave Brubeck and Ba­hamas). Wall­pa­per on the ceil­ing ap­pears to look like smoke, rem­i­nis­cent of a jazz club. The sofa is a ’70s orig­i­nal, black with a gold and yel­low flo­ral pat­tern. (“I bought it from some­one who I’m sure kept plastic on it their whole life—the fab­ric was pris­tine,” says Ast.) A pair of vin­tage tub chairs frame her grand­fa­ther’s teak cof­fee ta­ble, along with a lamp she re­ceived from an aunt and un­cle.

Over­all, it’s a home that’s made to be lived in—warm and wel­com­ing, with con­ver­sa­tion zones that nat­u­rally flow from one space to the next. But is it on to the next great find? Ast smiles. “The temp­ta­tion of a new project is al­ways ap­peal­ing. But we’re very com­fort­able where we are at the mo­ment—so I think we will stay put for a while.”

RIght at Home De­signer Mar­tine Ast in her Var­sity Es­tates liv­ing room with her 20-mon­thold son, Hugh. Ast has a fear­less love of colour, seen in the dozen pieces from Cal­gary artist Aron Hill and the vin­tage club chairs fea­tur­ing a print of cel­ery-green and co­ral pheas­ants.

Hang Time On the lower level, the cof­fee ta­ble once be­longed to Ast’s grand­fa­ther; she had it stained a rich black to fit with the vin­tage ’70s sofa. Over­head, inset wall­pa­per fea­tures swirls of smoke to give the room a jazz- club vibe.

Play­ful De­sign The green bureau was a fam­ily heir­loom that Ast had spray lac­quered (top left). The rail­ing in the en­try­way was res­cued from a de­mol­ished home in Bel-Aire (top right). Son Hugh plays at a vin­tage kids’ ta­ble and chairs, in front of art­work by Michelle Eva May (bot­tom right).

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