A Stunning Modern Prairie Home
Top featured photo credit Raw Photography
Located in Greenbryre Estates overlooking the golf course, homeowners Gail and Garry Paulson built their amazing two-bedroom bungalow to “age in place.” Even with its significant scale, what is most remarkable about the home is its incredible feeling of warmth and intimacy. Visually, the home’s exterior highlights natural stone, while white oak floors and warm quartz slabs throughout the interior offer soft colours that blend perfectly into the surrounding Prairie landscape.
The Paulsons are high school sweethearts from small-town Saskatchewan. Garry sold his manufacturing business and retired 10 years ago. The couple’s children and grandchildren are now all grown, so the time seemed right to embark on an ambitious building project. The Paulsons also have homes in Elk Ridge, Saskatchewan and Maui, Hawaii.
Garry is a professional engineer and built his successful business applying his high technicality and keen sense of ingenuity. As a result, a commitment to innovation became the predominant mindset of the project. The home offers a deceptively simple floor plan that’s designed for ultimate flow and function. Although the main floor alone spans 4,000 square feet, it does not feel overwhelming. The scale and connection of the rooms is grand, but approachable.
The main floor of the Paulson residence features an atrium leading into a great room with an open concept kitchen and dining room. Gail points out that the striking dining room table, which comfortably seats 10, was commissioned specifically for the space. Gail’s den is also on the main floor; complete with hand-painted wallpaper, it’s a perfect place to sit and write emails or read.
Another standout feature on the main floor is the innovative Toblerone quartzite suspended above all four sides of the great room’s fireplace. The same quartzite was used as the focal point in a plethora of custom details in the home’s one-of-a-kind kitchen.
The ground level of the bungalow includes a huge media room, Garry’s office, a home gym (complete with a steam room and spa bathroom) and a walk-out bar for entertaining that’s adjacent to the media room. The perfect guest suite is also on the ground level with a gorgeous en suite bathroom featuring custom porcelain tile. Lucky guests have their own walk-in closet and laundry facilities.
The exterior of the home was designed in collaboration with Saskatoon-based architects Charles Olfert and Dallas Huard of AODBT Architecture. Gail and Garry felt AODBT contributed to many aspects of the home, especially their thorough understanding of the needs of older homeowners.
Atmosphere Interior Design
The first ones on the project, Atmosphere’s two designers and co-owners are Curtis Elmy and Trevor Ciona. Curtis and Trevor had previously worked with the Paulsons on several projects, including a 67,000 square foot office and their son’s Saskatoon condo. It’s immediately clear that the Paulsons and Curtis and Trevor have a close, almost familial, bond. “Gail and Garry wanted a modern aesthetic for their dream home. There is lots of space, but it’s not over-the-top. Everything has a place and ease of use was a priority throughout the home,” says Trevor.
The Paulsons spend five months of the year in Maui and, while they were available through technology, the couple wasn’t physically present in Saskatoon each winter. Turning the homeowner’s vision into reality meant that Curtis and Trevor acted as the clients’ proxy for some decisions.
“Gail and Garry trust our design aesthetic and our commitment to incorporate many of their wish list items into the design, while pushing them outside of their comforts zones ever-so-slightly. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with the potential of a home this size. The truth is that simple, subtle details can actually take more work,” says Curtis.
“The Paulson residence is up there with the largest scale projects we have ever done. We served almost as matchmakers, looking out for the best interests of our clients at all times. As designers, it isn’t always about the drawings, selections and furnishings; just as important is assisting in building a team of great players that gel well together,” adds Curtis. Garry Paulson is more direct about the role of the Atmosphere team: “Curtis and Trevor are the kingpins of it all.”
What is the highlight of the residence for Curtis and Trevor? “Overall, seeing such a massive project with so many layers of complexity come together and still feel so much like Gail and Garry; that in itself is the most rewarding part. We love the simplistic layering of all of the luxurious finishes. The entire home has incredible warmth and texture.”
Maison Design + Build
Andrew Wagner is Maison Design + Build’s founder and director of construction. He is also trained as a mechanical engineer and project manager. Andrew and his wife, Jilaire, have owned the award-winning, boutique home building company for 10 years and pride themselves on developing strong relationships with their clients to create beautiful homes.
Maison was the project and construction manager for the build. The multi-disciplinary project team included architects, engineers, interior designers, technology, mechanical and electrical designers, and landscape architects. Maison achieved the complex design through a collaborative working relationship with vendors and trades on-site.
“The Paulson residence was a culmination of talent, individuals doing their best work and pushing themselves to do even better. The clients were specific from the start about what they envisioned. Everything was more intricate, more layered and more integrated than previous builds I’ve worked on,” says Andrew.
While there are hundreds of small details — including hidden door hinges, electrical outlets painted to look like wood or quartz, and automatic cleaning toilets with bidets that lift their lids when someone walks up — the Paulson residence also has major installations that showcase the best of design, engineering, construction coordination and craftsmanship.
Innovation within the build includes the 3,000-pound floating quartzite island fireplace. This standout feature was created by building a carriage with ready rod, inserting multiple beams in multiple directions, and having the granite shop mitre a stone box to give the effect of one solid floating block of quartz.
Another feature the Maison team is particularly proud of is the single spine staircase between levels. This staircase floats without touching the walls, giving the illusion of four-inch solid blocks of oak suspended in the air.
“Collaboration between Maison, Atmosphere Interior Design, our vendors and tradespeople are what made this project successful. The kitchen alone had several steps and interdependencies during the install process in order to achieve the design intent with complex layers and materials,” says Jilaire. “Overall, it looks like one person created the entire home. This is particularly amazing given that easily 200 people worked on the project over a period of four years. The Paulson residence was a once-in-a-lifetime project,” says Andrew.
Rëdl World-Class Kitchens
Known for their custom details, Rëdl World Class Kitchens has been manufacturing handcrafted cabinetry in Saskatoon since 1987. The company also has dealer showrooms in Edmonton, Regina and Vancouver.
Designer Kelsey Fehr has worked for Rëdl for seven years and is an interior design technician by trade. She was the lead coordinator for all the custom cabinetry and millwork in the Paulson residence and has worked with both Atmosphere Interior Design and Maison Design + Build on residential projects for several years. “I think the relationship I have with Atmosphere and Maison, as well as our attention to detail, was key for the success of the cabinetry in this home,” credits Kelsey.
Rëdl’s promotion of energy and resource conservation, as part of its corporate culture, was also a good match with the homeowners’ values. With multiple entertainment units and oodles of storage throughout the home, the Rëdl team was kept very busy throughout the build. Kelsey points out the ceiling panels in the atrium that opens into the great room as a challenging, but very rewarding, part of the project. “The end result looks truly beautiful,” says Kelsey.
What is Kelsey’s favourite feature in the Paulson residence? “The ground-level media room has an integrated secret door on the side wall that leads into the audio/visual control center. That’s pretty special.”
A Culmination of Efforts
Finally, is anything left to do? There are a few places where Gail would like to hang original artwork so a trip to her favourite art gallery in Victoria, British Columbia is in the works.
Designers Curtis Elmy and Trevor Ciona sum up the whole four-year experience: “This incredible project was a luxury for us as designers, to have such a large canvas to paint on. The Paulson residence is a true testament of an exceptional partnership among Atmosphere, Maison and Redl."
Atmosphere Interior Design
109 - 123 Avenue B South, Saskatoon
Maison Design + Build
30 - 214 Joseph Okemasis Drive, Saskatoon
Rëdl World Class Kitchens
156 Jessop Avenue, Saskatoon
Photo credits D&M Images