WHO? Keith and Tracy Fortin, co-owners of Flawless Interiors Inc. (plus two teenagers, two dogs and a cat)
WHAT? 2,200-square-foot, 3 bed/3.5 bath Edmonton infill house
WHERE? Queen Alexandra, Edmonton
WHERE? Owned one year
Some families dread the words “moving” and “renovation” nearly as much as the term “taxes.” But not the Fortins of Edmonton: The family of four delights at the sight of moving trucks and contractors.
“We’ve moved more times than I can count,” says mom Tracy. “Most of our friends and family think we’re nuts. But we always get excited at the prospect of trying out a new space.”
It’s a fitting passion for Tracy and husband Keith as they also operate a design business, Flawless Interiors, out of their home. The nomadic family’s latest move was their most ambitious yet—a new-construction infill home in Edmonton’s Queen Alexandra neighbourhood.
“Residential infill” refers to the development of new housing in more established neighbourhoods—in effect, tearing down old or crumbling buildings and constructing new homes on the existing lots. Those homes may include everything from single family houses to duplexes, garage suites, apartments and mixed-use buildings. In 2014, Edmonton’s city council approved an action plan for infill development as a way to revitalize aging neighbourhoods and provide more diverse housing options to Edmontonians.
The appeal for the Fortins was instant. Having lived in various suburban abodes, they’d had their eye on a more established area for quite some time.
“The suburbs feel so disconnected now. We were missing out on those feelings we had as kids—riding your bike to the store, walking to school,” Tracy says. “Living in an infill neighbourhood, our children can enjoy all those things we did growing up.”
They could also enjoy access to great schools, shopping and restaurants, but without having to maintain and repair an older home. And new construction offers more space and better floor plans: “It’s usually tough to find good square footage and open plans in older neighbourhoods.”
The best-of-both-worlds allure has proven beneficial to the Fortin’s business as well. Flawless Interiors was established in 2008 and the couple has always operated it as a home business. As such, they need a workspace that’s as flexible as the business itself.
Their new infill home, completed in 2015, provides the perfect solution: “One of the huge appeals of this house is the private entrance to the basement suite—where we work and meet with clients,” Tracy says.
The basement office features a very spacious layout to accommodate rolling tables, piled high with architectural plans, flooring and wallpaper samples, tiles, upholstery swatches, paint palettes and all the other accoutrements of a thriving design business. “The room can get messy, so we had custom barn doors installed—to hide it all away when needed,” Keith says.
The couple carries that form-and-function design sense through the rest of the house as well. “We don’t think you should live in a model home,” he explains. “Your home should be about everyone that lives in it—what makes them feel good and what suits their needs.”
Tracy and Keith describe their style as traditional with hits of modern and vintage. As Tracy notes, “It’s impossible for us to commit to just one style when we work in this business!”
Though the house is new construction, the designing duo have added texture and cozy elements to create a warm, lived-in atmosphere. “In our work and our home, we create spaces that are livable and comfortable—but with a strong sense of style,” Keith explains.
The Fortins firmly believe that a space should speak to your personality and what brings you joy. For them, that translates to rustic wood accents, artwork crafted by local artists, pops of chartreuse and board games at the ready. “We love hosting dinner parties and playing board games, so having a large dining table with big comfy chairs is a must,” Tracy says.
After outfitting their new-build-in-an-old-neighbourhood with just the right amount of playful personality, would they recommend an infill for other Edmontonians? “Definitely! We only wish we’d done it years ago.”
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