From 2010-2012, I owned a tiny (492 sq.ft) apartment in the historic Anderson Estates building just 1 block off Calgary’s ‘red mile’ (17th Ave SW). The exterior of this building had me at hello:
And the common areas were more like a grand hotel than an apartment building, featuring Calgary’s oldest working birdcage elevator (not so fun when your arms are full of groceries, but still…) and an elegant marble staircase worn by more than a 100 years of footfalls.
However, on first seeing one of the two individual apartments for sale — I all but ruled it out because of its small size. But realtors know what they’re doing. After showing me an apartment on the ‘dark side’, we walked to the other end of the hall and looked at a corner suite.(Right 4th floor corner above.) And while we walked, the agent just happened to mention that the building was used from time to time as a set for music videos and and indie films. With 10 ft ceilings, huge windows, light streaming in from three sides, and my heart set on bumping into a film crew, perhaps in the elevator — #309 became my tiny T-shaped home.
So, if you’ve already had a look at my latest project (Shotgun Renovation) you know how I love to buy something and then change things up, sometimes drastically. This small space was the exception in that I made only a couple little changes. For starters, I removed a 4 in. picture rail that cut the livingroom walls in half and made actual picture hanging and furniture arranging almost impossible. (For some, this is a controversial move, removing an original character element, but if it makes you feel better — I salvaged a piece, which my brother used as the base for a row of coat hooks in the narrow front hall.)
These two shots were pulled from the Anderson Estates photo gallery and show you how all the apartments were finished with that wood trim. (The adorable little built-in cabinet has a pass-through underneath to the kitchen!)
So, here’s my finished take on the livingroom:
Using soft greys and teals, I maintained a monochromatic color scheme throughout with filmy linen curtains from Ikea and a Crate & Barrel sectional which just barely fit in the birdcage elevator! The teal shag rug I had cut from a roll of carpet.
My other little change to the living-room was the addition of a floor-to-ceiling wall of cabinets. With a depth of only 14 in., this shelving added tons of needed storage without taking up too much precious floor space. The lower cabinet doors mimicked existing built-ins and I painted the unit the same as the walls to help it look like it belonged! (Unfortunately, the TV is on in this photo. What can I say? I wish it wasn’t.)
The bathroom remained exactly as is because who would want to mess with that original clawfoot and retro tile? (Blue bath mat from Restoration Hardware.) I liked to refer to the bathroom’s upper level as ‘upstairs’!
This bedroom was one of the coziest I’ve had. Something about being perched up there on the corner of the 4th floor with views from two sides — made is seem quite ‘nesty’. Plus, my old ‘Begbie Bed'(see ‘Shotgun Renovation’ for the back story) was right at home in this 100-year-old bedroom.
But while I was super happy in my cozy little apartment, none of this made the building particularly famous. That happened after I left, which is the biggest major bummer. Perhaps, if you’re a fan of FX, you’ve already figured it out? Here are a couple of clues provided by a Gus Grimly (hint) fan and instagrammer. The top shots show the building in its uncelebrated state (wood trim and all, haha), and the bottom shots as seen in the series!
You got it — it’s the FX hit, Fargo, something NPR just described in their yearly round-up as a ‘marvel of modern television’. That’s right, I left 2 years too soon and missed my chance to bump into Colin Hanks (meh)…but the Coen brothers? Are you kidding me? Only time I’ve had a touch of seller’s remorse.