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A KITCHEN WE LOVE: Sunny redesign combines art + function

This post is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in Ottawa Magazine Interiors 2014

Photography by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

The homeowner, a geologist by training, chose a granite countertop with a dynamic pattern. Photo by Gordon King

When Paul Denys was called in to consult with Barbara Steele of Place ID on this project, he was met with a somewhat tired kitchen that hailed from the 1980s. Housed in an addition to a 100-year-old home, the room had been closed off from the rest of the house before walls were removed in the 1990s to open up the space. But even as part of the main house, the kitchen, which had just one 2-by-3-foot window over the sink, seemed dreary.

The owner of Denys Builds Designs worked with Steele to design a brighter space, proposing a pantry that would emit light throughout the day courtesy of innovative Solatube lights. In this modest space, the pantry is ingeniously designed, with synchronized sliding pocket doors (slide one, and the other automatically glides open at the same time) and row upon row of shelving. Those stained-glass doors act as an art piece while, at the same time, concealing any clutter and allowing light to flow through to the main room.

Another efficient element is the recessed shelf housed in the bank of cabinets beside the island. Not only does it boast electrical outlets, but the white shelf slides out to allow the owners to work in the open. The rich bookmatched black walnut cabinetry was paired with granite counters, the dynamic pattern chosen by the homeowner, a geologist by training. It all makes for a kitchen that radiates both warmth and whimsy.


Black walnut cabinetry houses appliances. Photo by Gordon King

The Details
Design: Barbara Steele of Place Id and Paul Denys of Denys Builds Designs
Contractor: Paul Denys of Denys Builds Designs
Appliances: Dishwasher, refrigerator, oven all by Miele
Cabinetry: Bookmatched black walnut
by John and Mike McKinlay-Key of
The Woodturner Inc.
Cooktop: Induction, Miele
Counters: Alpinus granite, The Granite Shop
Faucet: Satin Nickel, Kindred KFPOS150 tap set from Mondeau Bathroom & Kitchen
Flooring: Barwood Flooring
Glass doors: Black walnut custom frame by The Woodturner; stained glass by SGO Designer Glass
Hood: Europa series from Zephyr
Sink: Kindred KCS33/10-10A sink, from Mondeau Bathroom & Kitchen
Solar tubes: Solatube, from Cardy Vacuum
Windows: “Designer Series” by Pella

All photos by Gordon King

HOMES: Casual Elegance in Lowertown

This post is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in Ottawa Magazine Interiors 2014

Photography by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King.

The light-filled kitchen boasts many pretty details, including the dramatic black chandelier and the decorative glass cabinetry. Photo by Gordon King.

It was an 1880s house with a 1980s kitchen. Something needed to be done.

The owners of this Lowertown house bought in 2004, lovingly restoring their home room by room over the next ten years until only the kitchen was left. That’s when they called Kristen Armstrong of Pillar Interior Design.

Photo by Gordon King

The soft grey-and-white pallette and traditional cabinetry are in keeping with the age of the house. Photo by Gordon King

“They knew they wanted a classic look, one that was elegant and would respect the age of the home,” says Armstrong, who worked with the couple to design a chef’s kitchen with a European sensibility.

Today, the light-filled room — with its herringbone floors, subway-tiled walls, and cozy corner banquette — encourages lounging and perhaps imagining that you’re enjoying that espresso in a sunny Parisian bistro, which is exactly what the owners might be doing right now. Just days after they finalized their reno plans in the spring of 2013, the couple, who both work for Foreign Affairs, learned they were being posted to Paris for four years.

Photo by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

“They couldn’t believe it,” says Armstrong. Still, the time crunch actually made everyone more focused, forcing them to be quick on the big decisions (such as choosing the soft grey-and-white palette and raising the windows to allow for counters along the outside wall) as well as the small (signing off on such pretty details as the dramatic black chandelier and decorative glass cabinetry). And though the couple has never set foot in their kitchen (a lucky renter is enjoying it), the pictures are worth a thousand words.

The Details

Photo by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

Design: Kristen Armstrong, Pillar Interior Design

Contractor: John Eckland

Appliances: KitchenAid, DirectBuy

Backsplash (main): Porcelain tile, The Tile Center

Backsplash (border around accent): Marble Listello, Euro Tile & Stone

Backsplash (accent): Porcelain and glass tile, The Tile Shoppe (Concord, Ontario)

Cabinetry (main and island): Cabico, DirectBuy

Chandelier: Nuevo, DirectBuy

Counter (main and island): Granite – Bianco Antico, Urban Quarry, DirectBuy

Photo by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

Cabinetry hardware (pulls): Top Knobs, DirectBuy

Cabinetry hardware (crystal knobs): Amerock, DirectBuy

Cushions: HomeSense

Faucet (main): Blanco, DirectBuy

Faucet (bar): Moen, DirectBuy

Flooring: Porcelain tile, Euro Tile & Stone

Hood: Cyclone, DirectBuy

Pendant lights: Elk Lighting, DirectBuy

Sink (main and bar sink): Kindred, DirectBuy

Wine fridge: Cavavin, Sears


GREAT SPACE: 3 condos, 2 local designers, 1 amazing view


Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

As Yvonne Potter tells it, the call for this dream commission came out of the blue on a February day in 2011. A pair of homeowners, with three children, were ready to swap their 6,500-square-foot waterfront property for a more manageable 3,300-square-foot penthouse condo in the city. Would collaborators Yvonne Potter (of Yvonne Potter Interior Design) and Karyn Watson (of Karyn Watson Design) be interested in helping them combine three condos into one, customizing the look every step of the way? Of course!

The setting for this two-year project was the top storey of Domicile Development’s One3One condo in Hintonburg. Construction on the building had not yet begun, and the owners were keen to buy three of the six units to be built on the eighth floor, turning them into one sunny apartment with room to sprawl (and host the couple’s children when they came to visit). Potter and Watson began by looking at the big picture — the volume of the space, the light, and how the rooms would interrelate — before moving on to the details. Over the next two years, they would re-envision the entire condo from floor to ceiling, working closely with the owners to customize every aspect.

Read the rest of this story »

COMING UP: 12 Architects on Architecture showcases award-winning buildings from across the country

For the first time, the winners of the 2014 Governor General’s Medals in Architecture will give a free public lecture in Ottawa. On Monday, May 12, architects — and design aficionados — will gather at the  National Gallery of Canada auditorium in a dynamic series of talks called 12 Architects on Architecture.

This new public event sees each speaker take to the podium for five minutes to talk and show images of their winning project. 

From a stage that evokes chainmail to a famous gas station designed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, the winning projects are sure to generate fresh ideas about current design trends. The winning projects include a university building complex, a city hall, a community centre, an outdoor stage, and two libraries.

This first-time event is a partnership between the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Carleton University Forum Lecture Series, the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the National Gallery of Canada.

Monday, May 12. 6-8 p.m. National Gallery of Canada auditorium, 380 Sussex Dr.

Click on the thumbnails below for a look at this year’s winning projects.

GREAT SPACE: A Glebe reno creates a welcoming family space


This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.


Great Space: The street view shows how the architects played with white (brick) and black (metal) to differ-entiate the old and new sections of this house in the Glebe (Photo: Doublespace Photography)

Thoughtful Contemporary Design for this Glebe Reno
Stand across the street and admire the boldness — and the subtlety — of the facade. Notice how the original brick section of the house is differentiated from the newer top storey through the confident pairing of white and black. More discreet is the shift in geometry between the sections, the metal cube angled just so. Designed by Toronto architects Andrew and Jodi Batay-Csorba, this sophisticated envelope houses a welcoming interior space designed with family in mind.

Ideas from a Different Architectural Climate
The owners, Chad and Lindsay Wilson, were old pros, having previously overseen renovations of three houses in the Glebe and Centretown. This most recent showstopper, though, was far beyond anything they had ever undertaken. In 2010, the couple, who have two small children, purchased the Victorian brick on a quiet dead-end street. “We knew we wanted to be back in the Glebe, and there are so many kids on this street,” says Lindsay. “It was perfect.” What happened next was an exciting collaboration with the Batay-Csorba design duo, who had recently returned to Canada from a seven-year sojourn in Los Angeles.

Cool and Warm Vibes Play Off Each Other
Construction began in 2011 and took place in two stages, with the interior completed in 2012 (when the family moved in) and the exterior finished in 2013. While the exterior gives off a cool vibe, the interior is all about warmth. An open-concept kitchen, living room, and sitting room on the main floor form the heart of the home, the kitchen beautifully delineated by a warm wood ceiling. A skylight runs through the centre of the house, linking the kitchen visually to the family room upstairs and, on the third floor, the master bedroom. It also serves to bring in much-needed light.

Top Floor Sanctuary
The third storey, home to the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, has a spa-like sensibility, the blond floors of the bedroom giving way seamlessly to the wood-grained ceramic tiles of the luxurious ensuite with bath and double shower. Completing the spa motif is a walkout wood-panelled terrace, walled for privacy and with a modest balcony overlooking the backyard. It’s an ingenious way to link indoors with outdoors and a design solution that could well catch on in central neighbourhoods with little room for a traditional porch.

INTERIORS 2014: Keeping it Surreal with Diane Woodward

This is an excerpt that originally appeared in Ottawa Magazine Interiors 2014. See more of Woodward’s dazzling art at The Urban Pear, where her exhibit Easter Egg Hunt is on view until April 20.



These three-foot-long ferocious-looking fish swim through Woodward’s studio in her Madoc home. (Photo: Rémi Thériault)

It’s hard to imagine indefatigable artist Diane Woodward leaving this world of ours. But, she says, “When I’m sick and old, I wanna see colour when I go out. I want someone to paint a room red.” In another sense, though, leaving this world — at least temporarily — is what Woodward is all about.

Let go of the white, the beige, the grey. Leave behind the vacuous and the plain. Bring on the nail-biting reds, the smiley yellows, the preposterous purples, the swirly spirals, the eye-popping checks, and the dizzying waves (and these are simply the backdrops in Woodward’s paintings). Because you mustn’t overlook — impossible to — the subjects of her work — the frogs, parrots, elephants, tigers, giraffes, and kangaroos. Generously represented are Woodward’s favourites, the zebras: she has been painting these since 1982. Oh, and the gentle lambs. They showed up in her art 28 years later. “I’ve never liked anything ‘cute,’ ” Woodward says, “But the little lambs are, and it’s true and good. When they are four days old discovering how to hop — that’s more beautiful than anything I could make.”

Walk into Woodward’s house in Madoc, 2½ hours southwest of Ottawa, and you’re bowled over, simply bombarded, by all that you see. Almost every square inch of the walls, floors, and ceilings is plastered with cacophonic patterns, leaping animals, and in-your-face portraits. Even the itty-bitty travel alarm clock by her bed has been painted with a yellow and magenta sunburst. Are you hallucinating? Is this an acid flashback? No. Rather, welcome to the world of Diane Woodward. Her decor motto: More Is Not Enough

Wander through the unusual and animated home of Diane Woodward for a glimpse of jungle animals reminiscent of post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau, illusionistic op-art prints that echo Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely, and intricate works that recall classical Indian painting.


INTERIORS 2014: Artist Jennifer Stead meditates on water at the François Dupuis Recreation Centre

This post is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in Ottawa Magazine Interiors 2014



Jennifer Stead at the François Dupuis Recreation Centre (Photo: Justin van Leeuwen)

Midway along Jennifer Stead’s 160-foot water-themed sculpture, there’s an image of a boat. It’s a stylized vessel that sidesteps your efforts to determine what kind of boat it is or, depending on how long you look at it, whether it’s even a boat at all. That’s exactly what the Ottawa artist says she intended. “I wanted it as an image that wasn’t a canoe or a rowboat or anything in particular but would take you into the imaginative experience of this watery world.”

That it does. Walk along the charcoal-grey metal sculpture — called Water, it hangs down over the floor-to-ceiling windows that separate the swimming pools at the François Dupuis Recreation Centre from the rest of the building — and you’re swept away by the fish and eddies and lily pads and raindrops.

Take a virtual tour of the sculpture — and the snazzy new facility — in this gallery of photos from doublespace photography.


INTERIORS 2014: Ross Nicholson lights up the University of Ottawa



The Faculty of Social Sciences building at the University of Ottawa had to have lighting designed for after dark, which is when many students finally get down to studying (Photo: Doublespace Photography)

Light Fantastic

Next time you’re in the podium of the University of Ottawa’s splendid new Faculty of Social Sciences building, check out the wood panelling beside the six-storey living wall. It’s subtle, but the wood is lit in a mottled fashion that echoes the natural variations in the greenery near it. A gobo — a specialized lighting device — creates the mottling, and Ross Nicholson gets a bang out of the result.

Read the rest of this story »

INTERIORS 2014: 6 Things We Love in Ottawa


The Ottawa Chair: Designed by Karim Rashid for Denmark-based company BoConcept

Six Things We Love in Ottawa: this excerpt is taken from our Ottawa Magazine Interiors 2014 issue. Before getting to the main feature in the book — a look at five dazzling designs with river views, as the cover so aptly describes — we take a quick peek at some of the things that make us love Ottawa.

Start our slideshow of 6 Things We Love in Ottawa from Interiors 2014»