GREAT SPACE: Lounge + Bar + Brewery + Spa = One Fabulous Basement

This article was originally published as “Basement Boîte” in CityHome 2014. For more photos of this project, visit our Facebook page.

By SARAH BROWN

Photo by Doublespace Photography

Photo by Doublespace Photography

While most of the projects that Just Basements undertakes are quite elaborate, this luxe project is in a league of its own. The homeowners, Kal and Victoria*, wanted a well-appointed lounge and bar area, a home theatre, and a spa bathroom. They also requested that a functioning brewery be integrated into the space. “Who knows if we’ll ever get to do another brewery in a basement,” says Just Basements president Norm Lecuyer. “Knowing this could be a one-off made us even more excited to make sure the room was visible. It was a real opportunity.”

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GREAT SPACE: A sleek family kitchen celebrates clean design — with a splash of colour

This article first appeared as “Code Red” in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine. Visit our Facebook page for more photos of this project.

By SARAH BROWN

 

Photo by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

“Small and large, there are 500 decisions in this kitchen,” says designer Gerhard Linse. The statement is meant to be accurate, not boastful, and serves to highlight just how many choices were made during the lengthy design process.

On the visual side, the kitchen is unfussy — pared-down and practical, with just the requisite amount of red cabinetry to punch up the cool grey and white tones that dominate. But a closer look quickly underscores the depth of thought that went into achieving the understated aesthetic. The custom cabinetry comes in three shades (antique white, pepper dust grey, and red) and two finishes (high gloss in the show areas and textured lower gloss in the high-traffic areas), while the dark toasted oak accents help to ground the room. That toasted oak is a new product, the wood heated to extreme temperatures to produce a rich dark shade. All that sleekness is tempered with fun — 12 pendant lights introduce just the right touch of bling, while a floating ceiling hides strips of LED lighting that can cast a red, blue, or green glow over the room at the touch of a button.

Photo by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

Still, this is not simply a show kitchen. It is a central hub for a busy family of five, open to the dining and living rooms as well as to a spacious backyard deck and patio. Practical features include easy-to-clean porcelain floors and stainless-steel kickplates under the counters. A textured backsplash, in shimmering tile that doubles as art, continues along the entire wall behind the stovetop.

But perhaps the most functional features are the ones that are hidden. Tucked out of sight, a well-appointed pantry and compact food preparation area conceal the

Photo by Gordon King

Photo by Gordon King

untidiness of day-to-day life. This is where the groceries get carried in and put away and the school lunches get made. And it is in this “mini-kitchen” that Linse has incorporated the tiny touches that make doing chores just a little less tedious. Here we find a well-organized recycling station, a cookbook shelf, and a high-gloss cabinetry panel that is used as a whiteboard on which to write grocery lists and busy family sports schedules. This is where the routine tasks get done in style.

Five hundred decisions, hours of sketching and consultation. The net result? A bright and cheery kitchen that is perfectly set up for its role as gathering spot and activity centre — and a room that makes mealtimes just that much more pleasurable.

Visit our Facebook page for more photos of this project.

CITYHOME 2014: Pops of colour, texture key to Hintonburg renovation

This article originally appeared in CityHome 2014 as “Material World.” Visit our Facebook page for more photos and details about featured items.

By HATTIE KLOTZ

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

When Emma Doucet, owner of Grassroots Design, first clapped eyes on the turn-of-the-century semi-detached house in Hintonburg, it was in a sorry state. The pink-grey brick house had at one time been split into a duplex. It had vinyl flooring, and the fireplace had been torn out.

But some of the original features remained, such as deep baseboards and wonderful 10-foot ceilings, as well as a bay window that allows light to flood in. “The first thing we did was lay hardwood flooring,” says Doucet. “Then we got rid of the pot lights in the living room. We wanted to update this house but to do it with integrity, respecting the era.”

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Rather than using colour on the walls — “I find high ceilings with a darker colour oppressive,” she explains — she chose to layer her decor with neutral walls, adding colour splashes and texture with accessories. “I find that good design doesn’t assault your senses,” she says, “and when you add colour through lamps and accessories, it’s easy to change it out.”

You might think that Doucet chose the blue and orange accent pillows to tie in with the painting in the dining room, “but the painting came after the fact. It belonged to the owner’s grandmother and works perfectly.” Once orange became the statement colour, Doucet and the owners opted to use it also on the wall of the basement stairwell. “Originally it was all dark grey neutrals, but this was the pop of colour it needed.” Doucet then carried the blue from the ground floor down to the lower level to tie the whole house together.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

CITYHOME 2014: Industrial designers Ian Murchison & Rohan Thakar reveal their current obsessions

This article originally appeared in CityHome 2014.

By PATRICK LANGSTON

Rohan Thakar and Ian Murchison of The Federal Inc. Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio.

Rohan Thakar and Ian Murchison of The Federal Inc. Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio.

Designers too often over-complicate products by piling on features, says Ian Murchison, co-founder, with Rohan Thakar, of the start-up industrial design firm The Federal Inc. Hence the sleek functionality and buoyant good looks of the colourful Loop, The Federal’s rubber-based bike stand (it was a chance to use materials in a new way, says Thakar) that’s coming soon, we hope, to a street near you. Ditto the Xero Golf Towel with its waterproof smartphone pocket, absorbent towel for wiping sweaty hands or brows, and scrub pad for cleaning golf-club heads and balls.

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REASON TO LOVE OTTAWA: Because a biodome in Brewer Park is extending our growing season

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

By  MATT HARRISON

Volunteer Marcel Bélanger tends the gardens in the biodome, which is located in Old Ottawa South. Photo by Luther Caverly.

Volunteer Marcel Bélanger tends the gardens in the biodome, which is located in Old Ottawa South. Photo by Luther Caverly.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants more greenhouses in the North — he announced that during his annual summer trip to the Arctic — in order to provide northern communities with fresh, affordable produce. Around the same time, volunteers were hard at work on a geodesic dome in Brewer Park in Old Ottawa South.

The biodome, which is the size of a large play structure, will soon grow food year-round, explains project leader Michael Oster.

Costing about $48,000, most of which came from a City of Ottawa grant, the dome isn’t just a unique greenhouse. Rather, it’s a domed ecosystem, the first of its kind in eastern Canada.

Plans for the biodome include an aquaponics system that will use waste water from a fish tank to water the plants. Solar panels will reduce dependency on energy, while a web of pipes under the floor will circulate heat, moderate temperatures, and prevent frost heave. Gardeners practise companion planting, choosing varieties that help one another by warding off insects or providing nutrients.

“[The dome] shows families and communities that this can be done and should be done,” Oster says, adding that biodomes have many advantages over conventional greenhouses. But the dome is not intended to replace a trip to the grocery store. Rather, as a plaque beside it reads, it is designed to “teach, learn, and inspire.” It is a showcase for what’s possible — even in the Arctic.

CITYHOME 2014: Cheerful Hintonburg home boasts bright pops of colour

This article originally appeared as “Orange Crush” in CityHome 2014.

By SARAH BROWN

The family is fearless when it comes to colour, but countered the intensity of the yellow cabinetry with warm walnut accents. Photography by PhotoluxStudio.com - Christian Lalonde

The family is fearless when it comes to colour, but countered the intensity of the yellow cabinetry with warm walnut accents. Photography by PhotoluxStudio.com – Christian Lalonde

The homeowners, physician Jolanda Turley and professor Robert Stacey, were dedicated to living close to downtown in a neighbourhood that would allow them to bike virtually everywhere. They were also committed to designing a lively house in which they could experiment with colour and have fun as they raised their two young sons. And so the couple teamed up with designer Paul Kariouk to envisage a vibrant home on a modest lot in Hintonburg.

The Dutch heritage of homeowner Jolanda Turley inspired the cheery orange on the exterior. The family wanted their home to be bright both on the outside and within. Photography by PhotoluxStudio.com - Christian Lalonde

The Dutch heritage of homeowner Jolanda Turley inspired the cheery orange on the exterior. The family wanted their home to be bright both on the outside and within. Photography by PhotoluxStudio.com – Christian Lalonde

“This couple is fearless,” enthuses Kariouk as he discusses their modernist orange-clad dwelling. “It will only get more colourful as the family inhabits the space and makes it their own.” (The completion of the house in the spring of 2013 coincided with a one-year sabbatical in Europe for the family, so a lucky renter has enjoyed it this past year.)

Because the lot is just 30 feet wide, Kariouk knew he would have to design a long, slim house. Neighbouring houses on both sides are very close, so the placement of windows was restricted. “The challenge was to make a long, potentially dark space into a light, bright one,” says Kariouk.

This wall, which separates the kitchen and living room areas from the master bedroom and study, will likely be repainted in another lively hue once the family moves in. Photography by PhotoluxStudio.com - Christian Lalonde

This wall, which separates the kitchen and living room areas from the master bedroom and study, will likely be repainted in another lively hue once the family moves in. Photography by PhotoluxStudio.com – Christian Lalonde

At the front of the house, expansive accordion windows on the main and lower levels allow light and breezes to flow through, while the back wall boasts slightly smaller windows. In the centre, generous skylights let the daylight spill through to illuminate the heart of the home. And then there is the colour — the joyful orange exterior gives way to hits of vibrant yellow within. “The family wanted the house to be bright, both outside and in,” explains Kariouk. “They’re already planning for more colour.”

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CITYHOME 2014: Kyle Megill’s H-Chair — a study in lighting, headspace & movement

This article originally appeared in CityHome 2014.

By FATEEMA SAYANI

The H-Chair started as a university research project focused on customizing the dining environment without touching the surrounding space. The final version resembles a pop-up singular mini booth with a light strip embedded in the headpiece to provide both enclosure and illumination. “I wanted to re-evaluate what the dining chair is,” says Kyle Megill. “It seems to be at this standstill in that it serves the function enough and it’s factory-produced in a way that’s cost-effective.”

Photo by John Kealey

Photo by John Kealey

 

The Project: The idea was to incorporate features that normal dining chairs don’t have, such as lighting. The H stands for headspace, acknowledging the arched headpiece that’s designed to block out surrounding noise. The angle of the light is such that it doesn’t bounce off the plate.

The Look: A 53-inch-high back gives the chair a sleek sensibility, while its armless design imparts airiness, despite the top-heavy canopy. The ergonomic design of the lower back was inspired by Knoll’s Generation task chair and accounts for our various movements while dining: slouching after a meal, say, or sitting up and speaking animatedly.

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OFFICE CRUSH: The wondrous boardroom at Verval Ltée

This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine as part of a series of three colourful workspaces in Ottawa.

By SARAH BROWN

Photo by Christian Lalonde - PhotoluxStudio.com

The colour of the backlit walls and ceiling can be changed with the push of a button for a quick atmosphere shift. Not surprisingly, more than a few intimate parties have been held here. Photo by Christian Lalonde – PhotoluxStudio.com

“When you’re in this room, you experience a combination of space travel and time travel,” says Verval president Charles Armand Turpin as he shows off the wild boardroom he co-designed with Paul Kariouk of Kariouk Associates. “You don’t feel the time pass.”

With a few clicks of his control, the backlit walls and ceiling glow vibrant yellow. Another click, and yellow is replaced with lively red, followed quickly by soft daylight. For this interview, the full-wall screen in front of the boardroom table glows with a soothing nature scene.

The beauty of this room is that it can go from conventional to madcap, calm to chaotic, in the space of minutes. In other words, the boardroom morphs to suit the needs and moods of staff. Suddenly, says Turpin, “we don’t feel like we’re sitting down to work. We’re sitting down to have fun. It’s wondrous.”

Photo by Christian Lalonde - PhotoluxStudio.com

The massive screen can be used for work purposes or as artwork that can set the tone for a meeting. Photo by Christian Lalonde – PhotoluxStudio.com

 

Verval Ltée

Type of business: Building envelopes (exterior glass systems for large buildings)

Number of employees: 15 at the office, with 120-plus at other sites

Square footage: 500

Designer: Kariouk Associates

Cost: About $500,000

Timeline: June 2013–June 2014

What was the impetus for change?
The building was designed in 1974, so the boardroom was retro — so retro that it was almost back in style again.

What are the key elements of the new look?
Obviously the backlit walls and ceiling are the first things you notice. There is something like eight kilometres of wiring with LED lights under this rubbery membrane. I can go for natural, playful, or crazy with the push of a button. The boardroom table, which I designed with Paul [Kariouk], is the centrepiece. It’s curved and flowing. You can position yourself around it in different ways, depending on how many people are meeting and what you’re working on. The smaller table can be used as a coffee table or raised so that it fits with the main boardroom table.

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OFFICE CRUSH: Futuristic workspace of MD Physician Services emerges from ashes

This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine as part of a series of three colourful workspaces in Ottawa.

BY SARAH BROWN

DSC_0648

Photo by Tim Lau

When a small fire led to extensive smoke damage in MD Physician Services’ six-storey office, president and CEO Brian Peters and his team decided to view the setback as an opportunity to redesign and retool for the next decade. Project Phoenix was born. The dramatic cosmetic changes steal the limelight, but Peters is proudest of how the new office works — state-of-the-art communications tools, flexible workstations, and diverse meeting spaces make for a happier and more motivated workforce.

The design team, 4té, that led Project Phoenix used one wall within the building to celebrate the renovation. Here, an artful array of words and sentence fragments highlights the ideas that drove the design. Four key words at the end sum it up perfectly: Small Fire. Lasting Legacy.

By the Numbers…

MD Physician Services

Type of business: Financial management and investment services for Canadian physicians

Number of employees: 600

Square footage: 120,000 on six floors

Design: 4té

Cost: A few million, some of it paid by insurance

Timeline: January 2013–February 2014

DSC_1057

Photo by Tim Lau

What was the impetus for change?
On January 3, 2013, there was a fire on the ground floor. There was a lot of smoke damage. Since everyone was out of the building for the foreseeable future anyway, we thought why not take the opportunity to completely redo the space and retool for the next decade. Project Phoenix was born.

What are the key elements of the new look?
The designers at 4té took us to visit a number of other office spaces as inspiration. We wanted to be modern and functional. The design process was quite collaborative. We had three big meetings at the Hampton Inn over the course of the design so that everyone in the company could see where we were going and vote on their favourite options.

How does the redesign match your company philosophy?
It matches the way we want to be. Financial services can be a very conservative sector, but we feel that we pushed the envelope a bit with this design. I think it helps us retain forward-thinking people.

Does this workspace make employees more productive?
Definitely. If you’re happy, you’re going to be more productive. This space is much more interactive than the old office. You talk to people more; you’re more focused. The combination of the design and all the systems now in place make everyone feel more connected.

Which room has given you the most bang for the buck?
All the spaces get well used, but if I was going to point to one specific room, I’d have to say the Phoenix Bistro. Before the reno, it was a boring high-school-style cafeteria, but it had the makings of a great space.

How do you justify such a big investment?
This renovation has changed the very dynamics around here. We’re already looking at how we can take the lessons we learned here and transfer them to the other offices around the country.

Click on the thumbnails for a virtual tour of the MD Physician Services office:

All photos by Tim Lau

GREAT SPACE: Luxury living at the SoHo Metropolitan Residences