Articles Tagged ‘design’

URBAN STUDY: Inside the Flora Street home of Patrick Hajas and Erin Silsbe

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city.
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods


She works in environmental policy; his green principles include seeing no reason to have a licence or drive a car. They both appreciate good design. And so it seemed

Photo by Christian Lalonde -

Photo by Christian Lalonde –

as if it was meant to be when, in 2010, Erin Silsbe, the new owner of a home in Centretown, wandered into Alteriors furniture store looking for a couch. Patrick Hajas (who has since launched his own furniture business) sold her a sectional sofa for her living room. “And then we bonded over House & Home and Dwell magazines,” says Erin, with a laugh. Four years later, the committed urban residents are raising their two children in a house they have renovated to include huge patio doors that open out onto a backyard deck. Patrick calls it a “great indoor-outdoor space,” one that they use to the max in the summer months.

Names: Erin Silsbe and Patrick Hajas (plus Madeleine, 2, and William, 4 months)

Occupations: Erin is a policy analyst with Environment Canada; Patrick owns furniture store A Modern Space in Hintonburg

Home: 1,700-square-foot brick single, circa 1919

Neighbourhood: Centretown

Previous home: Patrick grew up on a 50-acre farm in southern Ontario but got to know downtown Ottawa as a Sandy Hill resident while studying at Algonquin College. Erin grew up in the Broadview Avenue area, then lived and worked in Calgary; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto before returning to Ottawa in 2010.

On living downtown…

Patrick: People have a lot of misconceptions about what it’s really like to live downtown.
Don’t be scared.

What drew you to this neighbourhood?

Erin: I knew I wanted to be downtown — I wanted to create as small an environmental footprint as possible. It was critical to me that I be able to walk just about everywhere.

Patrick: Erin and I met after she had bought the house. So I lucked into the neighbourhood.

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INTERIORS 2014: River views inspire dazzling designs


When managing editor Sarah Brown proposed the theme of the 2014 Interiors issue, I was once again amazed at the rich architectural landscape of this city. The city’s explosion of bold, yet thoughtful, residential design provided us the opportunity to curate a collection of houses that easily fit the riverside theme.

The theme quickly revealed a few trends. Many homeowners love the modern look but wanted a house that spoke to the surroundings. Enter post-and-beam construction, which allows for open-concept kitchens and works well with neutral decor palettes. I love how, from afar, the Manotick home of Sebastien Marineau looks like a cluster of rural outbuildings. Inside, it’s warm, welcoming, and a luxurious place to come home to. Marc Gingras and Natalie Sawaya took a different route: the topography of their undeveloped property meant their house could be built to ensure awe-inspiring views.

One thing remains constant in these water-inspired homes, and that is the interplay between outside and inside. A pool is set into the bedrock and features clear fencing to keep the eyes on the prize-winning forested backdrop. Extensive glazing lets homeowners appreciate their surroundings even in winter. Barn- board reclaims the landscape by countering the modern aspects of the house and tying it back to the landscape, in this way honouring the surroundings.

I would even venture to say that the feeling of river travel — the sometimes peaceful, at other times stimulating experience that reveals something new at every turn — is reflected in this issue. For example, we learned of the Cumberland home of Anda Bruinsma and Barry Turner after visiting the home of Gosse Bruinsma, Anda’s brother. Gosse and his partner, Michele Carini, lovingly restored a heritage home in New Edinburgh — on the banks of the Rideau River, no less — and thus bring a different style of architecture to this issue. Serendipitous, indeed.

I’ve often marvelled at the fact that, while Ottawa has many parks and pathways situated near water, relatively few public gathering spaces take advantage of river views, sunset reflections, and the embracing spiritedness that comes with socializing by the water. But institutions are starting to see the value in inspired public spaces — “Building a More Beautiful City” spotlights three recent projects. Perhaps it’s time city planners took a cue from residential architects. How I would love a space to chat fireside about a new project or be moved by the musings of a celebrated speaker while taking in waterfront views.

Dayanti Karunaratne, Editor

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A HOUSE WE LOVE: A modern, light-filled house in Hintonburg — described by its owners as a living lab

An architect couple envisage their new house as a work-in-progress — a living lab whose elements can be modified gradually as their family changes and new ideas present themselves. This story originally appeared in Ottawa Magazine’s 2013 Interiors edition. Order your copy here.

By Barbara Sibbald; Photography Christian Lalonde,

Despite the narrow width of the house, light floods into the living, dining, and kitchen areas, reflecting off the white walls and concreate floors to lend a feeling of spaciousness. Touches of wood, including the raw wood stairs down to the sunken living room, add warmth and comfort. Photography by Christian Lalonde,

Why would anyone buy a thrown-together workman’s shack dating from 1903 and then set about making it their home? The Bayswater Avenue property was literally and figuratively the low point on the street, with the back alley a gathering place for all the runoff every spring and the house the victim of many haphazard renos.

Yet architects Emmanuelle van Rutten and Mohammed al Riffai looked beyond the negatives and saw a charming little cottage set back from the rest of the houses and with a giant maple in the front courtyard. Amid the brick houses along this Hintonburg street, it was decidedly the black sheep — and it stole their hearts.

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GREEN DESIGN: A green builder guts his own home as a passion project, yielding spectacular results

By Tony Palermo; Photography by Christian Lalonde – Photolux Studio

A self-confessed “green geek,” Scott Demark has an extreme passion for green building — specifically Passive House. He’s also a partner with BuildGreen Solutions, where one of his specialties is dramatically reducing carbon footprints. In late 2010, Demark decided to put his ideals to the test, announcing that he and his family planned to purchase an energy- and water-guzzling 1920s house on Third Avenue in the Glebe. The goal: to turn it into a 2,000-square-foot model of sustainability. To do so, Demark set out to incorporate two of the most ambitious sustainability strategies in the world — Passive House and the One Planet Communities program. After several construction delays and a disastrous fire toward the end of the project, Demark and his family finally moved in at the end of last year.

The open-concept living and dining room features a south-facing folding glass wall that opens up to a terrace overlooking the street. The folding wall allows for a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor living spaces — when weather permits. Among the many green features in the kitchen: custom concrete counters with embedded recycled glass, remilled pine over the island, and energy-efficient appliances. Photography by Christian Lalonde - Photolux Studio.

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A HOUSE WE LOVE: A modernist gem in Hintonburg

A lot that was just 23 feet seven inches wide demanded a very innovative house design. Photography by Peter Fritz.

Luminous Modernism: A couple designs and builds a streamlined house on a very slim lot in Hintonburg

This house is one of five innovative modern designs featured in the 2012 Interiors edition. See more photographs and read the full story in the print edition.

Lee-Ann Zanelli still laughs when she recalls her first drive-by past the lot that would eventually become the site for their modernist gem of a house. Her husband, Rick Shean, had called her at work to tell her he had found the perfect lot in Hintonburg.

“We drove over, and Rick points out what was basically a driveway,” says Lee-Ann. “I just looked at him and said, ‘Are you kidding me? There’s no way!’” The parcel of land, severed from the lot belonging to the neighbouring house, was a mere 23 feet seven inches wide.

Not a lot of space to squeeze a house into — especially when you figure in space between the neighbours on either side.

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HOMES: A New Edinburgh gem throws open its doors for a historic house tour

A fine old New Edinburgh house throws open its doors on June 11 to help mark two historic anniversaries in Ottawa history

Front hall and living area of Henrietta Southam's New Edinburgh house

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February 2011 Interiors Issue on Newsstands February 6

• The INTERIORS issue

• Who’s got buzz?

• Fine art photographers in the spotlight

• Inspired local homes

• Fab kitchen and bathroom ideas

• Glam New Edinburgh gardens

See the editor’s letter and a full table of contents below.

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GREAT SPACE: Sneak Peek from the Glebe House Tour on September 19

The moment Maureen Coates stepped through the door, she knew it was a house she would love to live in, despite the need for a top-to-bottom modernization

Great Spaces: Maureen Coates' modernized Arts and Crafts home in the Glebe

Photographs: Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

While Maureen Coates has brought the house into the 21st century, it retains much of its Arts and Crafts feel, including new windows with a traditional design of three panes above and a single one below. The house is now bright, clean, and singing with style. High on her list of things to do was a coffered ceiling in the living and dining rooms to replace the original stucco with swirling designs through it. “I kept thinking that I wasn’t going to be happy if I left the ceilings as they were,” she says, “and I really wanted a wow factor in these rooms.” So she had six-by-eight-inch coffers with simple mouldings installed. Then she looked at the original wood trim in its mid-brown tone and realized it wasn’t working for her either. “So I stripped, sanded, and primed all the mouldings myself,” she says, “and it took five weeks!” Then she painted it all White Dove by Benjamin Moore.

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5 Great Kitchens and Where to Get Them

Ottawa Magazine visits five diverse kitchens to bring back the goods on where the homeowners got their great ideas and where they found the expertise and products to make everything come together

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On Top of the World: a rooftop oasis on a loft townhouse

Spectacular sunsets are the bonus feature of this 950-square-foot outdoor room that sits on top of a Petrino Lofts townhouse near Carlingwood

(Photography by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio)

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