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The Genesis of a Condo… The Seed

There is a lovely plot of land in Ottawa, and Anglican Church services have been held there since 1833. Where there was once a 50 x 30′ rudimentary church structure, there is now the gracious English Gothic stone house of worship,  Christ Church Cathedral. This designated Ontario heritage property sits on the bluffs at the edge of the Ottawa River.Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.50.06 AMOver time, land was purchased from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa by Windmill Developments  and in 2012, construction work began on Cathedral Hill, our new home.

We bought our unit on spec in Sept 2011. The location of the proposed condo and the fact that the developer, architect and builder were striving for LEED Platinum certification, was extrememly appealing to us, but I knew I was going to be super anal about the floor plan. I inspected all of them, knowing immediately which ones were not suitable for us. I narrowed down our choice to one floor plan and one floor plan only…The Grande Portage.  I made a refundable deposit on two units, finally receiving notice that the unit on the 15th floor could be ours.

Yes, we wanted that unit, but not without making a few significant floor plan changes in order to enhance OUR vision of OUR perfect condo space and without breaking the bank.

Below, the original Grande Portage floor plan.

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…and my structural and custom change requests noted in red, on the floor plan below.

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1. With the removal of the sliding doors, the rinky dinky ‘den’ is going to become a larger entrance with a library wall and gallery wall…super sexy and functional with huge entrance impact.

2. The kitchen island is extended to 10′, the cooktop is now positioned on the island, the sink has been moved down the counter, the island cabinetry is almost flush with the counter width at the opening of the kitchen, and there is only room for 4 counter stools at the other end of the counter, which is where we will have most of our meals.

3. A 9’W, floor to ceiling cherry panelled fireplace wall is centred on the long wall with a contemporary 7′ electric fireplace recessed into the panelled wall.

4. Because I have a huge pet peeve about traffic flow and ease of movement, I have switched the position of the LR /DR. The bigger space closer to the kitchen is now for seating and the smaller space at the end is for less often used dining. I did this for several reasons, not least of which was that we will have full vantage of the fireplace and the view when seated or dining.

5.  There are now only two, instead of three bathrooms to clean…yeeehaw!….and we now have a proper laundry ROOM instead of a laundry closet. I air dry most of our clothing and will be using this room for that purpose.

6. I now have for the first time in my life…a WALK-IN CLOSET. I’m so so so excited, that I actually bought a girly-blingy pendant light fixture to hang in there.

….all of my structural requests as seen on a quick drawing by the architect.


….and finally, looking the worse for wear, my copy of the floor plan showing my structural changes. Over time, there were other changes, made by the builder, mostly to the configuration of the Master Bath, that actually worked in my favour.


Once I had the final floor plan, I was able to translate the measurements to scale and map out each room, thereby creating furniture layouts.

This takes some time, as I’m old school and do mine by hand. The scribbling and writing notes are visual cues for me to remember to add or take things away.


This seed has taken 3.5 years  to grow, from the moment we bought our unit, until we took possession one month ago. During that 3.5 years, we have only been on site ONCE, a year ago, when the condo was a 21 story shell of itself. I cannot tell you how difficult it was for me, a designer, with a personal vested interest, not be on site on a regular basis to oversee  observe the progress being made at regular intervals. GRRRRRR…

However, we were able to drive by often, until we moved to NYC in Sept, and take exterior progress photos. I have made a video, but am having no luck uploading to my blog, so this collage will have to suffice. Enjoy….


Next Chapter in Genesis of a Condo…The Finishes




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The Eton townhouse, another Tamarack Model Home designed by Modecor and Sonya Kinkade Design flaunts the most conservative interior design of the seven model homes. Basing the overall look on an updated Craftsman Style, allowed us to incorporate rich wood, traditional dark colours and mostly linear furnishings. The Eton, like the other model homes, The Dover, The Oxford, The Madison, The Hudson and The Chelsea, has a combination of standard and upgraded finishes. The darker walnut cabinetry, walnut floors and black quartz balance well with the lighter floor tiles, cream quartz and faux brick fireplace surround. The introduction of traditional fabrics, patterns and textures compliment the overall classic style of this town house.

The Floorplan

Very little was altered in the Eton floor plan. However, we did endeavour to add fabulous details to the kitchen cabinetry, such as a built-in wine rack, mullioned glass fronts and custom range hood. The original raised island counter was eliminated in favour of a flat counter.

Eton floorplan

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The Finishes

Rich walnut in mission and shaker cabinet doors set the tone for the remaining finishes in this traditional model home.

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Fabric, Furniture and Accessories

To compliment the overall Craftsman theme of this model, we chose fabrics in rich reds and greens in updated traditional patterns. Although the kitchen dictates a mostly linear design, we introduced circular elements with the lighting in warm metal finishes and round tables with simple design and in some cases, bold red lacquer.

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The Entrance


The Kitchen, Dining and Living Space






 The Master Bedroom



 The Master Bathroom



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All Photography: Charlene Burnside Photography 

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The Ruskin Series by Rutt Cabinetry and BlogtourNYC

When I mentioned via social media that Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry was one of the sponsors of #BlogTourNYC, I got a fabulous response from one of my designer TW friends …’ you will LOVE Rutt Cabinetry’. And indeed I did. Rutt has been in business for more than 60 years, producing luxury custom cabinetry which has promoted them as the ‘master’ of traditional custom cabinetry.  As it happens the new Ruskin series was being featured at the AD Home Design Show and Modenus #BlogTourNYC was invited to attend a media tour presented by Scott A. Stultz, the renown luxury kitchen designer who designed the Ruskin series.


Scott Stultz, Ruskin series designer for Rutt Cabinetry discussing his design process

Deeper relevance than just style was the impetus for the Ruskin series. Novelty for novelty sake does not have longevity Scott explained to all of us.

“The tension and balance between our primal and intellectual needs is a key issue in how we conceive our interior spaces and the design of the objects with which we populate them.” Scott Stultz

Interesting concept  and analogy that was discussed even further. In our homes, we all seek comfort and safety which are primal needs and order and beauty which are intellectual needs. The Ruskin series marries both of the needs, creating a “family of distinct and diverse pieces that can be combined in endless variations.” as Scott further explained.  Music to any designer’s ear.  The photos from the booth illustrate the kind of detail conceived and executed by Scott….where the past meets contemporary, where proportions are robust, while vertical lines are graceful. Complementary details are combined to create the primal function while intellectual elements conceive the form.


The design is in the detail …the detail is in the design.  We are introduced to cornice treatments…crown molding, cove top cornice and the flat cornice.


Brackets are designed, scaled and proportioned  to replicate the crown molding .


The faceted corner posts, cove drawer front, bracket profiles and LED lighting … hallmarks of Ruskin

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Horizontal members that are wider than vertical members of the mullions and contrasting interior colour, set Ruskin apart.


Miele, another #BlogTourNYC sponsor also had a presence at the Rutt Cabinetry booth. The Miele wall oven and coffee system are integrated beautifully into the Ruskin appliance armoire.


Interior details… like jewlery boxes, further enhance the primal/intellectual design of the Ruskin series.

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photo credit Rutt Cabinetry

Although this post is photo centric, they cannot adequately express the the attention to detail, form and function of the Ruskin series. If you are contemplating luxury, custom kitchen cabinetry, Ruskin of Rutt Cabinetry should be on your sourcing list. For more information on the Ruskin series and Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry, please check out their website at

It was a pleasure to meet Scott Stultz and to be introduced to the Ruskin Series at Rutt Cabinetry. I would like to thank Rutt Cabinetry for inviting #BlogTourNYC into their booth and for their generous sponsorship.

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Prizer Hoods … BlogTourNYC

We walked into the Prizer Hoods booth at AD Home Design Show and BAM! ….we were greeted with this beauty…. in non other than the pantone colour of the year Radiant Orchid. Fear not….if you desire a different style, colour or texture, you are reading the right post. IMG_1253.jpg

Another sponsor of #BlogTourNYC, Prizer Hoods had a fabulous booth that can only be described as awe inspiring and drool worthy. The Architectural design brilliance of Kim Lewis, lead designer for ABC ‘s Extreme Makeover: Home Addition, was evident the moment we stepped into the Prizer Hood booth she designed.  Her goal for the Prizer Hoods booth….

 “The Prizer Hoods display was inspired by the displays found in an art gallery. The Prizer Hoods booth design
encourages visitors to define their own style,” says Lewis. “The Prizer Hoods exhibit showcases the customization aspect
of Prizer Hoods by pairing a select color and finish option with a unique shape or hood profile to tell the kitchen style
story for 2014. This booth helps to serve an example of how designers and clients can work together to create a unique
design statement.”  Kim Lewis 

 …and her goal was met. Each of us was entranced with the possibilities afforded by Prizer Hoods. They have coined a single word to capture their ‘raison d’être’  … CUSTOM ….which is music to any designer’s ear. In fact…..

“We are proud to showcase the entire Prizer Hoods line for the first time under one roof. “Prizer Hoods combines the
latest in aesthetics and ventilation functionality, which is sure to please the design enthusiast and home chef alike,” says
Eliza Sheffield, vice president of marketing for Prizer Hoods. “We are excited to showcase hoods in the most on-trend
colors and finishes, including this year’s Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid. By exhibiting the unique,
customizable nature of the entire line we hope to show that Prizer Hoods is a must in any high-end kitchen where design
and function are key.” Eliza Sheffield VP marketing, Prizer Hoods


The potential with CUSTOM become infinite when the designer, customer and Prizer Hoods join ranks. Take a look at the colour and finishes options ….

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and the design and style options….





I think this hammered copper hood is my favourite.

Gone are the days where the white hood fan represented function only…form has now stepped up to the plate in a big way with these Prizer Hoods. The jewellery in the kitchen extends beyond great hardware, lighting and fixtures….The range hood is now a decorative element that boasts both form and function. I encourage you to browse the Prizer Hoods website . Take your kitchen, the heart of your home, one step closer to magnificence with a custom hood.

Thank You Prizer Hoods for your sponsorship and Kim Lewis for your generous time spent with #BlogTourNYC.


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