For Ottawa Senator’s defenceman Mark Borowiecki and his wife Tara, the holiday season is a time for traditions, family and celebrations in their beloved hometown that Mark is thrilled to represent on the ice. And, this Christmas, they are looking forward to entertaining and spending time together in their recently renovated house located in rural Carp.
When the couple first toured the home in 2015, they were attracted to its many windows and open interior. But, it was the exterior qualities of the 2010 build that quickly sealed the deal—its proximity to the rink and a two-acre treed lot was perfect for their three adored dogs Remi, Tikka and Axel.
Last spring, plans to replace existing carpeting with wood floors turned Tara’s eye for design towards enhancing the interior. Together with Elias Greco, of Greco Construction, a renovation created contemporary living spaces where Mark and Tara could relax and entertain guests in an enjoyable and informal setting.
In keeping with the couple’s quest for a clean look, light neutral shades were chosen to coat cupboards and walls. Canadian hickory flooring by Logs End, selected for its warmth, durability and natural look, was installed throughout the house and quickly proved suited to four feet and twelve active paws.
Seeking to achieve a balance between modern and traditional styles, they introduced elements such as an artful chrome faucet and clover-shaped pendant lamps, in and above the kitchen island, to prevent a prized modern fixture from stealing the show. New quartz countertops and a marble backsplash of oversized subway tile add sparkle next to high-back stools in cozy, quilted grey jersey.
A highlight for Mark was replacing aging appliances with upgraded versions such as a Wolf gas range and hood. “I love to cook and learned so much from my mom and grandmother. My favourites are healthy dishes, like stews and roasted chicken, using meat and produce from local farms.”
Décor for the newly-renovated areas was predominantly inspired by treasured pieces of inherited art and equestrian interests. Blues and taupe shades appearing in fabric and accessories throughout the open-concept kitchen and family room are pulled from horse paintings by Mark’s 95-year-old grandfather that face a pair of bucket chairs covered in distressed saddle leather.
“These paintings are like family heirlooms for us,” says Mark. “My grandfather is a World War II veteran from Poland who rode horses during the war and as a boy growing up in Poland. He now shares a special bond with Tara, who is also a horseback rider and jumper.”
In the regal dining room, two refurbished black-fabric lamps flank an antique bronze sculpture of horse and rider that once belonged to Tara’s grandmother. A dramatic oval chandelier festooned with translucent capiz shells adds whimsy to a ceiling framed in barn wood beams.
For the holidays, Mark and Tara plan to honour the Christmas traditions of their respective heritages while cherishing and creating new ones of their own. Exterior lights, wreaths and greenery are a must along with a tree decorated with meaningful ornaments. Last year, Mark collected birch and cedar from the property so that Tara could make her own festive planters.
Tara’s passion for baking is another eagerly anticipated part of the season. “I love to bake and it is such a fun part of our Christmas. I make different types of cookies such as shortbread and my mother’s German Pfeffernusse cookies.”
With Mark currently enjoying his fifth season with the Senators, life entails a busy schedule with lots of time on the road. So the holidays are also a chance for the couple to recharge and spend some quiet time together. Christmas Eve now includes a long off-leash dog walk with their three pets who are later rewarded with individual stockings and wrapped gifts of their own.
Having plenty of family and friends in town, Mark looks forward to hosting gatherings for the special people in their lives. “Ottawa has always been our home and we love it. Where else can you find a city with so many amenities and yet such a warm small-town feel? For me, any chance we have to be together with those who have loved and supported us so much along the way, and still continue to be there, is pretty special.”