Contemporary warmth: Linda Chapman's eco-friendly homePublished on January 31, 2011

  • Linda Chapman. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Warm wood tones, in conjunction with the wall colour, create a relaxed environment. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • The abundance of natural light is the perfect environment for thriving greenery. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

Local architect Linda Chapman has been getting a lot of attention these days. She is making a name for herself as an award-winning, eco-friendly architect ?whose style appeals to a green-minded clientele with a commitment ?to environmentally-friendly, sustainable dwellings.


Ottawa At Home visited with Linda at the Chelsea home in Quebec that she shares with her partner Barry Cooper. The home is a veritable nature lover's paradise, nestled in a wooded area with expansive views of the elements.

Thanks to a dwelling awash with windows, sunlight streams into all corners of the home where an abundance of healthy varieties of plants attests to the benefits of sunshine on greenery.

Linda's style is contemporary, but not cool. Warmth glows throughout the open-concept space that showcases an impressive art collection, a passion for music and a love of nature.

You describe your taste as contemporary, what does contemporary style mean to you? Contemporary means modern - clean lines, simple forms and shapes, no fussy ornamentation. But modern without all the uber slick, shiny stuff that makes a place feel "cold" and "machine-like". 

Yellow is your favourite colour. What effect does colour have on an environment? The warmth and lightness of yellow  reminds us of sunlight. It tends to magnify the feeling of being out of doors and in the sunshine. Of course there are lots of different kinds of yellows, but I am usually drawn towards earth tones. Soft and warm yellows are the colours we used inside our house. I really like the look of tone-on-tone paint, which tends to highlight the three dimensionality of space, making walls and ceilings recede or come forward in a subtle way. 

Your home is tucked in the woods, surrounded by nature. Is this the optimum living environment for you or could you also live in an urban setting? I love living in the country in the summer, surrounded by the woods and the Gatineau River. In the winter, it can feel a little isolated, especially after a six-foot snowfall. I adore the culture, the art and the architecture of a big city. I think I would want to retire in a walkable and pedestrian-oriented city. But it is great to decompress in nature after a stressful workweek in the city. Living in Chelsea we get the best of both worlds since we are only a 20-minute drive from the Market, and a five-minute walk to the Gatineau Hills. 

What green building features does your home have? We have a geothermal water furnace. We also have: twice the insulation levels of a standard home; high-energy-efficient, south-facing clerestory windows; big fans in the cathedral ceilings; an efficient heat-recovery ventilator and we used a lot of local materials such as clear pine trim, wood siding, birch floors, cedar decks, maple cabinets etc. 

Has your work always lent itself to being eco-friendly? Describe the evolution.  I have been interested in environmental stuff from my early days. I used to volunteer with Pollution Probe in my teens in Toronto. I went to architecture school shortly after the "energy crisis," so energy efficiency and passive solar design was a serious area of study. Although in those days, green was not sexy from a design perspective!

My own practice of architecture grew at the same time as the rising social awareness of the interconnectedness of the natural and human-made environments. It was a natural evolution for me. Now green design is sexy design, or at least, hot. Thankfully that only took a couple of decades! I think technology, human ingenuity, creativity and our capacity to adapt should make the next couple of decades of evolution of architectural design very exciting to be a part of.

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