Serene spacesPublished on June 24, 2008

  • The kitchen of this 1940s-era home, which is painted in Farrow & Ball's Dauphin, was part of an addition that helped transform the space into a modern retreat. Photo by Mark Holleron

  • "Colours like Dauphin and Pigeon (seen here in the homeower's main level bathroom) are classic shades that we're seeing replace traditional favourites like taupe," says interior designer Janise Saikaley. "They work well in contemporary homes and tie together older colours. It helps marry everything together." Photo by Mark Holleron

When you have a passion for collecting contemporary art, how do you make it relevant in a 60-year-home? That's the challenge faced by interior designer Janise Saikaley when her client wanted to update the main living spaces in her 1940s home.

Located just blocks from the Civic Hospital, the home had already undergone a major renovation 13 years to transform it from a post-war bungalow into a split-level two-storey residence that better fit the needs of its growing family. Along with adding a second level, the home gained a new kitchen and family room that runs along the back of the house and features an entire wall of windows that let light pour into the space.

When updates were needed in the kitchen last year, homeowner and east-end dentist Dr. Barabara Houle also wanted to incorporate new artwork, including two landscapes by Canadian artist Peter Hopper. "I bought the art and I left the colours up to Janise," says Barbara. "She's the colour expert."

As the owner of Uproar Design and Uproar Paint and Paper, the city's only supplier of Farrow & Ball paint and wallpaper, Janise says she knew the best way to update the space was by creating a contemporary twist with paint. She paired dark neutrals in the kitchen, family room and bathroom with stylish new elements and of course, Barbara's favourite artwork. "In the great room we decided to go with Farrow & Ball's ‘Dauphin,'" says Janise. "I think people have to be gutsy to do a colour like this. It's dark, but it's still a neutral, and it's quite powerful in a room that has so much light."

Along with glossy new granite countertops, Janise added a polished glass quartz backsplash and pendant lights to give the natural maple cabinets a modern update. "Once the paint went on, it made this "wow" statement," she says. "Just by painting the room, changing the backsplash and putting up the art, it made a contemporary statement. People don't realize that you don't have to completely change everything to make a significant difference. Adding colour in these three elements did the trick."

The home's main level powder level was also given an overhaul with new artwork, vanity and marble vessel sink. "We decided to bring it the next level by painting it in ‘Pigeon,' a Farrow & Ball grey-green shade," says Janise. "It's subtle, but chic and stylish. I think using these dark neutrals in a home are so effective because it's like framing and matteing a picture. Once you add the artwork to the rooms, it adds a whole other dimension to the home and the paintings pop off the walls."

Going natural

For spring 2008, one of the biggest colours trends is a move towards an earthy palette that reflects the continuing eco-friendly movement. We asked local colour experts Debbie MacIsaac, interior decorator and owner of Personally Yours Interiors, and Janise Saikaley, interior designer and owner of Uproar Design, about the natural trend that's hot in Ottawa's fashionably chic homes.


Nowadays, the neutrals don't have to mean beige, says Janise. "Grey is huge, whether it's warm or cool shades, plus lots of pale blues and green. We're doing a colour right now called 'Light Blue' and it's a greyish blue. It's stunning and we've used it everywhere from bedrooms to living room/dining rooms. In one condo we worked on we did the entire place in this neutral blue colour."


The earth-friendly influence continues to be strong in paint colours. Shades of green, such as fern, palm, pine and sage, are suitable for all areas of your home, but work especially well in bathrooms, kitchens and family rooms. "We're seeing shades of green, mixed with other earthly colours, such as varying shades of blues and browns," says Debbie. "Plus the neutrals are still grey and you'll see that trend continue even into 2009. A lot of the colours will be muddied with the greys and that will be a big influence."


"Sometimes going too neutral, with a white or light beige tone, it won't always read right in an open concept home or look very rich," adds Janise. "When I take test colour samples to a home, I walk around the whole space, look at it up against other walls and look at it against the windows because it always reads differently against the major light source."


Beiges, browns and tans are still popular background colours, but they're taking on accents that are much closer to those found in nature, such as earth, mineral and stone. Warm earthy shades like caramel and chocolate also remain popular for both Zen and urban décor, making neutrals anything but boring this year, especially when paired with fresh shades of green, aqua, white or cream.


"People in Ottawa do follow the trends, but over the past eight years that I've owned my store, I've also seen the same true classic colours become constants," says Janise. "People always want to use them and they never go out of style. They're the neutral tones, but now we're seeing a shift from the warmer neutrals to the sharper, cooler neutrals. So, forget taupe - it's gone because it tends to have a lot of pink to it."

Jazz it up

Once you've used the new neutrals to create a serene backdrop, it's easy to jazz up your space by adding a hit of colour. Interior designer Debrah Boucher, owner of D.B. Interiors, says many homeowners are comfortable choosing a neutral palette, but often they can't figure out how to finish off the room. "Sometimes when people paint their rooms, they still aren't comfortable in their surroundings," she says. "Often all they need is a simple splash of colour." Here are six easy ways to spice up your home and punch up your rooms with personality. 1. "I always recommend throw pillows to jazz up a room," says Debrah. "Metallics are big this season, so why not add a shimmering silver or gold pillow?" 2. Whether it's an original piece, a bright print or painted canvas, artwork is the easiest way to add a dash of personality. 3. The idea of choosing an area rug can be intimidating, but Debrah says it's a simple way to add texture, pattern and a contrasting colour. 4. Indulge a soft cashmere or chenille throw that's functional and colourful. 5. Accessories always add that personal touch, whether you group some objects together, display family photos or show off your collection of antique plates. 6. Decorating with fresh flowers and plants is a simple way to change with the seasons and easy on your budget.

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