For creative couple Victor Elliott and Karyn Watson, opening their Westboro home to hundreds of visitors for the Homes for the Holidays tour in 2017 was definitely not outside their comfort zone. Victor, former props master for three decades with the National Arts Centre, and Karyn, an interior designer and artist, are pros when it comes to concept parties, elaborate decorating, and hosting large gatherings. In fact, they designed their contemporary home with entertaining in mind.
“This house is specifically built for our personalities and the kinds of functions we like to do,” said Victor. The Edison Avenue property is wired to be a performance space, a disco, or even an art gallery, with flexible arrangements of major pieces—the kitchen island can easily roll over to the living room to act as a bar! And there are multimedia capabilities throughout the entertainment area.
The couple designed the house while living in their 100-year-old home right across the street. “I’d gone back to school and studied interior design, so I started having all these wonderful ideas about a new house for this lot,” said Karyn. “I tried to keep it very simple because I’d never designed a house before and Victor had never built one. So it’s based on three cubes, but the details, of course, make it much more complex.”
After moving into the new house in 2012, they worked on the project over the next few years until along came the Homes for the Holidays tour, which is a major annual fundraiser for Hospice Care Ottawa.
“My Dad spent his last time in hospice care. They were so fantastic and welcoming. So when we were approached to use our house for the tour, we said of course,” said Karyn. “And the reality is the tour encouraged us to complete the house—it was that last little push to finish everything.”
Flowers Talk Tivoli, which has helped decorate every year for the tour’s 16-year run, sent their team into the couple’s home to do their magic. “We decorated another house in a Christmas theme, but wanted to do something a little different for this one,” said Elizabeth Young, owner of the florist shop. “It was the perfect party house for New Year’s Eve, so we thought we’d decorate for that.”
Have fun with the process! Karen and Victor had a metal “Iron Maiden” sculpture of a female torso that was dressed in ferns and greenery dress. The team also playfully arranged upside-down orchids on the wall and laid party hats and accessories around the house for a non-traditional look.
Elizabeth offers these tips to make your home sparkle this season
- Work with your home’s design and colour palette.
- Try multiple small elements for your tablescapes and mantle, rather than one large statement piece.
- Don’t be afraid to incorporate seemingly out-of-season choices. White tulips or white peonies, for example, can add a different element to a more traditional selection.
- Add lighting and sparkle to your table tops or mantle to give an extra sophisticated look. Champagne bottles rolled in glue and glitter add another decor element.
- For a long-lasting holiday arrangement, use a base of winter greens that can last at least a month. After Christmas, switch out the flowers with new ones for New Year’s.