New life & love for old beautyPublished on November 15, 2019


  • Photo by: Matthew Perry

    Photo by: Matthew Perry

    Photo by: Matthew Perry

As a meaningful memento of homes featured in the annual fundraising tour, Homes for the Holidays, participating homeowners are presented with a beautiful photo book of their decorated houses. In the book for last year’s tour is a luxuriously transformed home that was dressed to holiday perfection by Mill Street Florist.

Naturally, the homeowner is pleased with the stunning images of her newly-modernized home and its elegant holiday décor. But more importantly, she is committed to supporting Hospice Care Ottawa both as a volunteer and by opening the doors of two of her homes in recent years. Last year the generous woman and her husband welcomed tour goers into their freshly renovated Rockcliffe Park residence. She applauds the tour’s organization, as well as the hard-working volunteers and florists who dedicate their considerable time and talent to the cause.

“The tour of homes makes so much sense, because it’s all about helping to support people moving on from their earthly home to an eternal home in a home-like environment,” she says, noting her personal experience with the palliative care of her father and sister at the May Court Hospice.

Jessica Barrett, owner of Mill Street Florist, has a great relationship with the homeowners and was requested by them to decorate their homes for both tours. The florist has been involved with the fundraiser for many years, and is decorating a custom-renovated bungalow in Manotick for the 2019 tour, taking place November 15–17.

“The homeowners have been clients for a long time, but we did things a little differently for the holiday tour to incorporate more of a modern look,” explains Jessica. “The house is so beautiful that we didn’t want to overpower it with busy flower arrangements, so we kept it simple and natural.”


Abundant boughs of greenery with rustic elements were used extensively. Pops of holiday colour were often in the form of fresh roses to complement recurring red accents in the home’s impressive artwork collection. Contemporary touches were added by hanging balls of blue from the dining room chandelier to highlight blue velvet chairs, and with an innovative Christmas tree design that stood against a two-storey window in the great room.

“I went with a Group of Seven style for the tree with branches blowing in the wind—and it definitely made an impact,” says Jessica with a laugh. Her humour was also evident in the bathroom with dangling rubber ducks, because as she notes, “Christmas is about having some fun too!”

A row of lime-green Cyprus trees in the master bedroom and topiaries along a kitchen counter are what the florist describes as very linear and simple arrangements with repetition for dramatic effect. It’s a holiday décor that worked to balance the modern design of the home with some traditional furnishings and to integrate different styles.


When the homeowners bought the century-old home in 2017, it was an ageing beauty. Built in the 1920s, the original gardens were featured in House and Gardens in 1938, and the large spruce tree is still an imposing element that sparkles with Christmas lights over the holidays.
Their vision was to bring new life and light into the home with a modern design. Led by Bill Ritcey, an associate architect at Hobin Architects, the year-long renovation project involved completely gutting the interior to provide contemporary living spaces, while respecting the heritage guidelines for homes in the Rockcliffe neighbourhood.

While the dining room remains in its original location, a wall was added to separate it from the entrance area, and the central staircase was relocated to the side of the front door. A study with richly-painted walls was created from the former sun porch, and the same grey-black colour was used on all interior doors, trim and the stairway for a striking modern style.

An open-concept kitchen was built with cabinetry in distinctive quarter-sawn oak, which was also used for the dark-stained flooring. A quartz-topped island and built-in banquette completes the modern kitchen that opens into a great room with high ceilings. From there, a wall of sliding-glass doors to the outdoor patio.

With the help of Danielle Hannah from 2H Interior Design, the elegant home was designed for modern family living. The transformation embraces contemporary style with a welcoming feel that gets the full approval of the previous homeowners, who are also big supporters of Hospice Care Ottawa. It appears that the spirit of giving is embedded into the home.

Jane Whiting

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