Creative SpiritPublished on November 25, 2021

  • The fireplace is a focal point and a natural backdrop for the whimsical installation by Mill Street florists
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Claudia, Robert and Lily are delighted to share their home with virtual tour-goers for Homes for the Holidays
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Luxurious fixtures, set into a soothing space within the ensuite bath
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • A cozy seating nook offers tranquil space in the principal bedroom
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Claudias eye for detail is evident within the decorative wall trim, found throughout the home
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • The formal dining room easily seats eight guests in an enchanting setting
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

As a managing director for the global consulting firm Accenture, Claudia Thompson’s penchant for home design provides a creative distraction from a demanding career. Growing up within Ottawa and its surrounding areas, her large immediate family moved every few years when their patriarch, a man of many trades with a deep entrepreneurial spirit, decided to build a new home. This from-the-ground-up environment seeped through her bones and right into her soul at a very early age, as she describes, “I can clearly remember as a kid when my dad was designing a home layout on draft paper, I would take it and start to sketch something out and ask if he could build this next.” Thus developed a modern yet classical style distinctive to Claudia’s home in the Rideau Forest enclave of Manotick, which is highlighted by her all-time favourite florist’s work in this year’s edition of the Homes for the Holidays tour.

With a two-storey open living room that boasts 20ft feature windows and a 20ft high limestone fireplace, it’s no surprise that an abundance of natural lighting, as well as natural stone features, accentuate the space. Also showcased in the tour is the 5,500 square foot (not including the basement) home’s intimate principal bedroom, located on the main floor and reminiscent of a hotel room à la Mad Men era, which features yet more natural lighting, another stone fireplace, and an en suite bathroom decked out in Carrara marble.

Claudia’s home build began in February 2011 and the finished product is so much more than simply a sum of its parts. Although her father passed away when she was 15, the bones of the house carry on his legacy in the energy that was required to transform the raw materials into the completed product. As the general contractors, Claudia and her husband Robert Scharfe employed Claudia’s brother Brent Thompson as their certified home builder. The process of watching her own home materialize into fruition is a unique experience, not dissimilar to what she accomplishes each day for her clients, explains Claudia. ?“I selected where every light switch, outlet, and each window went. It’s somewhat related to what I do with my clients in consulting. They have business ideas and we help them turn a concept into a reality. For me, I think the house is my way of taking my visions and dreams and turning that into something tangible.”

The concept is similar to what Claudia’s favourite flower shop, Mill Street Florists, located in the heart of the village of Manotick, is doing in her home for the Homes for the Holidays Tour. Shop owners Jessica Barrett and Sofiane Laïb approach every project with the style of the homeowner at the forefront of their minds, though Jessica says she still likes to tweak certain details and incorporate into that Mill Street’s characteristic organic and natural spirit, providing a seamless balance.

“I was very excited to decorate Claudia’s beautiful fireplace mantel. And I like her home because there are a few different styles throughout the house, which is rare,” she explains. The focal piece is the oversized fireplace, which was essentially a blank slate to create her floral masterpiece. Two large flower arrangements that include red amaryllis, sugar cones, red ilex berries, and Christmas green flank either side and snake across the mantle, tumbling together as they meet in the centre.

For the second year in a row, Homes for the Holidays has gone virtual. Instead of buying tickets, those who wish to participate can make a donation and will subsequently be sent a link on November 18 that will grant access for two weeks to view the six homes through an online video and 3D tour. One of the longest-running fundraisers in the National Capital Region in support of Hospice Care Ottawa, over $57,000 was raised during last year’s event. All of the funds raised from Homes for the Holidays will stay within the Ottawa community and allow Hospice Care Ottawa to provide compassionate and supportive care, at no charge, to individuals with a life-limiting illness and their families. For more information about the tour or to make a donation visit:, or call 613-260-2906 ext. 222

Hollie Grace James

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