Homes

Interior designer turns sights on own home in Wellington Village

For close to a decade, Veronica Martin lived in Toronto and travelled the world for noted design firm Yabu Pushelberg, creating imaginative boutique hotel and restaurant spaces. But once her two daughters (now aged five and three) were born, the demanding travel schedule no longer held the same allure.

In 2013, the young family made the decision to move to Ottawa: husband Dave Martin had grown up in Westboro, and Veronica knew the city well from her days here as an interior design student at Algonquin College. With visions of a traditional centre-plan house in mind, Veronica and her family rented in Wellington Village and she set about scouting “every open house imaginable in this neighourhood, Westboro, and the Glebe.”

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The patio doors are framed in black so they don’t “fade out.” They also balance the black-framed artworks on the opposite side of the wall. The pot lights in each area of the room are on different switches to allow Martin to set different tones by lighting each area separately. Martin bought the pendant light before the house was designed, knowing that she wanted it as a focal point in an open living, dining, and kitchen space. The white kitchen is designed to act as a backdrop rather than a focus of the open-concept room. The low backs on the dining room chairs allow for unimpeded views on all sides. The fireplace is set 36 inches above the floor to allow diners to look straight at it while sitting at the table. The table matches the dark wood floor in the original section of the house. Visitors take two steps down from the original section into the addition, with its lighter oak floor. Photo: Urszula Muntean

Veronica promptly spotted — and fell in love with — a stately brick house just a few streets away from where they were renting. Unfortunately it wasn’t for sale. But her real estate agent got in touch with the homeowners, who, it turned out, were considering downsizing. A deal was quickly done, and the owner of Veronica Martin Design Studio began planning her first renovation in Ottawa. Just over three months later, it was complete. The 80-year-old house retained its traditional exterior, including a grand front porch, but the interior was refreshed and a two-storey, 1,000-foot addition at the back made space for a sunny great room on the first floor and a luxe master bedroom on the second.

The great room is the showpiece, a spacious open-concept sitting, dining, and kitchen area planned for living and entertaining. “I really enjoy formal rooms, and I designed this particular room in my head years ago,” explains Veronica. She loves the idea of creating “a moment” when you walk into a space, with the commanding wooden table, unique light fixture, and cozy raised fireplace setting the tone.

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The television is minimized by hanging it in front of a dark-stained birch accent wall. Photo: Urszula Muntean
Photo: Urszula Muntean
Photo: Urszula Muntean

The kitchen, too, is planned with a strong focal point — in this case, the heavily patterned marble backsplash that stands out as a work of art in its own alcove. Some see a face staring back at them when they study the backsplash, though Dave, a Pearl Jam fan, insists that he can pick out Stickman.

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The recessed hand-scraped white oak cabinetry matches the floor and acts as a focal point in the kitchen. Mixing high and low, Martin paired Ikea cabinetry with hand-forged knobs and drawer pulls. Photo: Urszula Muntean

The entire renovation was undertaken with an eye to preserving the character of the house. “It has great bones,” explains Veronica, adding that even as she modernized the interior, she made sure to conserve such key features as the interior doors, baseboards, and leaded-glass windows. And when the bricks on the back of the house were removed to make way for the addition, she had them carefully preserved and reused to build a garage at the back of the driveway.

“I designed this house in my head years ago,” says Martin. “It has been great to finally make it happen.”

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For her three-year-old’s first “big girl” bedroom, Veronica chose whimsical wallpaper from Anthropologie. The quiet curtains and bed, both from Ikea, are neutral, so they don’t take away from “The Enchanted Forest”. Photo: Urszula Muntean
The dark grey wood panelling in the bedroom is a nod to the original architecture of the 80-year-old house. Linking back to her previous métier at design firm Yabu Pushelberg, where she worked on a number of international hotel projects, Martin designed the master bedroom like a luxe hotel room, peaceful and quiet with soothing neutral tones.
The dark grey wood panelling in the bedroom is a nod to the original architecture of the 80-year-old house. Linking back to her previous métier at design firm Yabu Pushelberg, where she worked on a number of international hotel projects, Martin designed the master bedroom like a luxe hotel room, peaceful and quiet with soothing neutral tones. Photo: Urszula Muntean
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Photo: Urszula Muntean
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Photo: Urszula Muntean
bathroom
Photo: Urszula Muntean