Homes

GREAT SPACE: Creative couple seeks to retain ’80s vibe while modernizing the look

This article first appeared in the Interiors 2015 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

For more photos of this project visit our Facebook page.

By SARAH BROWN

Photo by  Joel Bedford
Photo by Joel Bedford

Certain classic design eras provide continuing inspiration for home-owners and creators — think mid-century modern or Arts and Crafts. But how often do an architect and a designer get the chance to revisit the decade of showy excess known as the 1980s? Not often, says Serina Fraser of Clear Designs, who admits to being thrown for a loop when architect Jane Thompson put her in touch with a young couple wanting advice on modernizing their new buy — a 1980s-era house in New Edinburgh.

“They wanted to renovate and redecorate to preserve the vibe. I was thinking, ‘You want gold plumbing fixtures? What’s happening to my career?’ ” Fraser says with a laugh. Then she took a deep breath and thought about how much fun the project could be. The process began with a visual storyboard of the good and the bad of the decade — clothes, fashion, furniture, and wallpaper. “We took the cool colours and finishes and discarded the big puffiness of the era.”

She collaborated with Jane Thompson Architect, who looked after the interior design while Fraser focused on choosing key elements to be carried throughout the rooms. An original blue stained-glass window in the master bathroom and gold sconces in the kids’ bathroom provided a starting point. The vibrant blue is carried through to an accent wall in the kitchen nook, while the gold tones are picked up in modern fixtures in both bathrooms and in three striking pendant lights in the kitchen.

Photo by Joel Bedford
Photo by Joel Bedford

Light woods such as maple and birch were popular at the time, so Fraser sourced a local wood known as wormy maple for cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms. The pattern of the wood is made more interesting by black and grey streaks that form in the wake of paths made by infestations of small beetles. In the kitchen, a modern tiled floor references the fact that cork was just becoming popular as a covering three decades ago. “The essence of the 1980s is there, but beautifully modernized.”

The Team
Architect: Jane Thompson Architect Inc.
Designer: Serina Fraser, Clear Designs
Contractor: Michel Giroux, Pandore Innovations

Kitchen
Appliances: Universal Appliances
Cabinetry: Custom cabinetry by Dave Bout of Greenbuilt Carpentry in wormy maple
Cabinetry hardware: Richelieu
Counter: Caesarstone Eggshell from Vesta Marble and Granite

Photo by Joel Bedford

Faucet: Emco, Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom
Flooring: Wicanders cork from Giant Commercial Flooring
Island counter (main): Caesarstone Eggshell from Vesta Marble and Granite
Island counter (baking): Plastic from Formica
Pendant lights: Dixon Branded, The Modern Shop
Sink: Emco Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom
Stools: Tolix Marais from Design Within Reach
Table: Custom-made by Greenbuilt Carpentry

Bathrooms
Cabinetry: Custom cabinetry by Dave Bout of Greenbuilt Carpentry in wormy maple
Faucets (sinks): Kohler, Purist Series, Emco Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom
Faucets (tubs): Kohler, Purist Series, Emco Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom
Flooring: Ciot (ensuite); W-Age series, Olympia Tile (second bathroom)
Pendant light (second bathroom): Atelier Cocotte, The Modern Shop
Shower (wall tile): Ciot (ensuite); Olympia Tile (second bathroom)
Sinks: Kohler, Emco Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom
Stained-glass window: Original to house
Taps (showers): Kohler, Purist Series, Emco Ensuite Bath & Kitchen Showroom
Sconces (second bathroom): Original to the house