URBAN STUDY: Inside the Flora Street home of Patrick Hajas and Erin Silsbe

URBAN STUDY: Inside the Flora Street home of Patrick Hajas and Erin Silsbe

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city.
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods


She works in environmental policy; his green principles include seeing no reason to have a licence or drive a car. They both appreciate good design. And so it seemed

Photo by Christian Lalonde - Photoluxstudio.com
Photo by Christian Lalonde – Photoluxstudio.com

as if it was meant to be when, in 2010, Erin Silsbe, the new owner of a home in Centretown, wandered into Alteriors furniture store looking for a couch. Patrick Hajas (who has since launched his own furniture business) sold her a sectional sofa for her living room. “And then we bonded over House & Home and Dwell magazines,” says Erin, with a laugh. Four years later, the committed urban residents are raising their two children in a house they have renovated to include huge patio doors that open out onto a backyard deck. Patrick calls it a “great indoor-outdoor space,” one that they use to the max in the summer months.

Names: Erin Silsbe and Patrick Hajas (plus Madeleine, 2, and William, 4 months)

Occupations: Erin is a policy analyst with Environment Canada; Patrick owns furniture store A Modern Space in Hintonburg

Home: 1,700-square-foot brick single, circa 1919

Neighbourhood: Centretown

Previous home: Patrick grew up on a 50-acre farm in southern Ontario but got to know downtown Ottawa as a Sandy Hill resident while studying at Algonquin College. Erin grew up in the Broadview Avenue area, then lived and worked in Calgary; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto before returning to Ottawa in 2010.

On living downtown…

Patrick: People have a lot of misconceptions about what it’s really like to live downtown.
Don’t be scared.

What drew you to this neighbourhood?

Erin: I knew I wanted to be downtown — I wanted to create as small an environmental footprint as possible. It was critical to me that I be able to walk just about everywhere.

Patrick: Erin and I met after she had bought the house. So I lucked into the neighbourhood.