Eric Dar­win is a com­mu­nity ac­tivist

Ottawa Magazine - - GREAT SPACES -

Above This side of the kitchen looks into the fam­ily room through a cutout win­dow. Be­cause they have so much stor­age space un­derneath the island, the cou­ple in­stalled only lim­ited up­per cab­i­netry, leav­ing space for a colour­ful mo­saic wall

and blog­ger known for the West Side Ac­tion blog that tack­les all man­ner of ur­ban-plan­ning is­sues — from in­fill to streetscap­ing to trans­porta­tion. But though the pop­u­lar­ity of his site reaches well be­yond the west side, much of Dar­win’s com­men­tary fo­cuses on the Lit­tle Italy-Chi­na­town neigh­bour­hood in which he lives. His ob­ser­va­tions about rec­on­cil­ing preser­va­tion with mod­ern­iza­tion are al­ways well con­sid­ered, a thought­ful­ness he and his wife, Frances Dubois, brought to the re­cent ren­o­va­tion of the main floor of their 1900-era home. “We’re not liv­ing in a mu­seum,” ex­plains Dar­win. “We wanted the bones to still say ‘old,’ but we want to live in a mod­ern way.”

Keep­ing the bones meant main­tain­ing the wooden floors and the clas­sic trim that de­fine the house, even as they opened up the kitchen to the din­ing and liv­ing rooms. The cou­ple credit de­signer Sascha Lafleur of West of Main with help­ing them shape and di­rect this vi­sion. “She never im­posed her tastes on us,” ex­plains Dubois, “but she did stand her ground. She helped us avoid mis­takes.”

Their new kitchen is res­o­lutely mod­ern — and shiny and colour­ful. Dar­win de­scribes him­self and his wife as be­ing “like mag­pies. We ab­so­lutely love glit­ter!” On the open side of the kitchen, which faces out to the din­ing and liv­ing rooms, a gleam­ing penny-tile back­splash on the half wall be­hind the

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