A white condo bereft of per­son­al­ity is re­cast as a be­spoke abode that brims with the in­di­vid­u­al­ity of the cou­ple who calls it home.


A condo bereft of per­son­al­ity is re­cast as a be­spoke abode brim­ming with in­di­vid­u­al­ity

Smack dab in the mid­dle of down­town Ottawa is a ro­bustly per­son­al­ized condo that could eas­ily act as the three-di­men­sional de­sign port­fo­lio of its owner, in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor Mau­reen Coates. With inky blue walls, bold ac­cents and a mix of warm fur­nish­ings both coun­try and con­tem­po­rary, it’s sim­ply riv­et­ing. Which makes it all the harder to be­lieve that this thought­fully com­posed 1,400-square-foot space be­gan as an all-white new build.

“My hus­band, Michael [a for­mer PR ex­ec­u­tive], and I were down­siz­ing from our home in the city’s Glebe neigh­bour­hood,” says Mau­reen. Of­fi­cial empty nesters (they have three grown daugh­ters), the cou­ple was drawn to this condo de­vel­op­ment. “It’s on a her­itage site with un­ob­structed views of the Ottawa River and Par­lia­ment Hill,” she says. They pur­chased the suite in 2011, and it was move-in ready by 2015, but not with­out some pre-build de­sign in­ter­ven­tion. “The size and the view were perfect,” says Mau­reen, “but look­ing at the plans I soon re­al­ized they needed some al­ter­ation.”

Her dec­o­ra­tor in­stincts prompted changes that in­cluded re­mov­ing an en­trance wall to make way for a small li­brary and adding a liv­ing room fire­place framed in cherry to match the kitchen cabinets. For­tu­nately, the al­ter­ations went ac­cord­ing to plan, but when they moved in, some­thing still wasn’t right.

“After six months in the condo, I was ready to change the white walls,” says Mau­reen. “I’ve never veered from us­ing colour. It’s been a main­stay in all our homes for the past 36 years.” In­spired by the suite’s natural light, Mau­reen de­cided to go dark. “I knew navy blue would be a fan­tas­tic back­drop on the walls and some ar­eas of the ceil­ing. My hus­band was, shall we say, less than en­thu­si­as­tic about it.”

Thank­fully, he came around once the walls were painted. More than a mere back­drop, the hue ef­fec­tively high­lights Mau­reen’s mix of stun­ning fur­nish­ings. “I love con­tem­po­rary, but I al­ways in­cor­po­rate a few well-loved an­tiques,” she says. To perfect the mix, Mau­reen cus­tom-de­signed many of the liv­ing room pieces. “Those el­e­ments, as well as the lighting and the win­dow treat­ments, were big splurges, but I jus­ti­fied the cost by mea­sur­ing their longevity in the space. They are qual­ity items that are here to stay.”

The cou­ple has only lived in the space for just over two years, yet it al­ready seems like a sto­ried fam­ily home rather than a city condo, thanks to Mau­reen’s ad­ven­tur­ous de­sign. “I didn’t just shop at one fur­ni­ture store – I never would!” she says. “And though I’m not keen on overus­ing the word ‘cu­rate’ when it comes to de­sign, I re­ally stud­ied the space and spent hours and hours sourc­ing pieces. If I couldn’t find what I was look­ing for, I put pen­cil to pa­per and de­signed it my­self.” A three-di­men­sional port­fo­lio in­deed.

The cur­va­ceous floor lamp echoes other rounded shapes through­out the space.

“This wall was scream­ing for some­thing large,” says Mau­reen. “I wouldn’t put the sofa here, fac­ing the view, be­cause then we’d have no place for the TV, which is an in­te­gral part of our evenings.” The stun­ning so­lu­tion was this elec­tric fire­place with a t

“The din­ing table be­longed to my par­ents, and I dis­liked it grow­ing up,” says Mau­reen. “But I’ve since fallen in love with it.” The area is illuminated by a strik­ing Mu­rano glass chan­de­lier. “It was my very first pur­chase for the condo.” Vin­tage CHAN­DE­LIER, Vic­to­rian Re­vival; DIN­ING CHAIRS, Found­de­sign; TABLE LAMP, The Modern Shop.

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