LIV­ABLE LUX­URY

Ottawa Magazine - - Contents - BY SARAH BROWN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY PHOTOLUX STU­DIO — CHRIS­TIAN LALONDE

A well-trav­elled cou­ple de­signs a home that evokes their Euro­pean and Chi­nese her­itage, as well as their love of Scan­di­na­vian de­sign

Daniel Thun­berg grew up in Swe­den, Zhu

Dan in China. Af­ter they met in Bei­jing in 2006, Daniel’s job in the au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy sec­tor led the globe-trot­ting cou­ple to move to Rot­ter­dam, then back to Bei­jing, and then to Lon­don be­fore they fi­nally set­tled in Ot­tawa in 2015. Their var­ied back­grounds and trav­els have given them a wide-rang­ing per­spec­tive on de­sign — and the savvy to mix and meld these many in­flu­ences into one el­e­gant ex­pres­sion. Theirs is a truly co­he­sive home, seam­lessly in­cor­po­rat­ing a de­cid­edly Scan­di­na­vian sen­si­bil­ity with Asian flour­ishes to pro­duce that hard-to-quan­tify qual­ity known in Dan­ish cul­ture as hygge.

The im­pe­tus for their de­ci­sion to set­tle in Rock­cliffe Park and ren­o­vate was the ar­rival, three years ago, of their twin sons. As they be­gan comb­ing the city for a per­ma­nent home, both Daniel and Dan had a list of neigh­bour­hood at­tributes they were search­ing for. Daniel was look­ing for easy ac­cess to na­ture. “Grow­ing up in Swe­den, I had a for­est right be­hind my par­ents’ house. I was al­ways out­side play­ing and wanted the same for my sons,” he says. Dan, too, was look­ing for green space — she had fallen in love with the old build­ings, royal parks, and gar­dens of Lon­don — but was also clear that their home must be filled with light. A Rock­cliffe house built in 2001 checked all the boxes. Lo­cated in one of the city’s leafi­est neigh­bour­hoods, it had orig­i­nally been built by an ar­chi­tect for his fam­ily. The main floor boasted a pleas­ing open flow and lots of win­dows — all it needed was a se­ri­ous re­fresh.

Theirs is a truly co­he­sive home, seam­lessly in­cor­po­rat­ing a de­cid­edly Scan­di­na­vian sen­si­bil­ity with Asian flour­ishes

Daniel and Dan’s de­sign col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dy­lan O’Keefe and Ha­ley Fiorenza was pure serendip­ity. Daniel had seen O’Keefe’s work in an old is­sue of Ot­tawa Mag­a­zine and liked his style but wasn’t sure where O’Keefe was work­ing or how to con­tact him (the duo had not yet launched a com­pany web­site). Ev­ery­thing came to­gether when the cou­ple’s real es­tate agent sug­gested that he knew just the de­sign­ers to work with Daniel and Dan on their ren­o­va­tion — when he handed over a busi­ness card for O’Keefe Fiorenza De­sign Group, Daniel couldn’t be­lieve his luck. The rest, as they say, is his­tory.

The de­sign­ers and the home­own­ers im­me­di­ately hit it off. “They have such a good eye for de­sign,” O’Keefe en­thuses. “Ev­ery piece they own is a col­lec­tor’s item.” Just as im­por­tant as that de­sign com­pat­i­bil­ity, how­ever, was the cou­ple’s su­per-or­ga­nized ap­proach. They im­me­di­ately pre­sented O’Keefe and Fiorenza with a spread­sheet that listed the mea­sure­ments of all their favourite fur­ni­ture and paint­ings. Even be­fore they set to work, strip­ping the main-floor walls down to the studs, the de­sign­ers could pic­ture where key pieces of fur­ni­ture would fit, how they would look with the built-ins they were de­sign­ing, and where there were still gaps to fill.

In a house filled with beauty, the kitchen stands out. Un­mis­tak­ably mod­ern, it is also whim­si­cal: a “cas­cad­ing” back­splash sketched by Fiorenza takes cen­tre stage, the tri­an­gu­lar tiles flow­ing down to­ward the cus­tom cab­i­netry im­ported from Kvanum, a Swedish com­pany. Daniel and Dan re­mem­ber hang­ing out in the kitchen space be­fore the lay­out was fi­nal­ized, pre­tend­ing to cook a din­ner so that they could see ex­actly how the flow would work. Daniel then mea­sured all the cou­ple’s small ap­pli­ances to make sure there was space for ev­ery one. “Usu­ally we de­sign the cab­i­nets and the home­own­ers adapt their pos­ses­sions to fit,” ex­plains Fiorenza. “This was done in the re­verse way.” The fin­ished prod­uct is the re­sult of metic­u­lous plan­ning and hours on the phone with their Swedish coun­ter­parts. “We of­ten had Google Trans­late open as we talked, to make sure we were on the same page.”

The coun­ter­tops, from Cer­a­gres, are su­per-thin Lapitec, a sin­tered stone sur­face that is pop­u­lar in Europe but has yet to catch on in Canada, says Daniel, while the faucets are an iconic de­sign by Den­mark’s Arne Ja­cob­sen. Daniel sourced all these kitchen

el­e­ments, as well as the pen­dant lights, orig­i­nally de­signed in the 1950s by Louis Poulsen for the Royal Dan­ish Naval Acad­emy. “We grav­i­tated to­ward Dan­ish and Dutch style through­out the house,” ex­plains Dan. “Even when we lived in Bei­jing, our apart­ment had that feel­ing.”

But while the kitchen is com­pletely new, other rooms are tied closely to pre­vi­ous homes and coun­tries the cou­ple have lived in. The din­ing room, for ex­am­ple, is built around a so­phis­ti­cated Po­liform mar­ble­topped ta­ble dis­cov­ered in Lon­don. “We didn’t have room for it when we lived in Lon­don, but we hoped that one day we would have the space to buy it,” says Daniel

The liv­ing room, mean­while, pays homage to their shared time in Bei­jing. All the fur­ni­ture in this room, in­clud­ing the iconic Cor­bus­ier LC2 arm­chairs, comes di­rectly from their Bei­jing apart­ment. A paint­ing on one wall by up-and-com­ing artist Li Yongfei em­pha­sizes those ties. Dan com­mis­sioned the piece af­ter meet­ing the artist at an ex­hi­bi­tion in Bei­jing. She loves fish, which sym­bol­ize good for­tune, so the artist in­cor­po­rated them into a dreamy wa­ter­scape.

On the way up the stairs to the bed­rooms, a long hor­i­zon­tal niche dis­plays dozens of Delft Blue minia­ture pot­tery houses col­lected by Daniel. Since the 1950s, Dutch air­line KLM has been pre­sent­ing the houses to its busi­ness trav­ellers. A fre­quent flyer, Daniel has amassed a wor­thy col­lec­tion of the pieces, which are mod­elled af­ter real Am­s­ter­dam build­ings. “Ev­ery time we moved, I’d be trans­port­ing all of them in boxes — I fi­nally found a way to do some­thing with them,” says Daniel. Like ev­ery as­pect of the house, the niche ex­em­pli­fies what can hap­pen when style and at­ten­tion to de­tail merge. The white oak that the tiny houses are perched on is a re­cur­ring theme through­out the house, show­ing up as ac­cent de­tails on ev­ery­thing from cus­tom kitchen cab­i­netry to liv­ing room built-ins and as a top­per for the handrails on the stairs.

This is a home that en­cour­ages a sense of well-be­ing. Daniel says that at its core, it’s a prac­ti­cal house de­signed for a fam­ily with kids. And yet it’s ob­vi­ously much more. Daniel and Dan thought deeply about ev­ery de­tail in this ren­o­va­tion — in the process, cre­at­ing spa­ces that cel­e­brate their roots and trav­els while also look­ing res­o­lutely to the fu­ture. This is a house de­signed to make this fam­ily of four very happy for many years to come.

“Grow­ing up in Swe­den, I had a for­est right be­hind my par­ents’ house. I was al­ways out­side play­ing and wanted the same for my sons.”

by Sarah Brown Pho­tog­ra­phy by Photoluxstudio.com — Chris­tian Lalonde

A well-trav­elled cou­ple de­signs a unique fam­ily home that evokes their Euro­pean and Chi­nese her­itage while cel­e­brat­ing their love for Scan­di­na­vian de­sign

The cou­ple met in Bei­jing but lived in Europe for a num­ber of years be­fore set­tling in Ot­tawa. The im­pe­tus for their de­ci­sion to set­tle in Rock­cliffe Park and ren­o­vate was the ar­rival, three years ago, of their twin sons

The kitchen is mod­ern and whim­si­cal. A back­splash fea­tures tri­an­gu­lar tiles flow­ing down to­ward cab­i­netry im­ported from Kvanum, a Swedish com­pany. The faucets are by Den­mark’s Arne Ja­cob­sen, while the pen­dant lights over the counter are by Den­mark’s Louis Poulsen. “We grav­i­tated to­ward Dan­ish and Dutch style through­out the house,” ex­plains Dan

Top right and above: The cou­ple found this din­ing room set when they lived in Lon­don, while the liv­ing room fea­tures pieces from their Bei­jing apart­ment

Above and fac­ing page, top: The for­mer sun­room was ren­o­vated to be a din­ing space on the first floor and a home of­fice on the sec­ond

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