The Marvelous Mrs. McGinn


You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
Who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang, and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.


So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact.
And remember that Life’s
A Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Bling My Bell

Sapna and Harry were introduced to me through the architect I have most admired and followed in Ottawa for the last few years: Jaiveer Bawa. They had purchased a stone manor in the toniest cul-de-sac in Rockcliffe from an NHL player and wished to transform the dark and disheveled interior into a home that would serve three purposes: showcase Harry’s talent as a builder and developer, set off Sapna’s radiant beauty and warm hospitality, and most importantly for both, make their children want to return to roost. 

The first command I received from Jai was simple: “Make It Like Drake” became our mantra. Given that I view my designer touch as subtle, this directive loomed large and contrary until my first meeting when it became clear that these clients were comfortable with the exquisite taste it takes to balance the palette of black, white and gold. 

The floor plan shaped up into a regal statement of rooms that flowed from one to another allowing the client’s desire to accommodate his many friends and stately companions. Arches became the central theme with cutting edge designer lighting a close second. Every nook and cranny became an expression of quiet, restrained, jewel-like refinement. 

This concept, when perfectly executed, will redefine luxury for years to come. It will be the standard bearer and taste maker. Two extremely difficult goal posts that this hat trick of Harry, Henrietta and Jai can pull off with hard but passionate and trusting team work. 

A True Gentle Gem

The Dream Rock

Amid a rushing mountain stream
A giant boulder stands
Bright gems of mica o’er it gleam,
And on its breast I love to dream
With mosses in my hands.

The hours flow softly o’er my soul,
More light and swift than foam;
And while the ceaseless torrents roll,
Wild fancies rise from stream and knoll,
And elfin through my vision roam.

They are so fair, and yet so fleet,
I cannot hold their garments fine.
They fade while yet I cry, “Stay, Sweet!”
A farewell glance is all I meet –
An archly murmured, “Not yet thine!”

Ruby Archer

Blissful Beacon

The first time I designed for Nicki I wanted to express her voyage of coming into herself: her softer edges, a relaxed envelope that her creative and spiritual side craved as it had been held back by her business-centric alter ego.

This time, I wish this concept to be about Nicki coming home. To her truest self, the self that found completion and balance in both her work and personal life, the self that found happiness and tranquility.

Whereas in the first concept I pulled out her feminine side, this home, in both place and time, begs for a subtle emergence of her masculine side.

This concept is meant to walk the line in many ways, capturing both sides of the human yoke. The colors will echo the outside so as to make the inside walls belong to the powerful outside view. I see stone and bark as the main canvas and will bring in a blue green reminiscent of the waters below. My hope is to bring textures in to soften the masculine forms and patterns to alternately mix modern with rustic timelessness.

The concept mission is organic comfort meets creative elegance befitting a woman who has steered her way into a life fulfilled.

Barnyard Beautiful

To me
she was
those final steps
the turn around the bend
the house
with a light on
and a fire lit
and a faint laugh on a warm wind
she was always
my coming home.


Sultry Saloon

The Sultry Saloon concept came to me nearly immediately after leaving Joe and Bronwyn’s new home. Sultry emerged as the defining adjective and goal as Joe’s predilection for patina came across as soon as I saw his antique terra-cotta kilim.

As a young, laid-back and low profile couple with back-and-forth kids, the overarching goal was to make their hangout cool enough for their peers and resistant enough for children. Wild Wild West swagger starts at the hand hewn oak floors and needs to rise together with the furniture.

John Wayne’s twang meets Mae West’s talk right from the entryway: pine trees in mist, saddle stitched chairs and log side-table invite the clients to their cozy getaway as soon as they set foot in their home.

Joe and Bronwyn are unafraid of unique collectible pieces and so I sourced one of a kind vintage lights rich in colour and character.

A round table would tether down the ensuite of rooms as the dining room straddles between kitchen and living room. The kitchen counter should be a talking piece and leather and wood will be introduced to break up the monotony of the white cabinets that wrap these rooms.

The living room should offer up a sofa sized properly as well as an accent chair. The African turned wood pebbles bring the organic outdoorsy feel. In this home it is important to be able to kick up one’s feet at the end of the day.

To boot, Whitney Lewis Smith’s art offers up mystery and depth besides echoing Joe’s taste of the photographic medium.

Sultry Saloon should be as earthy, rich, and broken in as Lucky Luke’s saddle.”


Tundra Tuareg

Excerpt from “Ulysses” by Lord Tennyson

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

The Beachside Candy Shop

The Beachside Candy Shop concept emerged from the client’s love of clean pop colors, her youth, her sunniness, her penchant for retro and above all her sense of fun.

The leading colors would be pink, yellow and touches of lagoon blue. The materials that speak to the theme are rattan, light oak, papier mâché, beach towel tassel, seashells and gold.

The art was chosen to enhance the experience, but more importantly, because I am familiar with how good these artists are, how prolific they will be, that they are all Canadian, mostly female and mostly local. These pieces are all modestly priced. Artist Included: Patti Normand, Julia Campisi, Julia Callon, Troy Moth, & Heidi Conrod.

Entering this home would feel like stepping into the South of France, Saint Tropez circa 1950. Move over Brigitte Bardot!

Hollywood & Nouvelle Vague

This mood board reflects the client’s glamorous persona and her desire for a statement living space on the main floor, with a nod to her playful side and her desire for comfort and ease for her loved ones.

This rich jewel colors pop with fervor however all the while being downplayed by subtle wall and lighting treatments.

The tailored lines resonate with sophistication while the textures remain inviting. The WOW factor lies in the unique combination of all finishes reminiscent of Hollywood’s heyday as seen through a 60’s Frenh Cinematic lens.