Elana Safronsky, Managing Editor
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 12:06 PM EDT
One of my most favourite quotes from the cult classic (and director Michael Moore's best work, IMHO) Canadian Bacon (1995):
Boomer (John Candy): The capital, Toronto.
RCMP Officer at Headquarters: No, the capital of Canada is Ottawa.
Boomer: Yeah, right. Do we look that stupid? Ottawa!
Roy Boy (Kevin J. O'Connor): Nice try, Dudley.
This pretty much sums up my gnawing guilt, as a Torontonian, over not paying enough attention to Ottawa. I endeavor to fix this.
Today I bring you a peak inside the very hip and very real home of young parents and design enthusiasts, Mihran and Katia, of Hull, where they own and operate a much-lauded furniture showroom, Mikaza Home.
I know you're thinking any minute now, I'm going to make a staggering-and-yet-totally-satisfying blunder by assuming Hull is in Ontario, but I Google-mapped it before I wrote this post, and I KNOW it's in Quebec! But really, for all intents and purposes, Hull is kind of a borough of Ottawa...isn't it?
Who: Mihran, an ex-Montrealer, and Katia, both come from a pharmaceutical background (clinical research and drug development), but now own and operate modern furniture showroom, Mikaza Home in downtown Hull. In corporate terms, Katia is the operations manager and Mihran the biz dev guy. Their son, Sevan, who is almost three, was asleep at daycare while their home was being photographed.
What: Semi-detached, early 90s urban home, approx 1,750 sq. ft., 4 bed., 3 baths, with a semi-open concept.
Where: In Central Hull, across the river from Ottawa, facing Island Park Drive. The neighbourhood is family friendly -- lots of young families -- adjoining to Gatineau Park, and very close to downtown Ottawa and Hull.
Katia’s favourite piece is the Crane floor lamp by Nuevo, for tying the entire living room together with a striking presence.
Why: I'm going to do a mini-spotlight on Ottawa. I know it may be a bit odd to start with a home tour in technically Quebec but hey, you know I'm not one for order. Plus, I think you'll enjoy the easy, youthful space of this family home....
HGTV: How did you come to choose this house?
Mihran: It’s an ideal neighbourhood for us at this point in our lives both personally (great neighbours, parks and daycare), and professionally (close to our furniture store, Mikaza Home in downtown Hull). The kitchen had just been renovated by the previous owners, coincidentally in the same finishes we were planning on. We were really drawn to the “semi” open concept of this home too. Our last two places were lofts which made cohesive decorating a challenge, let alone dealing with the aftermath of a 2 year old boy and his toys! So having a closed off kitchen and dining room helps manage the shared spaces.
The Fissure solid teak dining table by D-Bohdi, Mihran's favourite piece in the house, is made from FSC-certified, reclaimed Indonesian teak. It looks great paired with the mid-century Eiffel chairs.
HGTV: What work did you do in the house and what look were you going for?
Mihran: We renovated the floors, staircase and two bathrooms over the summer.The most important thing for us was to have a clean, minimal look, but still be inviting and warm. The dining room features a solid reclaimed teak table which is unfinished so it adds a real rustic/cozy feel to the room. We went with fabric drum shades and natural coloured lighting so the light diffuses nicely over the modern furnishings.
The black leather sectional is countered by the natural wood and soft curves of the iconic design-inspired coffee table, as well as the Scandinavian style armchair. We wanted to go with cool colours for the walls and warm up the spaces with art (local artist Alexandra Poulin) and furniture (all from Mikaza Home). For walls, we went with several greys, charcoals and whites.
HGTV: Do you find it hard to commit to furniture owning a furniture shop? Do you rotate a lot?
Mihran: Yes and yes!! We actually started our business from our previous home and our living room was essentially a showroom. Now with 4,000 sq. ft. of showroom space, we're left to furnish our home freely, but do rotate a lot, especially in the living room and dining chairs. It’s a great way to provide customers with firsthand experience on our collection as we test drive items at home quite a bit!
HGTV: What’s your favourite room in the house?
Mihran: Kitchen. It is the heart of any home and where we spend a lot of time cooking and just decompressing with a glass of wine. Close second would be the living room.
HGTV: What’s your stance on less is more? Can you offer any tips on restraint?
Mihran: It really depends on your space and lifestyle. I think every piece of furniture should have at least one function in your home, and used daily. You should also avoid redundancies and too many small pieces. For example, if you have a large coffee table in front of a sofa, maybe you don’t need 2 side tables flanking it. Ideally add furniture that doubles as storage, or hangs on a wall to free up floor space.
HGTV: Any shoestring tips for decorating?
Mihran: When re-decorating an existing space, consider shuffling pieces around first. Sometimes you can get a whole new look without having to add or remove too many items. When shopping, think longevity, both functionally and stylistically. For example, less expensive accessories can be changed rather easily to make seasonal or annual style changes, but invest in longevity for more important items such as sofas and tables.
HGTV: How have your decorating views changed since the baby?
Mihran: The obvious changes are no sharp edges, less glass items, and definitely no vases within arm’s reach! Also, as he’s gotten older, we’ve worked out the layout so he can move around freely with his toys and his friends. We also changed up the sectional from fabric to a leather one because it’s easier to wipe banana-yogurt smoothies off leather!
HGTV: Who are some of your favourite designers? Interior and/or furniture?
Mihran: There are so many iconic names in design I could name. Ray and Charles Eames are two of my favourite. Not just because of what they designed, but also because they were husband and wife team, (a mom and pop shop if you will) and often designed with fun and family in mind. As for newer designers, there are quite a few, and even several from Ottawa. We actually exhibited a couple of 4th year students’ prototypes from Carleton University’s Industrial Design program. We’re hoping to do that again this year. I think there is a lot of talent in Canadian design and we are looking for ways to promote and support it.
HGTV: How does Ottawa rank on the design scale in general?
Mihran: Ottawa in many ways is undergoing an awakening with respects to progressive design. Having moved here from Montreal 5 years ago, I have seen a growing trend towards re-urbanization and by effect, an increase in appetite for modern design. Many people are sensing the change, and are looking for local resources to fill their needs. Ottawa is often defined as a conservative town, where “bold” ideas take longer to germinate, but in some ways, that has allowed for the gradual infiltration of good design throughout the city in all age groups, not just in select pockets.
Mihran: We opened our first shop in late 2008 and were very well received. I don’t think we would have enjoyed the same reaction in a larger city such as Montreal where we might have just blended in with the status quo. I also really dig the new architecture popping up all over Ottawa and Gatineau. Be it modern towns and singles in Wellington and Hintonburg or condo towers with a nod to mod design such as the Mondrian downtown and Cartier Wellington in Old Hull, or public works as well, such as the new Conference Centre.
HGTV: Back to your reno, your bathroom is a real looker! How did you choose the tile work?
Mihran: Thanks! Katia did the design and layout. We tore down a few walls to expand the bathroom quite a bit. All the tiles are from Euro Ceramics (Ottawa), including the stunning glass tile by Terra Verra. The cabinets are from Ikea; hardware from Mondeau Bathrooms (Ottawa.)
HGTV: What are you coveting these days?
Mihran: For our home and store, we’re really excited to be adding more sofas from G. Romano. They are Canadian designed and manufactured, modern and affordable. We want one for our TV room!
HGTV: Do your styles differ as a couple? Who calls the shots?
Mihran: We more or less fall in line with each other, and as for part two -- we are happily married, so I guess the answer is obvious!!!
HGTV: Are you finished? What’s next on the home agenda?
Mihran: This was our first decent size renovation and we really enjoyed it. Our next step will be to invest in another property and fix it up. We’ll follow the same mantra for that one too -- modern warm!
Stay tuned for a look at Katia and Mihran's showroom, Mikaza Home!