It's an invasion, to say the least, to open your home up to some 2500 strangers who are coming to check out your décor during a weekend tour.
But when that tour is done for a good reason it's not hard to find willing participants.
For its annual event, Homes for the Holidays, has no trouble finding gorgeous homes to visit. Most people generously consider it a privilege to be involved with such a worthwhile cause that benefits the Hospice at May Court. The 2009 November event featured six unique residences from across Ottawa, decorated by top designers and florists.
Ottawa At Home took a private tour of two of the six houses, which all have something special to offer. Both homes sit prestigiously in different areas of the city and each holds a strong sense of community and tradition.
The Waserman House
A stunning infill in trendy Westboro Village, offers just what the design experts at Jacobsons Gourmet Concepts needed to create a home decked out for holiday entertaining. To implement the winter wonderland theme, envisioned for this elegant home, shop-owner Susan Jacobson enlisted the help of the managers from their Mont Tremblant location. Simon Ekemberg and Erick St-Amoir played upon the architectural design elements established by one of the city's premier builders, Uniform Developments, who turned the property (originally owned by Charles Ogilvy) into a chic, award-winning urban project.
The homeowners Phil Waserman and Valerie Bishop-DeYoung were approached by a committee member from Homes for the Holidays and they were eager to participate: "Working in the health care sector, I know the value of a hospice and the struggle for funding. This was an easy decision," stated Valerie who echoes the sentiments of all participants.
As for letting the professionals come in and take over the holiday decorating of a home that combines both the Jewish and Christian faiths, Valerie is delighted with the process and exclaims, "The holidays are a rich season of learning for both families. I love this time of year, but decorating can be a real challenge. Not this year - I'm really excited about Jacobsons' vision for our home!"
Ashbury House is home to Tam Matthews, the Headmaster of Ashbury College, and his wife Jan, a teacher at the prestigious Rockcliffe Park private school. This busy couple didn't think twice about opening the doors of their Georgian-style home to help raise funds for the organization that provides support and care to patients with life-threatening illnesses, and to their families.
The Matthews believe in the "circle of caring." Jan Matthews says, "Since the school was established in 1891, there have been a number of alumni and past-parents who have benefitted from the hospice." Adding that, "Whenever possible we will try to support and give back to the community."
Tam Matthews offers, "Ashbury is a private school with a public purpose and a long history of serving the community. Students are taught the importance of service to others and compassionate leadership. An event like this let's us lead by example."
The home is used to taking in large numbers of visitors as a central gathering place for many school-sanctioned events, but none quite to this level. With a bright, open space geared towards entertaining students, alumni, parents and visiting guests, Ashbury House serves as a veritable show-home for the talents of the decorating team at Bloomfields Flowers, who ran with a French country theme to create the impression of an elegant European village home.