A new lease on lifePublished on October 22, 2017

  • Stephen and Janice show a playful side with their champion show dog Axl along for the ride!
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • The sweeping views of the Byward Market and downtown core were a strong attraction for Janice and Stephen
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Furnishings from their traditional family home fit in beautifully to the new space where a Dodie Lewis portrait of Janice commands attention
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • The well-appointed kitchen meets the dynamic couples entertaining needs.
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Collections of treasured objects include the Cheticamp hooked rug of the Canadian flag, purchased in Nova Scotia. The copy of Wonder Woman. An Inspiration! was a rare find.
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • The master bedroom holds historic significance with an original limestone wall.
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Cozy corner adorned with Canadian inspired cushions.
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

For many, the decision to rent a home is ideal. Whether starting out in a young marriage, moving to a new city or freshly retired, renting provides an excellent opportunity to eliminate a mortgage, avoid unforeseen household repairs and lower the cost of living.

According to one of Ottawa’s top real estate agents, Charles Sezlik, a rental can also provide time to study the real estate market, invest or save up for a down payment.

Francesca Lepine, an owner of Lepine Luxury Apartments, cannot remember a time when she was not actively involved in her family’s business of developing, building and renting high-quality, luxurious properties. When asked for tips on how tenants can transform a rental unit into a home, Francesca has a wealth of ideas to share.

“We encourage tenants to personalize their space, asking only that they seek permission before making any permanent modifications to the unit or changes to fixtures and appliances,” she says. “Landlords usually welcome paint changes if tenants agree to repaint to the original colours before moving out. A bold statement wall can easily complement your favourite furniture and as drywall is quick to patch, always hang your photos and art. Customizing the interior of closets and kitchen cupboards is another way to add comfort and familiarity.”  

First-time renters and vibrant entrepreneurs, Janice McDonald and Stephen Bleeker, recently decided to sell their family home in Rockcliffe Park and move to a beautiful historical building in the heart of Ottawa’s ByWard Market. Using their shared superpowers of great style, creativity and careful thought, the couple created a space reflecting who they are and what they love which truly exemplifies the definition of home.

Fresh renovations to their chosen unit provided the best of everything modern. Yet evidence of a rich history, dating back to 1875, remains present in features like exposed brick walls and the solid feel of a structure made to endure.

A central, sunlit foyer greets guests and features treasured décor, including a Vespa scooter and whimsical vignettes. A grand room for entertaining and gathering is revealed to the left while a right turn introduces quiet quarters for rest and conversation.

Stephen and Janice agree that similarities in age and size to their previous home attracted them to their new dwelling, making it easy to settle in.  A large corner patio amply meets their outdoor requirements, providing views of the city’s prized sites and completes what Stephen happily refers to as their “bungalow in the sky.”

By choosing a larger rental, and considering the layout, the couple could recreate some of their former favourite rooms, using their own collection of regal, yet comfortable, furniture. “For us, home is where we are, where our family gathers. Having space is key, as we want our three children and their friends to gather here. We also love to entertain.” 

A meaningful art collection decorates each wall, commemorating special celebrations and trips taken as a family. Leather-bound books and curated objects evoke memories, stir conversation and add to the décor. Rumour has it that there may be a pinball machine arriving shortly. Stately walls permit these music lovers to turn the volume up high. 

As moving to a rental often requires purging and downsizing, Janice and Stephen recommend keeping the precious things and using them. “We use the crystal, silver and other treasures passed down to us. It is a way to for us to remain close to the people who have gifted these items, and we believe they would want us to use them instead of storing them away.”

Delighted with their decision, Janice and Stephen are now embracing their new urban adventure and enjoying time to travel, pause, dream and plan.

Chloe E. Girvan

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