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The Oxford

Continuing last weeks post featuring the first of 7 Models Homes “The Dover” designed by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor we welcome you to The Oxford. The Oxford is the most popular model for Tamarack Homes mainly due to its size and price. We felt that this one needed to be the showstopper out of all the models; it needed to suit the majority of buyers in style. I decided to put a survey on the SKD Facebook page, showing pictures of several design style and had people vote on their favorite. Hands down the Beach style home with its soft colour combined with warm woods was the favorite so from that point on our Oxford became the “Beach House”.

The Planning…




Above you can see the original floor plan of the Oxford, we changed a few things in the design to better feature the style of home.


Here are the original concept boards presented to Tamarack for approval, again like the Dover, the original concept evolved and took a new form into what it is today.




The Original Lighting



The Changes to the Oxford Kitchen: What did we change?

  • Took out the L shaped island with raised counter design and added a 9′  island that housed the sink, microwave and dishwasher
  • added more cabinetry to the back wall
  • added a glass cabinet that was free standing to the previous dinette area
  • added the optional butlers pantry
  • took the wall separation between the fridge and the butlers pantry out and used wine cubbies to separate, making it look like one big space.
  • chose all the cabinetry style and layout 



The changes to the frieplace wall: What did we change?

  • Took out the standard fireplace wall and designed a new one
  • added builtins



Welcome to THE OXFORD!


  • Boshkung-Walnut—Natural Cabinets
  • Shaker-White cabinets
  • Quartz – TORQUAY


























Photography : Charlene Burnside Photography 

Designers: Sonya Kinkade Design & Modecor

Builder: Tamarack Homes 












Heather Burke

Love your design work on this model. I went to look at it in person and it was impressive! Love the upholstered ottoman ;)

Wow! Wow! Wow! Absolutely beautiful ladies!

[...] The Oxford [...]

[...] The Madison, the third single Tamarack Model Home at Poole Creek in Stittsville, is undeniably the most eclectic in it’s design. Sonya and I decided that each model home would have a designated $$$ value and a unique personality.  The smallest of the three singles, the Madison, had a $ value assigned which meant there were more standard finishes chosen. Thankfully Tamarack has a wide selection of standard finishes, but the unique and eclectic design elements woud be achieved with colour, fabric, furniture, lighting and accessory selections. We decided this home would be edgy with a blue, orange and white colour scheme. To follow along with the introduction of the model home designs by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor click here for a brief background, and the introductions of  The Dover and The Oxford  . [...]


The Dover

A Year ago I received a call from Tamarack Homes here in Ottawa asking if I would be interested in designing 7 of their new model Homes being built in 2014 in Pool Creek, Stittsville. I have never designed model homes before and work solely with private clients, but being who I am, and the fact it was something different, I decided I was going to go for it. I quickly realized, however that this was going to be a daunting task. It was 7 homes, and I was but one designer, top that off with my other clients and you get a recipe for disaster. I called my friend and fellow Designer Maureen Coates of Modecor to see if she would be interested in this project and to my delight she was.

How do you start a huge project like this? Well, the first thing was to present a “basic” budget to Tamarack. This budget included design hours, sourcing hours, onsite visits, setup & revealed, all furniture, all accessories and all window coverings. Maureen and I then decided we would split up the houses and draw up our concept of how we wanted these houses to look. We wanted each house to be totally different than the other, all with very distinct personalities. Some of these homes would have full upgrades, and some of them would be almost all standard finishes. SKD took two single family homes that included the Dover and the Oxford, and two Townhomes that included The Hudson and The Cambridge. Modecor took one single The Madison and two townhomes that included The Chelsea and The Eton. We worked for about two weeks on our concepts, with lots of emails back and forth keeping each other up on what we were doing and then we presented to Tamarack. The presentation was a success, and we were off and running making our concepts come alive.

Now, even though we each had our homes, and we designed the concepts to them, from that moment on, we both participated in making them come alive.

In this blog series featuring each model, Maureen and I have again taken our individual homes and will feature each on our blogs.


The Dover



I knew right away that I wanted a modern home that unlike most would feel warm and moody rather than stark and cold. When I originally thought of this home Mad Men came to mind…warm woods, scotch by the fire and green velvet…yes velvet! This vision I had that developed into The Dover.


Here is a few of my original concept boards presented to Tamarack for The Dover…

Now like most design “concepts” they develop and bloom into something much more detailed, and the direction takes a new form.Our first visit to the Tamarack Design Centre was to start choosing all the finishes for the homes, this included the following

  • flooring- wood, tile and carpet
  • paint
  • door styles
  • mouldings
  • door hardware
  • bathroom tile
  • faucets
  • toilets
  • sinks
  • stone
  • backsplash
  • kitchen door styles
  • quartz counter tops
  • door hardware


We took pictures of all our selections, and the paper work was filled out.  Here is one of the kitchen boards for finishes


We then had several meetings with Muskoka Kitchens going over the design and final finishes and changed to kitchen several times trying to get exactly what we wanted. After many changes to the original designed kitchen, I sat down at my computer and designed the Dover kitchen to what it is today. It was a totally different direction to what tamarack has done before, but they loved that about it, and our kitchen was complete.

Here are a few of my final drawings for the Dover Kitchen and the custom fireplace and built-ins.


Now it was time for fabrics and wallpaper, after many, many weeks of sourcing for all of the homes our fabrics were chosen and ordered.


Here is a few of our fabric choices for the Dover


Next up was the lighting…..because these were model homes we were limited to only upgrading certain fixtures, so we really had to choose wisely to make the most impact. I love this part of the project; the lighting is so important to a space, it can truly make it…or break it.

Our concept board for the Dover lighting


For each of our concepts, we had chosen furniture ideas that would work in the space, some of those items made their way into the finished product, and some new ones appeared. Our biggest challenge was trying to find a velvet green sofa in the exact colour of green we wanted. We managed to find the perfect velvet while sourcing for fabric, so we had Luxe furniture in Ottawa send the fabric out and had it upholstered on our chosen sofa. It wasn’t the cheapest solution, but this was a key piece in the design and without it would fall short.

All of the furniture, area carpets and accessories in the Dover were purchased from the following stores.

  1. Luxe Ottawa
  2. Restoration Hardware
  3. Urban barn
  4. West Elm
  5. Structube
  6. Ikea Ottawa
  7. eCowhides
  8. Mikaza Home
  9. HomeSense 


Introducing The Dover


Dover Kitchen


The Dover Great Room



The Dover Dining Room



The Dover Basement Family Room



The Dover Basement Bathroom



The Dover Stairway



The Dover Main Bath



The Dover Master Bedroom



The Dover Master Bathroom



Photography : Charlene Burnside Photography 

Designers: Sonya Kinkade Design & Modecor

Builder: Tamarack Homes 

[...] last weeks post featuring the first of 7 Models Homes “The Dover” designed by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor we welcome you to The Oxford. The Oxford is the most [...]

[...] by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor click here for a brief background, and the introductions of  The Dover and The Oxford [...]

[...] The Dover [...]

[...] you have seen the previous models, designed by Sonya Kinkade Design and Modecor, you will notice The Dover, The Oxford, The Madison and The Hudson had a selection of standard and upgrade finishes as a [...]


What makes a good Design….what makes a GREAT Designer?


This is a loaded question I know, but a few questions that I have been asking myself lately. In this age of social media, there is a lot more contact with magazine publishers, blogs, fellow designers and clients who all have their opinion and lets face it feel free to share it while hiding behind a computer screen. I ask you then, who is the expert on this subject? Is it publishers? is it fellow designers who believe they have a right to judge other designs? Alternatively, is it the future client?

What makes a good design?

Well, let’s take a look at this…..
In Design school, we are book taught and learn all the ins and outs of proper design rules with the basics on the elements and principles of design……


  • LINE
  • SIZE





All these things come into play when we are designing spaces for our client…..among other things.

However, with all these things we learn in school nothing matters without the talent…you can know everything there is to know about design on paper but without the talent to execute it the designs fail.

Good Design

What makes someone’s else’s designs look better than the other? Many factors come into play…

  • The average client does not have bank account full of money for you to execute these types of designs….they just don’t, so we as designers are working with a tight budget. We are not all sourcing custom products, but instead shopping at local furniture stores trying to find a piece that works best in the space and on a shoe string budget. We are sometimes sourcing tile, flooring, vanities & kitchens at big box stores so our choices are limited.
  • We are dealing with “real”people, with busy lives, real bills and family’s with kids and animals and issues. Because of this, the choices we are making are based on fingerprints, space requirements, dog hair and everyday necessities…..there are no “showrooms” in these spaces.
  • We have real clients who come with baggage, meaning most designs do not feature all brand new items plopped in a room…how ideal would that be? However, realistically for us “average” designers we are using many pieces that have already been there or a customer has purchased on their own and are working around these items. Would we choose them for the space? no…but the client loves them and we try to make it work. 
  • Sometimes we are dealing with unrealistic timelines, and clients have started a new build or renovation and do not bring you in until the contractor is pressuring them for all the finishing, and now you as a designer are scrambling to find all the flooring, lighting, tile. paint and so on and so on within a few weeks! leaving us to choose what’s in stock and to work with what elements may have already been brought into the design before you started.



So what makes a good design?

Its simple, good design is not a house or room that executes every element of design perfectly as some may like you to believe. A good design does not have to incorporate the best tiles from Italy, the most incredible furniture that is “personally” designed by the designer, a huge house that has 10′ ceilings and incredible moulding details throughout.
Good Design may visually not be perfect to some, and it may not be “magazine worthy or follow all the rules but it incorporated “EVERYTHING” of your clients wants & needs as best as you could while making the space work for them. It is beautiful to them, it meets their needs, and it is not picture perfect, but it is perfect for “them”…….that is good design.

What makes a great Designer?

For every reason I listed above…A great designer is there for their client, and a great designer is not trying to bully their client into things they do not want or need so so they look good to their peers and are lining up their next magazine photo. We take what is given to us; a shoestring budget, the house of 5 children and 3 dogs, small home, a large home a client with many ideas that may not be our own and we run with it. We run with it the best we can and we make something beautiful to them and to our hearts because we know they are happy, and we are fulfilled and content.
I am not going to lie to you, we all want that one job, that one job that money is no object, with free rein to create your dream space. If I had that client I would create one spectacular space, and it would be worthy of the House & Home spread and all the praise from my peers because I am good as are many of my colleagues but just have not had a chance to show our work to its full potential.
In closing I just want to say this, I see many posts on twitter and facebook by designers, bloggers, and just your average Joe picking apart other peoples designs and choices….I ask you, what makes you the judge and jury on whats good design or a good designer without knowing all the facts involved in the design. Do you know everything the designer had to deal with before choosing that style of sofa that you just bashed? no, I do not think you do. Think about your words and actions before you post them, you may have had the opportunity to create a fantastic space without all the limitations they were dealing with…think about that.
I may not be the best Designer out there, but I am good and I am there for my client and I am always respectful of others.

Absolutely the best posting I’ve ever read about ‘good design’. People do not know what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ and the limitations that were imposed, or things we as designers had to deal with. As designers, we know what a tough job this is and should be supporting each other. I’m very happy to have started a Facebook group for interior designers, we are there for each other and support each other in our work. Great article, thank you!


Thanks so much Jil, just felt it needed to be said!

Jackie Chambers

A successful project is one where the client’s needs are met, if not exceeded, and they are happy with the finished result. A successful project = a good designer. Keep your head up, Sonya. Your satisfied clients are proof of your talent and skill. No outside validation needed.


Thanks Jackie and I totally agree!


Quebec Cottage Part 3: The Kitchen & Sunroom

Well, we have come to the final chapter of my 3 part series on my clients cottage and today we are going to take a peek inside the kitchen and sunroom……come on in:)


The Kitchen


As I mentioned in my previous posts Part 1 and Part 2, The main area is open concept and somewhat small. When you are dealing with three main areas Living room, Dining & Kitchen that are open to each other it takes some playing around  to make it all work and flow beautifully.Each space needed  to be distinctly its own.

I automatically chose white for the kitchen for a few reasons
a) Throughout the cottage, I was keeping a very calm, bright and fresh look and feel, and I wanted the kitchen to reflect that
b) The area was small and by choosing white it opened up the space and made it look larger.
c) It was open concept, and the white made your eye flow seamlessly throughout the room.


SKD original sketch of island detailing


For the island, I  wanted it to look like a piece of furniture you bought and dropped into place. It was sitting smack dab in the middle of this open concept room, so it needed to be a little different than the rest of the kitchen I thought. You could see it from every angle of the open room, from the hallway and entry and the sunroom so let’s make it worth a view. I decided the sides and sitting area needed to be visually appealing, so it was decided to add the X detailing on each side and the horizontal and vertical detailing. Above you can see my original concept sketch of the island.




Cambria Snowdon White


For the island counter top, I chose Cambria’s Snowdon White (Quartz). It is so fresh and has the illusion of gleaming snow flecks (winter) or little flecks of grey and tan sand (summer) that add substance to  all white background.



On the white kitchen surround, we decided to go with a laminate to help keep the costs down….it is a cottage after all. I chose a grey that picks up the grey flecks in the quartz on the island. The laminate has as a slight linen texture to it  complimenting the space.



On the backsplash, I opted for a straight simple white subway tile keeping it clean and seamless to the eye.



The owners already purchased the island chairs. They were originally in black, but I took them and had them sprayed just a whisper of blue….very subtle but so fresh and clean.



I purchased and IKEA dining table and had it sprayed the same colour of blue as the island chairs and added 6 of these pretty wicker chairs from Pottery Barn to add texture. Because of space limitation the table can be set up for 4 but opened up for six if need be.





The Sunroom


For the sunroom, my clients  wanted this space to be cozy and comfortable….a little space where they could enjoy their surroundings and be tucked away from the elements outside. The sunroom is a tiny room that we clad in unfinished pine and finished the floors in a beautiful 12 x 24 porcelain tile that was a beautiful crisp white with veining like waves of the ocean and sand. The room being so tiny made it difficult to get everything in that we needed without it feeling cramped.


The sofa and chairs were sourced not only on a “cottage” budget but for a small enough scale to have it work with the room. We were lucky enough to find this outdoor wicker set at HomeSense that was the perfect size for the room. It was small enough to fit snugly into the corner of the room leaving us the much needed space on the opposite side.


The matching glass Coffee table helped to keep the space visually open.




When I first asked the owners what they wanted the room to be used for, they had mentioned just a sofa and chairs for sitting. Now being a cottager myself I thought if I could fit a little 2 person table in there for eating breakfast in the morning it would be great. I asked my clients if they would like this, and they quickly said not to bother, as they thought they would never use it. I decided on my own that if I could make it work that this table was going in, my gut told me that it was a perfect addition to the space and that my clients would be thankful for it in the end. After the area had been set up, my clients headed up for a weekend at the cottage and sent me a wonderful email saying how much the LOVED their new space and how HAPPY they were with the table in the sunroom, they enjoyed their breakfast and coffee out there tremendously. Happy client….


This little bar cart I found at HomeSense in the perfect subtle shade of blue, almost exactly the same blue as the one I had painted on the island chairs and the dining table…what a find! I filled it with baskets for extra storage and all the goodies a good bar cart needs. It was a great filler for the corner and a wonderfully added element to the room.


I found this HUGE lamp at Pottery Barn that I thought would be so much fun in the room. You can fill the base with corks from many wonderful evenings shared with friends up at the cottage, such a conversation piece!  The space was finished with many other little details making the sunroom a favourite spot in the cottage.



Thanks for taking this journey with me through my client’s cottage, it has been great fun and I hope you enjoyed it!


Special thanks to Maureen Coates of MODECOR who helped SKD  on three occasions to set it up and style the space for my clients helping me bring my vision to life……too much work for one girl alone!

Thank you to my wonderful Hubby who DRAGGED a bunch of furniture up there “in his spare time” HA!

Thanks to Ottawa at Home Magazine for your interest in this space and featuring it in your July issue!

Ottawa at home Photography captured by Mark Holleron


And lastly thanks again to Charlene Burnside Photography for capturing this space with all the gorgeous pictures used throughout this 3 series post.





Absolutely gorgeous! I love the lighting you chose for the kitchen

Wow! I can’t believe this is a cottage, it’s so fabulous!! I am so in love with the cottage lifestyle, and I really think you’ve captured the laid back, lake side atmosphere perfectly in this space, especially with that island!

Absolutely beautiful! As usual Sonya, you have covered every detail in this warm, clean and comfortable cottage. Love it ALL!

A lovely and comfortable space. I love the detail on the island especially.
Great work.

It’s really fabulous! I love everything you chose…definitely the little breakfast table was an an awesome idea!

Gorgeous island! Your whole place looks so inviting; bravo!!

I love the light, airy look in the room. Great combination of white, natural browns and indigo. You have added some lovely touches as well.


A lovely job with small spaces. Isn’t it fun to find the “perfect” piece while out looking for something else? I do like the colour choices, each room has a distinct feel, and easier to keep track of which linens go in which room!

Every detail is perfect! I love how the backs of the stools match the island ends. Ingenious!

Wow it’s all just so gorgeous Sonya! Well done and congrats for the magazine feature!


Quebec Cottage part 2: the Living Room and Bathrooms

A week has past and as promised part 2 of my clients cottage in Quebec. I had mentioned in last weeks post Quebec Cottage part 1 The Bedrooms that part 2 would be the Living Room and Kitchen….well a girl can change her mind:). This week we are going to take a look at the living room and bathrooms.


Basement Guest Bath


The Basement bathroom was going to be  a guest bathroom. Because this was a cottage, and I was budget conscience for my client we decided to go with one unit Shower/ Bath combination and store bought vanity. You would be amazed at some of  the store bought vanities from large box stores, how nice they can look in the area, and they can come with stone counters as this one did. Don’t be afraid to play up a bathroom a little bit with whimsical ladders for towels a small seating area. It is an excellent way to fill in unused space.


The Main Bath


For the main bath, I designed the cabinetry for the clients. To save on cost we used a laminate counter top but made up for it in the cabinet itself. My clients were taller and requested a vanity to reflect that so you will notice it is a bit higher than what you may be used to. The pendant lighting is a nice added touch and is readily available at your local Home Depot. I was lucky to find this gorgeous porthole style mirror while sourcing at HomeSense.


The Living Room


The Living room is open concept including the kitchen and dining area so decorating it was a little different the some living rooms. It was important in layout and how each area would be viewed throughout the space. It all had to click. I knew that the kitchen, walls, fireplace, and furniture were going to be fresh and light with pops of blues so I chose a dark wide plank flooring to warm up the space and  set the stage for the rest of the area. The area was small so in order to get more seating in but keep the sight lines open from the hallway and the entryway in the home I decided on a pouf. They are not only great looking but practical.


All Images photographed by Charlene Burnside Photography 


Just me next week when for the final post in this 3 Post series, The Kitchen and Sunroom.




Sheron Drummond

oh My God Sonya….that is outstanding. I just love it !!
The colors are beautiful…what a great spot to spend some
relax time…..Wow, just Wow !!!!

[...] I mentioned in my previous posts Part 1 and Part 2, The main area is open concept and somewhat small. When you are dealing with three main areas [...]