3 min

Create a winter sanctuary

Local store has design ideas for the cooler months

Flag candle holders.

The weather may not be chilly just yet, but winter is on its way. While for most of us winterizing cars and wardrobes is de rigueur, this thinking is often not applied to the insides of our homes. Of course, few can afford to completely change home décor with the seasons, but it is possible to create a sanctuary of light and warmth in the dark, cold months of winter.

Enter Elevenfiftyfour Modern Living Space. Tucked in the heart of Old Ottawa South, the shop, which owner James Flynn opened in 2010, highlights beautifully designed pieces with a minimalist, modern aesthetic. Its mainstays are solid colours and bold shapes celebrating form and function, reflecting a philosophy that usefulness and beauty need not be mutually exclusive.

On a still-warm September afternoon, Xtra spoke with designer Shannon Demers about how to create a warmth-filled space without radically overhauling a room or breaking the bank.

Demers is a Carleton University graduate with a background in industrial design. She is full of unique ideas informed by a passion for objects that marry utility and charm. Demers points out personal favourites that, in her words, “bring some of the sunshine back into your house.”


Demers’ first suggestion is candles, which become surrogate fireplaces in spaces where there are none. To display them, she suggests the Light House ($125) by Danish brand Normann Copenhagen. This glass and metal creation elegantly houses a candle, spreading its light throughout the room and enhancing the sense of safety and comfort we associate with our bedrooms. On a smaller, less expensive scale, the Flag candle holder ($27.50) is a good way to fill your bedroom with multiple candles. It comes in a range of earthy colours, creating warmth by pairing colour with light. Demers suggests sticking to this philosophy throughout the home, accenting an otherwise neutral palette with bright, punchy pieces to create contrast. This allows you to alter décor with seasonal pieces without radically changing your space every few months.

Living room

This is the room where we entertain and where a good deal of our leisure time is spent. Again, Demers suggests sticking to a few well-chosen pieces that can be easily changed. In terms of colour palette, warm neutrals such as creamy white and beige tones and even pale blues work well. Living rooms can be accented with wood furniture, like the Tablo table ($300) from Normann Copenhagen. It’s great for small spaces and features a circular tabletop and three wooden legs that can be unscrewed for storage.

For larger furniture, Demers suggests choosing multi-purpose items such as the Fifty Nine sofa bed ($1,455) by Innovation, which can be brightened with slip covers. Textured rugs also create warmth and contrast. Elevenfiftyfour carries a selection from Toronto-based designer/importer Citak.

Elevenfiftyfour’s quintessential piece, the Frank Gehry colour cube ($249), perks up any room. Available in a range of solid colours, these pieces can function as seating or surface space and are even stackable for a purely visual aesthetic. “They’re really the undefined purpose item,” Demers says. The cubes are also UV protected, which means in summer they can be used as patio furniture.


Most of the kitchen’s seasonal appeal comes not from how it is decorated but rather from the food we make in it, necessitating a more functional approach. For this room, Demers suggests her very favourite item in the Elevenfiftyfour repertoire, the Eva Solo Cafe Solo coffeemaker ($89). “I use it every day,” she says. “It’s a pleasure to use.” This piece, which has won multiple design awards, features a glass carafe and an insertable metal filter. It comes with a neoprene zip-up cover that insulates the coffee and is available in several colours. A similar teapot is also available.

Also great for a winter kitchen is the Normann Copenhagen herb stand ($48), which features four small pots and scissors shaped like leaves. There is also the striking two-toned Krenit bowl ($19), and for those with a sense of humour, the Friends salt and pepper set ($40), painted to look like leather daddies.

How you choose to accessorize your home for the winter season is up to you. But by sticking to bright, functional pieces that create warmth and contrast, you can strike a balance between form and function to create a sanctuary of comfort during the colder months. Home, after all, is where the heart is.


Winter is the time of seasonal affective disorder, which can make focusing a problem. “For an office space, you need good lighting because there’s not as much natural light from outside,” Demers says. The LED Coral Light ($410) by QisDesign, made by the manufacturers that make Mac products, is a beautiful desk lamp that gives off the same diffuse, reflected light as living coral.

To accessorize what is otherwise a mainly functional space, the Antidote Bottle vase ($25) by Vancouver’s18Karat is eye-catching. Inspired by antique gin bottles, they’re “the perfect antidote to dull décor,” according to Elevenfiftyfour’s website. They are available in two sizes and are water safe, meaning they can hold cut flowers or whatever else your heart desires.

Elevenfiftyfour Modern Living Space
1154 Bank St