“I wish I knew about this place before I renovated!” I exclaimed throughout our guided tour.
My friend Solmaz and I were escorted along Ottawa Street in Hamilton, a place previously known for its textiles and lack of economic opportunity. The street is changing- has changed- and over the past 20 years, has evolved from only textiles to include home decor and finally, become a leader in Ontario’s food industry.
With the most progressive food truck by-laws in the country, Hamilton is host to Sew Hungry, a food truck event that attracts 35 food trucks and thousands of hungry guests…But I digress…
While renovating our basement, my husband and I searched the internet, shop windows and magazines for inspiration. We wanted to create a space that was uniquely OURS based on repurposed pieces and ideas. Although this may sound ‘hipster-ish,’ we like to think that this need for individuality reflects the passion we have for our projects, passion that is not unlike that seen on Ottawa Street. Ottawa Street in Hamilton has been named the ‘destination for inspiration‘ and I have to agree.
Although our tour explored many beautiful, exceptional stores and restaurants, there were a special few renovation based shops that took my breath away.
After many iPhoto pictures captioned with exclamation marks, my husband texted me saying, ‘It looks like we need to take a trip to Ottawa Street.’ Hooray!
Here are some of my reno-friendly favourites:
Wendy & Doug Kemp have curated some inspired collectables including china, furniture and jewelry. Hundred year old cufflinks and antique vanity brush & mirror set were just a part of what made this store so magical.
Located in the old Avon theatre, Remember When is clearly passionate about antiques. They are a multi-vendor store with products ranging from old books (my personal favourite), vintage memorabilia, furniture and what the store calls ‘Primitive Antiques.’ There is an exciting piece of history within each item and the staff is happy to indulge any curiosity.
3. The Edit
I have a life long love affair with Ms. Hepburn which means that cigarette pants, faux fur and clean cut simple yet classic clothing are high on my ‘must have’ list. The Edit owner and fashion blogger, Jentine, has a natural eye for style and I guarantee you will find at least one ‘must have’ for your own closet.
This store was full to the brim of beautiful consignment pieces ranging from stunning crystal decanters to oversized, gold, ornate mirrors to reclaimed wooden coffee tables. My imagination took flight as I considered the stories behind each piece. A particular set of crystal wine glasses captured my heart and I found it very hard to leave this glassware behind.
The home of decoupage, this store is ‘shabby & chic & everything neat.’ Owners Nicole and Melanie upcycle furniture with chalk and milk paint, a paint that transforms furniture without having to sand, prime and prep. This paint allows you to get creative with paint and paper and the ladies offer classes to show patrons how to get creative too. (They also sell fantastic vintage maps which will be making an appearance on my basement wall)
Molly Cowan purchases antiques that she would ‘only put in her home or cottage.’ Molly’s refined antique palate means that you will only find curated, good quality, elegant pieces of furniture and home decor. It is clear that Molly’s heart and soul is in this shop where she has captured pieces of history – and it is all very well priced.
Ottawa Street is a microcosm that is reflective of Ontario’s home decor trends as a whole. This strong and loyal community is original and inspired. Here you will find things that are reflective of who you are, what you are and what you want to be. Ottawa Street asks you to stop, look up and look around.
Although we’ve largely completed our basement renovation, I can guarantee that my husband and I will be returning to Ottawa Street for both the extraordinary pieces of history and the honest, insightful experience that this community provides.
Stay tuned for our return to Hamilton: The Curious Creature and I return to the Hammer to further explore the burgeoning food scene.
Additional photos courtesy of The Curious Creature