At 28, Natasha Josselyn is on the younger end of the homeowner scale at The Corners on Main, but by no means the only resident in her 20s. With homes ranging in size from practical pied-à-terres to one-of-a-kind three bedrooms, there was bound to be a perfect fit for everyone. As of July 2018, with all the pieces in place, there is now full occupancy in the Phase One of the building! Phase Two is under construction and will be completed Spring 2019.
Natasha, from Ottawa, has returned to her hometown, purchased her first home, and has a rewarding career as an English, Drama and Design teacher at Elmwood, an IB Private School in Rockcliffe Park. From the looks of it, she’s got her life figured out. But this life-long learner, and self-described “hippie dreamer” continues to find ways to grow both personally and professionally, and the freedom of a maintenance-free one bedroom condo at The Corners on Main is her perfect launching pad.
Once Natasha had a chance to settle in, we caught up with this friendly, magnetic first time buyer (who moved in this February) to ask some questions about her life now, and what her future holds.
What were you up to before moving in to The Corners on Main?
I’m from Ottawa –born and raised. I went to Canterbury (an arts high school) for Dance, then moved to Toronto for undergrad (Dance major, English Minor at York University), and Australia for teacher’s college (English and Drama at Griffith University); then I returned to Canada and took a short-term contract at a boys’ private school in Toronto, after which my current position opened up at Elmwood School (for girls) here in Ottawa. It was fortunate for me that they needed someone with my qualifications, so I officially moved back home in 2014.
Is this the first home you’ve owned? What made you decide to purchase a condo?
This is my first home of my own. I wanted to be central, within walking distance from the Glebe, Lansdowne, and the canal. A place right in the Glebe is very expensive and older homes need a lot of work and upkeep. I wanted my own place because I’ve never lived on my own before and wanted to invest rather than pay rent to someone else. In a condo, I feel safe. I’m on my own; meanwhile, the building and grounds are maintained, and I have the comfort of knowing that there is security here. I like the people, the neighbourhood is safe, and the building is secured in the lobby and then again by my own door. I am independent and I have privacy, but never feel lonely – I am part of a community which is literally just outside my door. It’s also nice that I don’t have to worry about plowing snow or mowing the lawn. There’s a lot of behind-the scenes work involved in teaching; often that work comes home with me, and I also need to feed my yoga and dance addictions, so I don’t have a lot of extra time.
Why did you choose to buy at The Corners on Main?
I love this location and Domicile, the builder, has a good name. The value in this property will only go up as this area continues to grow, and the new pedestrian bridge over the canal is just about up and running!
Are there benefits to living “maintenance-free”?
I have more time for me! I go to yoga almost every day, and I belong to an amateur dance company called PushPULL. We are dancing professionals who choreograph and dance throughout the year with performances in May. I also direct the Middle School Production at Elmwood during the first semester of school, and the planning and biweekly rehearsals take over my life September to December. Not having to worry about maintenance at home is a life-saver!
What do you love most about your home?
I love that it’s my safe haven. As a teacher, I spend a lot of time talking and being surrounded by students and colleagues at work. I love that, and it’s a wonderful community, but when I come home, I need quiet and space to be on my own. This is the place where I can unwind and re-energize so that I can be my best me again tomorrow.
What is your favourite piece of furniture/décor within your space?
It’s hard to say what my favourite is because I’m very lucky to have a number of lovely family heirlooms from England and Germany and some custom pieces created by my boyfriend. There are also some pretty cool features of the space itself, like the window seat, that I call my “reading nook”. I love the open-concept design and big windows and balcony looking into the inner courtyard. I also love my bookshelf, crammed full of a collection of the “Great Books” from my grandparents who recently passed away. They were both English teachers, like me, and so they left me this collection of classics. All the great thinkers, philosophers and writers are in there – Plato, Socrates, Chaucer, Dante, Kant, Thomas Aquinas, etc. It feels like I have a piece of Grandma and Granddad with me. I have an antique blue and white tea set from my Great Oma in Hamburg, Germany. I’m also pretty crazy about the afghan that my own Oma made me in my favourite teal colours, which are central to my décor palette. I also can’t forget the utensil holder my Oma painted for me, and the teapot my mom painted for me. Last year, for Christmas, I gave them gift certificates to go to the Mud Oven, and what did they do? They went there and painted me presents for my new place. They used my favourite colours and they personalized their functional works of art with little messages –so sweet. I have an oak coffee table, a collection of antique plates on the wall and a cute porcelain dog, all inherited from my grandparents, which have been in the family for generations (they’re from my Great Great Auntie Maizie in England).
What do you enjoy about the neighbourhood you’re in?
I love that my favourite restaurant, The Green Door, is across the street next to my favourite little boutique shop, Three Trees, and Café Qui Pense is also pretty sweet. I’m a yoga-loving hippie, so it’s like I was destined to live here. It’s also pretty wonderful to be so close to the Glebe! Now that the bridge is almost done, I’m about to go from a 20-25 minute walk to Lansdowne to about a 10-minute walk, and it’s possibly my favourite Ottawa hangout. It’s great for dates, getting together with friends, etc. I also really enjoy running along the river, or even just going for walks by the river –it’s calming, peaceful, serene. I’m crazy about my new neighbourhood. Growing up in Orléans, I would have killed to step out my front door and be able to walk down the street to a coffee shop. Now I have that!
What’s your favourite order at Café Qui Pense and The Green Door?
At Café Qui Pense, I get a matcha latte with soy milk and whatever gluten-free treats they have (they usually have something with chocolate and it’s always awesome). At the Green Door, I pile my plate high with just about everything. I always baffle my friends because they don’t understand how I can eat so much, but at the Green Door, I go all out. My favourites would have to be their cucumber raita, the avocado dish, and the broccoli and tofu stir-fry – just the best.
You mentioned your boyfriend is moving in. How will you balance your décor preferences? When’s he moving in?
My boyfriend, Ray, will be moving in next summer. He’s been with me every step of the way with the décor. He loves to take on DIY projects, so he’s currently making some floating live edge wood shelves for the bedroom. We went out to the lumberyard in Manotick and picked out the wood together; he did the measurements and design (he’s a draftsman at a civil engineering firm, very creative and into designing and building one-of-a-kind pieces) and they (The WoodSource –great place and great service!) made the cuts for us. Then Ray sanded everything down, did multiple coats of finish and the next step will be the Epoxy coating; then we can grab some copper pipes and start mounting. He’s got multiple other projects for our place on the back burner, and he just keeps coming up with new ideas for storage and décor. Whenever I ask him about something I want to get or do, he’s always very practical about it –so long as it works and makes sense, he likes it –though he does joke that we’ll just change everything when he moves in anyway. I’m the hippie dreamer and he’s very grounded, so we balance each other out.
Second-hand family pieces are convenient, free, but are also valuable heirlooms. What does it mean to you to have so many of these items featured prominently in your space?
It reminds me of my European heritage and gives me the sense that all the people who have lived with and loved those pieces over the years somehow live on here at Corners with me.
Let’s talk about your recent yoga trip to Aruba! What did you learn? Did you feel secure leaving your condo unattended?
I was sad to leave my home, my happy place, but I knew it would be well looked after by the property management – that was a great feeling! I went to Aruba for three weeks to do my Yoga Teacher Training at Island Yoga, with Rachel Brathen, also known as Yoga Girl, and it was an incredible, life-changing experience! It was so cool to be completely immersed in the yogic lifestyle, surrounded by 51 other trainees who are crazy hippies, just like me. We all learned so much and I feel like I’ve grown … become more self-aware and focused on what matters to me. It was challenging, physically, mentally and emotionally, but it was work that needed to be done, and I formed many new friendships with like-minded yogis. I now have my YTT certification! I went there mostly to improve my own practice and become my own teacher, but I left feeling confident in my yoga teaching abilities. I would love to become a part of a yoga community at The Corners on Main, and I really do believe that yoga is for everyone. I want to bring this to my community here –and to my students at Elmwood! We already have one certified yoga instructor on staff, but having another can’t hurt. Throughout my whole training, I was thinking about my students and how I could integrate some simple mindfulness exercises into our daily classes. I think taking this course has helped me to be a better all-around teacher and person.
What subjects do you teach at Elmwood? What do you hope your students learn from you?
I teach in the Middle School and have taught grades 6 to 8, English, Drama, and Design. I am responsible for the annual Middle School Production, which is an extra-curricular opportunity for students to take part in a play that we mount in December. I also used to run a couple Dance Clubs and an Arts Council, but every year is a little bit different. The year before last, I worked as part of an Innovation Team, where we came up with a variety of ideas to make creative changes in the school which management has incorporated in various ways. Teamwork became a big focus for us last year and it was inspiring to work with another teacher and be able to bounce ideas off one another. I have appreciated the close-knit community feeling of Elmwood and have been lucky enough to see many of my students through their Middle School years. I taught them Drama in Grade 6, then Drama and English in Grade 7, and again in Grade 8 last year. By the end of the year, I was jokingly asking them where we were all going to University together. All this to say, I don’t yet know what I’ll be teaching next year, but here’s hoping I get Grade 9 English!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Do you plan to be in Ottawa for the long term?
Teaching first year university students? I joke, but I do wonder about getting my Master’s and maybe one day, my Ph.D., and perhaps becoming a university professor some day. That having been said, I’m not entirely sure where I see myself five years down the line. I’m still marvelling at all the possibilities. I love Ottawa and, in recent years, I’ve started to see myself here permanently. I also love my job and my students and I can’t imagine leaving them. Still, yoga, dance and healthy living are a very big part of my life, and I believe these big loves and my teaching are all destined to become interrelated somehow. I can see myself starting my own business one day, perhaps as a sideline to my teaching, but I’m also interested in Art Therapy and the idea of integrating that into what I do with the Middle School Production. I see a growing need for new ways to support kids and young people. They deal with such a fast pace, busy world, full of technology, questions about the world economy and ecology … new kinds of stress that we are just starting to recognize. As for my career, anything could happen, and I kind of love that. In terms of my home, hopefully, when Ray moves in, we’ll still find this condo spacious enough. If we ever decide we want a little more space, fingers crossed we’ll be able to get our hands on a two-bedroom at Corners!