Defining luxury: Minto homes in the 80s and 90s

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Minto re-defined luxury and cutting-edge design with the Optima Classics collection of houses built in the Centrepointe and Chapel Hill communities. Luxurious features at the time included marble flooring, polished brass door hardware, plush nylon carpet, “leather-look” cabinets, and a sunshine ceiling in the kitchen. The houses were designed to wow with dramatic rooms and unique layouts.

Handel II

Some of the noteworthy aspects of these designs are the master bedroom suites that take up almost half of the second floor. These rooms may have double door entries, separate sitting areas, sprawling walk-in closets, high ceilings, and fireplaces. Also quite large, the ensuite bathrooms were sometimes the same size as some of the other bedrooms. Double sinks, bidets, separate shower stalls, and raised and jetted Roman bathtubs in front of a large window were synonymous with luxury at the time. Secondary bedrooms were not forgotten, and many are quite spacious with large windows and often a vaulted ceiling.

Matisse: Enterior Matisse: Floorplan

An example of these grand homes is the Matisse. The Matisse is one of the largest plans from this collection, with six bedrooms, one of which is a main-floor nanny suite. Upstairs the master bedroom is about the same size as the living room and family room combined, with a retreat, fireplace and 10-foot high ceiling. Plus, there are two walk-in closets and an ensuite as large as the kitchen! Glamorous!

In the Rembrandt, the showpiece of the house is the two-story living room that has a study/retreat with solarium windows that overlook this space. An angled wall with tall windows and a skylight over the adjacent staircase added dramatic height. The sumptuous master bedroom suite has a vaulted ceiling and a luxurious ensuite.


The Handel II has a “Scarlett O'Hara” style staircase in the centre of the house that leads up to a second level library loft space. Stretching from the front to the back of the house, the master bedroom suite is the largest room in the house and includes a fireplace. The entire back of the house is dedicated to casual living with a family room, kitchen, and breakfast room with a bay window.

Handel II: Floorplans

Even the smaller plans in the collection have impressive layouts such as the Donatello with a 16-foot high ceiling in the dining room, a distinctive staircase with a gallery overlook, and interesting angles throughout the home.

Donatello: Exterior Donatello: Floorplans

The exteriors of these houses were unique postmodern compositions that combined historic architectural elements in new and original ways. Many are all brick, a rarity in Ottawa at the time, which was often used to create visually artistic patterns on the fades.

The Optima Classics brought a new level of luxury and sophistication to Ottawa, and these houses continue to impress even today.

Discover more about the last 60 years of Minto community building and home design in our interactive timeline Minto Through The Years.

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