Richard White, For the Calgary Herald, April 5, 2012
She’s a four-time Olympic medallist and three -time 1,500-metre World Cup Champion.
She is also a community advocate and has been for some time. For many years, she has been an ambassador for Right to Play and Clean Air Champions.
The former focuses on improving the lives of children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world through sport, while the latter is a school-based program educating children about climate change and active transportation.
More recently, Groves’ community activities have turned to sustainability, including a Bed-In in the front window of the Obasan Organic Mattress Boutique.
Her Give Green A Chance initiative captured the attention of Yoko Ono, who originated Bed-Ins for world peace with Ono’s late husband, John Lennon of The Beatles.
Ono sent an e-mail to the speedskater: “Kristina, congratulations for your wisdom and courage. I love you! Yoko.”
Question: Which room is your favourite? And why?
Answer: I love the living room which is connected to the kitchen, because it’s warm and combines vintage with modern. It is totally livable.
It contains some of my favourite things, many of which have been given to me by family and friends. I love the room because almost everything in it has a story, is unique in some way or has special meaning.
Question: Who designed the room?
Answer: I’ve spent years doing and redoing various projects in the room, with some degree of success. I replaced the ugly old brick on the fireplace with terracotta tiles when we first moved in, and did a reasonable job, but it wasn’t perfect.
You could tell it was a DIY, so recently I had a tiler come and redo it professionally.
I enlisted the help of Lori Andrews with Lori Andrews Interiors for a consultation to get some ideas on bringing it all together.
I loved all her ideas. She suggested painting the whole house white which had a dramatic effect making the room both bigger and brighter.
She also gave fabric suggestions for chairs and curtains and furniture placement.
Question: What kind of things do you like to do in the room?
Answer: Mostly, we (Groves lives with her long- time partner Scott Maw, who is a strength and physiology consultant for the Canadian Sport Centre in Calgary) entertain guests and relax.
We don’t have a TV, so entertainment consists mostly of listening to music or the radio, or some vinyl on a sweet old turntable I picked up at the Goodwill.
Sometimes, we watch movies on the computer or take naps on the sofa.
Question: What are your favourite pieces of furniture?
Answer: My tastes have changed a lot in recent years.
I’m more interested in investing in timeless furniture. I really love mid-century modern and Scandinavian design — I think due to being half Norwegian, as well as a love of simple, beautiful things.
I bought two beautiful, vintage Danish teak armchairs off Kijiji a few years ago. I had them refinished at Junktiques and just recently reupholstered at Cushy Life.
The fabric has a beige base and gold/mustard leaves and vines. It took a long time to find the right fabric, but also to save my pennies because getting them refinished is definitely not cheaper than buying new.
But now I love them and they will last a lifetime.
I love the coffee table. My friend and former speedskater-turned-firefighter, Neal Marshall, who is also a journeyman carpenter, built us a coffee table we designed from a photo of a table I saw on Etsy.
It’s solid walnut and works perfectly in the room. He also made us a wonderful custom-made window bench that makes great use of our limited space.
I also really love the “mantle” above the fireplace. It’s actually the base part of an antique pool cue holder that I saw at an antique shop in Nanton years ago.
At the time, I remarked it would make a neat tealight holder.
A few months later, Scott went back and tore apart the store to find it and gave it to me for my birthday. The tealights fit perfectly.
Question: What were the challenges?
Answer: It’s a pretty small room and the fireplace cuts off one of the corners of the room, leaving minimal furniture placement options. We had to come up with some creative solutions when we have more than a couple of people over.
The sliding benches helped with that.
Question: What would you change about the room if you could?
Answer: The only thing I would change is actually impossible to do in this house. We only have windows on one side of the house (the units all fit back-to-back).
Thankfully, we face south, but it’s still a little bit dark at times. I would love to have more natural light. We did install a solatube skylight in the kitchen, which helped a lot, and we painted the whole house in a warm white — which also brightened things up — but I would still like more sunlight.
Question: Do you think of it as your room?
Answer: I don’t really think of it as anyone’s room, but I’d say I had more to do with the decorating process than Scott did.
He’s pretty tired of me doing house projects all the time, so I think he’s looking forward to everything being done. I think of it as our room and we enjoy it together.
Question: What do you like about your community and Calgary?
Answer: We really like how close we are to everything — the University and Olympic Oval, where we both work; the C-Train is a short walk; and it’s close to bike paths, shopping and pretty much every amenity is within walking distance.
I also love that we are super close to Varsity Estates Park, which is kind of like our backyard.
And what I really like aboutliving in Calgary is that it has allowed me to do my sport at the best speedskating facility in the world. Calgary is a winter sport powerhouse and I love that.
During the past few years, former Olympic speedskater Kristina Groves has taken significant steps to reduce her environmental footprint.
She’s installed a new high-efficiency furnace in her home, along with low-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads and Energy Star windows, as well as replacing light bulbs with CFLs.
In addition, she purchased a front-load washer and a smaller, energy-efficient refrigerator, as well as ditched her clothes dryer.
Her “little house on the prairie” uses, on average, only 170 kilowatt-hours of electricity, and four to six cubic metres of water, each month — significantly below national household averages, even when you take into account she lives in a small house with only two people. Her home is also full of used items bought online and at antique and thrift stores, and she bikes as much as possible year-round.