HOME HIDES A DELIGHTFUL, COSY INSIDE
Renovations, and blogger’s discerning eye create a jewel
When viewed from the front, this house, which was built in the 1970s near the village of St-Sauveur in the Laurentians, looks like any other cute little chalet. But its unpretentious colourful façade hides a delightful and cosy home interior full of old furnishings, art objects and other beautiful creations by lady of the house Gillian Lee, a master quilt maker.
Mature apple trees growing on the 1,860-square-metre (20,000 square foot) lot on which the house sits provide intimacy for Lee and her husband François Thérien. There’s also a backyard garden aptly named Under the Apple Trees, that includes a pond featured in magazines and books. It is equally divided between flowers and vegetables, and is the inspiration for Lee’s blog From Land to Table. The blog follows the evolution of the garden with wonderful pictures and healthy recipes. A must-see at fromlandtotable283497661.wordpress.com.
When Thérien bought the chalet-size house in 1993, it was only 25 feet by 25 feet. He built an addition (used as an office today) right after settling in. When Gillian moved in with him in 2004, the couple added another room to accommodate her workshop. In 2007, they built a second extension partly to incorporate a bigger kitchen, thus doubling the habitable surface area of the house.
Gillian designed the kitchen herself and actually had to change the layout when the couple purchased an old butcher’s block, now standing prominently under an array of copper pots and pans.
The floor is a mosaic of oddly shaped and multi-coloured slate tiles, while the countertops are covered with smooth flagstones. Wooden beams running across the eight-foot ceiling echo the original old part of the house found in the living room. The pinewood laths in between the large windows are painted a warm mustard yellow. The many jars and containers on the shelves hold spices and precious herbs grown in the garden. The open plan kitchen allows Gillian to cook while chatting with her guests in the dining room.
The couple love to entertain in their home, which they see as an oasis of peace and happiness. The continuity between the two rooms is emphasized by the same colour scheme, mustard yellow on the walls, beige on the ceiling and dark toned brown beams and slate tiles for the hearth. The focal point of this room is a magnificent Royal Bélanger wood stove. The couple would have liked to have an original, but they are extremely rare and sought after, so they had to settle for a reproduction model. It’s manufactured by Poêle à Bois Blais in Berthier-sur-Mer. The wall behind the stove is slate bricks. A collection of old prints, drawings and mementos hangs on the wall of the pinewood staircase.
Some were purchased during the couple’s many travels, some were made by family members. The light fixture above the dining table is unique, as it was custom-made by a local craftsman. “We had all the pieces and he put them together for us, hardware, wires and all,” says Lee.
If the knotted pinewood floor, the stove and beams give the feeling of olden days in the dining room, it is really in the living room where the true character of the original structure is experienced.
The walls and the rough-hewn ceiling beams show it was once a rustic log cabin. The furniture and decorations were carefully chosen by the couple to keep the atmosphere rustic and cosy. Most are antiques, among them an old school bench. On the back wall hangs a beautiful floral quilt made by Lee, who has won many awards at the annual Canadian National Juried Show.
One of her award-winning quilts is on display above the double bed with an antique iron frame in the blue painted log guest bedroom. It is called Turtle Pond and represents shimmering water with flowers. Lee also made the quilted comforter and cushions on the bed. In front of the window, a gate leg table supports two ceramic planters where she grows geranium cuttings during the winter season.
The first addition made to the house is now her office and workshop. Her quilting supplies are kept in a beautiful oak sideboard. She wanted this room to be perky to stimulate her imagination, so one wall was painted baby blue, with curtains and a floor lamp that nicely match.
The upstairs floor is reserved for the master bedroom, which is divided in two by the chimney conduit cast in red bricks. On one side is the bedroom with a queen-size sleigh bed covered with another award-winning quilt Lee named Decade. Though she doesn’t keep track, she estimates it took her 1,000 hours to make it. The bed and night table were purchased at Ashley Homestore, and the paintings on the brick wall are from Quebec artist Guy Paquet, based in Charlevoix. They represent summer and winter. The floor is pinewood planks and so is the vaulted ceiling that is 11 feet at its highest point.
On the other side of the brick wall is a cosy sitting room that has a beautiful view of the Laurentian Mountains. This is where the couple likes to sit and relax, read or listen to music. Above the leather sofa hangs another colourful quilt representing the tree of life. It is in the style called mola, which is a traditional craft of the Guna indigenous people of Panama. Lee got the inspiration when the couple visited the country.
The main bathroom on the ground floor was designed to have an old-fashioned look with wooden slats on the walls and ceiling, but it offers all the modern comforts with a large glass and tile 8x4foot shower stall equipped with a rain shower head.
The room would not have been complete without some form of artwork by Lee. Here, four small wool tapestries representing sheep in the four seasons are prominently displayed. In the hectic world we live in, one may wonder where Lee manages to find the time for her quilting, gardening and blogging activities. But all is very manageable when you have a deep passion for decorating, healthy eating and a desire to inspire others.
If you would like your home considered for an article in the Montreal Gazette’s Homefront section, please contact Perry Mastrovito at email@example.com
This cute little chalet-looking house with its colourful façade was built in the ’70s near the village of St-Sauveur in the Laurentians.
A magnificent Royal Bélanger wood stove reproduction manufactured by Poêle à Bois Blais in Berthier-sur-Mer is the focal point of the dining room.
A collection of old prints, drawings and mementos purchased add character to the wall of the pinewood staircase.
The painted blue log guest bedroom located in the original structure has a double bed with an antique iron frame.
The true rustic cabin character of the original structure is experienced when sitting in the living room with its rough hewn ceiling beams and bright painted log walls.
The main bathroom on the ground floor has an old-fashioned look, with wooden slats on the walls and ceiling and all the modern comforts.
In the kitchen designed by Gillian, an old butcher’s block stands prominently under an array of copper pots and pans.