How a Mon­tre­al­based cou­ple slowly turned an old house in the coun­try into a calm­ing re­treat for their fam­ily of four.

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How a Mon­treal-based cou­ple turned an old house in the coun­try into a calm­ing re­treat

Mon­treal-based Monic Richard re­al­ized she and her fam­ily (her part­ner, Gilles DuSablon, and their kids, Char­lotte, 21, and Wil­liam, 17) needed a get­away, a place where they could soak up the restora­tive at­mos­phere of the coun­try­side. They found the per­fect spot just an hour’s drive from

IN THE midst of a busy ca­reer AS A PHO­TOG­RA­PHER OF PEO­PLE AND PLACES,

the city, in the town of Sut­ton, Que., sur­rounded by the ver­dant land­scape of the East­ern Town­ships.

The cou­ple quickly fell in love with the cot­tage (one of the old­est in Sut­ton) set on nine acres of land. Erected in 1828 of square-cut hem­lock logs with a clap­board ad­di­tion built in 1852, it had been care­fully ren­o­vated in the ’70s us­ing qual­ity ma­te­ri­als but re­mained a war­ren of small rooms. Monic and Gilles pur­chased the house in 1994, and have been slowly up­dat­ing it, and the prop­erty, to suit the needs of their fam­ily ever since.

On the main floor, they ex­panded the kitchen into a room that had pre­vi­ously been a bed­room and re­moved the wall be­tween the liv­ing and din­ing rooms. “We wanted to open up the space and cre­ate a big­ger kitchen,” Monic says. “Now it looks like a loft.”

Up­stairs, keep­ing the size of the bed­rooms in­tact, they re­mod­elled the bath­room. In the mas­ter bed­room, they added a claw­foot tub, which was a source of great de­light for the kids when they were small. Nev­er­the­less, ex­cept for a win­dow ex­pan­sion in Char­lotte’s bed­room and the ad­di­tion of a sweep­ing cedar-framed screened-in porch, the house re­mains mostly the same as when it was pur­chased.

It is a place of play and re­lax­ation and of­fers a chance to do re­ward­ing phys­i­cal work on the land. The mi­nor changes have come slowly, with much thought and plan­ning. “We have a pool and a pool house now, and we added a kitchen gar­den,” says Monic. They also built a guest house, us­ing wood from an old barn that was de­mol­ished nearby.

The fam­ily is by the wa­ter all sum­mer and on the ski hills in the win­ter. But Monic loves the prop­erty best in the fall, when her brood har­vests pump­kins and squash en­veloped by the fiery tones of the sur­round­ing trees. “We cel­e­brate Thanks­giv­ing here. In fact, we cel­e­brate most hol­i­days at our coun­try house,” says Monic. “We’re here more than we are in Mon­treal.”

Orig­i­nal hem­lock beams form a stair­case and frame the din­ing area, where French-style cross-back chairs sur­round a sim­ple wooden ta­ble. CHEESE PLATE, PLATES, BOWLS, CUPS & SAUCERS, NAP­KINS, Crate and Bar­rel; FLOW­ERS & BRANCHES (through­out), Fau­chois Fleurs.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOPLEFT A re­fur­bished claw­foot tub sits in a light-filled cor­ner of the mas­ter bed­room; home­owner Monic Richard says Sam, a Korthals Grif­fon, loves the coun­try; in the en­try­way, durable hand­made slate tiles pro­vide the back­drop to an an­tique pine bench and an old milk­ing stool found at the house; sun streams into the post-and­beam screened-in porch, which Monic uses as a kitchen in the sum­mer; the wall­pa­per in the mas­ter bed­room has a sub­tle grey and white pat­tern over­painted in white; nat­u­ral table­top adorn­ments suit the home’s ca­sual coun­try aes­thetic; the cus­tom pine kitchen cab­i­netry was painted gun-me­tal grey and con­trasts with the maple coun­ter­top; the blooms on this ar­rest­ing stan­dard hy­drangea turn blaz­ing pur­ple in the fall; the clap­board ex­te­rior of the home’s 1852 ad­di­tion was painted grey­ish khaki with darker trim. Sim­ply White OC-117 WALL PAINT (in bed­room and en­try­way), Ben­jamin Moore; Wim­borne White 239 FLOOR PAINT, Far­row & Ball; TOW­ELS (on hooks), LUM­BAR CUSH­ION, THROWS, Home­Sense; slate TILES, Ar­dobec; me­tal TRAY, VASES, GLASSES, BOWLS (on din­ing ta­ble), NAP­KINS, striped BOWL, MUGS, Crate and Bar­rel; HEAD­BOARD, Mai­son Cor­beil.

The orig­i­nal wooden ceil­ing fea­tures hem­lock beams, which also make up the man­tel on the field­stone fire­place. Monic pur­chased the large black and white por­trait pho­to­graph while work­ing in New Mex­ico. SOFA, Bilt­more Domi­cile; RUG, Bouclair; TOSS CUSH­IONS, THROW, Home­Sense; am­ber glass BOT­TLES (through­out), VASE, Fau­chois Fleurs.

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