How the Rapp family escapes Ottawa ?for their weekend retreat in TremblantPublished on January 31, 2011

  • Chalet living and dining room. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Twig chandelier. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Architect Doug Dawson worked with Les Grains du Temps to create the country kitchen. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Corner windows in the master bedroom offer expansive views of the lake. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Architectural detailing in the entrance of the Tremblant chalet contributes to the character of the home. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Justin's bed at the chalet. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Lauren's room offers a window seat overlooking the lake. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Rapp family packs up for the weekend. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Crystal chandelier from ELTE, in Toronto. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • City kitchen. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • A carpet from Canadian Rug Traders in the ByWard Market provided colour inspiration for the den. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

You might think that a high-powered couple with demanding careers and two young children would balk at packing up everything at the end of the work week for a two-hour drive ?to Mont Tremblant.

But despite juggling work, an active social life, and chauffeuring their kids to extra-curricular activities, that's exactly what the Rapps look forward to each Friday afternoon.

"When I get into my car and pull out of the driveway," Michael Rapps says, "It's like my weekend has begun."

His wife Susan Margles agrees. "You actually get to hear about what's happening with the kids when you're spending time together in the car. That is, when they don't have their iPods on!" she says.

"Plus, we never make plans Friday nights. We get up there and just chill together."

And the right to chill out is something that this family of four has definitely earned. With Susan's high-profile job at Canada Post as Vice President of Government Relations and Policy, and Michael's busy practice as an endodontist, the couple has little down time during the week.

When you factor in dance lessons, sports and tutoring for Lauren, 14, and Justin, 11, it makes for a pretty tight schedule.

When the family does come together on weeknights, you'll usually find them in the welcoming kitchen/family room in their lovely Tudor-style home in West Wellington Village.

With beautifully restored oak panelling and charming leaded windows, the house has a stately, traditional feel that is nicely balanced with the contemporary touches they've added over the years: granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a built-in espresso machine.

In the formal dining room, a glamorous crystal chandelier gently lights a large, dramatic painting by Bobbie Burgers.

"We loved this house long before we bought it," Michael says, explaining that they used to admire it when they walked their dog through the neighbourhood.  "It has such good bones and was so well-preserved."  

They bought it in 1999, and since then they've made several updates and changes in décor, but they were always careful to keep the original character of the house intact.

As much as they enjoy their time with the kids, when these busy parents need a quiet moment alone, they retreat to the cozy den at the top of the stairs. Susan, an avid reader, likes to curl up with a good book by the fireplace. "It's my favourite room in the house," she says, "it's so cozy."

Across the hall are the children's bedrooms, which include Justin's recently renovated space. It was updated to suit the growing boy, with a focus on sleek, dark-wood built-ins and warm, muted colours.

Other features, such as the butler's pantry, were added because the Rapps do most of their formal entertaining in the city: "Entertaining takes on a different feel here, and we celebrate occasion-based events in the city, like birthdays and holidays. Often, they're adults-only affairs, and we'll get the bigger events catered."

At Tremblant, on the other hand, entertaining is more casual, spontaneous, and family-focused. With this in mind, the Rapps designed their open, warm chalet around a central family gathering spot. Whether they were on the slopes or on the dock, at day's end you'll find the Rapps in their spacious great room that connects to the deck. This is also where they do their entertaining.

"In the summer we barbeque and hang out on the patio overlooking the lake," Susan says. "In the winter we always have a fire and lots of candles going." And all year round, light pours in from the soaring windows, affording a view of the pristine lake and stunning sunsets.

The chalet was designed with relaxation in mind, but the family doesn't do as much lounging around as you might think. All four Rapps are serious skiers ó Lauren and Justin race ó and they also all swim, bike, hike and run. Indoor activities like playing ping pong, watching movies, or having friends over to hang out give them the downtime they need.

The couple put a lot of thought into how they live and what was important to them when they built their chalet. "The thing that really strikes me about the Rapp's chalet is all the light," says Danielle Hannah of 2H Interior Design, who was involved in designing the space. "It's so bright and airy but sill manages to feel cozy and welcoming."

Susan calls the look they were after "country meets contemporary," which you can see, for example, in the contrast of the rustic wooden chandelier and stone fireplace with the bright, light wall of windows.  

Susan is pleased with the way the woodsy chandelier ties together the atmosphere of country living.

"The space felt quite wide open when we first built, and I like how the branches ground the space and represent the nature that surrounds it," she says.

"The architect we used did a lot of the interior design as well, so much of the furniture is built in. And the inside and the exterior reflect the same earthy feeling. In other words, we wanted something special but that didn't necessarily scream for attention."

In the end, whether they're rushing around in the city or taking a hike in the woods in Tremblant, this close-knit family has two lovely spaces to choose from when they gather together at the end of the day.


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