The Après EffectPublished on March 9, 2016


  • Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • After: Loft, playroom
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • Before Kitchen
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • Before Living Room
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • After: Dinning Room
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • After: Bathroom
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • After: Bedroom
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • After: Kitchnen
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

  • After: Kitchen cabinets
    Photo by: MARK HOLLERON

The family that skis together often forms a shared passion for a sport that they can enjoy for years and years. This is true for generations of local families who spent their wintry youth on the ski hill and return to the slopes again with their own children. For one Ottawa couple with two young children and more than 20 years of family history at Mont Ste-Marie, it has transitioned into buying their own chalet at the Quebec ski resort.

Renting before you buy is a tried-and-true route to owning an alpine property. It allowed the new owners to experience the ski hill lifestyle with their own kids and get a real understanding of what their housing needs were. After many years of renting ski chalets, a special one came up for sale but not for rent, so it forced them to bite the bullet and buy. However, they did so with the confidence of knowing that it was the right chalet for them and they loved it.

The original ski chalet was built in 1972, and the previous owners expanded the well-kept property to add a master bedroom on the main level and a family room in the finished basement, and to create a big attic space. This made it a spacious five-bedroom home in excellent condition, but it needed a few changes and a full update for the young family to have their own perfect ski chalet.

To rejuvenate the home with a distinctive alpine style, the owners turned to general contractor Luc Simard whom they’ve used before and describe as very diligent, conscientious and a dream to work with. Together with his brother Roch Simard, he implemented the couple’s ideas to open up the living space and make it brighter with better sight lines, renovate the large kitchen and three bathrooms, as well as turn the attic space into a playroom for the kids.

“It was a complete overhaul as we had a hand in every nook and cranny,” says Luc, explaining the extensive yet mostly cosmetic renovations. The main layout change was to take out a portion of the kitchen wall that was housing a broom closet to open the area up into the combined dining and living room, as well as turn the wooden staircase into a visual feature. The Muskoka Cabinet Company designed the large functional kitchen space, replacing the pine with clean white cabinetry and all-new appliances.

“They kept the wooden chalet feel with its pine panelling and beams. But to lighten and brighten it up, we painted the ceilings in a white chalk paint that allowed the beauty of the wood to come through – and it did a wonderful job,” says Luc.

In addition to replacing the old flooring with aged wide-plank wood by Logs End, Luc gutted rooms, installed new vanities in each of the three bathrooms and retiled the showers. A new mantel with whitewood moulding surrounds the brick fireplace to ramp up the traditional style in the living room. The unfinished attic with ladder access was transformed into a playroom with a full staircase. Exposing the collar ties and the chimney brick in the roof, along with adding more structural beams painted in white chalk, infused extra character into the attic.

The master bedroom was renewed mainly by removing an enormous mirror-fronted closet to create more space and highlight the charm of wood-panelled accent walls. Redefining the character of the home was effectively achieved on the exterior with new stucco and by attaching decorative wood shutters painted in the in the same shade of brown as neighbouring chalets.

“The shutters made a big difference to the look of the chalet and it’s something that people really notice,” adds Luc. “The owners came up with all the ideas and made the decisions themselves. My brother and I were just happy to put everything together for them and it looks gorgeous.”
With their perfect ski chalet to enjoy for many winters to come, the parents can continue the long-held tradition of their kids growing up on the ski hill with a host of cousins and friends. It’s a rejuvenation of the home and a lifestyle with full-on family fun.

Jane Whiting

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