Happy childhood memories of skiing at Mont Ste-Marie, Quebec, led one busy Ottawa couple to return years later with their own three children. When a hillside chalet became available for rent or sale, the family quickly signed up to become its annual tenants.
Cozy evenings spent around the chalet’s three-story stone fireplace led to dreams of ownership and last year, after deeming it to be a solid investment, the family decided to purchase their weekend escape.
Knowing that an extensive renovation would be the next step, the couple felt confident that years spent as renters, familiarizing themselves with the property, would prevent the discovery of unpleasant structural surprises. With designs on creating an open and bright weekend retreat, the pair were also mindful of preserving the historic elements of the chalet which gave it warmth and character.
Designer Sarah Taggart of Vogt Design called the architectural design of the chalet, built in 1972, “way ahead of its time.” Together they established goals of highlighting its incredible design features and complementing the original finishes, while making the space more modern and functional.
After bringing on Shawn Chamberlain of CSC Construction Renovation, work commenced in September with the removal of a large wall separating the kitchen and great room. Large windows framing the main floor were replaced with panes that can be opened to welcome a cross-breeze in warmer months. Tired floors now boast rustic pine, stained to look distressed, and sourced from a local mill.
The brand-new kitchen, featuring fresh white cabinets and gleaming countertops, leads to a stately table as, “life at Mont Ste-Marie is all about entertaining friends and family,” affirms the couple. Views from the kitchen and table now include the stone fireplace and impressive vaulted ceilings of original Western Red Cedar.
A former office space, tucked into the opposite side of the fireplace, has been transformed into a functional bar offering drinks, snacks, storage and a reduction in kitchen traffic. Glowing light fixtures, from the Electrical and Plumbing Store, add to the desired industrial farmhouse feel.
According to Sarah, all of the new finishes, such as barnboard beams, flooring and slate, were thoughtfully selected to have rustic, organic imperfections. “Even the porcelain tiles and hardware were chosen to have a handmade quality. We didn’t want anything to feel too shiny and new.”
Renovations to the chalet’s four bedrooms included replacing traditional built-in bunks with comfortable beds dressed in plush bedding. In order to create two full bathrooms, a seventies-style sauna was removed to make way for a generous shower and stackable laundry. Highly durable laminate flooring installed in the basement greets returning skiers and completes an entertainment and recreation space perfectly suited to younger family members and their visitors.
Explaining that the chalet was not purchased to be the family’s primary residence, Sarah and her clients decided to go with a, high-low concept when selecting furniture. “Some items are investment pieces while others are budget conscious. All of the furniture was thoughtfully selected to stand the test of time in both function and style with the soft furnishings done in a simple and classic colour scheme of black, grey, white and blue.”
When it came time to decorate, Sarah says that it was important not to choose décor limited to one season. “To set the tone for the winter months, we have layered the sofas, chairs and bedding with faux fur, wool, and chunky knits. These accessories can be easily swapped out and lightened up with soft linens for the spring or summer months.”
Stopping in to visit the family following their first nights in their newly renovated chalet reveals a beautiful space bursting at the seams with happiness, laughter, family and friendship. And Sarah is happy too. “I love how bright it is now. Even with all the natural light and large windows, it was very dark before the renovation. Now it is so bright and warm.”