Real home tour: a modern and natural haven
This is the story of Diane and Bob’s home. This is a home tour via Holley & Gill.
Where is your home located? Why did you choose this location?
The house is located on the back side, up against the northern mountains that separate the Village of Saint Sauveur and the expanse of nature between that and Morin Heights. Officially, we’re in the parish of St-Sauveur but actually we’re nestled right into the forest at the foot of Mont Christie (Christieville) and on the shore of Elder Lake. Only 5 minutes from the ski lifts and shopping, but somehow totally lost in the forest, away from any civilization. It’s pretty close to perfect.
Was it built from the ground up or was it a revamp of an older structure?
Our project was born in land that my wife Diane’s dad gave us as a gift – land that Diane grew up playing in and exploring, as her dad had built a chalet on one parcel of it around 1965. We cleared the forest ourselves, picking one tree at a time until the ideal footprint for our house was revealed. We even left several mature trees right next to the house for added privacy – one 40 foot maple tree goes straight through our balcony. We didn’t have the heart to cut it.
Where did you get your inspiration from for the design and aesthetics?
Both Diane and I are designers, so the combined aesthetic is a natural extension of the spaces, objects and materials that we both wanted to be surrounded by. However, Diane is an Industrial Designer and was a partner in an interior design practice for several years, and has great experience creating signature spaces for clientele. For myself, as a graphic designer, my inspiration came primarily from daydreaming and Dwell magazine.
Are many of the pieces in it custom built and if so who designed them?
All of the furniture in the entire house is custom built. From our sliding doors (all solid core maple) to the built-in cabinetry (stained Russian plywood with yellow pine veneer) to our dining room table (all solid walnut) or our bed frames (raw sawmill spruce), we took great care in bringing a Scandinavian feel and interesting materials mix to every element – each purpose built and unique. There are many pieces in the house that we built ourselves. Diane has extensive furniture design background and I am relatively handy with ideas, saws, sanders and such. Many of the more intricate pieces were done by a local cabinetmaker that we happened upon named Fritz Schwab. Fritz is a perfect expression of German precision. About 5 foot zero, and brimming with experience and wisdom – and stories of WWII Germany, he has executed much of the cabinetry and custom installation work in the house. He’s a unique character, and writes “Made in Germany” on the back of all of his work. I’ve never seen anyone better.
You are both creative people. How has this helped you in the design of your home?
Diane’s experience in interior design drove this process for us. She produced the plans that were accepted by the Ville de Saint Sauveur, as well as all of the prior iterations throughout the creative process when we were discussing possibilities. We’re a design duo, though I really have to concede that Diane did most of the creating. Her relationship to the land, her sensitivity to materials and of space were driving elements in the process of bringing this to life. It was pretty easy for me to love the project since we share a similar vision. That vision, placed in such an idyllic setting of privacy and nature, really expresses an ideal of design for both of us.
And last but not least, why are you parting ways with it?
We have a new project in front of us – family and land on the Maine coast await. While we’re bittersweet about leaving what we’ve built these last 6 years, we’re even more excited to create something new, very likely similar, with a view on the sea (or at least within the smell of salt air)!