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An abandoned house… A perfectly executed restoration

Daniel Lachance Ski

It wasn’t much to look at, this little old house sitting by the shore where the Ottawa River meets the Lake of Two Mountains. After many years without residents, save for a few stubborn bats, this stone house, built in 1850, had lost the prestige of its glory days. But that was before Richard Petit, distinguished businessman and devotee of old houses, spotted this diamond in the rough from a unique vantage point – a helicopter. His objective: To restore the home’s character while making it liveable by modern standards. Ultimately, it required courage, tenacity, the support of an architect (Marc Julien), an extraordinary mason (Serge Petit), and two craftmen (Luc Quérion and Louis Vigneault) who always worked on Richard’s projects, plus five years of hard work to transform it into an inviting residence with a unique style and an incomparable view.

The house was stripped right down to the brick walls. A big fireplace discovered in one of the rooms became the centrepiece in the living room. The ceiling retained its initial look, but to reinforce it, the wood beams were replaced with steel beams that were recovered in wood.

In this magnificent room, there is a 180O view of nature and the seasons, providing a beautiful backdrop for the large television: a magical place to end the day. A sectional sofa and an oversized floor lamp outfit this simple but inviting space. Furnishings and lamp ROCHE BOBOIS Bang & Olufson television KÉBECSON.

For the father and daughter who visited regularly, two rooms were built upstairs. In the extension of the stairwell between the rooms, a techno glass partition that could be made opaque was installed to preserve their privacy. Bedroom furniture TRIEDE.

In the bathroom off the master bedroom, an egg-shaped bathtub sits majestically facing the window. In the interest of uniformity, the tub’s modern feet were recovered with the same wood found in some of the room’s architectural features. The beams in the ceiling were painstakingly removed, cleaned, disinfected, and reinstalled to preserve the period features (meticulous job lovingly performed by Grand Father Fred). To reproduce the effect of light shining through the ceiling cracks, lost when the ceiling was insulated, laths of sheet metal were inserted to reflect light.

The stairs leading to the second floor were inspired by old flour mill ladders. This open, lightweight style allows for the maximization of natural light and an unobstructed view. But don’t be mistaken; the structure is solid steel covered with wood. The original cherry wood floors are oiled, not varnished, and the sensation underfoot is truly exceptional.

In most restorations, the owner admits to having lengthened or increased the size of the kitchen counter. In this home, the cement counter measuring sixteen feet and the stools by Philippe Starck – modern meets rustic – provide a beautiful space for informal meals with family and friends. Kitchen CUISILAB.

All the windows were replaced by new, made-to-measure windows adapted to the width of the walls. Before undertaking the job, the owner spent many weekends in an Airstream trailer (which served first as a camp site and then as a worksite office), analyzing the sun exposure and the orientation of the doors and windows. A window-filled extension was ­added to the house on the side where the sun sets, providing a perfect vantage point to enjoy the spectacular view. It was even designed so that a support post, previously located in the corner, was eliminated.

Anecdote: Most of the people who tried to buy this house when it was put on the market wanted it for the land it sat on. Richard Petit, on the other hand, wanted to restore it to its former glory and perhaps, one day, make it into a music camp. So how did he convince the sellers to let him purchase the house? By showing them photos of another house, circa 1850, that he had also lovingly restored.

Photos: Carlos R. Martinez

Cellart