House Tours

Interior: Contemporary country home

Interior: Contemporary country home

A beautiful country home with contemporary chic. Author: Stacey Van Berkel

House Tours

Interior: Contemporary country home

How to embrace character with warm colours, traditional elements and unexpected modernity in the countryside.


Sometimes, the best things in life take you by surprise. Just ask Style at Home contributing design editor Christine Hanlon. She and her husband, Andrew, certainly didn’t plan to buy a piece of the “English” countryside in Ontario, but that’s what they got (on the classifieds site Kijiji, no less) when they purchased a second property in 2012.

Christine and Andrew craved a cottage, but the high cost of a waterfront property was a harsh reality check. And then, on a whim, Christine plugged a few search terms into Kijiji and found this charming country home near Thornbury, Ont. Soon after, they paid the 3,200-square-foot house an in-person visit. “When we pulled up and saw the low-slung stone building with shutters, that checked off a lot of boxes for me,” says Christine.

Just shy of three acres, the property sits atop an escarpment with breathtaking views and a valley with an orchard to one side. Named Whitehaven, after her dad's birthplace in northern England, it’s no coincidence, of course, that Christine’s approach to the decor embraced a traditional-with-a-twist feel.


Contrast staircase
Inspired by several Farrow & Ball paint shades she’d wanted to use for a while, Christine developed a palette of greys, with different levels of intensity depending on the room and the natural light. 

The staircase handrail and treads were left unpainted to provide a warm contrast to the white newel post, spindles and risers.


Cozy living room
Christine chose a neutral palette of stepped greys, varying from light to more intense. Cozy layers and rustic textures visually warm up the cool colours. Ticking-stripe drapery panels lend sweet, soft interest to the windows and keep drafts out in the winter.


DIY shelving
Christine created open shelving across a wall in the living room by stacking and mounting vintage apple boxes. The boxes add rough-hewn texture and plenty of niches for storage.


Restored fireplace
The original fireplace was not in good working order, so Christine had a wood-burning one installed. She likes the way the well-worn brass finish of the framed artwork above it provides a warm counterpoint to the grey wall.


Dining room decor
In the dining room, Christine mixed-and-matched some of her favourite styles, from the casual linen-slipcovered dining chairs to the retro bamboo-look dining table, with a modern airy pendant light for extra flair.


Serene guest room
The remote landscape is perfect for restful weekend getaways; in the guest room, Christine introduced a peaceful minty tone.


Window chair
A black chair in the guest room makes a striking statement when placed in the alcove of a dormer window.


Antique accents
Baskets, books and antiques offer welcoming appeal in this home away from home.


Original doors
Original doors and hardware lend an authentic quality to the old home. 


Kid cozy
Christine and Andrew's kids, Henry, 6, and Sophie, 9, relax in the living room.


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House Tours

Interior: Contemporary country home