Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez
Montreal designer Alyson Wood reimagines a ski-in home in Quebec’s Eastern Townships as a compellingly cozy family sanctuary.
While rough-hewn stones, finely oiled woods and sumptuous textiles abound in this rustic retreat, its starting point was a rather unlikely element: wallpaper.
Wallpaper has played an integral part in designer Alyson Wood’s life – her father was a wallpaper manufacturer; her mother ran a wallpaper shop – and it led to this plum project in a way she never could have imagined.
“Twenty-five years ago, I was working weekends in my mom’s store when a regular customer asked me to decorate her home,” says Alyson. Her work made an impression on that customer’s then eight-year-old son, who, decades later, contacted Alyson about a new project. “It was the most wonderful call to get,” says the designer. “This little boy is now grown up with a wife and three kids of his own, and he wants me to, once again, help decorate.”
After a few meetings, the brief to update their 1,600-square-foot Owl’s Head getaway morphed into a total gut job and year-long overhaul that would triple the floor space, bump up the two bedrooms to five, and transform the aesthetic inside and out.
“It had been renovated by the previous owners,” says Alyson, but its true potential was hidden. “I wanted cozy, luscious, rich – a stone exterior, big furniture and thick wool blankets by crackling fires.” And, because this element is always important to Alyson, she wanted the home to feel more integrated with its setting.
Respecting context is one of Alyson’s design specialities and it’s on display the moment you step into the front hall. “The artwork here and throughout the space is appropriate for a ski-slope home where deer actually graze. This is art that reflects where they live.” Underfoot, sturdy slate feels both natural and unexpected. “The small tiles in chevron application are more original than oversized square ones.”
In the soaring, double-height living room, Alyson cranked up the cozy with a showstopper fireplace clad floor-to-ceiling in local stone that she carefully selected with the help of a mason. “I included some yellow and beige stones to create contrast with the greys and charcoals. I’m a very monochromatic designer and feel that tone-on-tone hues make spaces feel rich, calm and comfortable.” By combining a calculated balance of wood panelling with painted white walls, she kept the woodsy space feeling airy.
Her kitchen design furthers the light atmosphere thanks to an energetic mix of matte and glossy finishes and a hardworking palette, where warm whites, lush chocolate browns and moody charcoals are welcoming. “This scheme also echoes the various tones of material choices throughout the home,” says Alyson. She chose to forgo upper cabinets on one wall to better showcase the tilework, and included a farmer’s sink to give the brand-new kitchen a vintage look. “This is very much a family kitchen – everyone’s at the counter for a quick breakfast before hitting the slopes, so it had to be functional and comfortable.”
Comfort extends to the bedrooms where colour and pattern remain informative. The cocoon-like master bedroom is a pitch-perfect blend of creamy oatmeal and ivory tones enlivened with a jolt of classic plaid. “I think plaid delivers a warm feel you absolutely need in a country home.” The kids’ rooms – classic pink for the daughter and blue for the boys – are simple but with thoughtful furnishings. “They have a bit of grey to connect them to the principal rooms. Toys and personal tokens make them familiar spaces that the kids gravitate to after a long day of skiing.”
The appeal of the home is undeniable. What was originally intended as a home base for skiing slowly became a summer getaway, and now with the pandemic, it’s become the family’s headquarters – an idyll in the mountains where they balance working remotely with hands-on together time. Alyson says, “They truly love it and they’ve even taken the time to write me little notes to tell me how happy they are there. They say every day feels like a special occasion. In times like these, can you imagine how much that means?”
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | DESIGNER, Alyson Wood, Knock on Wood Design. ARCHITECT, Annie Plante, Jubinville and Associates. CONTRACTOR, Jean-Sebastien Houde, Constructions HO-ME. THROWS, Must Société.
To ensure warmth inside and out, faux fur throws are a must for enjoying a snowy fireside bevvy.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | Kingsley Bate FURNITURE, Nieman Wholesale. CUP, Aux Beaux Lauriers.
The new generously proportioned covered porch (it’s 14-by-45 feet) is the family’s preferred perch for relaxing and taking in the view year-round.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | CONSOLE, RH. ARTWORK, Déco Luminaire. VASES, Crate and Barrel. Sculpture STANDS, West Elm. Floor TILES, Ramacieri Soligo.
A chevron pattern adds elegance to the slate floor.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | ARMCHAIRS, Ameublements Renaissance. COFFEE TABLE, Pottery Barn. RUG, The Red Carpet & Rug Company. Pendant LIGHT, Visual Comfort. BOOKCASE, Sébastien Grégoire, Cuisine Idéale Design Sherbrooke. Custom DRAPES, André Dumont Inc. FAUX DEER HEAD, Bois & Cuir. Drape and armchair FABRIC, FURS, Les Papiers Peints et Tissus Crescendo.
Wood, stone and warm tones embrace in the living room.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | PLATES, CANISTER, Crate and Barrel. NAPKINS, Simons. CABINETRY, SHELVES, Sébastien Grégoire, Cuisine Idéale Design Sherbrooke. STOOLS, RH. TABLE, Les Meubles Daviau. Custom CHAIRS, Ameublements Renais- sance. Chair FABRIC, Les Papiers Peints et Tissus Crescendo. LIGHTS, Visual Comfort.
Alyson opted for small club-style chairs at the dining table. She favours their finished look and how, being so comfortable, they make long dinners last even longer.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | WALLPAPER, Les Papiers Peints et Tissus Crescendo. MIRROR, West Elm. SCONCES, Visual Comfort. VANITY, Sébastien Grégoire, Cuisine Idéale Design Sherbrooke. HARDWARE, Agences AHC. Wood BLIND, André Dumont Inc.
A woodsy wallpaper is apropos in the bathroom.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | Custom ARMCHAIRS, OTTOMAN, BED, Les Papiers Peints et Tissus Crescendo. Custom CLOSETS, Sébastien Grégoire, Cuisine Idéale Design Sherbrooke. Door PULLS, Agences AHC. Bed FABRIC, Colefax and Fowler. THROW, Must Société. BEDDING, RH. CUSHIONS, Crate and Barrel. NIGHT TABLE, Au Loft par Style Libre. LAMP, Visual Comfort. RUG, The Red Carpet & Rug Company.
The master retreat has layers of soft textiles for visual and actual warmth.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | WALL PAINT, Litchi AF-40, Benjamin Moore. BED, CONSOLE, BEDDING, THROW, RH. CUSHIONS, West Elm.
Warm pink is plush in the girl’s room.
Photography: Monic Richard | Stylist: Cécile Vinez | WALL PAINT, Ceramic Grey CSP-245, Benjamin Moore. BED, NIGHT TABLE, BEDDING, RH. LAMP, Must Société. CUSHIONS, Simons.
Blue accents mark the boys’ rooms.