A Dark Country House Gets A Charming French Makeover
When Vi Jull, owner of Prince Edward County shop French Country, first laid eyes on this brown bungalow, the house itself was in poor condition, but the property (an acre of land with mature trees) and price tag sold her. “With a full gut and some work on the garden, I could really see myself being happy here,” she says. After nearly five months renovating and redecorating the 1,100-square-foot space in her signature Paris-meets-Provence style, the formerly frumpy bungalow now feels fresh and quintessentially Vi. Click through to see the dramatic before-and-after transformation!
The home’s original brown-on-brown exterior felt drab and dated, but the vinyl siding was in decent shape, so rather than replacing it, Vi gave it a pretty spin with a coat of dark grey paint and crisp white trim. New windows framed in white also helped to brighten things up, while the metal roof gives the ’80s bungalow modern edge.
“Lighting a fire feels Zen,” admits Vi, but the living room’s old off-center fireplace didn’t fit the bill. Instead, Vi opted for a new fireplace surrounded by floor-to-ceiling concrete. “I like its casual feel and color,” she says. A kilim rug and patchwork pouf warm up the concrete and ground all the white.
Pastel dishware and a painting of a beach scene from an antique market in Cannes are artfully displayed in a painted-wood cabinet in the dining area. The cabinet was one of the first things Vi brought over from Europe when she opened her original French Country store in Toronto in 1993. “It’s travelled to so many places that I don’t know if it could sustain another move!” she says. The table is topped with a wrought-iron chandelier, handmade in France, and surrounded by cane-back and wicker chairs.
Removing three walls opened up the home’s main living area. Vi then installed new maple hardwood throughout and carried the hex backsplash tile up to the ceiling to help define the kitchen area. Vintage ice-cream parlor stools reupholstered in grey leather echo the Caesarstone counters.
To revive the home’s back sunroom, Vi put in new screened windows, had a concrete floor poured and panelled the ceiling in painted wood. “I wanted to make it as pretty as I could,” she says. Cascading plants create an inviting indoor-outdoor vibe, while the Moroccan ceiling pendant’s perforated sides let it cast a magical glow at night. “Now, I love having breakfast out here on a hot day, or candlelit dinners in the summer. You’re not bothered by anything or anyone!”
In the principal bedroom, Vi had a narrow hall leading to the bathroom removed to create one large ensuite, accessible through a sliding barn door. Small, high windows were also swapped in favor of large sliding glass doors that open onto the back deck in both the principal and guest bedrooms. The soft grey walls and powder blue armoire add to the room’s dreaminess.
Pastoral wallpaper looks like a fresco and doesn’t get in the way of the sliding door.
Vi chose a simple black, white and pale pink palette for the guest room. A feathered lampshade from France and ruffled pillow from Italy soften the high-contrast space. Hanging artwork next to the mirror, instead of centered over the bed, feels fresh. The hardwood in both bedrooms was in good shape, so Vi just refreshed it with warm white paint.
Nearly everything in the backyard needed attention, so Vi enlisted help from two local landscaping companies, who kept the plantings simple with ornamental grasses, hydrangeas and boxwood. A curved stone path frames a planting bed and draws visitors toward the saltwater pool. “The pool called my name, and as it turns out, my grandchildren’s as well,” says Vi.