See How This Abandoned Farmhouse Was Brought Back To Life
Toronto tastemakers John Baker and Juli Daoust-Baker are familiar with the busyness of city life. From running their west end homewares store, Mjölk, to raising two kids under five — their son, Howell, and big sister, Elodie, life can get pretty hectic. Looking for an escape where they could truly unplug, John found a listing for a 170-year-old Georgian-style farmhouse just outside Stirling, Ontario. The two-storey, 2,000-square-foot house sat on close to a hectare of land and was abandoned for eight years. “It was a horror show,” says Juli, recalling the snakes in the basement, the bats in the rafters and the rodent population thriving beneath the windowsills. But John and Juli are dreamers.
Over three years, the couple — along with Studio Junction‘s Christine Ho Ping Kong and Peter Tan — injected their distinct Japanese-Scandinavian or “Japandi” aesthetic, while still maintaining the home’s strong bones. “Honestly, I think it was waiting for us all along,” says Juli.
Click through to see more of this charming farmhouse.
“This house responds to our personalities. It provides a quiet, peaceful space for us,” says Juli, pictured here with her partner, John.
Except for the Gustavian woodstove and a fresh coat of fresco paint on the walls, the parlor is mostly unchanged. For Sunday afternoon reading, the couple added a gold velvet Danish-modern sofa and Juli’s favorite Peacock chairs designed by Hans Wegner.
On the coffee table, an antique Japanese lion dog incense burner sits on a mini antique jute runner that John and Juli bought in Sweden. The feather duster is another Japanese antique.
The walls in the parlor were refinished with Pure & Original’s Lime Fresco paint in Old Linen. “It’s a lime wash that gives you an ashy texture,” says John. “We used it to trick the eye into thinking all these elements were original.” The room’s wood floors were lightened with lye.
In part because it’s difficult to drill into the stone walls, all the storage cabinets in the kitchen are freestanding, from the custom-made kitchen island to the side counter (both designed and made by Studio Junction).
The kitchen’s Shaker-style utensil rail holds tapered beeswax candles from March and a handmade broom.
The antique glass-fronted cabinet was imported from Tokyo. It tempers the kitchen’s modern touches and displays the couple’s tabletop and cooking essentials.
The dining table is a Mjölk original based on a classic Enfield Shaker design. “It’s a mashup of Shaker and Danish styles,” says John. The light fixture replicates a medieval chandelier but with linen shades.
The Alvar Aalto tea trolley in the dining area moved here from John and Juli’s city home. The grass art is by Norihiko Terayama and the Judith Johansson rug is vintage.
The love seat in the sitting area off the kitchen is covered in woolly grey sheepskin upholstery for added texture. The pickets on the sofa nod to classic English Windsor style but with a Danish-modern twist
John and Juli chose poured-concrete floors for the kitchen so they could install radiant heating and added wide-plank pine boards on the ceiling. Their daughter, Elodie, and son, Howell, inspired the swing. “Who doesn’t want an indoor swing?” says Juli. The wooden drawers in the background store art supplies for the kids.
The 1920s Josef Frank secretaire is made from English burled-wood with Japanese-style legs. John paired it with a late-1800s Scottish Orkney chair.
The Italian-made tub came from Portugal where it had been stored outside, exposed to the elements, giving the marble a lovely patina. The bathroom’s spare design was intentional. “So few elements makes it more impactful,” says John.
The upper-level, open-concept bedroom incorporates three beds plus a sitting area with a love seat, vintage rocking chairs and a vintage armchair by Charlotte Perriand.