For Alex Gosselin, arriving at Argyll Farm is like taking a breath. The Bolton, Que., property that she shares with her husband Sebastien Kaine and their two boys is a little more than an hour’s drive from their Montreal home — just long enough to decompress from city life. What started as a weekend escape has become a passion project for Sebastien, who raises Wagyu beef on the property, and a way of life for the whole family. “It’s not that I don’t feel at home in the city, but I really feel at home at the farm,” says Alex.
That feeling of contentment is exactly what designers Richard Ouellette (shown with Alex) and Maxime Vandal of
Les Ensembliers were hoping to achieve. In fact, it was a deeply personal project for them. Argyll Farm, which includes a circa-1886 five-bedroom farmhouse, is just down the lane from their own country retreat, Humminghill Farm, and they have known the couple for years.
The front porch is simple and welcoming with a classic oak door and vintage rocking chair.
Sebastien is the son of Sophie Desmarais, a well-known Quebec philanthropist and longtime client of Les Ensembliers. Sophie owns the adjoining property to Humminghill Farm, so Sebastien and Alex already knew the area well. Here, Richard, Alex and Trooper the goose take a moment to unwind.
Keep reading for a look inside!
The house has beautifully considered sight lines, including this view from the main entrance. “The centre table acts as a connecting element between the dining room and living room,” says Richard.
Even the space under the stairs is a design moment, with a vintage wooden bench, patterned pillows and intriguing wall art. “We usually level the second floor, but it would have affected the original baseboards and trims, the plasterwork and the old wood floor, so we didn’t,” says Maxime.
An antique table is balanced by a bright yellow cabinet and contemporary pendant. “There’s a beautiful chicness and simplicity to this moment,” says Richard. “It could be a Montana house or it could be English. I love that mix.”
Architecturally, the challenge was to keep the original charm of the farmhouse while reimagining it for modern family life. A central AC system was retrofitted without adding bulkheads and the flow of the main floor was improved by tweaking the floor plan. “Alex and Sebastien were sensitive to the soul of the place, so we decided to preserve this old lady with some of her wrinkles,” says Maxime. A large English roll-arm sofa dominates the L-shaped living room. “The whole family can gather in that room,” says Richard. “We designed the large ottoman in one of our favorite fabrics; it feels English but reinterpreted. And the rest of the room is a mix of every color, texture and style.”
At the back of the living room is a lounging area, where Sebastien plays his guitar and armchairs are grouped for conservation.
Alex wanted an English-style country home that felt collected over time, and Richard was fully on board. “They said, ‘take everything that we have and, if you love it, make it sing here. And if not, let us know.’ From there, we just played with colors and textures — nothing matchy-matchy — and found fabrics we loved.” The result is an effortless mix of treasured pieces and modern classics, pulled together with thoughtfully chosen art and wallpaper. It’s farmhouse style, but fresher and more modern.
A talented cook, Alex’s wish list for the kitchen was simple — it needed to flow better and to seat a crowd. The designers placed a breakfast nook at the back of the kitchen, “because the light is so beautiful on that side,” says Richard, and made space for an island that seats the whole family.
The kitchen has a serene vibe, with custom cabinets in warm oak and a cream-colored backsplash tile that envelops the space. Carefully curated open shelves flank the range. “There were two things we wanted to be able to do in the kitchen: to be comfy in sweatpants and to be able to host an elegant party, all without switching anything up,” says Alex. “This space can carry both things; it’s magic.”
The kitchen is one of Alex’s favorite places to be. “I have a big family and we love to entertain,” she says. “I asked for a lot of space to sit and they nailed it!”
A fully kitted out pantry is tucked behind the kitchen. For Alex, it was a necessity: “I said to Richard, ‘I have two boys and they’ll eventually be teenagers — I need a room for all the snacks!’” It also houses an extra fridge and the coffee machine.
In the breakfast nook, wall-mounted plates add color and fun. Custom doors allow the kitchen to be closed off from the rest of the house, containing the family’s dogs when required.
In the main-floor powder room, the children chose whimsical wallpaper, which is grounded by blue-green floor tile and touches of brass.
The second-floor landing features a gallery wall of multigenerational family photos, plus a pair of beloved sheep stand watch.
The principal bedroom is Alex and Sebastien’s hideaway. Playful wallpaper is the star of the show. “It gives the impression that the flowers are growing up the wall,” says Richard.
This bedroom for the kids is restful and muted with pops of subtle pattern. Wallpaper on the slanted wall adds to the cosiness.
The family keeps horses at the property, and everyone loves to ride.
Alex and Sebastien in the front yard with one of their sons.
Sebastien raises Wagyu beef on the farm.
The idyllic property is studded with outbuildings, barns and paddocks for the horses.
Author: Alice Lawlor
Richard Ouellette and Maxime Vandal, Les Ensembliers