Stephanie Nerlich reimagines a century home near Grand Valley, Ontario, as a year-round escape where her modern family can unplug.
“One of my favorite things about this place is the amazing quiet. This is our weekend home and my husband, Chris, and I dream of retiring here someday. The house is a little more than an hour from Toronto, where I work in advertising and Chris works in the music business.
After we bought the house, we painted everything white and called it a day, because that’s what the budget allowed for at the time. Thankfully, in 2012, my friend Sarah Richardson came to our rescue and redid the kitchen for her television show Sarah 101. Two years ago, we finally did a complete renovation. With the help of architect Andrea Macecek at Ma+ch and our builders, Caledon Building & Design, we rebuilt the addition, tying in the traditional hallmarks of the home with a modern, open-concept family room and dining area. We also added a spacious master bedroom with the kind of closet space I’d always dreamed of having.”
Click through to see inside the serene all-season escape!
An engraved stone above one of the stately windows dates the home to 1902. Stephanie and Chris named their country house Three Bird Farm after Bob Marley’s song Three Little Birds. Not only does the name capture the home’s calm vibe, but there are always birds singing, Stephanie says. It’s a sound she loves that often gets lost in the city.
The living room is where the family gathers for evening card games. A salvaged barn door artfully mounted on a wall adds a rustic touch. “The windows are west-facing so there’s nice light at the end of the day,” says Stephanie.
Fencing salvaged from a nearby horse paddock was repurposed to give warmth and texture to homeowners Stephanie Nerlich and Chris Hardy’s dining room ceiling. The wood also balances the sunlight flooding in from the 11-foot-high windows. A photograph by local artist Patrick Biller shows people in a park at night, bringing a little bit of the outside in.
Barnboard creates a striking base for the kitchen island and complements the knotty pine floor. A long Calacatta marble countertop provides ample workspace for pickling, making raspberry jam and baking cookies with the kids.
Designer: Sarah Richardson Design
A small breakfast nook is the perfect spot for a quiet cup of coffee. The curio cabinet on the wall has been a handy hiding spot for many an Easter egg hunt.
Designer: Sarah Richardson Design
Stephanie placed leftover floor tiles from the mudroom on the tops of the side tables to carry the grey and white motif into the family room, where a wall papered with charcoal grasscloth anchors the space. Vases were wired and fashioned into table lamps and, above one sofa, pieces of hand-painted wallpaper from the Porter Teleo archives have been framed as artwork.
Everyone in the family gets their own cubby in the mudroom for coats, hats and shoes, with helmets and other outdoor gear tidily tucked away in the cupboards above. Heated floors help snowy boots dry quickly in the winter.
The principal bedroom has a calming palette of white, grey and pale wheat. “It’s our simple little sanctuary,” says Stephanie.
Carrara marble cut into six-by-24-inch tiles was laid on the floor in an elegant herringbone pattern, with half the tiles honed and the other half polished for a mix of textures. The vanity spans the wall, but setting it on legs and combining open and closed storage gives it an airy look.
“I liked the idea of a palm leaf in the country,” says Stephanie of the Cole & Son wallpaper in the principal ensuite. “There are so many ferns on the property, and the palm and the fern both have that lovely feathery leaf, so even though it’s a bit more ‘Miami,’ it still feels right.” A deep, freestanding tub adds to the escapist feel.
Riley chose crisp blue and white for her bedroom. Her own artwork is framed on the walls, and the bed’s vintage wicker headboard adds a layer of summery texture.
A flagstone path flanked by fragrant hydrangeas leads to the backyard.
Peter Tosh, a Portugese water dog, and David Bowie, a labradoodle, love the property as much as the family does. “When it’s time to leave, we have to drag them to the car,” says Stephanie.
The artfully poured concrete pool deck looks like limestone.
In the summer months, the family dines outside on the concrete deck, then gathers around the firepit for a cozy bonfire. “As long as it’s not raining, we’re out here,” says Stephanie.
After the couple bought the house, they replaced prickly hedges with tidy flower beds. “There’s always something blooming, from mid-May to October,” says Stephanie.
Chris, Stephanie and their daughters Riley (left) and Livie (right) out for a stroll.
Author: As told to Sydney Loney
House & Home July 2018