A Quaint Cottage In Quebec’s Eastern Townships
Bit by bit, Lysanne Pepin turned her cottage in Quebec’s Eastern Townships into a chic hangout that’s as inviting as her lifestyle boutique, Maison Pepin.
“Our cottage is on Libby Lake, which is very quaint. When I found it in 2004, it was just an average, dull house. The cottages in this area have been kept within families and passed down through the generations. It had a third floor added, but the whole thing was done in a very ’80s or ’90s style with lots of Gyprock. At the time, the cottage was for sale but also for rent, so I thought I’d rent it for a summer to see if I liked it. There were big cedars that covered two sides of the property so it was very secluded, and there were huge, 40-foot white pines full of red squirrels and blue jays, with hummingbirds zooming about. After the summer the owner said, ‘You know, if you want to buy the place, I could finance you.’ That’s how I got to buy the cottage.
Being here is about spending quality time with my husband, and my family and loved ones. It’s small, cozy and close to Montreal, so I can stay overnight and commute to work the next morning. This place is where I find my peace in life.”
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Lysanne wanted a traditional New England aesthetic for her four-bedroom, 1,800-square-foot cottage. She brought this vision to life with grey stain on the clapboard exterior that’s complemented by white trim.
Thanks to its southern exposure and view of the lake, the terrace is a favorite summer hangout. “If it’s not raining, we’re eating outside,” says Lysanne. “Even if it’s cold, the big cedars protect us from the wind. And if it’s too hot, we roll out the awning.”
Lysanne’s uncluttered decorating style suits every season. “I can transition from winter to summer just by changing the accessories,” she says. In the mudroom, located at the entrance of the cottage, throws, baskets and pastel-hued accents are favored in summer and heavier wools, wooden accessories and fur accents in winter. “The decorations change the mood.”
“Everything in a kitchen needs to be used,” says Lysanne, who opted to display tools and spices on open box shelves, rather than in cupboards. “If it’s collecting dust it doesn’t need to be there.” She also maxed out the dimensions of the oak island. “The island is a hub of activity,” she says. “Whenever there’s a party, everyone’s there!”
An open-shelved bookcase of simple hemlock boards defines the upstairs living area, providing ample storage for Lysanne’s favorite magazines and objets. The picnic-style dining table and benches were custom made to match the shelving, while the cool grey wall color helps offset all the warm wood.
Lysanne took every opportunity to replace plain drywall with open-grained wood and simple wainscotting. “The color of the walls and the texture are both important,” she says. “Texture catches light and shows the architectural detail.”
Like the rest of the bedrooms in the cottage, the principal bedroom is an exercise in comfortable minimalism.
With the rustic charm of a log cabin in mind, Lysanne outfitted the bathroom with an antique clawfoot tub, farmhouse sink and raw pine walls. The floors are nonslip ceramic tile and the dramatic forest-print wallpaper completes the woodsy vibe. “It makes the room look bigger and adds a feeling of depth,” says Lysanne.
“Zara, my 14-year-old golden retriever, wakes me up every day at the cottage. She wants to go outside, of course, because her whole life is focused around the lake. So after I drink my coffee, we get on the paddle board and head to the island half a kilometer away,” says Lysanne. “Then, I drop her there and she swims back!”
The shed on the property is a showroom of sorts for Lysanne’s latest venture, a pair of A-frame rental cabins she’s building nearby. “Everything is built in,” she says. “Instead of some vases placed on a table, they’re on built-in shelves.” This works on two levels: it opens up the living area of the shed and provides ample room to display her wares.