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  • Neyir Urminsky

Introducing Applecroft


I don’t know where to start this post which seems fitting really because this house, this home, this gathering place predates me by many years. Its current incarnation was created by my Great Aunt and like many old homes it has a storied past. Initially built as one room with an upstairs, it was subsequently picked up and moved to the current spot and expanded to the modern layout as a wedding present. When my Aunt purchased the farmhouse and property in 1964, the main spaces were on the ground floor and the upstairs was all one large room. In the next decade or so she raised the roof adding dormers to create 3 bedrooms & a bathroom and moved the staircase. To me it is the most magical place, perched to take in the surrounding views. I may in fact have one of her paintings, a view from the bedroom I slept in as a child, hung just above my monitor to gaze at whenever I want.

Born in 1916 my Aunt was a woman ahead of her time, she was a successful artist, a professor (held a chair at McGill university in fact), never married and travelled alone all over the world, heading to the arctic with National Geographic in her late 70s. She was often gathering people, her friends, I expect her colleagues (before my time) and definitely her family spread across 2 and sometimes 3 countries. In amazement, I once calculated that my memories of her must date from around her 65th year yet for at least the next 20 years I never remember her as anything but vital, energetic and exceptionally intellectually quick. After one of her trips to China, she brought back a gorgeous red silk outfit. When my friends saw her portrait in this ensemble they often asked why we had a picture of the queen on my mother’s desk!

The Home Today

Updating this property will likely be one of the easiest and more challenging things I ever do. While I have no shortage of ideas and no hard deadline there are many boxes to tick. The house will be rented at least part of every year so has to work as a vacation rental, things we might be willing to overlook will absolutely have to be modernized, I’m looking at you heating system and inefficient water pump!

The next balancing act is the overall look and design. I am committed to keeping the intention set by my Aunt, she was an accomplished artist and was not shy in her use of colour. From some of the clearing out I have already done I know that she had quite a stack of design magazines. I keep thinking to myself what decisions would she make if she was living now, in her early 50’s? The plan is to respect the yellow floors which somewhat sets the palette. Within the house the colours that repeat are yellow, green and pink. Green light reflects into the house from outside in spring, summer and early fall and in the winter the light is much starker from the snow.

The other big consideration is the architecture and location. This is a farmhouse and will always have the feel of a farmhouse. To ignore that would be disrespectful to the spirit of the home. Also being a country property imposes certain limits, among other things the finishes I select will need to be durable and washable.

Design Direction

Wandering around the house with fresh eyes I landed on my Aunt’s diverse handiwork. She could literally make anything, even drawing up plans with an architecture student for her city house. I remember her making smocked dresses, doll’s houses, her own clothes and knitting sweaters; there was a period with clay and pottery and she embroidered. Fortunately many of those embroideries remain on pillows, cushions and curtains. They follow a recurring theme, a specific Jacobean style which feels like the right style direction. The light in Jacobean homes is filtered with their low ceilings and smaller windows, like this home they were built to be heated by fireplaces. Granted the windows here are not tiny but the house feels very snug and enveloping. The direction I have landed for the design will be a more modern Canadian take. I’m still working on a name, feel free to weigh in with your ideas; Jacobean Farmhouse, a Canadian Jacobean country cottage, Quebecoise Jacobean Farmhouse, A Lower Canada Jacobean Farm…..

The To-do List

I will be back to share many, many more details but for now the plan is something like this;

  1. Overhaul the furnace HVAC situation

  2. Fix the water pressure issue, new pump?

  3. Renovate the 2 bathrooms installing laundry upstairs

  4. New beds and linens

  5. Fix some functional issues - storage etc

  6. Outfit & tweak the kitchen

  7. Decorate, style - make it pretty

There is sooo much more within that simple list but those are the basic priorities and while all I want to do is make it pretty I know it is not the responsible approach. Instead we will sidestep into this project and find the balance of form and function. At least that is how I feel today, who knows what next week will bring.

Either way I cannot wait to bring you all along for the journey!

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