Originally when we received our new windows we had them painted out a grey-blue colour (a little too blue if you ask me - you can see a smidge of it peeking out in the photo above behind the screen). We decided it wasn't the right colour after all, and since we needed to paint out all the trim anyway, we switched to Farrow & Ball Drop Cloth.
Roofing progress. Being reminded of March is totally bumming me out.
Inside, Scott is working on the stone, repointing the walls and building stone window sills.
But wait, what is this?
Boxes of tile components, each labelled with code.
Elements of a Swedish Kakelugn. This particular tile stove was made in Gotland, Sweden. We hired a local stove master to build a masonry stove (to code) for this kakelugn shell.
You've seen this photo before but something has changed.
This is the part of the renovation where it becomes a runaway train. Anyone who has done a large renovation before knows what I am talking about, right? You're busy patting yourself on the back because you are on budget and then all of a sudden you aren't and then you throw your hands up in the air and go all in like you're one of the Rockefellers. After giving the roof some thought we decided to invest in a cedar roof. Continuing the dreamer theme, we knew we wouldn't be satisfied by anything else. Don't worry, those green eaves troughs are being changed out too, because they either remain the forever troughs or you do it up with copper to avoid being angry every time you pull up the driveway. Very Mjölk of us.
Inside, the painting with Pure & Original lime fresco paint continues. We decided to try the criss cross technique and it appears our painter found it challenging. The green guest room looks pretty good but the grey living room became over worked. We also found the grey wasn't what we intended, or maybe we simply had a change of heart...all I know is it was bugging us.
Oh hello there. We've been here before. Now with pretty Pure & Original Lime Fresco paint in Skin Powder.
We have made bathroom progress! John got the old timey styled toilet off of Wayfair, of all places. The sink is a Kohler. Originally we had bought an old stone sink from the same place as the tub but it broke before shipping. We had to scramble to find an alternative. The sink console was made by Studio Junction.
Favourite detail: the old door handle and latch. Heart eyes all around.
Upstairs, we have been so fortunate to find some great workers for this project. Number one on our list is Mike from Great Lawns Property Care & Maintenance out of Belleville. Initially we hired him to do our outside yard maintenance and snow plowing but the timing was right and they were happy to take on extra work over the winter, doing odd jobs inside for us. Mike has an awesome worker, Scott, who did so much for us, including a lot of stone work thanks to his knowledge as a stone mason. He repointed sections of the interior stone and also finished off the window sills (pictured, the lime mortar is still wet which is why it's darker).
Feeling so finished upstairs! Oh and note up in the top right corner, we added two new small windows. There were boarded up holes there so we figured the windows would finish it off well, aesthetically and also preventatively (critters). Can't wait to pull up the plastic.
The small orchard (5 apple trees) and junk pile, looking perfectly bleak.
Late February, the upstairs floors received some patch work repairs and sanding to attempt to even them out and clean the boards up.
An exposed copper pipe was our solution to a plumbing issue that couldn't be buried.
Finally, a mousy discovery was made under the wood windowsills: mouse hotels! We brought the window sill back to the stone while we thought about a finishing solution.
Amazing how the sunlight transforms the space. Here you can see the smoked oak ceiling that was installed.
Downstairs, the bathroom is getting drywalled.
Outside we are considering the roof, and how we can't seem to escape all the hidden leaks. Everyone says this is a tin roof for life ("they don't make them like they used to"). Originally we were going to paint it in the spring but we have decided to remove any doubt and put a new roof on.
You may also notice that you cannot see the 6 over 6 lines on the windows. This is because we initially painted them a grey blue colour and you can't see it for the screens and bright white. In the end we decided we wanted to head in a different direction...stay tuned to see what colour we choose!
Ahhh February, that point in the year where you become very very done with winter.
January was a quiet month, I am not even sure we even visited the Stone House. Work started up again in February, with the installation of new windows!
Originally we weren't going to invest in new windows but after evaluating the condition of the chewed out upstairs windows and deciding we wanted to replace them with 6 over 6 double hung, there was no turning back. We looked at Marvin, and dreamers do as dreamers do, we proceeded to annoy them with our seemingly ridiculous purist requests.
The modern window game is all about vinyl and gas filled double pane. They really had a hard time understanding our desire for wood windows. We also disputed over the visible stainless metal pieces you inevitably see in the double pane window. We knew it would bother us to no end. So we finally agreed to an energy panel solution, which is basically a removable extra window panel that sits discreetly inside the frame.
In the end we are really happy that we replaced the windows.
I realize I didn't really say anything about the marble tub so for those who are wondering, during John's internet wanderings, he found a place online, based out of Spain, that had acquired a bunch of decommissioned tubs from an Italian spa. Since we already deal with importing and shipping from Europe, it wasn't as daunting of a task to order.
Painting has started in the guest bedroom. Here you see the primer coat for Belgian Wilderness from Pure & Original paints. Trim hasn't been painted yet.
In the parlour the primer coat for Elephant has been applied.
The summer kitchen has some progress to show. The beams above have all been sanded so now they contrast less with the ceiling boards. In even bigger news, the Esse stove arrived. More on this later...
Upstairs in the bedroom, the insulation is in the ceiling and the framer has reinforced the roof, and laid the new ceiling, using smoked oak boards.
I cannot believe that our first A-frame sign was made seven years ago! Read about our attempt at shou sugi ban (charred cedar) and collaboration with local artist Melinda Josie over on Kitka. With all the wild weather, our sign was looking pretty rough so we commissioned Renaud Sauvé and Gilbert Garcia to create a fresh presence.
Gilbert dropped it off near the end of last week and our minds were blown.
Renaud created handpainted porcelain tiles...
...with beautiful imagery of some of the products we are known to carry.
Contrasted with the more minimalist Open side, is this gorgeous painting that includes antiques, a vase by Renaud and a favourite Luca Nichetto design, Sucabaruca!
A detail close up. Insert emoji with the eyes popping out of the face here.
Gilbert Garcia did the weighted frame, with some additional beautiful brass and rope details.
John also invested in some new trees. It's nice to have our storefront looking as nice as the interior again!
It's taken awhile but we are excited to get some new pieces from Japanese wood artisan Tomii Takashi.
We visited Tomii Takashi at his home in Japan years ago, and featured him in an interview in Mjolk Book Volume II. I thought it may be fun to share a few outtakes from that visit. Tomii and his family have since moved to a new home further north, so we hope to visit again one day.
First stop was Gallery Yamahon. Set in the countryside, the gallery carries works by contemporary Japanese artisans. True to Japanese style, they also have a nice cafe for refreshments.
The view across the street from the gallery.
Off to lunch!
Missing Japanese food right now. There sure is a dearth of quality in our area. The closest we have are Imanishi and Shunoko, but boy could we use something closer!
We arrive at Tomii's home, located in a pastoral setting, in an old farmhouse. As mentioned he has since moved from here, but it was so great to be able to see this type of home personally.
Time for sweets and tea.
Some beautiful objects along the windowsill.
Checking out our first ever order with Tomii.
Heading out to the wood studio, about a 10-15 minute drive away in an old school.
Super not cool of us to be posting winter photos when summer is just getting started (then again, we have a heat warning today in Toronto so...maybe this will cool you down?). We'll try to get through this as quickly as possible. But winter is one of the reasons we bought this property. To have a place to escape to, to be able to play outside in the snow.
Right before the New Year, we headed to the stone house to meet a special delivery: an antique marble tub from Europe. We told you we were dreamers...
For this particular delivery we enlisted the skills of Braymore. We've used this company three times (twice for pianos) and they are the best with moving special and challenging large scale items. Not only are they incredibly professional, they are courteous and pleasant.
On the left is where the tub will go. You can get a peek at the sanded floor! The effort that went into sanding the layers of shellac off these floors should not be underestimated. Many sanding pads were used in the effort.
On the right, the tub made it in one piece into the kitchen. Here the movers are calculating the next step of getting it down a ramp into the bathroom, without it falling through the floor, which is reinforced but not throughout the entire space. I'll post the nail biting video to @mjolkshop instagram stories.
Meanwhile, the plasterer is busy working in the living room.
Slowly lowering the tub to the floor, using a system of blocks.
Wallpaper has been fully removed and plaster repair has begun.
Don't you just adore the mottled plaster? Maybe we should have kept it. We didn't. But our paint decision in the guest bedroom was informed by the current colour. We chose Pure & Original's Belgian Wilderness (and later we also chose the same colour for our back showroom at Mjolk!).
Check out the simple but nice molding in the windows. We'll be keeping all the molding.
Out in the living room, the walls also have an interesting texture and colour (which, spoiler alert, subconsciously ends up informing our colour choice as well). The light continues to be beautiful, even in December.
This side, not as much!
The summer kitchen is coming along! The concrete has been poured, and there is a new drop ceiling of whitewashed rough boards. We're thinking the beams need some refinishing now.
The green tape on the floor is us trying to figure out how the kitchen will be placed. We've worked through many variations as the space is a bit odd, with several doors, and a low window.
You can see here that one of the beams has been refinished. It's nice to have things fresh and bright. Originally when we started this project we wanted to head in a darker more moody aesthetic but we can't seem to help ourselves with the pale wood.
Not much has happened upstairs, besides being cleaned up. There is frost on the inside of the roof...a worrisome sight since we have no aspirations to replace the roof...
Wallpaper removal progress in the parlour. The demo team gave up and left the rest for the painter.
The guest bedroom is at a stand still.
The room that is designated to become the bathroom was in the worst shape on the main floor so we have decided to pull it back and drywall.
Really nothing much happening in here except the gorgeous late autumn light. It's going to be so spectacular when we are settled in. A part of us wants to leave the plaster as is but we will be testing out Pure & Original paint instead.
I just love the space, with the farmhouse staircase to the second floor. I still remember a similar stair at my grandparent's house.
In other news, the fill was laid down and I didn't bother to photograph it. The insulation and pipes have been laid for infloor radiant heating. We figured it was the best way to maintain the temperature in this space. The main floor of the house is forced air, and in the upstairs bedroom we will be mostly relying on a wood stove. We may regret this.
The summer kitchen is a big space! Next step is concrete.
We were having a hard time visualizing framing this space out but now that it's one wide open space, it feels impossible to chop it up again. Gone are the walls, cracked plaster and ceiling that concealed years of critter life. We have decided to keep the bedroom as one space, which we will share with the kids, because who are we kidding anyway, there is no way they will want to sleep alone.
These low windows with Southern exposure create wonderful light effects throughout the day.
The floor is in relatively good shape, nothing a sand and refinish can't fix.
Another notable element is the vaulted ceiling and beams. Now that we are keeping this space as one room, we can also keep the high ceiling.
It seems that originally the summer kitchen was built at a later date, compromising the window on the left. This wall is where our king size bed is going to go. We finally learned to go big,
as the children will inevitably want to climb in with us.
I really wish we didn't have to build a railing where the stairs are, but of course it's important to protect us all from not falling down the stairs. We'll have to figure something out that doesn't distract from the openness. We plan on incorporating the gold colour in the stairwell as a nod to the original scheme.
Outside we explored a bit. I wanted to checkout the hill, for future tobogganing needs. It's a nice long run, not to steep, but satisfying. Technically not our property but we have an agreeable relationship with the farmer who owns the surrounding land.
Fall colours are beautiful.
The drive shed is another project for the future.
Howell playing on the dirt fill for the summer kitchen floor.
So much to look at and explore. In October that lovely patch of wildflowers/grasses/weeds was mowed. I think we prefer it to be filled in a bit but it's nice to get a sense of the space empty. The weather was so ideal, we were able to set Howell up with some distractions while we puttered around with the workers.
More pretty fall colours. Due to the warm fall we didn't really get an explosion of colour on the trees but there was certainly enough subtle things happening to keep us content.
Classic stage one of a reno. This is the floor below the plywood boards in the summer kitchen.
Don't worry, we promise there was nothing worth salvaging in this room.
Suddenly everything seemed so overwhelming.
The demolition crew did a great job, completing the work in a reasonable amount of time. They said it wasn't even the worst they've ever seen. Encouraging!
The bulk of the demolition effort was focused on the summer kitchen and the upstairs. The parlour and two side rooms had been preserved so it was just a matter of peeling off some old wallpaper.
In the beginning Howell would accompany us. Here he is pretty chuffed to have scored a sucker from the local diner (spoiler alert, it was later accidentally and sadly dropped in the dirt).
Meanwhile, outside, what a gorgeous autumn we had in 2017. Here is the little field out front, covered in wildflowers, or as the farmer calls them, weeds. We are trying to figure out how to have a little wildflower meadow here while maintaining a space to run free, since we are surrounded on all sides by farm fields. For the past few years it has been a tall wall of corn, that rustles in the breeze and creates a natural fence. In 2018 we will be getting a
wheat field along one side.
This gorgeous Norway Maple in the front is quite old and is in some rough shape. I hope when we trim it it won't lose its energy. It would have been perfect for a swing but we have concerns about weak limbs.
We walked up the overgrown drive towards the extension, known as the "summer kitchen". Summer kitchens were once used for cooking during the summer months and messy chores like laundry, so that the main house kept clean and at a more comfortable temperature. This particular version also has a set of drive through doors so they could have the horse and carriage go right through the building.
The realtor was using the large drive through door as the access point so we in effect entered into what could only be described as an unfinished garage like space.
Moving through the door, it quickly became clear that the previous owner spent all of his time in this summer kitchen space. It was chopped up into three rooms, a windowless bathroom, a small bedroom and a kitchen and sitting area.
Some personal remnants.
The nice thing about the summer kitchen is that it was obviously and immediately deemed everything must go.
In the parlour looking towards two rooms, the left will be a guest bedroom and the right will be the bathroom.
Looking toward the parlour from what will be the bathroom.
On the left, a close up of the plaster and very simple woodwork. A part of me wishes we could leave it as is, but another part of me feels a desperate need to freshen everything up. Besides, there are repairs that needed to be done. On the right, the classic farmhouse staircase to the second floor.
Oh boy. Where downstairs was positively cheery and manageable, upstairs was basically scary. We later learned that the house had been dubbed the bat house.
Colour scheme is not bad, I guess.
Gorgeous views from every window. We later learned there are mouse hotel rooms under the window sills.
Layers of wallpaper. We take inspiration from the gold.
Old note, Dec 3 1950 age 14
Look at those plank doors.
The plaster. The room on the left in particular was falling apart. The boarded up window is an unfortunate loss from when the summer kitchen addition was built.
Looking back towards the stairs. I really cannot believe we bought this house after seeing the upstairs. Ha!
Several years ago, lost in the midst of raising two small children and running our shop, we began to yearn for a place of calm. We were already fortunate to have the inhereted family cottage, however summers seemed even more hectic and the beach community has so much energy and structure, it wasn't providing the grounding we were craving.
We also have a serious little house on the prairie pioneering itch to scratch, and so began the hunt for a farm house. Naturally it couldn't be just any farm house. Round one included two visits to a lovely log house near Horseshoe Valley but something just wasn't quite right. Plus the 100 acres seemed overwhelming when it was discovered you can't just go wandering into the woods (you have to actually prune and create paths...no time for that!).
Round two brought us out to a stone house near Belleville. The initial website images were enough to scare anyone away but encouraged by the temptation of a little getaway to nearby Prince Edward County got us through the door. Once inside we were nervous. It was rough and unlived in for a few years, and smelled so badly. Yet, there was something magical. It was August and the house was surrounded on three sides by fields of tall corn stalks. A small grouping of trees and a stream ran along the property line. It was peaceful and despite the decrepitness of the interior, the exterior stone suggested solidity, strength and security.
We didn't depart sold, but we arrived at the Drake Devonshire for lunch about an hour and a half later, and within minutes of sitting down, we were feverishly contacting the agent to put in an offer. Funny how these things happen.
We hope that you follow our journey in bringing this old stone home back to life.
On Thursday, May 17 we hosted Brian Richer of Castor with his first solo stone carving exhibition at Mjolk. The show runs until the end of the month so pop by in person if you can! Otherwise, here's a little pictoral overview of the show.
Non-Finito Vase, limestone - $700 (edition of 3 - for brevity we are using the term edition to mean there will be a maximum quantity made, though they aren't technically an edition because they are made by hand)
On the left is a wood stand holding Brian's tools, which Brian made himself.
Non-Finito Bowl - $700 (limestone, edition of 3)
Close up of tools.
Brian's handmade tools on the left.
We also left some of our antiques in the mix, as they complimented the stone work beautifully.
Non-Finito Alabaster Cube - $975 (edition of 1) and the only piece made of alabaster.
Non-Finito Copper Bowl - $1200 (edition of 1)
Close up: Brian grew the copper onto the marble bowl.
Non-Finito Tall Flower Vase - $2400 (limestone, edition of 3)
Non-Finito Stool - $2400 (limestone, edition of 3)
Non-Finito Shaker Table - $5400 (limestone, edition of 3)
"There's a Judd in that stone!" - $5400 (limestone, edition of 3)
The stone carver: Brian Richer
The night of the opening was so much fun. New and familiar faces turned up to see the work, enjoy a cold Ace Hill beer and some truly lovely Japanese inspired stew made by Matty Matheson. Thank you Matty for the food and your time serving and chatting with all the guests. Unfortunately I neglected to get a photo...too busy enjoying the evening. Check out the highlight reel on the @mjolkshop instagram.
Finally, a shout out to Ace Hill brewery for supplying our beverages for the evening.
The Captive (or ‘unfinished’) figures of Michelangelo are the primary inspiration for the series by Brian Richer. The Creative Director at Castor Design is also a trained stone carver. He has worked on many architecturally significant buildings in North America, and has explored captives for years.
The Captive sculptures are simple forms, carved using only hand tools, mallet, and chisel. Unlike most sculptors—who built a model and then marked up their block of marble to know where to carve—Michelangelo always worked freehand. He saw the sculptor’s job was to reveal the work that already existed within the stone. In these figures one can still see the grooves from the chisel, the process of the work, revealing the hand of the sculptor.
The Captive collection is one that presents classic forms (such as a stone bowl, a Shaker table, a Donald Judd chair, etc.) emerging from rough blocks of Indiana Limestone. Each object is partially consumed by the natural material in either a roughed or rectilinear shape. The series ascribes the same value to these pieces of furniture that is given to Michelangelo’s figures. The result is both recognizable and venerable at once.
Non-Finito: a solo exhibition of captive stone carving by Brian Richer. Ace Hill drinks and stew will be served at the opening reception by Brian Richer and chef Matty Matheson.
In discussing our upcoming show with Castor Design's Brian Richer, we had the opportunity to pop by and check out his studio space.
Brian demonstrating a lighting prototype, and on the right, a stone carving exploration for The Captive exhibition.
There are some really interesting experiments and studies on display.
An example above using cellophane tape and light.
The office space contains a portion of the table from their long gone Oddfellows restaurant. Fun fact, we had our joint bachelor/bachelorette party in the Castor/Oddfellows camper van, of which you can see a model of on the top shelf.
Out front of the office/packing/workshop in a small shipping container is Brian's stone carving studio.
A plaster bust of Elvis.
Tools of the trade.
Antique mallets and chisels handmade by Brian.
Brian carving a slab of limestone.
Non-Finito: a solo exhibition of captive stone carving by Brian Richer. Ace Hill drinks and stew will be served at the opening reception by Brian Richer and chef Matty Matheson.
Detour Coffee is now accompanied by Dear Grain heirloom breads, and they have started to serve open faced sandwiches which I cannot wait to try.
Probably the most significant changes occured with the investment in new Oak flooring from Relative Space as well as using Pure & Original Lime fresco paint in Bone. What an incredible difference this subtle textured natural paint gives to plain old boring drywall. Mjölk is now a representative in Toronto and the surrounding area for Pure & Original Paint.
We were able to reappropriate the banquettes they already had, but changed the proportions and painted them out with the really soft and pretty Farrow & Ball Vert de Terre. The Josef Hoffman chairs were a lucky find at Williams in our Junction neighbourhood and have the very cool history of having been previously used at the Toronto Public Reference Library.
Hanging above the tables are Mass Pendants in copper by Norm Architects.
On the other side of the cafe the first major thing we proposed was turning the squared off insert into one with an arch, and the effect is astounding.
We found the antique mirror at local Junction antique shop City Furniture, the last stop on our search and it was exactly what we were hoping to find. The long brass candle snuffer is by Stian Korntved Ruud.
Dedicated Detour customers may recognize the repurposed counter with its new bright top. The Oak flooring was extended up the back wall. A pass through window allows for customers to see the bread oven for Dear Grain breads. The cream coloured swing doors have always been there but they've been freshened up with a bright coat of paint and the brass fixtures have been polised, making the doors look brand new.
It being our ninth year at Mjölk as well, we decided it was finally time to refresh our showroom. Luckily we had recently happened upon a product that would really inform the more major change in the back of our showroom. Pure & Original paint from Belgium came on our radar during several other recent projects and the timing was right to incorporate it in our showroom.
In the front space we used "Milk", wooed by the name. It retains its gallery like open feeling, though there is a subtle texture added to the walls as shown in the above photo.
Over the years, the back of the showroom has been a struggle. The addition of a shoji lightbox over a window and new permanent white oak shelving fixtures definitely helped but the white drywall was reading as bland. The limited light did nothing to make the space pop so we decided to move in a different direction, opting for the dark green Belgian Wilderness from Pure & Original paint. We used the up/down effect and it has added so much depth and texture. This colour also works really well with the various woods, brass and plant life.
The desk area is slowly getting more layers. After a refresh it's just like moving into a new home. One is reluctant to poke holes in the new paint job, or overcrowd the space. New to the showroom is the simple FRAMA shelving as seen above.