Early June, we were fortunate to host Masanobu Ando and his son Masaki-san at the stone house for a night. Ando-san performed a Chinese Tea Ceremony and the children were rapt.
Smelling the tea leaves.
Admiring the tiny tea cups and saucers by Masanobu Ando.
Farmhouse dinner, using Oji Masanori's Jicon plates, antique silverware gifted from family, antique glasses from Japan, various antique platters from Japan, Scandinavia and France and of course, our amazingly versatile Earth & Moon walnut board by Oji Masanori x Mjölk.
Guest bedroom window, featuring an antique vase as well as two pieces by Ingegerd Råman, whom we are really looking forward to hosting in an exhibition October 24.
A few weeks later, Renaud Sauvé and Gilbert Garcia stopped by for a night on their way back home post exhibition. John made a beautiful onion tart (recipe either in A Kitchen in France or French Country Cooking...doesn't matter, both are good reads). Oji Masanori's Earth & Moon board and Diamond Pendant both feature in our stone house kitchen.
For dinner, a roast chicken and gravy. Arguably not very summery but easy enough!
First marshmallows of the season.
Aoife the Wolfhound looking out at the bonfire (or more realistically, some animal).
Next guest was Thom Fougere, popping in from Winnipeg for a few days.
Inaugural pizza from the Esse wood fired pizza oven, definitely the food highlight of the summer. Also pictured, the Tomii Takashi wood serving bowl that is perfect for salad and our recently restocked Toolbox, which is great for cutlery and accessories that you need to tote around.
Awhile back we had our bedroom at home painted with Pure & Original fresco paint. We chose Old Linen as the colour, because we were fond of it at the stone house. It's taken awhile to get used to because it interacts differently against the warm oak vs white trim in the parlour. It simply reads as warmer and I worried for a bit that we went too warm but now it's like it's always been this way, a natural backdrop that contributes to the soothing bedroom atmosphere.
Another subtle change in the bedroom is that we switched out our white Libri shelf for an oak version from De La Espada, in part because we wanted the oak, but also because it has one drawer to help keep all the little things tidy.
Some favourite objects along a shallow shelf, an excavated vase.
Looking out towards the hallway.
Before & After
Honestly, the white was ok at the time. The house could use a repaint all around so we started with the bedroom and decided to change move away from the white.
It definitely warms things up and feels less stark.
This final Stockholm post is laughably late. Nothing like looking at a snowy wonderland when you are anticipating the arrival of spring flowers. Alas, we arrived in Stockholm to a beautiful scene. Our go to accommodation is Hotel Skeppsholmen. It's quiet, picturesque and has a nice restaurant. The rooms are comfortable and spacious as well. We enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle.
One highlight during design week was Luca Nichetto's collaboration with Svenskt Tenn. Heritage uses Josef Frank's Terrazzo motif as the inspiration for a collection of Murano glass lamps. Read more about it via Svenkst Tenn's website.
At night they have this amazing glow and float in the darkness.
We highly recommend a visit to the Svenskt Tenn tea room. We were there to conduct an interview for our next Mjölk book, and were treated to a surprise breakfast that included yogurt, an open face sandwich and tea/coffee.
&tradition at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. Pictured is the Palette coffee table.
We have some of the long Dry Studios x Frama cutting boards in stock, as well as the apothecary soaps and a rivet round table and triangolo chair. Shop Frama.
We headed over to Sibyllegatan to hit up Modernity and Jacksons, who was also having an exhibition. IWATEMO has emerged out of the collaboration between the manufacturing techniques of Iwate and Finnish design. The collection consists of three items created collaboratively by craftsmen in Iwate and the two Finnish designers, Ville Kokkonen and Harri Koskinen: Kettles from Nambu Tekki Ironware, Wooden Chairs, and Porcelain.
Of course this is right up our alley.
And finally, finishing off the trip is a visit to Matbaren for some langoustines and this super cute little sausage (possibly reindeer, definitely delicious).
The next morning we headed to Malmö, checked into our peculiar hotel near the train station, and awaited Petra who generously offered to drive us to Ingegerd Råman's summer house. You may remember our last visit, featured in Mjölk Volume 4.
We arrived for a delicious lunch of fresh baked bread, cucumber and roe soup (3 servings good), cheese and dessert.
Then we were off to the studio to discuss our upcoming exhibition, currently slated for October 24th, 2019. We brought home some samples, and are very much enjoying the white candleholder at our dining table.
We lingered into the evening, chatting by the lit kakelugn as darkness settled across the countryside, then back to Malmö via local train.
Malmö restaurant Bastard was highly recommended. It was full and we hadn't been able to get a reservation but managed to luck out with a bar seat after only a few minutes of waiting. It was a fantastic meal. I generally don't take food pics BUT this salad was my everything.
No February visit to Sweden is complete without some Semla.
Sunday was dedicated to interviewing Petra and Tanja of All the way to Paris for our upcoming Mjölk Volume V. After the interview and photos, we enjoyed our favourite kind of meal among friends.
We headed to the train station for our evening trip to Stockholm, where we quickly learned what inställt means. Due to all the snow in Stockholm, we were spending another night in Malmö.
The next morning it was business as usual, taking in the Swedish countryside on our way to Stockholm.
Visiting Petra and Tanja of All the way to Paris is almost becoming a ritual upon arrival in Copenhagen. With a very limited 12 hour stay in CPH, we needed to optimize our time and who better to spend it with than friends? ATWTP has been working on our packaging rebranding, which includes greeting cards, tissue paper, stickers and one day, hopefully, if we can ever get them printed, new shopping bags. We popped by their studio to have a quick chat about our state of affairs, then headed over to Admiralgade 26.
This restaurant is always a relaxed pleasure. The mixture of furniture, lamps, plants and objects makes the atmosphere endlessly cozy and relaxing. The food is quite fine too.
We've shared images previously on our blog Kitka but there is a new relevant addition to the space from &tradition: a loafer chair and 2 seater Mayor sofa, in a soft creamy white colour. Who said you couldn't be daring in white where food is served?
Next we visited the Frama Studio, which is housed in an old apothecary. The spaces are moody and the perfect backdrop for their sculptural work.
We love when the history of the space is maintained, and it works well, of course, with their apothecary products.
After our tour of the studio, Niels and Cassandra treated us to a really fun and delicious dinner at Apollo Bar, which was absolutely packed with people, hence the single "we were here" photo.
Copenhagen was a whirlwind as usual. Off to Malmö and Skåne for day two!
We are so happy to introduce Cecilia Vissers work in our showroom. I remember the first time I saw her work was at the home of Eero Koivisto, of Swedish architect firm Claesson Koivisto Rune. It was evening, and I remember seeing two plates, one raw aluminum and another that was anodized orange which hung in Eero’s hallway. It wasn’t the same vibrant orange as the piece in our showroom. It read closer to burgundy in the hallway, and I distinctly remember Eero mentioning that the aluminum panel was somewhat of a chameleon. Changing its colour throughout the day.
Claesson Koivisto Rune had recently completed an incredible project in Marfa Texas, a town that continues to feel the presence of late-American artist Donald Judd. The build is called the Inde/Jacobs Gallery, and happens to be our second point of connection with Cecila Vissers work. I remember seeing an incredible range of plates, all interacting with each other in this perfectly realized white space. The desert seems like a perfect home for this work, as does the edge of the world hanging over the Irish sea.
title: Faraway I and II
edition of 12, in linen bound box with inscription
material: hot rolled steel, black patina
title: So Close, two-part
edition of 25, in linen bound box with inscription
material: anodized mill aluminium
Interview between Cecilia Vissers and John Baker of Mjölk.
JOHN: I have been living with your work here at the showroom, and I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about where exactly I want to place your work in our gallery. There seems to be a great importance on location in terms of the work. The actual pieces sit 10mm from the wall, the distance between each plate and also the names themselves “So Close” “Faraway” seem to play with the emotional tether (chain, binding, tying together) between the viewer and artwork. (+ landscape)
CECILIA: Thank you, John, for your good observations of my wall-based sculptures. I really appreciate it when the viewer takes time to comprehend my minimal work. The best way to understand it is to ‘live’ with it for a while. The placement and installation of my spatial work is very important, I often say that space and object together form the final work of art. The space between the individual parts is important and forms the negative space. By looking very carefully at the lines and the forms of the negative space you can see the proportions and forms of the subject much better. To me a work of art does not exist without surrounding space. I feel there’s a continuous dialogue between object and architecture. In this context I like to use the word ‘synergy’ as I believe that all things work together to produce something greater than the sum of their individual effects.
JOHN: I’ve been admiring your photography of the Irish coast and cliffs, a landscape that is both beautiful but also harsh. I’ve learned speaking to you about how this environment inspires your work, and I could sense the connection even before seeing this imagery. How would you describe your experience exploring and documenting this landscape?
Achill Island, 15,5x24cm, silver gelatin print, 2014 (photo Cecilia Vissers)
CECILIA: My many trips to Scotland and especially to the West coast of Ireland are the basis of my work. I have to be there in that landscape, I want to stand on the cliffs and look out over the Atlantic. The wind, the waves, the rain. It has everything to do with emotion and memories. In 2009, I came to Achill Island for the first time. I felt very strongly that I had been there before, a kind of recognition. We made a long walk in the driving rain and strong wind. It was fascinating to see how the rain formed tiny streams running from the mountain slopes. In 2014, I was selected for a second residency on Achill Island. One night there was an exceptional strong wind on the island. The next morning, I went for a walk, the sky had a deep dark grey colour, roads and sidewalks were lit up, bridges were split and piers damaged. Due to the flooding there was an incredible amount of plastic on the beaches. I noticed a beautiful coloured sea fish thrown on one of the coastal roads. Stretches of the coast were completely washed away. The many pictures made on this walk serve as starting point for my work in steel, a source of inspiration. Only a few times I’ve shown my photos of landscapes in an exhibition. Yet I consider these images as an important part of my artistic practice. For me, landscape and image form a unified whole, just as space and image can't exist without each other.
Achill Island, 15,5x24cm, silver gelatin print, 2014 (photo Cecilia Vissers)
JOHN: What role does distance play in your work?
CECILIA: Many of my works consist of several parts. When hanging my work, I keep fixed and very precise distances between the different parts of my work. These distances have been calculated and recorded in the manual that comes with each piece of art. The intermediate space is very important, you could even say that the ‘space in between’ is a work of art in itself. Also, the distance between the viewer and the actual work plays an important role; when the viewer changes position the influence of the light on the anodized surfaces of my work also changes. In 2015, I had a solo exposition at Inde/Jacobs gallery in Marfa, Texas. I was lucky to visit this special place, partly thanks to grants provided by the Dutch Embassy in New York and the Brabant Art Foundation in the Netherlands. My installations sometimes consist of eighteen parts. In the centre of the beautiful gallery space (designed by the architects Claesson, Koivisto, Rune from Stockholm) the visitor will see the so called 'Hanging Cube’ .
Installation of Ridges at Inde/Jacobs gallery in Marfa Texas, 2015 (photo Cecilia Vissers)
For me this was the perfect place to show my installation ' Ridges ' (image above) consisting of a total of eighteen pieces in anodized aluminium. Inside the gallery, a skylight brings the bright Texas light into the beautiful white-walled space. The light in the high desert is very strong. It’s not a big surprise that Marfa is known as the ‘Mecca of Minimalism’. The late artist Donald Judd – considered a pioneer of Minimalism in the US- moved to Marfa in 1972. With the help of the Dia Art Foundation he purchased a U.S. Army base. Over the next 15 years, he renovated and restructured the buildings to show his permanent installations. The Chinati Foundation now draws visitors from all over the world who have heard about the spirit of the place and are curious to discover it for themselves.
So Close, ed.25, each part 8x20x1,2cm, anodized mill aluminium, 2015 (photo Peter Cox)
JOHN: I love the vividness of the anodized aluminium, there is an incredible depth in the colour and finish. Can you explain a little more about this process, and why it was your preference instead of simply having the works painted?
CECILIA: My edition ‘So Close’(image above), presented in your showroom, has been executed in anodized mill aluminium. This is a good example of high tech industrially made work. The two-part was made in a factory that makes airplane parts, very precise. The work is milled by a robot in a closed cab. Then, the work goes to a specialized factory where the works are immersed in different colour baths. For me, this process is especially interesting because the anodizing respects the natural appearance of the metal. In the morning, the colour of my pieces is bright orange, in the evening the colour turns into a deep almost red hue. The colour anodizing respects the underlying material, this is a totally different approach than covering a surface with a coat of paint. Besides my work in aluminium, I also like to work in hot rolled steel. This is a different approach, it has more to do with the purity and natural appearance of the metal. When I need a plate of hot rolled metal, I visit the metal supply where I compare a few plates of steel. Each plate weighs up to 250kg. Here I pay attention to the colour and texture of the steel. Each plate is unique and has its own colour and pattern of darker and lighter spots.
Blacksod Bay, each part 93x95x0,8cm, hot rolled steel, 2010 (photo Peter Cox)
In 2010 I made my two-part ‘Blacksod Bay’ (image above). At that time, I stayed at the Heinrich Boell Cottage on Achill Island. The Achill Heinrich Boll Foundation operates the residency and it is a great opportunity to explore this particularly isolated peninsula. Achill represents the most western point of Ireland. It signifies the extreme edge of the land. You cannot physically go further. I would walk over the high cliffs and see the ocean there below and could do so without distractions: there were only the sea and the waves, the wind and the lines. The cottage is very secluded, it has a view over the surrounding mountains and a terrific sight over Blacksod Bay, a bay of the wild Atlantic Ocean.
Sometimes the deep blue greyish colours are the result of the rolling process of the steel at the blast furnace. To intensify the colour and protect the metal, I use special patinas like ‘Magic Black’. The deep blue and grey tones have my preference, they remind me of the colour of the sky and the ocean on Achill Island, Ireland. The landscape is my all-time guide, my travel experiences and the underlying emotions form the basis of all work. The many photos of wild landscapes form an important part of my artistic practice. They serve as a reference to go back to that one special place. The ultimate viewing experience is the feeling of being drawn into an experience. Mark Rothko has expressed this very well in the following quote: “The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their colour relationships then you miss the point.” Mark Rothko
JOHN: What a wonderful sentiment. I read that one of your first attempts to shape a plate of metal involved using a hand-held jigsaw in your original studio which was a shared space with metal workers. Tell us about this first experience and its result.
CECILIA: About a year ago my monography ‘Flatness in Space’ was published by artbook publisher Lecturis in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Art historian Dr. Alistair Rider from Scotland wrote a beautiful essay titled ‘The Cut and The Profile’.
I’d like to share a few sentences:
“One of Cecilia Vissers’ earliest attempts to shape a plate of metal involved using a powerful hand-held jigsaw. She had recently graduated from art school in the Netherlands and established a studio for herself in a building that used to be an old forge. A blacksmith, who was still working in another part of the workshop, had instilled in her a fascination with the ancient art of working with metal, and she was keen to experiment. One day she acquired a long, rectangular plate of steel and made a curved incision, arching away from its straight edge towards the centre of the plate. Then she made another complementary cut a few centimetres to one side, looping inwards to join the first. That was all. The modesty of her intervention attests to the hardness of the steel: it is a material that demands an immense expenditure of energy in order to work it. But she had extracted a notch from the rectangular form, and in so doing had altered its overall shape and proportions.” (Flatness in Space, A.Rider, 2017, p12).
JOHN: We're circled right back to the beginning with this note. Thank you so much for taking us deeper into your work. We are so happy to be able to display these pieces in our gallery.
Curve No. 1, 5,9x61,4x0,5cm, hot rolled steel, 1998 (photo Peter Cox)
This steel sculpture Curve No.1, has become my template, it still lies on my workbench alongside my compass, right angle square and ruler. It serves as a model, and many subsequent works have been inspired by its proportions. In 2017 I decided to make Curve No.2, this work is the long-awaited successor of Curve No.1. I think it perfectly shows my working process. ‘Work comes out of work’.
Curve No. 2, 12,2x61x1cm, hot rolled steel, black patina, 2017 (photo Peter Cox)
I’m really excited that you’ll show my works in your showroom. Art & architecture belong together, I think they are reinforcing and influencing each other in a very positive way. Thank you, John, for doing this interview!
Faraway I (right) & II (left), ed.12, each part 12,5x17x1,2cm, hot rolled steel, 2014 (photo Peter Cox)
Our last weekend at the stone house was all about the large window reveal! Custom made by Peter Tan of Studio Junction, we filled the natural opening that was once a drive through for the horse and buggy, with a large picture window. Literal definition of picture window.
Of course I forgot my actual camera to document such a momentous occasion, so iphone will have to do!
We woke up to a blanket of snow, a pretty perfect first experience.
Children for scale. Also, how great is it when your kids fight over who gets to wash the window? So great.
Originally the window was to go to the floor, but there happened to be a concrete pad already in place to use and we needed to shore it up a bit on the bottom. The bench is an elegant solution that allows for a place to perch.
A winter wonderland!
Time to get cozy inside.
We received a delivery of furniture, which filled out the sitting area nicely. John found an antique Orkney chair, which we've long admired. The Poet Sofa needed to join us too.
We recently fixed all of our Braun record players so one came to the stone house. Currently listening to RAM, inspired by Paul and Linda's country house. Peter Tan of Studio Junction and his amazing crew put together this walnut bookcase with the leftover wood from the storage cabinet.
A few weeks ago we got to experience the first dusting of snow at the stone house.
Peter Tan of Studio Junction and his crew have been working at the stone house weekly to get the last bit of the reno completed. Up the path, you can see that the large picture window has been installed. They unfortunately tortured us all weekend with the plastic covering, but I guess good things come to those who wait.
Another view of the picture window. This window has taken on various iterations in our imaginings. A large swing door inspired by Donald Judd was the top runner for the longest time, however, in the end in order to cut on costs, we decided it wasn't the most logical expense since we plan to inhabit this place more so in the winter time! The other version was to have a fixed window with a door, but I really felt it was important to have an uninterrupted view. I am very pleased with how the fixed window is turning out, as a deep bench has been fashioned from the inside, perfect for daydreaming.
The kids finally emerged...
This massive tree was still green, it's leaves so thick it was actually raining under the canopy. Unfortunately we missed seeing it turn yellow, and by the time we return all the leaves will be on the ground. Hoping to make a massive leaf pile to jump in.
The snow was perfect for snowballs and snow people/pets. I shared some of those photos on my Instagram stories.
Inside view of the picture window and Studio Junction temporary work station. Next visit this window area will be complete! In the meantime, we were debating what to do with this extra space. It was always meant to be a more raw workspace, a spot to get messy with paint and clay. That said, the window beckons for some cozy seating. I feel like the window will be our tv and we will want to sit in front of it all day long.
Another progress view. On the right you see a walnut cabinet that will be used to store winter gear, cleaning materials and any other things we don't want to look at. The cut out in the middle allows light through to the wood door, and also acts as a peekaboo to the outside when you enter. Additionally, that void offers a spot to sit for lacing boots.
A little sneak peek of a gorgeous antique cabinet purchased from Japan. Acquiring that was a not fun adventure - antiquing in Japan from Canada is...discouraged. Also pictured is the Sutoa Drawers from FRAMA. We plan on using it in the creative space.
We had our first impromptu guests over the weekend. Alex Fida of Angeline's Inn and House of Falconer--check out his instagram @alexfida to see his own renovation/restoration projects--in PEC popped by with some friends. Alex had originally looked at the house when it was for sale so it was exciting to show him all the work we'd done. Thankfully John had overbought food from the Cheese Boutique so we were set to receive guests--though we were short on chairs and plates!
Pictured here is the amazing serving bowl with handle by Tomii Takashi and some brass servers by Mami Hasegawa. We don't currently have it listed on the website but we do have a few of the serving bowls available in the showroom ($720-$780).
A closeup of the Swedish kakelugn tile stove. Although we have big love for the round versions, it's special to have a mantle to display some beloved objects. Some antique finds on the left, a couple of Masanobu Ando's Box of Air sculptures and a meiping shaped vase acquired at an antique shop/cafe in Japan several years ago.
Dreaming of going to the stone house. Don't you just love the deep window sill? Objects are starting to accumulate. Troll Vase by Anderssen & Voll, lavender from Coriander Girl in Picton, a Märta Måås-Fjetterström textile, some natural finds from Frank and Emily's summer stay, a special edition urushi Kin tea light holder by Claesson Koivisto Rune, a watering can bought from an antique market in Tokyo and the newest addition, a brass candle holder found during our last stay at one of the antique shops in Stirling.
This old door handle really gets me. Seeing it photographed though, it deserves some better screws...add that to the to do list!
John recently installed some Matureware hardware, including this neat adjustible lock, available for special order via Mjölk.
There are two doors into the bathroom. I think on our next visit we need to sand what appears to be a wood door handle.
Also installed in a few locations are Matureware brass light switches. So much better than the readily available standard plastic. I want to change all our switches everywhere but it only comes in single or double.
The Belgian barber cabinet has a few items in it. I like how we have closed storage in the bottom and then some glass display shelves as well. The other two urushi Kin, plus an antique wooden head and a Byredo candle from a very kind customer. On top, an antique mask, and Socket Light from Menu (currently in stock despite what the webshop says).
Overview shot of the bath area, with antique stool. On the wall is a bronze wall vase prototype in the spirit of Masanobu Ando and Tomii Takashi's wall vases. We are hoping to produce some in time for the holidays.
It's been awhile since we've been to the Stone House. In part because it's still a little under constuction, but also because of the usual September busyness of back to school and an increase in customers at the shop who have returned from their summer activities.
The kids had a four day weekend over Thanksgiving so we decided we needed to go for a visit. Thankfully Peter Tan from Studio Junction accommodated us, despite his (very tidy) construction zone.
It was heaven. A perfect sort of moody, foggy, drizzly but not too wet weekend. Everyone was so calm and happy, and surprisingly busy with the little things.
I spent quite a bit of time enamoured with the landscape. The colours were just changing so it was mostly golds and greens, with splashes of red and purple. The property becomes so lush over summer it's interesting to see everything wither.
This front area is the only larger open field area that we have. Last year the middle patch was so natural and pretty. Our farmer friend razed it last fall and we tried to till and plant wildflowers but unfortunately something else took hold, a variety of very strong grasses/wheat? It didn't have the same appeal so we are going to cut it back again and work a smaller section. I guess it'd be good to have a larger space to play too.
I imagine using this open space for archery. It's the one thing from my day camp days that I loved doing and never ever got to do it enough. If anyone has any tips on real kid friendly sets or places to buy, let us know via email. I started looking while in Belleville and am not sure the hunting shops would sell leisure/kid friendly archery equipment.
Under construction, Peter and his crew have been working hard on the drive through doors - they will become a solid wood entryway and on the other side a large picture window. The concrete pads have been poured, hence the protective tent.
Glad that the cornfields are still hanging around. They were working across the street on Friday...but seem to get to these fields last which I appreciate.
This is the only window we didn't switch out. I am sure we will come to regret that as the wind begins to whistle through. I am enjoying this little view into the kitchen.
We are just waiting on the glass panel for this massive picture window that will look out onto our tiny apple orchard. They found a perfectly good concrete pad already there so to make things easier, the window will sit atop a concrete ledge but the bonus is we will have a little bench on the inside, perfect for contemplation.
More textures, colour and fog.
I found John under the only producing apple tree. Unfortunately all the apples had fallen but he was salvaging what he could.
No filter required, these apples are pretty much the only colour going right now.
I am pretty envious of John's get up. Where can I buy this without going to the UK? Not a rhetorical question, shoot me a message via juli_at_mjolk instagram or Mjolk email. It sounds silly but I feel I need an appropriate wardrobe of tweeds and horseback riding fashion breeches (I had a great pair from Club Monaco circa 1994. What ever happened to Club Monaco? They lost me awhile back...).
We have lots of little paths around the property. Here I found the kids exploring on their own.
Meanwhile, inside we drank a lot of coffee, had fires, and enjoyed the dark moody interior. The kitchen is obviously still a work in progress but the light, THE LIGHT! It's like living in a Vermeer.
On Saturday we went into Belleville, to L'Auberge du France for some promised french fries. Next door is Scalliwag Toys which we popped in to grab a new board game (based on my Instagram Stories and availability, we bought Ticket to Ride). We were feeling a wee bit high on family life and ended up buying the deluxe Brio train set...and a Playmobile bakery too. The owners of the shop were very sweet -- the very reason it's important to SHOP LOCAL. I don't know how this little shop survives with all the big box shopping mall competition but I hope that locals begin to appreciate their very cute and walkable downtown main street. It's high time we reclaim our retail landscape.
A mini tour of Belleville, to inspire you to shop local.
Middle: Stephen License Bicycles & Hobbies - this place is so classic. We almost went in but I was feeling reckless and knew I'd end up buying an electric John Deer riding car or something. Also the reason we didn't go into the neighbouring pet shop...that bunny in the window was so cute and living life in a cage that was past due for a clean up. It's important to know when you have no boundaries.
Right: We haven't been to The Lark yet, but know many people who have or who know the owners so we look forward to visiting the next time we are up and without kids.
Back at the stone house, the kids were playing hide and seek, which always tickles me considering there are nearly no places to hide. Howell usually ends up running shoeless outside in search of cover so Elodie ended up out there too. They returned about 5 minutes later with a bucket of leaves and proceeded to work quietly on the perfectly positioned large scale Fly coffee table. Using the leaves they acquired they did leaf studies. Be still my heart!
So quiet, so focused.
The Hans Wegner Peacock chairs are together again. We just couldn't separate them, despite our best intentions to buy two and sell one to pay for the other. That corner needs work but it's a great start! It's my newspaper reading corner.
Next post will be about some new hardware and small design objects.
Funny story about Tetsuya Ozawa's first shipment to us. It sold out within days of receiving it. We never even had a chance to post it to the website, or share our interview with him here on the journal. This week we received a new shipment of Ozawa-san's beautiful work, so it's the perfect time to share John's interview with him.
6 Questions for TETSUYA OZAWA
( J = JOHN’s Questions / T = TETSUYA’s Answers, translated by Reiko )
J : Please give us some insight about who you are, you are based in Tajimi city?
T : My name is Tetsuya Ozawa.
I was born in Tajimi City, Gifu Prefecture in 1984.
Graduated from Nagoya University of the Arts in 2008.
Then I have studied and was being an apprentice under the ceramicist Mr. Masamichi Yoshikawa at
Tokoname-shi, Aichi prefecture. I started up my own practice in 2016.
Currently I’m based in Tokoname (*1) , Aichi prefecture.
The view from the parlour towards the guest bedroom and the bathroom.
A few views into the guest bedroom from the parlour.
Guest bedroom details:
Companions Bed in walnut by Studioilse. Evidently this is the best bed ever.
Walnut and cast iron McQueen bedside chest by Matthew Hilton (also available via Mjölk but not currently on our website).
Carrie Lamp from Menu is battery operated and handy for walking to the bathroom or contending with bats at night
(aka using as a night light to keep the bats away).
Walls are painted with Belgian Wilderness lime fresco from Pure & Original Paint.
Same as our showroom, different technique.
Not that you can really see it here, but the blue, purple and green flatweave Swedish rug is by Judith Johansson. We were first introduced to her work at JP Willborg in Stockholm (I highly recommend a visit there), where we bought a gorgeous red and blue rug. We then acquired a brown and orange one via auction. So one could say we are fans.
Waiting for a desk. Disappointed we cannot place a desk in front of the window but due to a second door that goes into the bathroom the bed is in the way. Mexiko Pendant from Kalmar (for some reason it's not on our website but it is available via Mjölk). A shaker box in the deep set window. Artwork found at an antique market in Tokyo.
A view into the bathroom. To the right of the door is a sandcast brass light switch by Oji Masanori from Futagami. We managed to get a few for the main floor. Adore them.
Black cabinet is a Belgian barber cabinet from the early 1800s. Don't get me started on the trial
that was acquiring this.
Striped rug was a surprising find from Ikea. We had bought a rug on Etsy and then forgot that we actually bought it, found this rug at Ikea which was perfect, then found out we actually did buy the Etsy rug. Super organized over here! Etsy rug is now bedside in the guest room.
A view of the white oak console, with baskets from Ingegerd Raman's collection at Ikea. Towel rack and towels from Momogusa. Artwork bought in Japan, by Swedish artist Gunnar Larson.
For years people have admired Norihiko Terayama's large scale flower artwork in our showroom. It was time for another visit from Norihiko and this time he brought with him some versions of this artwork to sell in his second solo exhibition at Mjölk. Unfortunately we are nervous to ship these pieces outside of Toronto, due to their fragility but there are some smaller pieces available here.
Along with the framed works, there were flower interventions on found objects and antiques.
We switched out the overworked and underwhelming Elephant Grey for Pure & Original's Old Linen. We are so happy with the change. The room feels calm and warm, and it doesn't interfere with the view outside. It also has less contrast with the chair rail.
I'm going to be honest, I am kind of sad that I am all caught up with these renovation posts. In July we got another shipment of furniture to the stone house. The vintage pieces have been loboriously aquired over the previous two years (remember we put our offer on the stone house back in 2016).
Vintage light fixture is by Vilhelm Lauritzen. These fixtures were site specific, for a place called Christiansborg. We actually bought one for a client project and then lucked out finding another one for our own place!
A better view of the Hästhov (coltsfoot) rug, and a shaker stand for candlemaking.
The unresolved corner, recently a little more resolved since we brought the second of the Peacock chairs over...
they just begged to stay a pair though we had initially hoped to fund the purchase of one with the sale of the other.
Our first sleep over at the stone house occured over a kid-free May long weekend.
On the way we stopped at Yorkdale Mall to buy some linens for our bed, only to discover that RH only sells via online (despite their new lavish mall showroom). Scandalized, we grabbed a bite at Jamie Oliver's restaurant, which was actually quite good. We are Jamie fans. I preamble with this to say that we didn't really arrive until about 3pm.
We set up the bedroom. Well, at least the kids who aren't here with us are all set up. We slept on the mattress cover.
The upstairs woodstove didn't end up where we had planned, which is making the space cramped in one corner. Kind of annoying but where we wanted it we had to install the kakelugn, who's pipe comes right up through the floor to the roof. We had really wanted a sitting area for in front of it but now I am not sure what's going to happen.
The kid's beds are from Ikea.
Early kitchen set up: it's called making do. We have a fridge, a bar cart, a stove and a kitchen table. Keen eyes will note that our table is the Enfield Table, our own production. Early review: we love it.
Here John is firing up the wood cook stove for the first time...to reheat our leftover pasta from earlier in the day.
While we unpack our meagre kitchen items we realize we forgot one essential: mugs for our morning coffee. It's getting late in the day as far as small town life is concerned so I do the 7 minute drive into Stirling and find a little candy/novelty shop that is open. Success and relief! The town provides.
While we wait for the stove to fire up, we go on a walk about.
Our lawn maintenance pal Mike makes sure to mow us a path through the meadow, as well as a few openings to the stream, making it quite pleasant to wander around and check out all the sights.
Look at that copper trough. So. worth. it.
We were in total awe of the light on this particular evening. It was the warmest of welcomes. The trim, having been painted recently from white to drop cloth, was the perfect choice.
Walking through our small orchard that is comprised of about 5 apple trees, with I think two varieties of apple. Last year we didn't get any apples but the year prior we had some really tasty ones.
You can see the drive shed in the background. To the immediate left would be the farmer fields (not our property). To the right is a tiny sliver of a forest, and then the stream.
This was the first time we experienced spring at the stone house. Apple blossoms!
Two more angles.
A peek inside the drive shed, with feed bag ghosts.
Time for another walk about. The view from what will become a corn field (not ours).
That night we watched some Westworld and then a bat woke us up at 3am.
Our first morning waking up. I am shocked that this photo was taken at 9:52am, seeing as how the sunlight just comes right on in, and we wake up to the vistas that surround us. Then again, we continue to be sleep deprived parents, in this case, without said children to deprive us.
On this evening, we were also visited by a bat. I will assume it was the same bat as the first night. There always seems to be one bat. I of course know there are like 50 bats, but there is only ever one at a time inside. It's like they stumble in accidentally, I can't even figure out from where because we sealed so much up. Anyway, this time John managed to get it downstairs and out the door, using a Jaime Hayon Pillow.
On our last day we grudgingly decided to get the primer painted. We added water to the can because the paint is quite thick (suggested) and used a regular roller for this part, just like you would with regular paint.
Not gonna lie, painting always seems like a great idea, like no big deal when you start, but it always takes longer than expected. Then again, the results are worth it.
I don't really want to spend much time indulging you in this living room as is here. I do like for you to see that sometimes one has to go with one's gut and make a change--and that yes, even we make mistakes. The grey was chosen when we had a completely different intention, and it turned out to not even be the grey we intended! Between not feeling settled on the colour, and the painter overworking it anyway, it wasn't such an ordeal to have to repaint it ourselves. Plus we got the opportunity to work with the Pure & Original paint product we are selling at the shop. I am pretty sure you are going to like where we do end up taking it (two posts from now)!
The sofa is the Mayor Sofa by Arne Jacobsen. Gold velvet with smoked oak legs, you may have seen it in the showroom. More photos to come.
That Playsam Saab Roadster ride on car has been sitting in our basement for 8 years. We originally had it in the showroom when we carried Playsam, but it never sold and since we knew we were having kids we figured we'd just hold onto it. Because of it's width I found when the kids were smaller they couldn't make it go, so now they are just the perfect age for it and they had fun zooming around the summer kitchen on their first visit up.
In the upstairs bedroom we have the unique issue of three beds in one room ("Goodnight Ma! Goodnight Pa!"). We looked for a long time to find something a bit more fun for the kids, but not so much fun that it clashed with the grownup natural linen vibe.
Camomile London is a splurge, but these linens should last us a long time. We liked that we could layer different prints and colours. Unfortunately when we were buying they were quite sold out (Elodie is more a purple kid) but we made it work pretty well I think.
This photo was taken after unpacking the linens in the guest bedroom. More on this rug later.
Some teaser shots of the upstairs. It's completely different than we first imagined.
Let's check in on the bathroom again, just because it's pretty and the trim is now painted.
See that plastic section of wall? Hopefull by the end of September it will be a large picture window. We are working yet again with the amazing Studio Junction. They will be crafting our kitchen, the large window, and our main entrance. The spaces where the window and entrance are located used to be a "drive through" door to drive horse and buggy through to unload goods. Wild.
Just off the living room is a door. Why is this not our front door you ask? Good question, sometimes I wonder that myself. But then I think about muddy boots and snowsuits being flomped down in the middle of the kitchen and dining area, and I am reminded why we are building yet another entrance (which will be to the left of this one, accompanied by a big storage unit to hide all the stuff).
Another view of this side of the room. You can see where the new entrance will go, where the bright light is coming from on the left of the photo. We decided since it's visible from the driveway that we would make it all wood for privacy.
In this corner, where the big picture window is going to be, will be our creative space/ a space to contemplate. So excited about having a spot where I don't have to be so neurotic about our children's art making. Pictured is Mike, amazing guy all around (currently taking care of our lawn) probably showing John a video of all the snakes in our basement. Haha. Snakes are good luck right?
Continuing the tour around the summer kitchen, lo and behold, the cooker has been installed. We deliberated forever on where to locate this. Originally a cabinet was supposed to go here but the location we wanted for the cooker didn't really work for the installation.
In order to fulfill our little house on the prairie dreams, only a wood cooker would do. We found the answer in this Esse 990 Wood-Fired Cooker. Some people may scoff at us for going this route (these city folk don't know what they are getting into, there's a reason for modern conveniences!), but it's all about slow living baby.
The firebox is in the top left corner. It's an interesting system, whereby, should one read the manual, one would discover that if you flip a switch, the smoke redirects through the system to heat the ovens. Reading the manual is essential or you will be waiting several hours to heat up a pizza. Just saying. Read the manual. The cooktop on the left side gets going way faster, within 30 minutes. The oven I think takes a little over an hour if done correctly. It is also helpful to have woodworker friends who can offload their excess wood to your cooker needs.
Guess what? We are one post away from our first sleepover visit. Exciting stuff, thanks for hanging in for the ride!
This is a photo of a once neglected but now very happy stone farmhouse with a new cedar shake roof.
Not going to lie, this was a painful if not reckless financial choice. However, onward we move, knowing we shouldn't have to worry about the roof for many years to come. It adds texture and warmth, it's a natural material, and it will fade to grey over time, to match the stone. No regrets. The copper eaves seem like an additional extravagance, however, they honestly weren't much more than regular painted eaves troughs.
Just wait until you see it all with newly painted trim. It positively glows with warmth and joy.
The other upstairs addition is the Shaker Stove from Wittus, designed by Antonio Citterio with Toan Nguyen. Since the furnace isn't connected to the second floor, we figured a cozy fire would be a good idea. How could we not go with this stove? Inspired by shaker stoves but practical for today's needs. And yes, we need to extend the base out...we'll get to that...
A standout feature of Scandinavian interiors is the beautiful ceramic tile Kakelugn stove. The all white cylindrical version is possibly the most iconic, however, one can find them in all shapes, sizes and colours--even painted tile. As admirers of Nordic design, we are naturally drawn to the ceramic ornamentation found on these stoves paired with pale wood floors, crown molding and modernist furniture.
That being said, these stoves are more than mere decoration. The way the chimney system works, it retains the heat from the first firing in the morning throughout the day, radiating soft warmth for a long period of time without having to use a lot of wood.
So...I can hear you asking. Where on earth did you find this, and how on earth did you get it to small town Ontario from Sweden? Cue John and his internet wanderings again. Purchased from Lindholm Kakelugnar, the interaction was pretty seamless and Mats was very helpful in organizing everything. We used our usual freight forwarder to get it to Toronto, and then our amazing local movers to get it to the country.
By the way, ignore the grey paint job behind, it got destroyed and we ended up moving in a new direction anyway...
a surprise for later.
It took awhile to secure a certified stove mason in Ontario willing to put it together for us but eventually we found Alex Chernov. First step was to build a masonry stove, then they had to put all the numbered tiles in the correct location.
There is a very special way to construct a masonry stove like this. It cannot be made with cement of any kind, and the fillings have to be made with a chalk pudding instead of mortar. Alex and his assistant worked patiently and efficiently, producing a beautiful and authentic end product.
For us finding a stove that would fit in a rural enviroment, in such an old home, was really important. This motif is only found on stoves from Gotland, a Swedish island famous for its stone cottages and craft culture. The stove was built originally around 200 years ago, and you can find stoves by the same stove master in Hotel Stelor in Gotland.
We then visited the Frama showroom for the first time in Copenhagen, and were further amazed with their poetic blend of rational industrial design and craft. Their work conjures for us images of black and white photographs of old French ateliers, studios furnished with functional and strong furniture yet visually delicate and slender. Industrial yet at the same time softened with natural materials like oak and leather.
We hope you will enjoy these pieces as much as we do.
Design by Architect Per Holland Bastrup, 1989. Signature Collection.
Even though the Triangolo chair was created several decades ago it goes hand in hand with the Frama principles of strong geometric forms and simple lines.
Circle Mirror and Adam stool in oak.
Occasionally we see a form that speaks on its own. The round mirrors are an example of just this. A classic round mirror with beveled edges mounted to a solid oak back. Visible screws celebrate the analogue approach to this 50's inspired piece. The visual purity of the round shape is honoured by its material composition.
Aluminium can be difficult to weld and screw. With that in mind a riveting/tenon technique was developed for the Rivet project. This was also a way to experiment with different variations of visual assembling. The straightforward design is laser cut and hammered by hand, which puts it in a category between craftsmanship and industrial production.
Frama St. Pauls Collection of Apothecary
includes handwash, hand lotion and scents.
Apothecary is made locally in Denmark. Notes of Sandalwood, Cedar Wood, and Ylang Ylang.
The Apothecary collection is produced with 100% natural ingredients and in Italian glass bottles.
The Adam Stool collection is inspired by industrial design, an artist's studio, and a workshop. The functionality and simplicity of the design, combined with strong materials, gives these stools a structural and utilitarian approach.
Sutoa drawer fulfills the aesthetic look of a storage chest.
It is based on a discreet steel frame combined with wooden stack-able drawers in massive oak. Boxes of different sizes serves various purposes to contain. The gap between the boxes becomes the handle and small wheels at the back is very useful to change the placement of Sutoa.
Suitable as a coffee table or side table where the contrast between the soft warm cork, meets the cold smooth marble. The distinction between the two shapes gives the impression of two worlds meeting one another.
We just received some stunning new pieces from De La Espada. They are so new they aren't yet on our website, so we thought we'd give you a quick preview here. Click here to see more available items from this collections.
Belle Reeve Sofa by Nichetto Studio, starting from $17,795
Check out the lattice woodwork and elegant brass legs.
Also pitcured: the Neri & Hu Commune bench which is being used as a coffee table.
Handle Side Table by Neri & Hu, brass and white oiled oak, $1600
Also pictured: Cyclades vase by Nick Ross, $140
Solo Desk (starting from $5995) and Chair in Danish oiled walnut, both by Neri & Hu.
Antique Korean moon jar in the background, $3975
Elliot Dining Chair (starting from $1595) by Jason Miller and Solo Dining Table by Neri & Hu.
Woodworking through-tenon detail with wedge
Raf Simons Ria woven fabric
Composition of Elliot chair and Solo dining table.
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.