A Farmhouse with Soul
A Scottish manor hideaway
Inspired by visions of a traditional Scottish manor, Les Ensembliers transformed a crumbling 18th-century farmhouse into a family retreat with rustic and modern touches.
Original wood walls and stone floors offset artwork by Joan Miró.
At one point or another, every urban dweller dreams of escaping the concrete jungle and getting back to the land. But few embrace that idea quite like one Canadian family. Instead of buying a compact tract and dabbling in husbandry on a small scale, they went all in, purchasing a 160-acre parcel in
Hemmingford, on the Quebec border of New York State, and turning it into a fully functioning experiment in permaculture. They created a sustainable commercial agricultural development that supplies fresh meat and produce to high-end restaurants in the area without degrading the earth.
“We wanted to keep the spirit of the farm, so nothing is too pristine or perfect,” Ouellette says. In the living room, an original plaster wall and rough-hewn ceiling beams provide a crude backdrop for cozy custom furnishings.
A palette of soft greys, putty greens, and hazy blues not only evokes the Scottish Highlands but also the pastoral landscapes of the Canadian countryside.
“It’s a true farm-to-table experience,” says Ouellette. “They invite friends and family to harvest dinners, setting up long communal tables in the vegetable garden and picking
ingredients with the chef for formal dinners in the dining room.” In fact, there are no artificial lights in that space, just candles lit overhead to create a romantic glow, “like they did in the 1700s,” the designer says.
The challenge became finding ways to add those updates without killing the character of the space. Rather than construct a contemporary ideal of farmstead life, the designer sought to capture something more soulful.
Guest suites run on the small side, with dormers and exposed beams, but velvety headboards and luxurious linens bring them into the present. “We loved that everything felt quaint and intimate—that’s part of the experience of being on a farm,” says Ouellette.
The ethos was so inspiring that Ouellette and Vandal invested in their own 80-acre weekend property in Canada’s Eastern Townships, with a vegetable garden and plans for a sheep
pasture and chicken coop. “I never thought having a farm would be so connecting,” Ouellette says. And just like that, another urbanite bites the dust.