On the side of a country road in picturesque Prince Edward County on the Long Point peninsula, a charming 1880s farmhouse becomes sanctuary for a couple and their two young children; its completion was well-timed for the beginning of a global lockdown. A contemporary structural extension on a classic Ontarian country home positioned atop an escarpment, entices the family to seek out a regular escape from Toronto here by the peaceful lakeshore where the region is abundant in gastronomical and viticultural activity.
As VFA Architecture + Design delved into the project, their excavation revealed a structural surprise in the traditional stick build; a previous dweller had built around what was originally a 1820s one-room log cabin. The latest intervention into the building’s history sees the stacking of three volumes where the existing architecture showcases the traditional porched farmhouse vernacular with a prominent new façade; vertical white-washed wood panelling is complemented by a new galvalume roof with standing metal seam. The middle volume echoes the slant of the adjacent gabled roof, comprising the living room; and the western wing is articulated by a rectilinear box insertion housing a screened Muskoka sunroom designed specifically to invite the cocktail hour light in.
Expansive glazing wraps around the rear of these three volumes, emphasizing a strong connection to the outdoors and the building’s geographical relationship to the water. As it overlooks the lake, the courtyard is built around a tree to respect its history on the site. The renewed building conveys an understanding of its geographical context, as well as time in place in rural southwestern Ontario.
Just as the hearth is at the centre of the primitive home, the fireplace is intentionally placed at the centre of this contemporary home, integrated into a rectilinear wall and cut out in a c-shape from its profile. It adjoins three spaces as warmth radiates into the living room, kitchen, and dining room. A reduced rusticity permeates the space as illustrated by the rawness in the materials used, complemented with objects and furnishings by the sophisticated eye of interior designer Jennifer Griffiths. The pairing of stamped cast concrete bricks and white-stained cedar panels offer a serene setting that layers object and space, while instilling a sense of comfort and refuge for its users.