Thursday, September 29, 2011

Montreal Architectural Heritage Campaign: Montreal Beauties

Every year in September and October the city of Montreal presents the Montréal Architectural Heritage Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to "discover the amazing wealth of the built heritage, of the importance of caring for it and of the necessity of respectfully preserving its original character." A great initiative, isn't it?

I honestly spend all year looking forward to the various activities offered. Like an early Christmas!! These include free walking and bus tours of both well known and not so well known neighborhoods, free entry to museums with exhibits related to architecture and open houses of historic homes currently on the market. This year there will be two Sundays of open houses, October 3 and October 9. For those of us who are especially nosy (me!), the open houses are delightful! 

During a public ceremony held on September 23, 2011 in Montréal City Hall, 26 property owners received a Heritage Emeritus Award for the meticulous care of their properties. These are building are the 2011 Montreal Beauties! 

Here are some of my favorite beauties with the description from the M.A.H.C. website:


Ahuntsic-Cartierville Borough

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
Built in 1958 according to the plans of architect André Blouin, this modern-style single-family home stands out with its elongated façade, vertical wood cladding and rounded stone wall. A lot of care was put into this house to preserve and highlight the distinctive roof structure as well as the original wood windows and doors. Its sustained maintenance is noteworthy.
Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This exceptional modern-style home was built in 1966 according to the plans of famous architect Roger d’Astous. The property stands out with its recently restored cedar-shingle siding. The abundant windows and mix of exterior covering in wood and field stone allow for perfect building integration into the environment.


Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Borough

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This magnificent house was built in 1910. It features a balustrade, wrought iron, triangular pediment with sloped roof and mouldings, parapet and oriel window with ornamental mouldings. It is typically Montréal. This Notre-Dame-de-Grâce jewel stands out thanks to quality renovation work and careful maintenance.


LaSalle Borough

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This single-family home was built in 1961 according to the plans of famous architect and designer Jean-Maurice Dubé, to whom we owe the Verdun Métro station and Marguerite-de-Lajemerrais school. The stone and brick façade and abundant windows make this house stand out, and the impressive four-sided gable roof adds volume to the property.

Town of Mount-Royal

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
Built in 1951, this semi-detached house has been well maintained over the years. The upper dormers, commanding eaves, brick inserts, wood shutters and entrances add great charm to the building.


Town of Montréal West

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This 1920 house features architectural elements that were inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. Note the farmhouse style mansard, wood windows and louvers. Evidently, this house has been carefully maintained over the years. 

Outremont Borough

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This building, known as the presbytery of the first Saint-Viateur Church, was designed by architect Casimir St-Jean and built in 1904 across from Outremont Park. It stands out with its grey rusticated stone façade, white trim, smooth cut stone elements and high-cornice parapet. Regular maintenance of this house is noteworthy.

Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This circa 1885 cottage, which houses a basement apartment, is part of a series of four nearly-identical buildings featuring gray limestone. Just as the neighboring buildings, it is capped with a false mansard roof which has been restored completely, keeping the woodwork, flashings, slate tiles and other original characteristics.

Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie Borough


Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This building is a fine example of a residential property which reinvented the triplex. The proportions of the façade and architectural style give this property the appearance of a rich-looking single-family home. Careful maintenance helped to maintain the original architectural characteristics of this early-60s property.

Ville-Marie Borough

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This residence is part of a housing complex built in 1925 in the Golden Square Mile. The complex is centered around a semi-private landscaped courtyard, away from the downtown hustle. This unit has kept all its original elements. The openings, woodwork, wrought iron elements and masonry covering have been maintained regularly over the years and give the building a definite flair.

City of Westmount

Heritage Emeritus Award  |  Residential category
This remarkable 1880 house features detailed decorative wood giving it a country look. Restoration work on the second-floor balcony as well as woodwork repair on the façade was carried out a few years ago in keeping with the building’s original character. 

What I love about these homes is that they represent the various eras of Montreal's construction. Many are turn of the twentieth century Victorians located near the downtown core but others represent the mid-century modern architecture visible in various post-war construction boom suburbs. When we hear the word heritage we often think very old, but this campaign pushes us to think of heritage in broader terms- staying true to the character and time period of your home. Interesting concept, isn't it?

For the entire list of Montreal Beauties 2011 click here.

If you'd like to check out the calendar of activities click here.

Check back tomorrow for another M.A.H.C. post. I'll be writing about the heritage open houses. Very exciting!

I'd love to know what you think about these home.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stunning English Country Estate Style Home

Today was a beautiful Saturday morning. It may be fall but the weather was so beautiful- not too hot, not yet cold, just perfect. So Tony and I ate breakfast on our front porch, sipped our coffee and read the Saturday Gazette. My favorite section is obviously the house section called Homefront. Today's house feature was this stunning English country estate style home located in the village of Knowlton, an hour southeast of Montreal. The Gazette writer describes the town as "famous for their eye-popping scenery and a friendly country atmosphere that can suck the stress right out of the visitor." The house was built in 2002 but doesn't at all appear new. It looks like a historic old home. 

Here are some images:

By now I think you all know that I love wood and this house has plenty of wood! It also has those great large character-filled fireplaces! Now I do have to say that I find the rooms just too large for my taste but this opinion might also be influenced by the price. Yes, this house is on the market and the asking price is a $8, 890, 000!!!! Get some more English country estate inspiration by viewing other images at the listing site here.
Read the Gazette article here.
Enjoy your weekend:)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wallpapered closet doors- GENIUS!

Check out this genius idea:

Take your closet doors from blah to WOW! Wallpaper has gained so much popularity in the past few years and I think this is a great way to add some pattern, color, intrigue and style to any room without the commitment of wallpapering the walls. Also, I think I'd be much more inclined to try a bold pattern on closet doors rather than on a wall. I'm now looking at all my closet doors with a creative eye.

The wall paper used in this image from the September 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living is Schumacher "Ottoman Flower - Mica"  

 Such an elegant design!

I would love to know what you think. And please share any creative closet door ideas you may have.


Linking to Between Naps on the Porch and other linking parties on my Party Linking Page

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WANTED: floor mirror with arched top

I love the victorian-y look of our entryway but it needs to be decorated. I purchased a little bench and an umbrella stand. But I want something grand. A few months ago I posted about some ideas for this entryway but the blue paint I initially though of turned out yukky- very yukky. I have busy floor tiles in this space (and, as many of you know, throughout my main floor) and although the tile has some blue in it, blue paint on the walls really clashes with the floor. So ivory colored walls will stay- at least for now.

Until recently I only thought of decorating the painted portion of the wall but recently thought to myself- Hey, why not just place a mirror over the paneling? Hello! So for a grand statement I'm thinking a floor mirror. I spent 30 minutes (ok, maybe 45) pondering, staring and gazing at one at Home Sense. The price and size were great but the shape wasn't. The entry way has so many straight lines that I think I need some curves in there.  
You can see all the straight lines. I know light colored paneling is very popular right now but I actually like my dark wood. It just needs to be toned down. A large floor mirror may work well in place of the frame. This frame would look so much better in my bedroom rather than here where glare makes it difficult to see the image.

So now these are some of the inspirational mirrors I've seen online:

This one is just perfect! I love the light aged color of the frame, the size, the shape and decorative relief at the top. It's just enough without being over the top.

This one is pretty but not tall enough. But I do like all the beveled edges on the mirror.

Maybe a little to simple?

Over the top- definitely over the top! I love it but not for my entry way. Hmmm? now where could I possible put this mirror?

 Similar to the second mirror. All the beveled edges are pretty, the shape is also great.

Problem- they are all too expensive for my budget. Why do I have to have a shopping budget????

So with these inspirational images in mind, I've been on the hunt (more like prowl) for an affordable curve mirror.

Fingers crossed I'll find one soon:)


Monday, September 19, 2011

Coud de coeur of the week

My favorite post from blog land this past week provides some inspiring thoughts on cheap- actually free!- ways of making your house a home. I've included the tips below but you can check out the entire post at Apartment Therapy.

Here are the tips presented:

1. Spend Time In It: It's almost a badge of honor these days to rattle off your itinerary for the day which leaves little or no time spent at home other than the 6 hours of sleep you try to weasel in. You can't have the feelings of a safe harbor within your walls if you're never there. If it's merely a place to lay your head and hang your coat then it will never mean anything more to you than a coat rack does. Saying no to things in the outside world can be hard, but sometimes it's worth it for your home, peace and comfort in the long run.

2. Use Your Space: So you're at home. That's what we just told you to do right? Chillin' watching television, staring out the window. What more do you want? Well, lots actually! Use your table, sprawl out on the floor, cook, bake, clean, paint a picture... do something that forces you to interact with the things in your home. So often we're on auto pilot that forcing yourself to break the home-dinner-tv-bed routine can awaken your senses to how you'd like your space to function or embrace your hobbies and habits.

3. Speak Kindly: Homes are places where love and memories are made. Do your best to make them kind, wonderful thoughts. We're not going to tell you the words you should or shouldn't be saying, but tone, attitude, and spirit go a long way to making your environment one that is comforting and a refuge away from everything else.

4. Music Matters: It's easy to think about music while we're doing certain things. It's a no-brainer to listen to music at the gym or during a morning commute. But kick out the jams at home, too! Some of the strongest memories you can make often involve music. Open the windows, add a breeze and choose your tunes to match or make your day.

5. Entertain Without Worry: Quite often when we have friends and family over to our homes, it's easy to spend our time apologizing or talking about the things that aren't quite right that we still plan to fix. Spend time with others in your home, just enjoying your home as it is right now. Don't worry about the dust they might see or the things that didn't get done. One of the hardest things we can learn is to let go and enjoy being us, wherever we are, without worry or concern.

I am totally guilty of 5- I always say "when this project is done I'll have people over" but even when that project is completed another one appears and the excuses continue! 

Embrace your space, live in it, and love it!

Hope this helps make your house a home:)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

5 tips for buying a spa

I've already blogged about my new toy- a spa.Within the next few weeks the new arrivals of spas will be arriving in stores, which means liquidation prices for the 2011 models. So great time to purchase a spa if you've been dreaming of one. (I feel like a car sales person!) 

But before you run out and buy your spa, here are some tips we learned.

Nancy & Tony's 5 tips for picking a spa:
1. Fancy gadgets such as radios, ipod docks and televisions on a spa are extremely pricey and are often the first things to break. The problem is condensation. Also, if the spa has speakers or a television that pops up, in the winter ice may form at the base and then the tv or speakers can't be pushed back down into place. Try closing your spa cover with speakers protruding- impossible!

2. More jets doesn't mean anything! I tried a spa with some 90+ jets but they were so tiny and weak that you barely felt anything. Also, many jets means more wholes in the body and this can compromise its strength. The types of jets and placement are much more important than the quantity.

3. Insulation is key- especially if you live in an area with cold winters. You don't want to have a spa that will cost too much to run. A fully insulated base is key (many only have three-wall insulation). My research has shown that foam insulation is best. Also, an insulated cover is very important because a spa looses much of its heat through the top.  

4. Research the dealer from which you are buying the spa. If something goes wrong you will have to deal with them. So do a quick search on the net to see if others have complained or praised them.

5. Be sure to wet test your spa. Tony and I had a great time wet testing spas a little all over town!

And now preparing the base. A spa must be laid on a strong level base that will not shift with time. The type of base needed for your spa will depend on the base construction of your spa. In some cases they require a cement pad or concrete pavers. In our case the spa had a strong base built into it so we simply needed a compacted gravel base.

We decided on a location that would be easily accessible during the winter and that looked pretty in the yard- prettiness is very important. Using a shovel we dug out between 6 to 8 inches of dirt in the measured out space. We measured 2-3 inches larger on each side of the spa just in case. We them laid a strong gardening fabric just to allow water to drain but to prevent the gravel from mixing into the dirt. We them poured our 64 bags of gravel into the pit. Compacting with a compacter every 2 inches. After each compacted layer we used a long level to make sure the entire base was level.

And then we waited for the spa to arrive. The delivery men were impressed with how level the base was!  Cost of the base: app. $400 for the gravel, fabric and rental cost.

Here are some pictures of the process:

All done!

After months of research we decided to purchase a Beachcomber spa and I have to say it's fantastic!
I can't wait to try it during the first snowfall:)


Linking to Between Naps on the Porch and other parties on my Link Party page.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Harvesting- ahhh, it's that time of year again!

In our neighborhood it's very common to have fruit trees and gardens. We're no different- actually we are a little different. Many of our neighbors are older Italians who use their entire yard as a garden. We, on the other hand, only use a small section for a garden.

We do however have a fig tree in one corner, grape vines lining the fence and a small plot used for tomato plants.

Here are some images of the today's harvesting.

First, the tomatoes:

 We love cherry tomatoes and plant a variety of different colors. They make for such colorful salads.

Now for a very special little tomato. The pizzo tomato, also known as the vesuvio tomato, is our very favorite. They are little balls of sweetness. You can recognize this little fella by it's little point, it's almost heart shaped. Perfect to eat as snacks and my husband loves to make tomato sauce with them because there's no bitterness- just sweetness!

Second, the grapes:
 Not much to say about these- just that they're delicious! Next year I'd like to plant a dark grape vine.

Third, the figs:
Check out our fig tree:
You can see that some have ripened but many have not. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so they can continue to ripen.

 From what I hear, figs have a lot of sugar. But they are just so darn good!! I can't resist!

For those of you scratching your head and thinking "figs... in Montreal, Canada?" All I can say is "Oh, ya baby- we've got figs!" Fig trees aren't suppose to resist cold Montreal winters but there is a way to work around that. Come mid-October my husband and I dig a massive hole in the yard and tip the tree into the hole. We then cover it with dirt and bags of leaves to protect it from freezing. Come spring with dig it up and stand it up. Don't kid yourself, this is a lot of work! I'll blog about this and show pics in late October.

 Lucky for me I had a little helper to eat up all the falling fruit. He keeps the yard so tidy:)

And after some harvesting comes some re-lax-ation!

Hope you're enjoying some late summer fruit!


Linking to Between Naps on the Porch and other parties on the Link Party Page

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thank You DIY Showoff!

Excited, excited!!! I was so surprised to see that Roeshel at DIY Showoff featured our wine cellar today. Many, many, many thanks! It's my hubby's favorite room in our home and he's giddy as a school boy to see it featured on such an amazing blog. If you haven't checked out DIY Showoff (you've been living under a rock!) please do so. It's awesome!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coud de coeur of the week

Normally my coud de coeur post presents a few inspiring images of projects or decor I encountered over the past week, but this week I want to feature a blog I recently discovered.

A few weeks ago I came across a blog called eclectic revisited by Maureen Bower. Every post is filled with stunning- and I mean STUNNING - inspirational decor images. I'm hooked and if you haven't visited this blog- fast, click here. I promise you won't regret it.

Here are some images from her blog:





And these are just a few from today's post!

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