Set amidst the woods of rural Dunrobin stands a glorious log home. It looks as though it has grown there along with the old forest of tall trees, but it was built only 30 years ago. The secret of this home, which transports you back to another century, is its construction from the log framework of an 1860s stagecoach hotel formerly in Carlsbad Springs.
From the beautiful handmade wreath that hangs on the authentic front door, the old-world character continues inside with a huge Christmas tree that reaches up to the timbered beams of the family room. A massive limestone fireplace throws a warm glow over the room, which is filled with a unique collection of antique and handmade furniture.
The house exudes the aura of living an elegant life of yesteryear in the countryside, just a short walk from the Ottawa River. It represents the completed vision of the homeowners who wanted to recreate a living space with old-European charm after returning from three years of living in the Black Forest region of Germany.
FROM THE BLACK FOREST TO DUNROBIN FOREST
Going back to Ottawa in 1979, the outdoor enthusiasts bought the forested property of 25 acres in West Carleton to enjoy close access to what they call the world's best hiking and cross-country ski trails in Gatineau Park, as well as in their own backyard. With sailing and kayaking on the nearby river, and biking and horse-riding in the surrounding area, it was the perfect place for them to settle down and raise a family of two boys.
And what a talented couple they are! She designed the house plan around the original log structure to combine Canadian and European elements, and he did most of the interior finishing in addition to crafting a bookcase and tables from leftover wood and logs. With the building skills of Tony Jenkins, a log expert who worked at Upper Canada Village, the original 150 -year-old framework of white pine logs was erected with the hand-cut axe marks still intact.
The front of the home is totally authentic with new, but esthetically correct, stable-hung windows where the old ones used to be. Extra logs were purchased for an expanded 38 foot by 25 foot house plan that was more open-concept, with space for a farmhouse kitchen and a stunning separate living/dining room.
OLD-WORLD INSPIRATION AND TRADITION
Old-world influences are very evident in the family room, with wide-plank flooring in dark-stained pine, 25-foot -long solid pine beams flowing along the nine-foot ceilings and wood-paned windows set with deep sills. An impressive floor-to-ceiling limestone fireplace, with a large open hearth that could cook a small ox, is the real heart of the room. It was built by Tony, after he attended a fireplace-building course in the U.S. and hired a professional stonemason to replicate a genuine 1860s design.
The couple loves to entertain in the reclaimed space where the garage was intended to be. Built from logs culled from a local hay barn, the living/dining room boasts a beamed cathedral ceiling and a high fan-topped window. A Louis XIII dining table in dark oak travelled from Germany to take pride of place. It is joined by upholstered chairs and a tapestry-covered loveseat from France, along with a hand-carved wooden Chinese screen and matching small table.
In almost every room of the house, the family expresses their passion for balancing life around a love of music, dance, art and nature. During the holidays the old-country traditions are even more apparent - especially the yearly trip to Cedar Hill Tree Farm to chop down the giant Christmas tree. It's easy to picture an idyllic scene of them decorating the tree with their treasured collection of Victorian golden balls and red velvet bows.
Old and new combine effectively with precise attention to detail in every aspect of the home, from exterior construction to furnishings.