John and Juli Baker have spent the past decade running cultish design store Mjölk in the Junction, where they live with their two young kids in a starkly minimalist two-storey apartment above the showroom. A few years ago, John found this Georgian farmhouse near Stirling, Ontario, and was attracted to its simple, symmetrical style and its history.
One summer weekend, during a vacation in the County, John drove Juli an hour north to see the property. They purchased it immediately for $220,000, even though only one room had electricity and the interior had fallen into various stages of disrepair.
After they gained possession, the Bakers embarked on a year-long renovation and filled the space with a mix of antiques—mostly from Europe and Japan. It was finally finished roughly a year ago, and the family loves that they’re able to use it as an escape from their hectic city life.
“We do what we don’t have time for in the city,” says Juli. Winter weekends are especially quaint: John bakes bread, the kids, Elodie and Howell, paint, the dogs—an Irish wolfhound and a Scottish deerhound, who conveniently match the home’s look and history—play, and the family snuggle up in the parlour and watch the sun go down from the kitchen’s giant picture window:
John doesn’t hesitate to strum a few tunes on his guitar:
The home, built in 1860, has only been occupied by a few families—and the previous owner lived there until he was over 100.
The couple took out a number of interior walls to open up the space, sanded down the original pine floors and installed a concrete floor with radiant heating in the kitchen. The olive tree in the foyer has died. “It still looks okay, but we’re going to have to figure out what to do with it,” says Juli. The couple designed the dining table, which is also sold at their store. It was inspired by Shaker villages, where these kinds of multifunctional tables were used for food prep, basket making, woodworking and eating.
This secretaire is from the 1920s. Apparently it has a secret compartment that the couple still haven’t found. The straw-backed chair is from the Orkney Islands in Scotland:
Right now, the whole family shares the upstairs bedroom. When they took out the walls, they loved how the open space felt, so they kept it that way. “Our kids are small, so they wouldn’t sleep in their own room anyway,” says Juli. “At some point we may regret it, but for the moment it works.” The king-sized bed has a walnut frame and velvet headboard. “It’s super decadent, but really inviting,” says John.
The 200-year-old stone bathtub was shipped in from Spain. John found a reclamation company there that had dismantled an old spa and was selling their stone fixtures. They also ordered a sink, although it broke while being packed up.
In the parlour, the couple recreated a Swedish kakelugn stove. They enlisted a certified stove mason to construct a wood-burning stove to code, and he covered it with 300-year-old ceramic tiles they purchased from Gotland, Sweden.
The parlour also houses an upright Andreas Christensen piano: