As the seasons change in Northern Ontario, Bridget and Brian are treated to a front-row view of the action. Their secluded ranch in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. was built by local architect Bruce Caughill in 1989, and he designed the home so that every room looked onto the property’s picturesque acre of woodland. The house had good bones – including plenty of handsome teak accents – but Bridget and Brian figured the moody plum-coloured walls were past their prime. With the help of designer Brie Gallagher, they set out to modernize the home while preserving its one-of-a-kind character.
The beautiful wooden front door is original to the home. The narrow table in the front hallway was designed by Brie and constructed by Sault Ste. Marie-based furniture maker MAXCO, and Brian and Bridget placed a few potted plants in the hallway for a natural introduction.
Some of the home’s most captivating features are its teak accents, and Brian and Bridget were set on keeping them. But the fireplace’s mantle was a bit unwieldy, so they hired the same woodworker who originally built the features to modify the fireplace with a more streamlined design. To the left of the fireplace is a church pew that Bridget’s grandmother used to sit on, and her father cut it down to fit in the space.
To draw the eye to the fireplace, Brie suggested framing the it in black. For an added pop, Bridget painted an abstract piece to place atop the mantle. The glass coffee table and teal chaise are both from IKEA, and the carpet from Wayfair brings a vibrant burst of colour.
Desk with a View
Most nights after the kids go to bed, Bridget spends a few hours getting work done at her computer. Rather than quarantine herself in the basement, she placed her desk directly in front of a set of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the yard. The reclaimed wood table was a collaboration between Brian, who made the top, and MAXCO, who built the hairpin legs. To keep the space fresh, Bridget routinely swaps out the pieces on the art rail.
Here’s a better look at Bridget’s view from her in-home office. Beside the computer she’s placed a framed photograph of her and Brian’s recent hike through Pukaskwa National Park.
The dining room features more of Caughill’s handiwork: a set of beautiful teak built-in cabinets, used to store dinnerware. The matching teak table was given to Bridget and Brian from family, and the modern chandelier was a Canadian Tire find. To give the windows a bit of added drama, they painted the frames black.
The dining room table is grounded by a set of three stylish candlesticks picked up on a trip to Denmark. In the corner, a fig leaf tree adds some much-needed greenery for those long Northern Ontario winters.
Teak on Teak on Teak
Here’s a second look at the custom-built teak railing, where a bouquet of fresh-cut hydrangeas brings in a floral punch.
The only major construction Brian and Bridget did to the home was in the family room, which they lowered about two feet. To draw in the teak accents, they brought in this vintage piece as a TV stand. The historic prints on the right were sourced from the New York Public Library’s massive online archives. Bridget found two pieces she liked: one of the Sault shipping locks from 1902, and a shot of Vancouver’s Stanley Park from the same era. The antlers on the coffee table are one of several sets throughout the home.
The beautiful textured-wood sideboard includes a little tag on the back from the early 1900s, when it was shipped from the Eaton Store in Toronto to St. Joseph Island, just east of Sault Ste. Marie.
A Closer Look
The special sideboard is now home to Brian’s scotch collection.
Breakfast in the Trees
One of the sunniest spots in the home is this dining area, which offers more wall-to-wall views of the outdoors. The table is originally from the “As Is” pile at IKEA, and Brian cut a piece of wood to re-top it. The black chairs are from Wayfair, and the trendy pendant lamp is from Lowes. The centrepiece is another bouquet of hydrangeas from the garden.
Grandma Knows Best
These playful vintage canisters are another piece from Brian’s grandmother. They’re placed beside a little wooden box that Bridget’s grandfather once used to store recipes.
To display family photographs and cards, Bridget and Brian hung a clothesline along the kitchen ceiling. Surprisingly, the kitchen has some of the best views in the house; the sink looks out onto the backyard, while the stove looks onto the front yard.
Bridget and Brian weren’t crazy about the 1980s vibes of the flooring in the main-floor powder room, and rather than renovate, they decided to poke fun at it. This explosive floral decal from Urban Walls certainly doesn’t hold back.
All Grown Up
Outside the kids’ room, Bridget hung a large wooden ruler she found at a local art show, which she uses to track her kids’ height. The adorable hand-painted signs were a gift from a cousin.
Four-year-old Hendrik requested a green room, which didn’t necessarily jive with the home’s all-white palette. To compromise, Brie suggested anchoring the room in green while keeping things light with white on top. The bunk beds are from Wayfair, and the mounted dinosaur head was a Target find.
One of the more personal touches in Hendrik’s room is the wooden rocking horse, which was given to his father as a child. Animals and dinosaurs are a clear motif, and they’re captured here in a print on the wall from Vancouver-based art studio Collage Collage, which is owned by Bridget’s cousin. The wooden shoes on the shelf are from a trip to Holland.
Sharing is Caring
The kids are still young enough to enjoy sharing a space, so a set of French doors separate their bedrooms. The black banner on the wall was hand-made by Bridget.
Beneath the picture-frame windows is a little shelf for kids’ books, made by Brian out of a piece of reclaimed wood.
Two-year-old Evelyn’s room is filled with pops of playful art. Bridget made the gold-and-white feather mobile, and the Parisian decals on the walls are also from Urban Walls. Local artist Renee Anne is responsible for the owl print on the wall, and the little bookshelf on the floor is originally from Brian’s grandmother.
My Fair Lady
Cute odds and ends are profiled atop Evelyn’s dresser, including a gold stand for her headbands and ribbons. The print of the blue lady is by artist Teil Duncan, and Bridget gifted the same piece to her daughter’s cousin so they could grow up with matching artwork. Similar robin’s egg-blue tones are reflected in the pot and lamp, which is from Winners.
When Brian and Bridget got married, they had guests sign a bench rather than a guestbook, which was then lacquered over to seal in the signatures. They’ve placed the bench at the end of their bed. Above the West Elm bed frame, Bridget printed off a quote from “The Chaos of Stars” by Kiersten White: “And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”
In a quiet corner of the master bedroom, these two chairs offer a peaceful place to sit and read. Oversized hooks are affixed to the wall to hang hats and scarves.
The original owners of the home poured plenty of work into growing this beautiful garden, and Bridget and Brian are doing their best to preserve it. The exterior of the home was originally wood panelling, but it was updated a few years ago with handsome stone.
Here’s a sense of the beautiful natural canopy surrounding the home. It makes for a lot of leaf-raking in the autumn, but the sense of natural privacy and seclusion is well worth the work.