Nathalie Bouchard and creative director and stylist Annie Horth run my dream business in Montreal: rehabbing and decorating spaces they rent out. It’s called Creative Flats, and the properties—everything from black and white industrial lofts to a unit in Moshe Safdie’s amazing concrete-block prefab complex Habitat ‘67—are exquisite.
Spruced up with white lacquered floor and painted brick, this old loft in the historic Telegraph Building of Old Montreal was inspired by a trip they took to the Hamptons last summer “with its white country houses, antique shops and bright colors,” says Nathalie. “We wanted something warm and inviting, and we wanted to give it personality. Our key words were eclectic, cool, arty… and, of course, we’re always inspired by fashion.”
They furnish their apartments like they would furnish their own homes, picking up interesting accessories at antique shops and flea markets during their travels. And that photograph above the bed? It’s from a fashion shoot at Indochine restaurant in New York City by photographer Malina Corpadean (and Annie as the stylist) for the Toronto-based FASHION Magazine.
[Photos by Jean Longpré, courtesy of Maison & Demeure via Creative Flats]
Immediately after our backyard wedding, I slipped out of my dress, packed a to-go box of the leftover Sucre macaroons and homemade melomakarona (Greek honey cookies) from the reception and grabbed my suitcase for our epic honeymoon adventure in the Maritimes. After a one-night stopover in a small Bar Harbor B&B, we boarded the Cat Ferry, car and all, and headed across the Atlantic to the rugged shores of Nova Scotia. The ferry landed in Yarmouth, where we grabbed a buttery lobster roll before driving along the misty, lush southwestern coast to our modernist beachfront cottage designed by Halifax-based McKay-Lyons. The Sai Beach House sits on top of a hill overlooking a private white sand beach nestled in a cove framed by pine trees and granite boulders. A perfect blend of glass, concrete and stone, the house made us feel like we were living in the landscape–but with really nice furniture. My favorite example is the window headboard–a 12-foot horizontal piece of glass–giving us long, rectangular views of the lichen and moss covered rocks, trees and wildflowers every morning. A week of admiring the coast from our glass perch and taking day trips, and it was off to the Keltic Lodge, a grand Canadian resort on the precipitous cliffs of the Cape Breton Island. After exploring and hiking the Cabot Trail and taking in some fiddle and folk music, we left the Scottish roots of Nova Scotia and headed west towards the French Acadians.
The Trout Point Lodge is part organic garden, part cooking school, part nature retreat–the dream setting for three Louisiana restauranters that wanted to find the roots of Cajun cuisine. Their search landed them in western Nova Scotia, where the French Acadians were eventually exiled from the island by the British, many ending up in New Orleans. Beyond the obvious nature stuff–canoeing, fishing and hikes through the woods–this place is all about the food. Candlelit dinners in the lodge with meals made from primarily all on-site ingredients, from fresh seafood (salmon, sole, lobsters, mussels) to baked-daily breads, organic produce grown in the gardens, even wild chanterelles foraged in the forest.
When we originally came up with the concept of this site, there was a moment we tinkered with excluding all hotels, focusing instead on everything else: all the interesting places you can stay that fall outside the parameters of a standard hotel room (no matter how high the thread count!). But because of hotels like The Drake, we changed our minds.
Owned by a local, Jeff Stober, The Drake is every bit a café, design incubator, gallery and general neighborhood hangout as it is a place to sleep. It took about two years to restore this 120-year old hotel to its current design-star glory, and Toronto design firm 3rd Uncle is behind the rehab as well as designing way-cool custom details like the 50-foot-sculptural light fixture made from recycled bicycle frames hanging in the café, the custom damask wallpaper in the restaurant, and sourcing the one-of-a-kind objects throughout (a pommel horse in the lobby, a ceramic bust in the ladies’ room). There’s an art curator on staff, who’s responsible for filling the hotel with work by local, national and international artists (down to the soft sculpture on the beds, handmade by Adrienne Gibb of Fabricawakuwaku) and curating the rotating installations, like the provocative mixed media piece currently on view in the entryway vestibule.
The design, art and food are great (the café is regularly filled with as many neighbors as hotel guests), but the best part of the The Drake is how visitors feel totally immersed in the energy, culture and everyday life in the surrounding Parkdale neighborhood. It’s been said often—in the press, by the residents—that The Drake (along with the other independent hotel down the street, The Gladstone)—has been instrumental in helping the once dodgy West Queen West neighborhood develop such an edgy, dynamic and fiercely independent character.