John and Juli Baker, the couple behind Mjolk in Toronto, have a refined, specific take on design, centered on a mix of Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics. The two of them curate what we consider to be one of the best design shops anywhere (proof: its where Julianne Moore found her flatware a few years back).
When we launched Remodelista in the aughts, we communed with John and Juli online, and when I was in Toronto a few years ago, I stopped by to take a tour of their apartment above their shop (seeA Scandinavian-Inspired Kitchen with Hints of Japan). So when John emailed me a while back to tell me the couple had impulsively bought a decrepit stone house in the countryside north of Lake Ontario, we were curious.
We shouldnt have even been looking, John says. We have a weekend cottage on the shores of Lake Huron (see O Canada: Mjlks Renovated Scandi-Style Cabin on a Lake), but we were longing for a Little House on the Prairiekind of experience for our children. Juli and I both grew up with a strong connection to nature and rural life, literally washing laundry in the stream with a washboard.
Join us for a tour:
Photography by Juli Baker.Above: The house was built in the mid-1800s by a Scottish farming family and had fallen into disrepair when John and Juli first toured it. Juli said, this is terrifying, this is a disaster, according to John. The parlor still had a bit of its former glory, that was enough for our imaginations to spring into action. We put an offer in the same day for an almost scarily low price. It felt like the last great deal in real estate. Above: John and Juli and their two children, Howell,five, and Elodie, seven. Above: John and Juli are longtime admirers of Swedish tiled stoves (kakelugn), so when they set out to renovate the house it was a first priority; their reconstructedkakelugn anchors the living room and provides warmth in the colder months.
We sourced the salvaged fireplace surround tiles from Lindholm Kakelugn, a Swedish reclamation company, and we worked with our builder to install a new masonry firebox and a flue channel. Theres no industry around this type of project, you have to engineer it yourself. Once the interior was completed, we reassembled the tile according to a template that Lindholm provided us with and added a brass hearth. (For a full account of the process, from start to finish, read Johns account onMjolk).Above: TheBrushed Brass with Oak Fire Tools by Thom Fougere are available through Mjolk. Above: We tried to use romantic materials to soften up the space, John says. The Arne Jacobsen Mayor Sofa, for instance, is covered in a cotton velvet from Kvadrat. TheNero Maquina marble toppedFly Coffee Table is from Space Copenhagen. The Mrta Ms-Fjetterstrm Snckorna rug, designed by Barbro Nilsson in 1943, was won at auction. Above: A pair of Peacock Chairs by Hans WegnerforPP Mbler anchors a corner, with a Hase BL Brass and Leather Floor Lamp. The vintage light fixture is by Vilhelm Lauritzen.We sanded the original floors and applied lye and soap to get the pale natural look, John says. Above:Working withToronto firmStudio Junction, John and Juli installed free-standing kitchen components.The matte marble countertops were repurposed from a salvaged shower surround. A pair ofDiamond Pendant Lights, designed byOji Masanori for Mjlk and made in Toronto, hangs above the kitchen worktop.A handsome solid brass pulley and counter-weight allows the pendants heights to be adjusted. Above: A Mjlk Made Enfield table in white oak, surrounded by an Ilse Crawford bench and a trio of Ercol chairs, anchors the kitchen. A Dagg VaseforSvenskt Tenn bySwedish designerCarina Seth Andersson holds a floral arrangement (for more, seePure Simplicity: Glass Vessels from Carina Seth Andersson). The wood fired cooker is from Esse. Above: The vintage brass faucet is from Quirky Interiors in England, John says. Theyre experts with patina and aged brass. The kitchen sink is an old stone marble trough; Ive been inspired by the work of Axel Veervoordt. I admire the holistic approach he takes to his interiors; theyre very much like film sets. Above: A view of the study. Above:An antique Scottish Orkney chair with a Josef Frank Secretaire. Above: John and Juli removed flimsy partition walls on the second floor to create a single loftlike bedroom for the family. Above: After Elodie and Howell are asleep we might sneak downstairs and make a Manhattan and sit in front of the fire, John says. Above: The childrens Minnen Beds are from Ikea. Above: In the bathroom, the 200-year-old Carrara marble tub is from a spa in Portugal, John says. Wewent all in on the tub; theres no shower. Taking a bath with well water feels so decadent. The walls are painted in Skin Powder lime frescopaint fromPure & Original. Above: ASocket Lightfrom Menu sits atop a vintage Belgian barber cabinet from the early 1800s. Above:The white oak basin stand was custom made byStudio Junction, and the Carrara marble Botticelli Bath Sink is from Kohler (its since been discontinued). Gubi Bestlight sconce, The Circle Mirror is from Frama and the brass Gubi sconce is from Bestlite. The towel rack and towels from Galerie Momogusa. Above: John and Julis Irish wolfhounds.
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