A Country-Style Loft Comes Alive With DIY

Salvaged materials, handmade furniture and attractively renovated antiques decorate this enchanting Canadian residence, the top floor of a historic building that Gillian Mitchell and Paul LeClair have spent the previous two years converting. Their retail store, The Pine Sampler, occupies the lower amount.

An idyllic backyard garden and walnut furniture constructed and designed by local Mennonites and LeClair himself add unparalleled warmth into this couple’s home. With a layout mantra that ordered repurposing, reusing, restoring and reinventing old items, the pair has produced a special space that highlights their artistic abilities.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Gillian Mitchell and Paul LeClair, along with their Westie, Maude
Location: Hensall, Ontario, Canada
Size: 1,400 square feet; 1 bedroom, 1 bath
That’s intriguing: The couple’s peaceful, lush backyard was a parking lot.

LeClair constructed and put in the sliding barn door to separate the bathroom from the bedroom. He also created this charming headboard working with an outdated architectural summit and a pair of columns. Mitchell dressed the bed with an range of French-style linens.

LeClair is very pleased with the stone wall that they made from the bedroom addition. The couple along with a buddy installed plywood onto the wall and adhered stones (horizontal on the back) into the plywood.

Stone: Rustic Rubble, Tri-County Brick

A cozy reading nook in the corner of the bedroom shows Mennonite children’s clothes and signs together with the titles of cows from Mitchell’s youth farm.

The antique pine armoire was built into a wall in their former 1867 heritage home.

French doors to the left of the bed bring about morning light and a fresh breeze. A blue finish brightens an antique desk from the bed.

A gas fireplace at the foot of the bed has space on either side for narrow built-in storage. The decorative piece over the mantel is an antique wooden apple dryer.


The French doors open to a romantic balcony with bistro chairs overlooking the backyard.

The entrance to the loft is visible to the right of the blue armoire. A timber post-and-beam structure separates the kitchen from the dining room. Mitchell’s son, Alex Oke, of Okewood Timberworks in Brussels, constructed the post-and-beam unit without nails or screws using just mortise and tenon joinery methods.

To the left of the blue armoire, a salvaged door with a transom and its own first hardware leads to the toilet. Mitchell attached a hemp curtain secured with classic clothespins into the interior.

An inside window which was originally on an outside wall — attracts light plus a cross breeze into this upper landing. Mitchell shows a stacked collection of classic suitcases and old pilasters here.

Mitchell and LeClair desired to create spaces in this area for lounging, cooking and eating without putting up walls. The timber frame post and beam dividers define each part of the wonderful room. “Our proudest homeowner instant arrived when the beams were up. We absolutely loved the effect,” Mitchell says.

On the far right, a fireplace is nestled between the two first windows overlooking the road. The blue-gray dining cupboard is another one of LeClair’s first bits. Leaning from the corner is a classic apple orchard ladder that comes in handy when lightbulbs need to be changed.

The homeowners made a welcoming entrance area by putting an old arched window mirror over a table. Old books cradled by corbels in addition to a bust formed by LeClair’s mother sit. Mitchell’s son built the wooden seat for a teenager.


The couple enjoys drawing and painting together. Mitchell draws her own ideas, and LeClair puts them in proper perspective. The few bought a pair of incredible antique doors, with no notion of how they’d use them. They just waited for inspiration, and then LeClair completed this watercolor painting of their strategy.

LeClair installed the antique doors on this kitchen pantry cupboard. The doors retain their original paint, old screens and just a bell. The cupboard is flanked with a new fridge from Elmira Stoveworks along with an old but functional electric stove. The antique doors open to reveal a carefully curated screen of classic dishes and serving pieces.

The island was constructed from old home doors. LeClair added a glistening walnut top and a stainless sink. A pair of industrial-style stools from Pine Sampler complete the image.

On the left of the dining space, Mitchell produced a vignette with a rustic settee adorned with pillows in classic fabrics. Old architectural pieces and wooden signs hang wall art, and also a brand new lampshade was softened with Rit dye. (Click photo to see complete view.)

As soon as they removed the plaster, the couple chose to keep the lath on this wall because they liked the colour and feel. Mitchell’s brother found the old blanket box, now employed as a coffee table, in a Toronto ravine. “It’s my favorite bit, and it got me hooked on antiques,” she says.

A wing seat with ticking and linen cushions sits comfortably in front of the old cupboard, painted by Mitchell. Both of the homeowners have mastered powerful methods for applying gentle, distressed finishes to wooden bits.


Above the new tub of the bathroom, Mitchell adorned a shelf supported by antique corbels using items that were collected.


Beadboard partitions are utilized to separate the bathroom into zones to get a tub, a shower, a commode and a sink. Here, an antique hanger creatively holds the hand towel.


LeClair was reluctant to talk about his drawings for the design of the fantastic room and the backyard. But it’s apparent that the few turned these two sketches to fact.


This previous parking lot was converted into a restful retreat. The timber frame post-and-beam construction by Okewood Timberworks is repeated in the garden’s pergola. The homeowners put the stone border donated by a friend, installed the pebble route and planted the trees, shrubbery and flowers.

The bedroom balcony overlooks the now-completed backyard. LeClaire and Mitchell are patiently waiting for the timber on the accession to weather and soften to gray.


This historic Odd Fellows Hall has put this couple’s thriving business for the previous eight years. More recently, it has provided a chance for LeClair and Mitchell to create a workshop, a backyard and a house.


LeClair and Mitchell using their Westie, Maude. The couple’s next project is to design and decorate a holiday escape with period furniture to get a friend.

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