Photography by Lauren Miller

Published on May 5, 2020

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Artist Christine Flynn likens Ontario’s Prince Edward County to New York’s Catskill Mountains. Increasingly popular with Toronto’s creative set looking to escape the buzz of the city, the town is a breezy waterfront getaway filled with wineries, restaurants, and one of Canada’s best beaches. For nearly a decade it has also served as the backdrop to many of her fondest memories.

Every summer Flynn and her family of five (including their dog, Charlie) would trek from their home in the province’s capital to Prince Edward County for a reset. Last year, however, the brood packed up and moved there for good. “It has meant all the fresh country air and beaches we want no matter what time of year,” she says.

Flynn, her husband, and their designer, Jennifer Garnett, put 10 months’ worth of work into the 1920s house. From refinishing the floors to fixing cracked walls, pretty much everything got a facelift. The goal: to give the space a simple, rustic vibe that could play nice with Flynn’s buffet of vintage pieces. Here’s how they did it.

No Varnish, No Problem

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Since the home was built 100 years ago, it needed a refresh. Beyond repairs, the couple also arched some of the doorways to make the space more dynamic. But the most dramatic transformation took place underfoot. Flynn had the pine floors sanded and whitewashed, a move that stripped them of their orange hue and revealed the natural wonder of the wood grain. “Some people think I’m crazy because we’ve left them unfinished…but I was adamant about wanting a worn-in farmhouse look, and it just wasn’t achievable with any of the varnishes I sampled,” she says.

Saves Balanced Out the Splurges

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The couple spent a hefty $24,000 on labor, plumbing, and fixtures for their bathroom remodel, a number Flynn admits was hard to swallow. It was going to cost even more, though—until she and her husband got scrappy and found a few ways to cut back. They reimagined an old salvaged dresser as a vanity, bought the black hex tile on sale, and used leftover paint from their bedroom renovation (Benjamin Moore’s Pinky Swear) to give the bathroom the same soft whisper of color. 

Life Imitated Art

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Before the move from Toronto, Flynn sold the majority of their furniture, opting to only bring her Beni rugs, antique cabinets, and Saarinen marble table to the country. Once the family had settled in, she used her eye for “picking” (instilled in her by her mother) to track down an eclectic mix of Scandinavian and vintage pieces to complement the home’s laid-back vibe. The process was much like the fluid approach she takes with her artwork: Her gut takes the reins. Flynn gives little thought to whether or not she’s breaking the rules. Instead she says, “I know when it feels right.”

Sometimes It’s What’s on the Outside That Counts

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All in all, Flynn and her family are absolutely head over heels with their new home, but its greatest asset isn’t what lies within its walls. “The natural beauty of Prince Edward County is what inspired us to move here,” says the artist. The area’s nearby sandy stretches, forests, and slower pace offer space—mental and physical—for not only her creativity to flourish but her family, too.

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