Real Estate

This small-town Quebec home is a retro lover’s paradise

“It feels great to be in this groovy yet soothing space, surrounded by trees and tranquility”
Isabel B. Slone

In 2019, Martin Dumas, a graphic designer, and Maude Beaupré, a TV associate producer, felt cramped in their Montreal apartment. They had been renting a three-bedroom place in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood for the past 12 years, paying $865. After their daughter, Simone, was born in 2012 and began to grow up, the couple realized they needed more space in their home. They started imagining a change—preferably to a leafier, pastoral setting.

Dumas and Beaupré hoped to find a rambling old house in the countryside filled with vintage character, as opposed to a cookie-cutter new build in a suburb. That September, Dumas sketched a crude illustration of an A-frame cottage with a squat addition on a pink Post-it note. He joked to Beaupré that he had just drawn the house of his dreams. A day later, their realtor sent over a listing for a small home with a stucco exterior that bore a strange resemblance to his illustration. “My boyfriend doesn’t believe in the idea that the universe sent it to us, but we were in shock,” says Beaupré.

She runs an Instagram account, @stalker.fever, where she collects images of quirky interiors she finds on real estate listings. The house fit right in, but it was further from Montreal than they liked in the rural Rawdon township, which is an hour’s drive north. The couple still agreed to see it, and as soon as they toured the place, they were sold.

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Built in 1968, their home looks like a tiny bungalow from the outside and a 1970s fever dream on the inside. The decor emphasizes a retro brown and orange colour scheme, which fits well with the mid-century aesthetic Dumas and Beaupré had already cultivated in their Montreal apartment. They moved in most of their old furniture, and the rest, including the orange couch with chrome detailing in the living room, was left over from the previous owners.

“It feels great to be in this groovy yet soothing space, surrounded by trees and tranquility,” Beaupré says. The main bathroom features an avocado green toilet, bathtub and sink, and the abundance of wood detailing in the kitchen adds warmth—especially when the day approaches sunset. Light floods the expansive living room, which is elongated with cathedral ceilings and a split-level layout. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame a panoramic view of the backyard, and a black fireplace is set against a red-and-white brick wall.

There are also practical considerations to make when it comes to modern life in a vintage build. Dumas, who is six-foot-one, often hits his head on the alcove above the stove in the kitchen. The house is not as energy efficient as newer places, so the monthly hydro bills are high. If something breaks, service workers are often hesitant about doing repairs out of concern they will damage the house. “One of my worst fears is that something will happen to the plumbing, and I will have to rip up one of the bathrooms,” Beaupré says. “I keep thinking: ‘Just hold on for one more year!’”

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Certain retro design choices were also initially off-putting. The kitchen’s striking decor included bright orange tiling and wooden walls, a built-in Jenn-Air grill and a supposedly soundproof padded ceiling that, according to Beaupré, resembles “cooked spaghetti.” But over time, the couple saw how these features fit in with their place’s overall aesthetic, and they decided to run with it. The home’s unique design has even become an object of fascination for others. After Beaupré joined a location scouting group on Facebook, it was featured in several Québécois artists’ music videos and a fashion campaign for the glasses brand BonLook.

“There’s something very sexy about this home,” says Beaupré. The primary bedroom has a mirrored ceiling, but the crown jewel is the Jacuzzi room, which is furnished with a built-in sauna, beige carpeting and textured walls. Whenever guests visit, she always tells them to bring a bathing suit. One day, she also hopes to invite over one of the original owner to swap stories about what these walls have witnessed in the copacetic 70s. “It’s pretty rare that you see vintage houses for sale that are in pristine condition,” Beaupré says. “I like to imagine the parties that were thrown here.”