A log retreat built in 1999 with lake frontage and abundant gardens is a dream come true for a couple who share a love of wood and outdoor living.

Back in 2012, Mario Lavoie and Carole Rousseau were looking for a country home, and it had to be made of wood. But when they arrived at the property, it was the breathtaking view of the lake and the serenity of the place besides the gorgeous cabin that dazzled the couple. In Carole’s words, “it was love at first sight.” The beautifully landscaped garden was not without appeal, either.

Built in 1999 by Patriote Home of Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, Quebec, a company specializing in building log and timber homes, cabins and chalets, the cabin overlooks a quiet lake near Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard in the Laurentian mountains. The cabin is constructed of milled Eastern white pine logs with the exterior pièce-sur-pièce-style walls dyed in warm orangish tones. The gabled roof is designed with timber-frame elements and is covered with brown batten-seam sheet metal. The previous owners from Norway integrated several features reminiscent of their heritage, like the glass panes on either side of the front door etched with traditional Scandinavian motifs.

Seen from the front, the cabin looks very modest in size, though it is actually 50’ long x 34’ wide. And since it is built on a slope, it is from the back that one can appreciate the true magnificence of its three floors. Besides the communal areas—kitchen, dining-room, living room—the cabin includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a half bath. The pine wood-plank ceilings of the main floor have different heights, ranging from 10’ in the kitchen to 13’ in the living room.

The back of the cabin is almost entirely made of glass. A terrace runs the width of the cabin with a large central area for dining and admiring the sunsets over the lake. The balustrade used to be made of wood, but Mario and Carole replaced it with glass panels so as not to interfere with the view of the lake and garden below. The same applies to the upper balcony. Extending all the way down to the lake, the landscaped garden is composed of flower beds, shrubs, low evergreens, and a small waterfall and stream that cascade over rocks into a pond. The couple also purchased the lot to the right of the cabin, bringing the total surface area of their domain to about 236,800 square feet. The added land is lush with mature deciduous and evergreens trees, soon to be crisscrossed by nature trails.

Though now more than twenty-years old, the cabin had been kept in mint condition and has not required any renovations. One exception is the floor in the kitchen. “We had severe frost, and the floorboards became warped,” explains Carole. It was an opportunity to change the floor to slate with a heating system. The stones of different shades come from L’Ardoisière in Prévost, Quebec, and are a Canadian-made product. Where the original wood floor was not damaged by frost, it was replaced with maple. The cooking area is not excessively big but is quite functional, with ample counter space and cabinets. The maple island is equipped with a sunken sink and is covered with polished dark-toned granite, just like the countertops. The ceramic tiles of the backsplash featured a flowery pattern that did not please the new owners, so they had them painted over, pending their replacement. The range hood blends seamlessly into the décor, as it is covered in the same maple wood as the cabinets. An abundance of light coming through several windows, including a skylight, make the blond pinewood walls, ceiling, and slate floor shine.

On the other side of the counter, the dining area is also well lit, with large windows overlooking the garden and the lake. The solid cherry wood table has a rustic finish that is most appropriate for the decor. The painting on the wall of the three polar bears is the work of Marta Milossis, a French-born artist.

For the interior decor, Carole Rousseau was helped by an interior designer. The two women chose a subdued grey hue for the furniture of the living room, matching the fieldstone of the wood-burning fireplace. In the master bedroom on the upper floor, the king-size bed is set on a solid maple-wood platform, stained a deep brown that echoes the patches of cowhide rug under it. It was manufactured by Ruff Sawn, a Canadian company specializing in solid-wood furniture. The side lamps resemble birdcages and project delicate shadow-and-light patterns on the wall when lit.

The couple contemplates remodelling the main bathroom one day. But for now, they are quite content with its ample space and abundance of mirrors. Large, beige ceramic tiles cover most of the surfaces, from the floor and walls to the wide vanity equipped with his-and-hers handwash basins. The deep tub is a whirlpool bath. The upper floor is accessible through a twisting pinewood staircase designed with a niche for displaying an interesting chandelier made of branches.

Tucked in a corner of the garden is a playhouse that seems to come straight out of a fairy-tale book. It is the domain of the couple’s two grandchildren, who love to play there. They can even spend the night, as it is well insulated, equipped with electricity, and provided with all things necessary for a sleep-over (supervised by an adult, of course). It’s a square Scandinavian-looking structure measuring 15’ x 15’ and was built from a wooden kit that the previous owners had shipped over from Norway. The elaborately carved details and motifs don’t go unnoticed, and the live-grass roof keeps the interior warm in winter and cool in summer. When the grass gets too long, the owner climbs up onto the roof with a weed-eater to cut it and do some weeding as well. The same type of eco-friendly roof covers the 20’ x 28’ garage facing the house.

Mario and Carole make the most of their beautiful Laurentian retreat, where they spend many weekends, taking boat rides or kayaking on the lake. The also enjoy going for long walks or just relaxing on the terrace and taking in the breathtaking view that seduced them on their first visit. Life is good at Mario and Carole’s beautiful log getaway.