The “Rustic Hunting Cabin to Cozy Family Home” Makeover

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Stella Brunelle)

Project by: Stella and family
Location: Quebec, Canada

Do you ever dream of a simpler life? Living with your family somewhere quiet, close to nature, maybe next to a pond, with a farmers market close by to visit on the weekend? Here’s the story of one family who made that dream a reality, one DIY challenge at a time. As Stella says, “We knew that the move was going to be hard but boy did we underestimate”…

(Image credit: Stella Brunelle)

Stella writes: In 2012 my husband and I, along with our 15 month old son, decided we wanted to simplify our life and become more self sufficient. So with a ton of research under our belts we relocated from Australia to my husbands birth country Canada (Quebec). We knew that the move was going to be hard but boy did we underestimate.

We thought that our criteria was simple: a few acres of land in a nice town, maybe a farmers market and somewhere we could raise our family. After actively searching for 15 months we became so disheartened, most of the farms we were looking at were over our budget or clear cut or just so isolated of all life.

So we decided to just enjoy the summer in Montreal and pack up and return back to Australia. However, in the last week of June we came across a property that seemed to tick all the boxes.

15 acres of untouched land: a pond, a brook, a prairie and a forest in between 2 charming little towns. The only catch? a hunting shack that was not livable unless of course you are a raccoon or a squirrel.

So in the last week of August 2013 we became the happy owners of this little farm. Our plan was to quickly erect a yurt so we had somewhere to live for the winter and set about building a house the following summer. But once again it didn’t go to plan. The council rejected our proposal!

(Image credit: Stella Brunelle)

So now we had a beautiful farm with no where to live! My husband and I had travelled for many years and lived out of a backpack but our son was starting to get tired of all the moving about. So we decided that we would take this hunting shack and convert it into a home for us 3.

With the council’s approval we were allowed to convert it into a 4 seasons but not change the square footage (750 square feet). Beginning of September, North American fall is tuning in and a mountain of work is drawing up. With my husband being a boat builder by trade we go straight on to it. The budget was $30k or less, the time frame yesterday or sooner.

Everything was gutted out, wildlife managed, insulation, heating, windows, doors, plumbing, electricity, water supply. Everything but the crooked structure, which was reinforced.

(Image credit: Stella Brunelle)

The design came to us as we went along. As time was the biggest constraint, decisions were made either in the morning before tackling the task or at night.
With our mix of new and old furnishing our aim was to keep our house simple and clean with a natural color palette. So, to highlight our vintage items, which were gathered randomly over the years; some from Australian Op-shops, garage sales, some from the streets of Montreal and finally some from the farm.

(Image credit: Stella Brunelle)

As we sit now, nearly two years on, with a new addition to the family and our first family dog we can all call it home.

Thanks, Stella and family!

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