For the past 12 years, board-game inventor Alan Gratias has been working on Cressy House, the Loyalist farmhouse he shares in Ontario's Prince Edward County with girlfriend Joanie Hilborn and their dog, Roger. No stranger to fixer-uppers, the former trade negotiator for Agriculture Canada has renovated dozens of buildings in southern Ontario and Nova Scotia. With the County property's half-dozen structures restored and a vineyard planted, Gratias can these days be found promoting his new board game Gravitas, running his art gallery in the town of Picton or relaxing in his library. "It has what every great space should have: textures, perspectives and the countenance of time," Gratias says of the room. "You know it's a great space if you can't wait to return ... to snooze, to take tea and to contemplate your good fortune."
1. The portraits
"Both of the portraits are by Donald Perkins, a well-known Montreal artist and also an art teacher at Lower Canada College in Montreal, where I went to school."
2. The green vases
"I bought the two green vases from Sharon Maclean's Antiques in Carrying Place in the County. They are slightly art deco with a pseudo-Grecian entablature. They act as bookends for the upper shelf and are lit from the inside."
3. The fireplace
"It's a Rumford, modeled on the principles and dimensions of those designed by Count Rumford, an Anglo-American physicist in the 18th century. The brick for the fireplace came from a collapsed schoolhouse nearby. I bought the building, but not the land, just for the beautiful old bricks. The firewood is from a 500-acre farm and woodlot I have down the road."
4. The chandelier
"This five-arm, hand-hammered wrought-iron chandelier was commissioned from Swiss ironmonger Pius Beck, who lives and works in Mirabel, Que."
5. The wood panel above the doors
"The panel above the French doors (which open to the pool and lake beyond) was removed from my [former]home in Lunenburg, N.S. I commissioned the piece from Ruth Flowers to depict York Street in Lunenburg in 1791, the year my house was built. It hung above the huge walk-in fireplace in the kitchen. When I sold the house to a friend, this panel was the one thing not included in the sale."
6. The rug
"The area rug under the ottoman is an antique Kilim rug. I purchased it in a souk in Baghdad when I was Canada's agriculture trade negotiator, a job I did for 20 years."