Designer's shed offers a taste of her stylish cottage concept
Boutique owner Lysanne Pepin hopes her chic space will be the start of a new business
Lysanne Pepin's bunkie, near Lac Libby in Quebec's Eastern Townships, seems built for one, but it's actually a prototype for an entire community. The founder of the Old Montreal-located lifestyle shop Maison Pepin is getting into the cottage industry, literally. For those looking to enjoy a pristine natural setting, but not suffer the "old mouldy cottages" that come part and parcel, "this little shed is an avant-goût," Pepin says – a taste of what's to come.
The small, slatted and window-walled space, perched off Pepin's larger cabin, is a proof of concept. It's necessary to get the ball rolling and find the right partner and piece of land for the suite of rental cottages she plans to build in her unique style. Pepin has never been one to sit idly by: "Because I had the vision of doing something, I had to start doing something," she says. "When you do something like that, you give wings to where you want to go." Pepin expects the cottages will be fitted, finished and ready to rent by August.
This is just the latest endeavour for the artist and entrepreneur. Pepin's first venture came 20 years ago, with a storefront that was more art studio than shop. She gradually increased her inventory, incorporating fashion and housewares, and in time, Espace Pepin was born. A late 2017 expansion allowed Pepin to explore and cement partnerships with local designers and manufacturers, whose products are featured in the shop (now Maison Pepin, encompassing goods for the entire home) and shed.
Porcelainware from 3 Femmes & 1 Coussin, furniture from Atelier Bussière, objects made from recycled and raw materials from Essent'ial, high-end tiles from Ramacieri Soligo and wallpaper from Pepin's brother Patrick's company WYNIL (Wall You Need is Love) Par Numérart are some of products (and people) Pepin has gathered under her banner. "It's a new way of buying, with a sense of authenticity and awareness of where it's made," she says. "For me, it's all about community."
Maison Pepin and the shed have similarities beyond the products featured therein. "It's just my way of making things. There's always a little twist. The Lysanne twist," she says. "The same look, the same kind of cosiness. Quaint and beautiful but simple and well thought out." The shed is constructed with pruche,or hemlock planks, white-washed for a rustic yet refined look. And she's adamant that the walls can do more than enclose. Built-in shelving is used to display favourite objects and free up space on the interior. "I don't want to have just a flat sheet rock wall," she says. "Everything needs to have texture."
Pepin and her 14-year-old golden retriever, Zara, make it out of the city to the cabin weekly. Her husband, a DJ, joins on Sundays and friends and family have an open invite. "The cottage is my escape, it's very simple. It's all about food, gathering and giving. I have beautiful stuff, my friends are beautiful people and what I like to do is be with them," she says. The shed has proved a favourite spot for après cross-country skiing chocolat chaud or getting away from the coterie. "When it's crowded in the cottage and everybody's sleeping, I put a little bed there [in the shed] and I sleep there in the summertime," she says.
Enviable? If construction on the cottages proceeds as planned, by late summer we can all have a taste. "Because for me it's all about lifestyle. It's all about a way of living and thinking. It's how you live that defines who we are," Pepin says. "If you do it, you give the way for people to do it."
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