Thursday, February 14, 2013

An Alberta Medieval Great Hall

On Facebook, I'm in a group that was started by my friend (and super-talented singer) Laurie Ann Haus, called The Sisters of the Seasons.  One day, a woman I didn't know posted a picture in there of "Our Winter Solstice Feast in Our Home."  And the crowd went wild, with me at the head of the mob.  "This is YOUR HOME?!?!" I posted with shock and awe.  I had to see more.  And now I'm pleased to be able to share with you the beautiful home of Linda Bocheck.  

Yeah.  You can see why our jaws were agape.

I asked Linda a few questions about her home, and she graciously answered them.

Firstly, we and our home are located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The house was built in 1990 by the original home owners. It was very modern when we bought it several years ago, rather than what it is today, very bland pale blue-grey paint, with white lino and grey carpet throughout the interior, and beige vinyl siding on the exterior. (Iʼll send a photo so you get the idea). It was however well built with possibilities, despite the rather cold boxy feel.

To start at the beginning for us though: since earliest childhood the Arthurian and Grail Legends, and the Pre-Raphaelite depictions of them and of the Faerie Queens has gripped me as some sort of living imaginal ʻtruthʼ. Dreams of castles and Keeps, both of building and living in them have woven insistently in and out of my life. My husband Andrew shares this aesthetic and joy of joys, has incredible creative capacity for making what we dream and scheme up together into concrete reality. There is little other than mudding and taping dry wall that he canʼt do, fortunately for us! We have worked together on this, often designing as weʼve gone, but most of the ʻknow-howʼ has been his, with me assisting in the actual physical work. Itʼs one of those collaborations where an image or idea changes and evolves as weʼve worked with the space. We have been grateful for some great ideas and help from friends along the way. Itʼs been exhausting but it also has been a lot of fun for us to dream and scheme and create together. We are fortunate in having such a similar aesthetic and to be able to roll with ideas together so joyously.

The stonetile exterior and fence, and also on the quoining and barrel-vault on the interior of the house we did hire out, although the structures themselves we did ourselves. The arches and fence were added by us, and then stonetiled. We replaced the front door and re-designed the front entrance from a very 1990s white door to what you see here with a speakeasy. We have a smaller version of that door in the back entrance. 

The tin ceiling in the ʻgreat hallʼ was also added by us. Originally the ceiling had white stipple and two large ceiling fans. This room was a living room but as you can see was a rather awkward shape for use in that way. (We do still occasionally move some of the chairs and a table out in order to put chairs or couches in front of the fireplace for smaller more intimate gatherings).
Andrew built the oak coffering with much staining of both oak and the tin ceilings to get them to the colours they are. I am grateful to an artist friend for her advice and paint know-how which allowed me to antique and make ʻsootyʼ the tin, which I first painted antique gold then worked the black paint with sponges and rags over top in areas.

He also put in merbau hardwood flooring throughout the house, which as you can see is in similar warm mid-browns as the oak panelling that has been hand crafted and stained in the little sitting room (formerly the dining room) adjacent to the two story great hall.

Originally there was not a fireplace in that space, but it just begged for a large ʻmanor houseʼ-style fireplace and French overmanteau. We had this one custom made of limestone by Zoltan of HunCan, along with three others: one in our bedroom, one to replace the existing fireplace in the living room adjacent to the kitchen, and one for the stonetile courtyard fence/wall we also have added to the property (it wonʼt be installed until the spring, as itʼs very snowy here at the moment!)

The ʻgreat hallʼ tables and chairs come from Finesse Furnishings here in Edmonton, as have several of our favourite finds. The massive chandelier is from Chintz and Co. another favourite place for sourcing beautiful fixtures and home accessories. The rest are antiques, sourced both locally and on ebay, etc. The antique chandelier in the sitting room is somewhat obscured by the black and red ʻravenʼ feather boa I wove in and around it for the Winter Solstice theme.

Most often I place table runners in the usual way, but given that we were hosting a Solstice/End of the Year Feast and party, along with Christmas dinners I decided to purchase several matching table runners to have them serve as place mats but also to add to the decor for the season and the events. We can fit eighteen people around that table, sadly not more!

This was the second Christmas/Solstice with the great hall and sitting room being fully done. It really is a magical space for us, and it seems to elicit that same response from pretty much everyone who sees it which moves us greatly. We imagine holding many future events: ʻcostume soireesʼ (we do Medieval Feasts already), salon evenings and perhaps other ʻgathering of dark romanticsʼ and artists. It already has held many big and small gathering of friends and family: someone told me she hears echoes of singing and laughter when she steps into the house! Iʼd like to think that in some way all the laughter and conversation and food and wine and dancing that has already occurred there imbues the very walls! That thought makes the hard work of it all all the more joyous.

In the last year we have gutted the kitchen and living room to the studs, rewired and replumbed and redesigned. It is nearing completion. The mantle is currently being made for us - it will be more tudor in design. We have installed chiselled wood beams in the ceiling overhead, stained a dark walnut colour to give the space a more medieval low-ceilinged effect while the cabinets themselves are cream coloured with black iron hardware to allow for it to feel ʻlightʼ enough to work in given that it is north facing, but still within the general aesthetic. 

Stay tuned for more posts in the future of this absolutely gorgeous home transformation into a wholly Domythic space!!  


    Heavens that is INCREDIBLE!!!
    What a transformation - thank you for sharing Grace, and to Linda - thank you to you and your husband for creating this and letting us have a look inside! It's so inspiring. Wonderful.

  2. Such a beautiful home. I can't believe how utterly different it is from when they bought it!

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