Cape Breton Island

Dream Worthy

Most people have a special vision of their dream home, considering I'm an interior designer you might be surprised to learn that all my visions of what make a *dream home* for me are more about the exterior.  I actually envision *dream views* around which my dream homes are designed (hey if its a dream, I can have multiple homes!).  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about well designed interiors but to me it goes so beyond that, its a bigger picture for me and that picture starts even before you set sight on the front door, its about the setting -  the location of the home makes or breaks it for me.  Specifically with my ideal locations, its all about the views.  An interior is just static and stale to me if it doesn't relate to the exterior and offer some type of view or sense of place that transcends beyond the interior walls.  The vibe of a home's architecture and interior in sync with its setting, its place.  I have this term I use called 'sense of place' I don't know if there's another proper design term for this but its the best way I can describe it.

My ideal interiors stem from having an incredible sense of place,,,,,the key to this for me is capturing great views that expand your eye beyond the interior walls.  My dream homes are always about some stunning non-static view.  I don't have just one dream home in my head, I have several - each one is quite different depending on the setting - but they all are designed around spectacular views, my dream views.  When I travel I can't help but fantasize about what kind of home I would design for whatever local i'm visiting and what kinds of scene(s) it would capture, and how the interior would play off those scenes. Weird maybe,,,but that's what inspires my visions for interior spaces.

I have to say when I told people recently that I was visiting Cape Breton for a few weeks, I experienced a lot of raised eyebrows and puzzled looks.  Cape where?  Is that in New Brunswick?  PEI?  Isn't it really cold there right now?  So for those who have never visited or know little about this East Coast Nova Scotian Island, I feel the need to explain my fascination with this beautiful place.   When I first visited Cape Breton two summers ago, I was never more captivated by stunning scenery than I was there. Its no wonder the Cabot Trail is rated in the top 20 most scenic roads to drive in the world!!  (The first three photos of this post are from my vacation there in August 2010.)

This island is home to many of my *dream views* all in one destination; dramatic ocean coastline, wide sandy beaches with long wispy grass, lush green highlands and valleys, sprawling rolling fields, and did I mention ocean views,,,ocean views everywhere.   I could instantly envision how a house could capture this beauty, whether you were ocean front, or high in the hills or amongst the lush valley's.  I was actually surprised that I didn't see more great architecture or design that really paid homage to these settings.   But there are a few exceptions, and I want to share with you the closest thing that I've ever seen to my own visions of a dream home - in real life........

This hilltop cottage is a second home to Los Angeles designers, Alexandra and Elliot Angle.  Its pretty much perfection in my eyes.  Its been published in Canadian House & Home, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Australia's Country Style, and countless other publications.   This house has received a LOT of coverage.  I think it's location lends a bit of 'mystery' to readers.

  Set on the highest point along this westerly section of coastline the cottage has breathtaking views up and down the coast overlooking the Gulf of can watch wales right from the deck.

via Australia Country Style

via Australia Country Style.

The house's modern salt box design with its weathered cedar shake siding was inspired by the local barns.   The low wraparound deck was inspired by a traditional lobster trap design.

via Australia Country Style

The interior is bright and open and painted about 10 varying subtle shades of blue, grey and green.



The house has wrap around ocean views.  The one side of the house that doesn't face the ocean, has mountain views.

Can you imagine sunset views like this from your own dining table.  Check out any of the links mentioned above for more interior photos and the full story of this L.A. couple's Canadian dream home...

Not too far away from the Angle's modern saltbox cottage above is another  modernized take on a saltbox cottage.  Again, up on a hilltop with views up and down the coast, the property gradually slopes down to the ocean.  Dreamy.  This oceanside cottage is offerred for vacation rental

This house has a bit of a rustic adirondak vibe (?) but the views are insane.  (Recently offered for sale but the listing no longer appears online.)

These houses all truly capture the beauty of Cape Breton the way I envision it.  

Dream home worthy in many ways.

Now back to reality,,,,,,,I returned from vacation to a house in the middle of construction/repairs, and Christmas is in 4 days.  Not so dreamy.

Photos 1, 2, 3:  Carol Reed
Photos 4, 5, 7:  The New York Times
Photos 9, thru 13:  Alexandra Angle Interior Design
Photos 6, 8: Australia Country Style
Photo 12:
Photo 13:

Cape Breton: Island Beauty

A favorite subject of mine....I'm fascinated with barns. 
 In Cape Breton, ocean side barns are a classic sighting.

The dreary days of November can be the perfect time to get away for an Island vacation,,,,of course most people would probably dream of that island being in a tropical local - but not me, at least not this time.  I'm taking my summer vacation a little later than originally planned and am currently spending some time touring around the East Coast Island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  My boyfriend and I travelled around all of Nova Scotia in the summer of 2010 and were completely smitten with Cape Breton.   The highland landscape, the dramatic coastline, the lush green valleys and mountains,,,the food and the music captured our hearts.   

Most of the island is predominantly seasonal with tourism really dominating the local businesses from May thru October.  We've decided to spend a couple of weeks here during the off-season because, well we just prefer to do things differently,,,,,without the masses and to experience the Island not so much as tourists.  Some of the benefits of traveling during the off-season are that there are no tourists,,,there's actually NO ONE around here for the most part so its been great for photography,,,,but not so great at times trying to find places to eat or basic accommodations outside the main town of Sydney.  Definitely the best part about visiting during these chilly days,,,,hot seafood chowder and warm biscuits!  The best.

I could spend all day, every day with my camera and never run out of beautiful images to capture.

Cloudy days are great for shooting.

Except for a freak snow storm a few days ago, its been fairly mild and walks on the beach are still very enjoyable.

The inland waters are almost as expansive as the open ocean.

 I was crazy for these vintage deco like chairs in a little bakery in Mabou.  They were striking against black beadboard wainscotting.

Nothing beats local mussels and warm homemade biscuits....except enjoying them during an afternoon cailidh, the floor moving beneath you as the fiddle players pound their feet is an experience that's unforgettable.

Discovering a little Bistro in the middle of nowhere, hours from anything,,,,,that serves up gourmet delights is just heavenly.  Everything homemade,,,and the best scones I've ever had!

I hope to share more tales from Cape Breton soon as I find some wifi again. : )