Dar Ix-Xemx, Maltese for House of the Sun, is a luxurious retreat nestled in a three-acre ash grove perched above Antigonish Harbour, a picturesque tidal bay that flows from the Atlantic Ocean on the northeastern shore of Nova Scotia.
I designed the house to capture the many moods of the sun as they change throughout the day. Most of the main spaces, including the deck, face the west, perfect for watching the sun sink over the bay while sipping an aperitif. More than 50 large windows and 21 skylights offer stunning views and create an atmosphere as close to nature as is possible indoors!
Strolling through the front door:
The main floor is 1500-square-feet of open-concept living that revolves around the kitchen, the traditional focus of Maritime homes. I love to cook and I think it shows. The only “wall” in the kitchen is a bank of windows that overlooks the bay. Solid maple countertops measuring 35 feet - including one just for baking - snake around the room.
Quality appliances include a Jenn-air down-draft convection stove, built-in refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher, trash compactor and a gas BBQ. You’re sure to find most equipment you need and some extras. When you’ve finished preparing your feast, you can eat in the kitchen or at the table in the window-flanked dining room.
The kitchen flows into the sunroom which, facing south and west, is plastered wall and ceiling with oversize windows and skylights. The room stays relatively cool in the summer without air conditioning, as does the rest of the house. Even in the winter the room feels cozy, due to a radiant in-floor heating system.
I have furnished the house with old materials wherever practical. Wide antique boards panel most of the floors. Doors are 150-year-old solid refinished wood. Many light fixtures are antique too, as is most of the furniture. Original artwork adorns the few walls not occupied by windows.
Adjacent to the sunroom, I designed the oversize living room for relaxation. Furnished with overstuffed couches and an authentic Persian rug, it’s a great place to host an impromptu Scrabble tournament. On crisper evenings, throw a few logs in the Vermont Castings stove and settle in to watch a film or satellite TV. A hidden entertainment centre holds a TV, DVD/CD player, VCR and record and audio cassette players. Five speakers provide surround sound for a theatre effect. There are also speakers in the dining room and on the main deck. Videos and music are provided.
Also located on the main floor is a laundry room and a walk-in coatroom to shed sandy shoes and other bits after a satisfying stroll on the beach.
Taking it to the next level:
Upstairs are three comfortable bedrooms. The master bedroom is a spacious open-concept retreat unique in design. Awaken to forest and ocean views from eight windows. Built into the room is an antique claw-footed pedestal bath – ideally positioned to watch the sun take its evening dip in the bay, perhaps after you do! Also integrated into the main space is a European-style bathroom with a washbasin and toilet. There is a walk-in shower with five windows and a skylight, too. The queen-size bed is wrought iron and comes with the softest sheets imaginable. The rest of the furniture is antique. Two generous step-in closets and a comfortable reading nook complete the room.
The second bedroom has a double bed and bunk beds and faces west, overlooking the water. The third bedroom has a double bed and overlooks the front garden. Each has ample closet space. They share a full bathroom.
If more bedroom space is required two private, self-contained apartment suites are available for rent during the summer months. Each comes with a fully-equipped kitchen and private bathroom. The bedrooms and the living rooms have beautiful views of the water through large, full-size windows. Each bedroom has a queen or double bed and a full closet. There is also a futon in each living room for additional sleeping space. A generous deck graces the sunset side of each apartment. The apartments are located below the main floor and each entrance is completely private and secluded. The apts can also be kept unoccupied to ensure your complete seclusion.
Lastly, additional hangers-on (!) can be further accommodated on the chaise in the Sunroom or on blowup mattresses that can be made available. There is also the option of renting one of my neighbouring properties which allows large, multi-party groups to be accommodated while giving each party space and privacy.
Another unique feature is an indoor/outdoor observation deck, inspired by the balcony terraces of Parisian apartments. It sits on a level of its own, 40 feet up. Eat breakfast a deux and enjoy expansive views of the harbour. If you’re lucky, you may glimpse a seal or one of the eagles that nest on the bay’s islands!
Back downstairs, a tri-level deck hugs the sunset sides of the house. The deck has a custom built picnic table and a patio set for al fresco dining and relaxing. A smaller lower “breakfast” deck is protected from the occasional chill of early morning breezes.
I am pleased to offer the use of a 19-foot sailboat. You're also welcome to use the canoes, kayaks and row-boat, too.
Welcome to my home- be my guest and be prepared for an unforgettable vacation stay!