Two magical refuges have always floated in the imagination of Benoît Varin. These places of reverie are very real today.
Now retired, this former Laval printer fondly remembers the cardboard houses he built as a child. Small warm corners were created there, a little apart, attics arranged like in the beautiful films.
In the same spirit, the verandas of the chalets that his parents rented in the Laurentians each summer were oases of happiness for him. “The rented cabin had to have a veranda. It was essential for my parents. I spent whole days there,” he recalls.
These happy memories would have remained sweet fantasies if the latter had not taken the chance, one day, to transpose them into the real world.
This providential occasion came when a show house in a new neighborhood in Sainte-Rose was visited in 1993. The high Queen Ann-style gable, with its 45-degree roof slopes, immediately struck the eye. imagination of the grown-up child.
“I was looking at the house, standing in the street, and I thought to myself that surely it must be possible to do something beautiful with it,” he recalls, still excited by the vision, 30 years later.
Unthinkable, but difficult to achieve. Roof trusses were not designed for an inhabited attic. The divisions of the rooms upstairs also did not allow the installation of a staircase. With his wife Louise Fortin, Benoît Varin, however, proved intractable in the negotiations: no contract signing without the necessary modifications.
“Finally, an architect friend provided me with solutions and the necessary plans. The builder complied with my requests. Now my neighbors are wondering why he didn’t offer that option to everyone,” Varin said.
The result was indeed worth all the effort. “Le perchoir à Benoît”, as his wife Louise calls it, makes many eyes widen. “Especially the neighborhood kids,” the man says happily.
Right from the start, the staircase, steep as the descent of a boat, announces an intriguing, somewhat secret place, set back from the outside world. The ascension is filled with promise.
At the very top, the narrow room is both disconcerting and comforting. With its sloping walls and skylights that let in the light like portholes, it calls for escape and sweet solitude. Its smallness — “everything is calculated by the thickness of the hair”, agrees Benoît Varin — reinforces its monastic character as a hidden den.
Behind a door is a small office where Benoît Varin works most of his days…just like in the days of his cardboard houses.
The couple also had the foresight to pour concrete pillars as soon as construction began in anticipation of the much-desired veranda. He had to wait five years before its construction, but the wait was not in vain. Its rural identity, perfectly successful, is worthy of a holiday camp.
Benoît Varin gives all the credit to his architect friend. “I described to him everything I had in mind, like the exposed beams and the little walls topped with screens, and he pushed every idea to the limit. The details he added is what makes the veranda so charming,” he says.
Architectural elements make the room unique, such as a pretty half-moon window placed in the gable, white rails that surround the top of the walls, or a false hoist that adorns the central beam. Country furniture complements the decor.
The view from the veranda overlooks a completely bucolic backyard, of exceptional depth, adorned with large mature trees, such as a magnificent American linden. “All that’s missing is the lake, at the very bottom, to complete the picture”, slips Benoît Varin, still inhabited by his childhood images.
“I always said I didn’t want a house with a porch. I wanted a veranda with a house, he continues. My house may not be big. But with its veranda and its attic, this house is for me the most beautiful in the world. »