Emeline Villedary is someone I have known for a long time, since she went to design school with my sister. She is an artist and entrepreneur with an encyclopedia-like brain. To call her cool is terribly uncool, but I will do it anyway. She is the social butterfly, the mother nature, the bookworm (read Anna Karenina Angelique – you will love it!), and the caftan-loving hippie. She is my Drew Barrymore friend with the best laugh.
She studied interior design at Dawson College and among other things, opened a sew shop with a good friend on Monkland avenue in NDG called Emeline & Annabelle: Atelier Couture Cafe. She taught me how to use a sewing machine which says a lot about her skills. After the shop closed, she started an interior design company with friend Maria Altmann. Emeline recently moved to the country with her hubbie and 3 children. Like, the real country. Like, she raises chickens. Chickens! She also has a huge garden that is doing pretty great.
Emeline’s porch basking in the sunshine.
She started blogging again after the move. Her adventures and epiphanies make for great reading. She has made me tear up and she has made me think. I am still deciding if I want to attempt the capsule wardrobe, but I don’t know if I am ready for that just yet. No doubt 4 hours with her and we could do it. Maybe in 2016…
Fresh eggs everyday. Lots of recipes up on her blog.
Fresh country flowers and spa treatments she does at home.
Emeline and I had a chat about her new life, her interior design company, and her many artistic pursuits.
Angelique: Why did you move to the country?
Emeline: Um, we were basically too poor to buy anything in our neighborhood?! We also knew that it was time for a big change. If we were going to uproot everyone, we might as well try the things we’d been talking about since the day I met my husband. Essentially, it was one of those things that I couldn’t bear the thought of one day looking back and saying, hmmm… I wish we had tried that, ya know?
“The idea of the move to the country was that we could create our own everything. Raise our own animals, grow our own vegetables… Create our own little inner world and maybe find a community that shared the same values. It tied in a lot with my ideas of independent economy and this return back to artisanhood (I just made that up), that as a society we have a purchasing power that helps shape things, and maybe we could offset some of the really bad stuff that’s happened in the post-industrial era.”
“We wanted the kids to have access to nature, every day.”
We were living in a family cooperative, in a tight space (842 square feet!) and surrounded by a lot of politics, that in the end, I felt were toxic and really increased my anxiety. I loved living in a community of like-minded people (we had an open door policy with a lot of the other families), but after 5 years of that, I needed space and isolation. If I’m being 100% honest, I wanted to be alone.
A: What has been the best thing about the move?
E: Hmm, that’s hard to pinpoint! I think the beauty of nature and the way I’ve connected to the rhythm of the sun… I think that sounds woowoo… But waking up with the sun and going to bed with it, is strangely comforting.
A: What has made you cry tears of joy?
E: The sunrise mostly.
A: What has made you cry?
E: Everything? How much I rely on the car. How much it hurts to break your arm. How hard it is to be in transition when all you want to do is be at the end place.
A: What has been the biggest surprise?
E: The simplicity of living in a small town, it has made decision making really easy! Choosing the best place to get coffee? It’s easy, it’s my house!
Also, how little time I spend in front of the mirror now! Because I don’t constantly bump into people I know, I’m not really concerned with how I ‘should’ look. I get dressed up for client meetings and that makes it a really special occasion.
The first three weeks we spent in the house were like a fog of gratitude and we slept like babies. So maybe the most surprising thing is how at home I feel here, in this town where I know 2 people!
A: Any advice for those toying with the idea?
E: I think spelling out why you want to do the move and making sure everyone is on board. Take your time to find the right spot. I spent a year researching small towns to see what they had to offer young families, and Rigaud turned out to be perfect for our needs. Also, reach out to people who have done the move themselves! See what their experiences are. But at the end of the day, sometimes you just need to do it because to not do it, would probably kill you. At least, that’s how I felt. And I think when we get real with ourselves and ask the tough questions, we get the answers.
Her daughter Pia is pretty hands on.
A: How have your 3 kids (!!!) adapted?
E: I’d say rather gracefully! But it’s not an easy thing for kids that age to live through, so we were really expecting more backlash from them. The eldest gets sad sometimes, but I think he knows why we left, and we make a point of seeing the NDG friends every couple of weeks. So it’s hard, but hopefully something they don’t hold against us when they’re in therapy as adults!
A: Why should people read your blog?
E: I think it’s appealing to people looking for an honest voice? I’ve been blogging for about 10 years now and I’m finally (in the last year) able to write something that I’m not wishing was something else… Does that make sense? I always thought my blog should be this, or that, or look like hers… But now I use it to purge the stuff in my head, which happens to be similar to everyone else’s stuff too, or so I’m told. So that’s the long answer. The short one is that they should only read it if it speaks to them, which it might not. And then they shouldn’t read it all.
“Chickens are wonderfully generous! They take nothing at all and give me eggs every day. How awesome is that? Chickens are the best! They’re going to winter at a friend’s house where it’s warmer. And I’m excited for the spring because I think we’ll build a new chicken coop.”
“Rosie the best worst dog ever. The end.”
A: How about the cats?
E: Plentiful? I joke that we raise cats on the farm… We have one kitten left, so if any of your readers are looking for a kitten, I’m your gal!
A: Do you have a funny animal story to share?
E: It’s not funny, but there’s a lot of animal saving…Protecting the kittens from the chickens, protecting the chickens for the dog and so on… Rosie gets loose sometimes and I have to chase her down, she likes to jump into the river to try and catch geese. She also loves barfing on my bed.
A: Tell me about Artmann Villedary interiors! I love everything I see on Instagram.
E: We’re a boutique interior design practice and we cater to mostly residential clients, helping people understand what they need, what that should look like, and how to get it.
A: What can your clients expect?
E: I think people like working with us because we understand what it’s like to live through renovations and how exhausting that is. We offer design and therapy at the same time! LOL! Both Maria and I have lived through our own renos and that gives us some insight, especially for newbies (my favorite clients!)
“I keep a tight eye on the budget because most of our clients don’t have unlimited funds and are making a conscious choice to make these improvements.”
“At the end of the day, the choices our clients make have to work for their household, not just look good!”
“Hiring a designer helps you figure out how to make your home work for you. I think more people should budget a portion of their renovation budget to consult with someone who could help them get the most out of their house.”
Find out more about them here.
A: How do you define what you do creatively?
Definitely entrepreneur, but I don’t consider myself a crafter for some reason.
“I think I’m going with the title Maker… to one day transition to Artist? That sounds terrifying and ridiculous at the same time. I really love working on projects, so I stay open to new projects and collaborations.”
A: What are you making for the holidays?
E: Eeeeek! I haven’t figured it out yet… Maybe everyone will get a print this year! I’m really into calligraphy right now and so, it might be the gift of the year!
“…or triangles, I’m working on a triangle collection, so maybe if I can push that out in time, it’ll be my homemade gift for 2015.”
A: Where can we buy the hearts and stars you make out of branches?
E: You can buy the hearts at 2 barn owls in Hudson. Nancy and Mavis run this really beautiful shop in a barn. They have a great aesthetic and both produce amazing works of art. I am the person who clips the branches!
Contact Emeline to find out more!
Her blog: cochonetrouge.wordpress.com
All pictures and art made by Emeline. Photo of Em by me. Thanks darlin’! That was fun.