Into the Wild: The Parcelles
A sit down with the founder and creative mastermind behind The Parcelles; an airbnb oasis in Eastern Canada.
Recently, we interviewed Catherine Bernier, who when shes not writing and taking pictures is managing her vacation rental properties under the name The Parcelles. Take a look inside her life, vacation home life and of course the furniture she used in the new home in Eastern Canada
What is Parcelles?
The Parcelles is home of two physical spaces designed by us (a little) and mother Nature (mostly) in Nova Scotia and Quebec provinces, where people are invited to regenerate their mental spaces; it’s a photography studio that spans well beyond four walls; a place where time stands still and where creativity emerges with ease.
What attracted you most to building these dreamy vacation rental experiences?
In 2017, we bought the parcel of land of our dreams in Nova Scotia, where typical Acadian buildings are scattered across: a shed, a greenhouse, a chicken coop, a 19th century barn renovated into a house and a cabin by the water. My partner Gabriel and I are a good duo to transform ideas into reality. Gabriel does mobile architecture as a way of living and I'm a freelance writer-photographer, also creative director. We started by renovating the cabin by the water. The space has served as an escape from our busy lives and as a creative retreat for me. Inspired by our own experience here and while traveling the world, we launched The Parcelles to share the beauty of our space with others. Since then, we have hosted many artists-in-residence and visitors from all horizons. Then, we had the opportunity to buy a piece of land touching a private lake preserved by Gabriel's family, in Lac-Beauport, Quebec.
What would you tell someone looking to build there first vacation rental?
A lot of people cheat on quality in order to buy affordable materials and furniture, because they are planning to rent their place, but the truth is that if you invest into quality it will last longer. I'm tired of seeing Ikea furniture in every single airbnb!
What prep work goes into designing these Airbnb's and are you collaborating with other designers or architects?
It took us 3 years to renovate the cabin the way we wanted in Nova Scotia. We did everything by ourselves with the help of a few talented friends, on weekends. Then, during the pandemic, we were living in the cabin, while finishing the renos. We designed it for our needs first (we play in the ocean, so we needed space for our equipment) but also in order to rent it to nature lovers and artists like us. Storage was the key to letting the living spaces be vast. Once finished, we moved to our next project in Lac-Beauport. We honored the land by building a new architectural cottage drawn by Marie-Laurence Denis, Gabriel's sister, who grew up in the area. We could not have had a better fit. Marie-Laurence is now a new member in The Parcelles’ team.
You need to fall in love with the land and see the potential of a long term relationship. Which means, giving back to it and taking care of it. We want people to feel whole in the ecosystem and see their getaway as a way to reconnect with the creative and restorative energy found in nature.
Can you elaborate more on the residency program at The Parcelles?
Summer has been the predestined season to share the space with nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts, while Fall and Spring have been kept for artists in residency, at an exclusive price. Our main goal is to share our spaces with artists from all fields, genders, ages, backgrounds and experiences, where they can rest and focus on their creative projects. During their self-directed residency, they are free to build their week the way they want, but we encourage and support them to establish a relationship with the land and the local community. Each residency includes an optional private portrait session with me and a feature on our platforms.
What gets you excited when you stay at other vacation rentals, Airbnb's or boutique hotels?
I'm so detail oriented, I like to analyze everything and feel the personality of each place. As a photographer, I like to chase the light coming through a new space.
How do you curate all the furniture for the spaces and is it all procured or do you make any of the pieces yourselves?
I like to create a mood board inspired by my feelings for the space, where textures and colours guide my choices regarding furniture. I'll look at Canadian brands first and will jump on the opportunity to build custom projects if needed.
It looks like you are physically doing some of the renovations? If so, what part of that is meeting a budget and what part is the satisfaction you derive from working with your hands?
When you choose to invest into quality, sometimes you have to be creative to save on money. That's why we did as much as we could, with the help of friends and family. It feels pretty rewarding to be a part of almost every step.
Are there any plans for future rentals?
We are working on two projects now for residential houses that we're going to design with the help of Marie-Laurence and build in Nova Scotia. There is a huge lack of housing here, so we want to do our part, instead of doing another airbnb.
Does staying in your own rental feel as good as staying in someone else’s?
We traveled a lot this winter and stayed at amazing places, but nothing is comparable with something you have been involved so deeply in since the day you fell in love with the land to the last artwork hooked.
What are your favorite things to do in and around your properties?
Gardening and collaborating with artists and like minded brands
We hope you enjoyed this Into the Wild article. We are always inspired by modern airbnb rentals, boutique hotel design and anything hospitality. We also love it even more when our hard work is integrated into these well considered spaces! I am looking forward to my next stay at The Parcelles.