When the pandemic shut down offices and schools, Emma Doucet’s family of five found themselves together 24 hours a day. Navigating work and school proved to be a challenge for the owner of Grassroots Design and her family. Emma’s husband, Sébastien Labelle, set up in the dining room, son Félix retreated to the basement, and daughters Cléa and Éva, who shared a bedroom, figured out a system that saw Cléa move into the living room for her online classes.
This untenable work and school situation — family members coming and going through the dining and living rooms and spotty connectivity in the basement — provided Emma with the impetus she needed to undertake a full-on rethinking of the family house. “I wanted to have our workspaces ready to go before the predicted second lockdown,” she says.
Though most of us would cringe at the thought of a renovation during lockdown, Emma regarded those early months of the pandemic as an opportunity to try out new ideas. “I knew the house could work so much better,” she says. “And being in the business, it’s a lot easier for me to accept the temporary inconvenience of a renovation.” She got down to work, designing some new spaces and revamping others.
After working in the dining room in the early months of the pandemic, Sébastien migrated to the former second-floor bedroom of their son, 15-year-old Félix. A simple refresh saw Emma repaint the walls and add a pop of colour with a carpet her mother had given her. The comfy chair and ottoman, which are almost two decades old and had been relegated to the basement, add warmth to the room. The desk is adjustable so can be used in sit-down or stand-up mode.
Cléa’s Bedroom and Workspace
Cléa’s younger sister may have scored the larger second-floor bedroom, but Cléa, age 13, got the tucked-away loft space on the third floor. Dark and a bit mysterious, it’s the perfect hideaway and study space for a teen. Until Emma began renovating, the attic had been an unfinished space. But the cozy room, with its sloped ceilings, provided the extra space the family needed so that each of the three kids could have their own combined bedroom and workspace. Cool and moody, the room is anchored by a practical Ikea desk and chair — the identical set to Éva’s — against one wall. Just visible, the wallpaper behind the bed shows scenes from Paris, a city Cléa had hoped to visit last summer before the pandemic delayed her plans.
Éva’s Bedroom and Workspace
Until now, Éva, aged 10, had shared this second-floor bedroom with her older sister Cléa. The original room was a bubbly, girly space with deep pink walls and jewel-toned pink and green accessories. The revamp saw Cléa move upstairs to the loft, giving Éva the opportunity
to spread out and decorate her own space. The decorating splurge here is the pretty floral-and-butterfly-themed wallpaper and a coat of deep charcoal paint on the ceiling. Éva kept her original bed, and Emma sourced the inexpensive desk and chair setup from Ikea. The bench at the foot of the bed is a HomeSense find, and the curtains were repurposed from the living room.