Stéphane Aubin & David Clemmer
Living in (Muskoka) style
Stéphane Aubin and David Clemmer’s story starts when Stéphane, then living in Huntsville and working in interior design was commissioned to do the decor for a local fashion show where David - the former style expert on W Network’s "Style by Jury"- was the visiting celebrity host. A chance meeting after the show thanks to Stéphane’s slightly intoxicated colleague, was the beginning of their made-in Muskoka romance.
Now, Aubin and Clemmer have embarked on a life of bringing others together here, at their Instagram-perfect retreat in the woods. Northridge Inn, a rustic, chic resort on Lake Bernard offers guests beautiful lakeside chalets, king or queen suites, a fully restored Airstream, and even ‘glamping’ options for those who choose to get a bit closer to nature.
Here, the couple talks about their new life as “inn-keepers” and why they feel most at home in Muskoka.
Q: What do you both love about living in Muskoka?
The air, the views, the trees, the wildlife and the incredible changing of the seasons.
Q: What drew you to Northridge Inn? What do you love most about hosting guests at the Inn?
Our love of the area and our collection of rental cottages inspired us to take it to the next level. Our best friend is a real estate agent in the area, so that helped a little bit too. We love to entertain and love to decorate. When we came across an old resort from the ‘50s that was in need of TLC but bursting with potential, we jumped on it! The best of both our worlds. Entertaining and decorating! We didn't realize just how much work it really needed, but it's all been worth it in the end. It's our little version of Kellermans from ‘Dirty Dancing’. And nobody puts baby in the corner. Not at the Northridge!
Q: How has living in Muskoka changed your relationship, if at all?
Sometimes we have to head to T.O. to meet clients or shop for the resort. The minute we are done, we race up to the country and unwind in the Muskoka air. Muskoka is all about quality time for us.
Owning the resort makes every day feel like a vacation. Because we don't have a million restaurants, theaters, malls and museums to keep us busy, we get to spend actual quality time together! Watching the sunset is our therapy.
Q: What four words would you use to describe the area?
Surreal, rustic, serene and magical.
Q: Is there anything that you miss about city life?
There is the odd time that you get a craving for sushi or Thai food, but it's 2.5 hours away. You also have zero selection when buying clothing, so plaid and work boots become your fashion choice by default.
Q: David, do you miss your time in front of the camera?
I do miss helping people feel better about themselves, the way they look and helping them feel empowered. But I now love helping people relax, unwind and take the time to just enjoy the present.
I have to admit, Stéphane and I joke that every day at the Northridge could easily be a reality show, except we’re not sure anyone would believe it’s real! We always say, ‘the more north you go the more real the shenanigans get’! Stay tuned. We love the idea, and think it would make for some very entertaining television, all in front of the most beautiful backdrop ever.
Q: What are some of your best memories of entertaining friends and family in Muskoka?
We quickly found out that when you live in Muskoka, your friends and family plan their vacations around you! It was a rare occasion that our cottage was without visiting guests (who oddly didn't ever bring enough wine!) and you can guarantee you always have a niece or nephew for the summer. This is why we decided to purchase the resort. Now we can host dinners on the pier for 150 people. By the time dessert is served, they are all considered friends.
Q: Do you have any stories about reconnecting with someone from your past or finding a connection with someone who has come to stay at Northridge Inn?
In our very short time as inn-keepers we have become such great friends with many of our guests, including some pretty amazing brides and grooms. We are often visiting them wherever they live to continue the special connection we made at the Northridge! Many come back as well and bring their family and friends, so we can all hang out as one big happy family.
Q: What do you appreciate most about being an entrepreneur in this way?
This is an amazing outlet for our creativity and it allows us to try new things every day. We think of our business as a theatrical production and our guests are the audience.
Q: Tell us more about your business. There looks to be a lot of attention to detail, what was the process of putting the Inn together like?
We love all the little details when we travel, and we felt our guests would want the same. Rustic with just the right amount of kitsch is such a fun way to decorate. We are constantly looking for items and find them in some not-so-obvious places. Flea markets, and garage and yards sales have been very fruitful, but some of our most loved items come from returning guests who tell us ‘the second [they] saw it they knew [they] had to get it for the Northridge’. Sure enough it fits in perfectly!
Q: How does living in Muskoka help you connect with yourself and others?
Here, we are always living in the present and enjoying everything we have at our fingers tips — nature, water, wildlife, friends and new neighbours. All of those things that really matter.
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