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One of the most exciting parts of this process for me was when our new kitchen was installed. Given our professions, between the two of us, Arriz and I have researched countless cabinetry options over the years. Ikea always comes out on top, especially considering the great prices. Their hardware and hinging mechanisms are top-of-the-line. And for the site conditions of our cottage (off-grid, uphill, water access), Ikea’s flat-packing was the ideal solution. The entire kitchen was easily brought up the cliff (maybe not so easily if you ask our installer) in several trips. Definitely less of a headache than if we were bringing up pre-assembled cupboards or building them on site.

Kitchen components loaded on barge

Here is a shot of all of the kitchen components loaded up on the barge. Unfortunately, the brilliant pulley system that Mike and the guys rigged up had already been taken down, so all of these boxes had to be hauled by hand. Luckily, we had the most amazing team led by Edwin Gregorio from Ikea's installation services. Here is one of the members of his team taking measurements.

measuring in the kitchen

When I work with Ikea products I love to customize them to make them my own. And they have such a wide variety of components that you can be endlessly creative. For the island we chose a butcherblock countertop (being installed here) but joined several counters together to make an extra-wide top and wrapped it down each side to create a waterfall-like top. It was a lot of work but Edwin and his team pulled it off. We paired it with Ikea’s Solär cabinetry underneath. I love the elegant horizontal lines of this cabinet design especially because the handles are discreet and integrated into the design of the doors. They come in white or beech veneer but I had them custom painted in Benjamin Moore's Copley Gray (HC-104) in a matte finish. The white would be terrific in my city home, but with all of that Douglas fir siding and because I wanted to create a truly rustic feel, I felt that a darker, muted finish would be a better fit. It looks amazing so it was worth the extra effort!

On the window side of the kitchen we chose Ikea’s new Rubrik cabinets in stainless steel. You don’t see a lot of Ikea kitchens in stainless steel and the samples are tucked out of the way in the Etobicoke store so you have to look for them, but they were perfect for breaking up all of the wood without creating too much contrast. For handles we chose Ikea’s slim metal Strecket handles because they keep the look clean.

building the custom kitchen

On the return portion of the kitchen we used more of the painted Solär so there’s a bit of a mix going on. It feels unfitted and casual. For the counter we capped the whole side section in a slim 3/4" honed granite. It’s also an option from Ikea that people might not know about. I love the slim profile which minimized the amount of black introduced in the room. If you’re shopping for a kitchen, be sure to ask about all of the selections available and think outside of how you normally see Ikea. We had a lot of fun manipulating all of their possibilities to make it work for our lifestyle.

indoor sink and running water

You can see the cooktop near the back of this shot ? we skipped an oven because it’s not necessary up here. You really can cook almost everything between the cooktop and the BBQ. You can see that the way Arriz designed the kitchen, with the window running the length of the counter, you have a gorgeous view of the tree tops while you cook or wash the dishes. And hallelujah: I finally have an indoor sink with running water!

For more on Ikea kitchens, view our Ikea Kitchen Makeover videos.

pax wardrobe

Because Ikea is so practical for transporting to the site, we didn’t stop at the kitchen. This is a Pax wardrobe being installed on the wall in the bedroom. I prefer to mount it off the floor ? it leaves room underneath for baskets and visually a room will feel bigger this way because no floor space is eaten up. It also creates a more dramatic customized space. I had the plain Pax doors sprayed in the same Copley Gray (HC-104) and then dressed the whole thing up with small black bone handles from Ochre. A splurge, I know, but they look soooo good!

I also chose the Malm bed in oak ? it’s a designer favourite that will never go out of style and works well here because its low profile doesn’t interrupt the view. It fits perfectly under our bedroom window.

cribs with ken in water

With all of the loading and unloading from the barge, our old dock took quite a beating and I was having nightmares of all of our wedding guests toppling off and into the lake as they arrived. One weekend, Mike and Kenny decided to rebuild the top. Here they are lifting the top off the cribs. Our old cribs are grandfathered and they’re not in the greatest shape, but luckily they are still strong enough that we don’t have to replace the whole system just yet (a hugely time-consuming and expensive project). No more nightmares.

Andy building a rock staircase

I can also stop worrying about trips and falls of guests getting up the hill since our friend Andy Gearing built a beautiful rock staircase leading up to the cottage. We have amazing (and strong) friends, and so many of them have helped out in some way.

As I mentioned, this cottage is off the grid and most of our power comes from solar panels. Sean Flanagan at Flanagan and Sun supplied, installed and customized the panels and came up with a system that would maximize sunlight and work with the design of our building. Our panels are installed right on the roof and positioned to get the most sunlight possible.

Sean installing solar panels

Here is Sean installing the panels. This really efficient system is basically maintenance-free but we have a control box to adjust the settings. The system provides all the energy we need to supply power to our water pump system, fridge, lighting and power outlets. The best part is no hydro bill!

control panel

We included a number of electrical outlets throughout the cottage but not a lot of overhead light fixtures ? there will be only one over the kitchen island (still on the hunt for that). The rest of our light, when necessary, will be from table lamps and wall sconces. I still prefer the soft, dim glow of candles and traditional oil lamps.

Martes outdoor wall-mounted lantern

I found these great, affordable Martes sconces (only $25!) at Rona and have used three of them in the cottage.

Here are some of other wall lights that could have worked:

Bestlite BL 5 wall light

The Bestlite BL5 wall light. I’ve always loved Bestlite by Gubi and this version slides up and down.

Holly Hunt crystal block single sconce

This has a modern, arts and crafts style that would also work well in our cottage. Alison Berger for Holly Hunt Crystal Block Single Sconce, at Primavera.

Thomas O'Brien Selecta sconce at Elte

This is a great look for a cottage. Thomas O’Brien Selecta Sconce, at Elte (by special order).

Check out Arriz's blog for more on the construction and design of the cottage. 

Photo credits:
Suzanne Dimma
Martes Outdoor Wall-Mounted Lantern from Rona
Bestlite BL5 from Bestlite by Gubi
12. Alison Berger for Holly Hunt
Crystal Block Single Sconce
13. Thomas O’Brien Selecta Sconce from 

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