You can see from the inspirations in my last post that I have big ambitions for making over my little Bunkie. Since it is construction headquarters until the main cottage is built, all I can manage for now is to try to keep it clean. And I put up a simple ticking stripe curtain to hide underneath the counter. It is so different from my home in the city but that’s one of the things I love about it. It’s so utilitarian and basic. Up here I feel closer and more connected to everything around me. We have a real sense of community with our friends on the lake. We all look out for and support each other.
This is the temporary after of my Bunkie.
This is the beautiful cottage of our neighbour’s and friends Dan and Diane (also my realtor who helped us find our property). We spend a lot of time here with them, along with their neighbours Joseph and Carlo. Both of their cottages are also off the grid, you can check them out at Mafco House. In this picture Diane was recipe testing for a photo shoot that Bon Appetit magazine did at their place last year. She’s a fantastic cook! This was our Thanksgiving dinner.
This is the rocky point where we were originally planning to build. It’s the prettiest part of our property. The land here is very low and close to the water. I’m a water person so my first thought was to build close to it. We trimmed the tree branches up eight feet high to get a sense of the view – this is me with my cloppers taking a break to probably talk to work.
In August 2006, there was a big storm and tornado that hit cottage country. These shots are actually from Joseph and Carlo’s property, all of our friends were very lucky their cottages weren’t damaged (Dan and Diane were there during the storm hiding in the bathroom) but so many trees on their land were wiped out. I remember driving up the next weekend and being completely awestruck. There were wires down on all the roads on the way up and big root balls from fallen trees everywhere. We had to park the car and hike up to where we take the boat across.
For the next few weeks we spent a lot of time helping them clean up. I was dumbfounded by the realization that these people put in so much work, first in building their cottages and then with the landscaping and in one fell swoop it could all be destroyed. Up here you see how powerful nature is. You really can’t control it, though strangely enough we still try.
Because of the storm we realized the point where we were planning to build was too vulnerable and exposed. It turned out too that because of the 90 ft. setback bylaws in our county we would have been backed right up against an interior rock face. I really had my heart set on building here but it didn’t take much to convince me that this higher point, tucked in above the sandy bay, was actually a better place to be where there is less risk of trees falling from above. This is me checking out the terrain in the fall.
Instead of being on my favourite part of the land we will have a view of it. And who knows, maybe one day I will build a little sleeping cabin on it. We will also have a southwest view to the bay and the beach. These shots are what we will see from our new cottage.
This is a shot of Arriz taking site measurements, which he did with string electrical tape and ladders in order to map out how high above the ground we would have to be in order to get a flat platform.
And this is the start of clearing the land. Tree cutting was kept to a minimum and everything is done with manpower, you simply can’t get heavy equipment up here.
This is the tree that became a marker for the east end of our site. You are immersed in the tree tops here. Once we committed to this location, we started to call it the building of our "tree house."
For cottage design inspiration, check out our gallery of cottages from past H&H issues.
For more on the cottage construction from Arriz's view, check out his blog.