Photo Gallery: Cottage Makeovers
See weekend hideaways, transformed!
When Toronto designer Barbara Purdy and her husband bought this Georgian Bay retreat, they were excited to put some work into it, despite a slim budget. The previous homeowners added this addition and lined the uninsulated walls with fake-wood panelling.
Rather than paint, Purdy decided to splurge on insulation and new tongue-and-groove pine walls. The pricey project was set off by considerable savings elsewhere: the table, made by the previous owner, was left behind, and the chairs belonged to her grandparents. The chandelier is an inexpensive fixture Purdy dressed up with pliable young twigs, which she tied at the top and around each light with thin black wire to form organic-looking branches. She dipped the bulbs in silicone for a softer, aged effect.
The modest 900-square-foot cottage seemed even smaller with unstained ceilings and walls. Purdy wanted to add character to the main bedroom with eclectic, vintage finds.
Purdy and her husband pinched pennies by painting the entire cottage themselves, and added warmth to the bedroom with affordable vintage pieces. An old coat rack that mimics the shape of a headboard was a flea-market find, and a hand-me-down from her sister-in-law took on new life as a bedside table (left). Even the sconces — which unite the mismatched tables and free up surface space — came at half price from Elte. “You don’t have to shop at big-box warehouses to get inexpensive finds,” insists Purdy. “Go to quality stores and look for sale items, smaller pieces or ask for discounts on floor models.” She did, however, splurge on luxe linens from DwellStudio, which add to the cottagey style of the room.
Unsightly wood panelling, exposed piping and a boxed-in shower made the bathroom feel more like an outhouse.
Purdy gutted the entire bathroom — except the original ’50s-style hanging globe lights — to achieve the fresh look she wanted. An open-storage washstand was custom built to hold an affordable Ikea sink, keeping the space open and airy. White walls and faux marble porcelain shower tiles also brighten the once-dark room. Teak slats and a rain showerhead lend a high-end look.
Stacy Begg’s family cottage near Keswick, Ontario was built from a prefab kit in the 1960s and purchased by her parents in the early 1970s.
More than 60 gallons of white primer and paint later, Begg and her siblings transformed the cottage into a bright and cheerful family retreat. New engineered hardwood oak floors (real wood veneer on top of a plywood base) won’t shrink and expand with fluctuations in temperature — a perfect material for cottages. They’re finished in a semi-gloss that reflects light and brightens the room. Sage-green ceramic tiles and a parade of sentimental champagne bottles (dusted off and redisplayed) add hits of subtle colour.
The family room was also dated and in need of a decorating overhaul. Meaningful pieces, like a vintage airplane propeller and antique tables, had timeless appeal but needed to be incorporated into a more contemporary theme.
Begg rehung a vintage airplane propeller from handsome leather straps, slipcovered the sofa in a durable cotton and refreshed an old lamp with a new burlap drum shade. Mixed fabrics on the wingback chairs, ottoman, throw pillows and drapes offer charm and visual interest.
This room was dark and dim. Plus, improper insulation made this bedroom especially cold during winter visits.
Begg painted the ceiling a pale blue-green to break up the white walls and ceilings elsewhere in the cottage. Classic french doors replace the original sliding ones, conserving energy in colder months and letting the lake breeze in come summer. The family also splurged on radiant heating below the new hardwood. A multihued Tibetan rug layered over woven seagrass injects texture into the space.
Architect Shari Orenstein envisioned a rustic retreat with original frame and beams when she purchased this 1960s cottage. Despite a few obstacles along the way, engineers were able to save the existing roof, foundation and deck while opening up the interior floor plan.
Orenstein opened up the 1,000-square-foot cottage’s divided rooms into one large living room, dining area and kitchen (beyond island). A soaring ceiling with exposed rafters meant there would be tall expanses of drywall, so she wrapped the lower walls in beadboard wainscotting topped with a chair rail to add texture and interest. Blue dining chairs and stately leather armchairs break up the all-white scheme.