Photo Gallery: Designer Cottages
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In the dining room, the view acts as a large scale living mural. Owner-designers Richard Ouellette and Maxime Vandal chose trellis-back chairs to elevate a humble barn-board table. An oversized raw-wood chandelier strikes a rustic note in an otherwise formal setting.
Pale blue tiles set in a diamond pattern add texture to this kitchen’s crisp white cabinetry. “I know the rug looks like something you’d find in your grandmother’s home,” says Ouellette. “But I think it’s fun — it doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
Drue, a terrier mix, curls up in the living room, where an antique hand-carved fireplace mantel from Lyon, France, and a painting by René Richard take pride of place.
This home’s only bedroom illustrates Ouellette and Vandal’s approach to decor: nothing matches yet it melds together effortlessly. Bird-print wallpaper acts as a neutral backdrop for modern ikat pillows and weathered-wood pieces.
An expansive loggia, accessed by French doors from every room, and a widow’s walk overlook the pool in Matthew Sapera’s New England weekend house.
This sculptural yet charming living room staircase allows access to a widow’s walk. The room is filled with details typical of Nantucket interiors, from the vintage campaign chest with brass pulls to the bobbin chairs to the sisal rug.
A crisp navy blue and white colour scheme makes the main-floor family room feel relaxed, as do its layered bookshelves and nautical striped rug.
Jutting out of the rocky shoreline, the Glass Boat House, designed by Toronto’s Gh3, cuts a dramatic figure. The design allows for sweeping 360-degree views of the surroundings. For privacy, translucent blinds roll down from the ceiling at the touch of a button.
The low-rise furniture keeps the focus on the view, and the polished black granite floor echoes the rocky terrain surrounding the house.
These kitchen countertops and integrated sinks are made from Corian, chosen for its soft feel and the fact that scratches can be sanded out. For a streamlined look, sliding pocket doors conceal three ovens while panelling disguises the fridge. The black polished granite floor extends to the outside patio and plays off the natural granite seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
A Corian bathtub was installed in the cottage’s open-concept principal bedroom to take advantage of the lake views. For more privacy, a flick of a switch encloses the tub with sliding ceramic frit panels.
To complement the region’s northern light, designer-owner Monique Waqué decided to decorate her German cottage with pale colours evocative of Danish style. Check fabrics in a mix of colours and scales are used as the home’s primary pattern. Waqué furnished rooms minimally, buying many items at auctions in Denmark or Germany. Much of it is Scandinavian or French, and small in scale to suit the cosy dimensions.
Light floods into the open-concept living and dining room through five sunny, south-facing windows. French toile throw pillows and a chair recovered in a linen pineapple print punch up the pale grey and white space.
Pretty canisters and open shelving keep everyday items neatly on display. Waqué is fond of rag rugs — a traditional Swedish element — and uses them here to highlight the green and white colour scheme.
Waqué enjoys using her kitchen-side patio all summer for meals and drinks. Beyond the garden, open wheat fields seem to roll on forever.
Cottage owners Juli Daoust and John Baker hired a contractor to paint the ceilings white, creating a uniform look with the walls and floor. Sliding glass doors, high ceiling and tailored furniture make the room feel light and airy. The unusual daybed sofa is a Shaker-inspired piece that’s carried at their store, Mjölk — a Japanese and Scandinavian lifestyle boutique in Toronto.
The chairs, all mid-century Danish Shaker designs by Folke Palsson and Jorgen Baekmark for FDB Mobler Denmark, were bought online for about $100 each. Juli and John found the black candelabra while rummaging through the boathouse, and the snowshoes belonged to Juli’s dad.
Before she updated her family’s 70-year-old cottage, designer Colette van den Thillart‘s mother advised her to tear the building down. But Colette was determined to maintain the original structure: “I’m not terribly sentimental, but Canadians understand how deep into your system family cottages get.” The result is a cottage that is a scrapbook of her family’s history. At times dark and moody, then airy and Scandinavian, the home is fresh, calm and welcoming.
Walls are covered in beadboard panelling for a classic rural look. The original spruce floor is stained ebony and finished in glossy lacquer to create contrast.
The sitting room sofas are the only soft furnishings in the cottage that aren’t slipcovered, but, Colette says, they’re forgiving — there’s nowhere in the cottage that’s too “precious.”
Large- and small-scale florals and stripes give this room a cohesive look. Decorating on a budget? A covered night table, painted bench and mismatched lamp bases demonstrate the charm of thrift store finds. A bench at the foot of the bed provides a space to store books.
Painted beadboard combined with pine and bare wood is very country. The chandelier is painted out the same shade as the walls, along with ornate cornice above the doors. Punchy red crewelwork on the chairs injects pattern. An antique beetle cartouche draws eyes up to the vaulted ceiling.
Interior designer Melody Duron wanted this room to have an organic, outdoor feel, so she brought in a teak dining table and casual indoor-outdoor wicker chairs. She also painted the window seats a soft grey to complement the granite surrounding the Georgian Bay home.
Rustic beams draw the eye upward, making the ceiling in this great room look even higher. A peaked roof keeps the room light and airy, and ceiling fans cool the house on hot summer days.
Painting interiors a crisp white or soft neutral enhances the amount of light coming in from large windows. Here, views of Georgian Bay can be taken in from a comfortable window seat. Pale bedding and open side tables also keep the room fresh and airy.
The painted wood table and chairs enhance the lightness of designer Daniel Brisset’s dining room, while classic gingham seat upholstery lends a casual note. The table expands to seat up to 20 guests, creating the perfect space for grand dinner parties.
The subtle sheen, and blue and brown tones of these throw pillows reference the painting above by Magog artist Johanne Martel. Ornate sconces, chairs and accents layer formality into the room.
In this farmhouse-style kitchen, ceilings are a soaring 16 feet high. A large table in the center of the room can seat up to six, or be used as an island for additional workspace. Painted floors and painted wood furniture lend a light, fresh feeling.
Cane furniture, dramatic blue and white fabrics and pottery set a British Colonial tone, while the original granite fireplace, sisal rug and exposed studs maintain cottagey charm.
This great room — designed by Anne Hepfer — has two sitting areas, an ideal setup for weekends spent entertaining. The huge mirror (custom-made in Bali with tiny seashells) balances the fireplace at the other end of the room. The ottoman is made of antique mats from Borneo. Keeping the backdrop and major pieces neutral means the owner can add bold colour and pattern in easy-to-update accessories.
Work your style and floor plan around the structure of your space, not the other way around. Part of the appeal of this sunny cottage breakfast room is the uneven beadboard and knotty wood floors. Hepfer kept these elements intact and simply transformed the look with white paint, casual decor and a fresh blue and white palette.
An emphasis on clean lines and natural materials keeps the focus of this cottage on the wind, water, rocks and sky outside. In fact, the cedar-clad, rectilinear structure appears to grow out of its rocky site. Architects Meg Graham and Andre D’Elia of superkül designed the remote island retreat.
Forgoing upper cabinets and conventional appliances (even the fridge is a commercial, below-counter model) means that nothing obstructs the view to the outside.
In a narrow kids’ room, an intentionally high upper bunk creates an airy atmosphere. Colourful fabrics, crisp metal details and traditional pine boards epitomize the modern cottage.