Photo Gallery: Storybook Cottages
Beautiful and picturesque country retreats.
Walls are covered in beadboard panelling for a classic rural look in designer Colette van den Thillart’s cottage. The original spruce floor is stained ebony and finished in glossy lacquer to create contrast.
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.
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.
Watch a video tour of Colette’s cottage.
An iconic white picket fence and cheerful red trim frame the front door of a refurbished 19th-century schoolhouse. Owners Carmen Dunjko and Barnaby Marshall’s handyman friend and neighbour, Fred Lynn, restored the original bell tower. The red tin roof is a new addition.
Once a school room, this dining area is now warm and inviting. The woodsy table was built by Carmen with a wooden plank wrapped in artist’s canvas and birch stumps, reflecting the home’s Eastern Ontario pastoral setting. Sleek beech and rush dining chairs by Italian designer Vico Magistretti offer contrast and polish.
Custom-made beds work as seating by day and as a sleeping area for guests at night. Simple hand-woven blankets add texture. The floors were once orange, but Carmen layered on translucent white paint and then hand-brushed the boards with steel wool for a time-scarred patina. A worn desk and chair continue the schoolhouse theme.
In this dining room, the shallow mantel and thickly grouted fireplace surround are almost flush with the wall, and tie in perfectly with the board-and-batten panelling and exposed ceiling beams. The rustic feel is continued with a pair of simple turned-wood candlesticks and a faded framed map. George Washington-shaped andirons are a playful historic touch.
Shutters, hanging lanterns, a wall of windows, cedar floors and a wood ceiling all maintain an alfresco vibe in this area. The painted pine circa-1850 cabinet and harvest table, which were paired with English mahogany Chippendale chairs, were original to antiques dealer Douglas Stocks’s 1850s Georgian-style country home.
Watch a video tour of this spectacular space.
An 1835 mahogany grandfather clock and antique 18th-century English bronze lantern offer old-world charm. Circa-1765 Louis XVI painted chairs, a Swedish painted cupboard and a 1900 French painting make a striking vignette in the background, as well. Exposed stone walls contrast the wainscotting and emphasize the informality of the room.
The homeowners were able to add square footage to this space by removing false walls and ceilings, uncovering the original stone wall and wooden ceiling in the process. Leaving a space between the tops of the cabinets and the coffered ceiling creates the illusion of extra height, a feeling that is furthered by mounting the island on feet instead of on the floor. The practical wood-look ceramic floor tiles complement the dark wood, and feel authentically French. Antique windows from a neighbouring town enhance the historical feeling.
Wicker chairs and an oversized pendant lantern bring old Muskoka charm into this open-concept living/kitchen area. The floors are low-key antique hemlock, keeping with the theme of using natural materials. For continuity, the same rug is used in the dining area, along with more splashes of blue.
Anchored by a big wrought-iron chandelier, this dining area is surrounded by tall windows that drop down into pockets in the cottage’s foundation. The drapery and wool rug were chosen for their tactile quality and seasonally appropriate patterns.
In the principal bedroom, pistachio green paint injects this vintage dresser with casual, cottage appeal. A bright pink and yellow striped seat cushion gives an antique chair a fresh, preppy look.
This cottage’s black-stained wood siding and crisp white gingerbread trim were left untouched to keep the original authenticity of the structure. The stone patio offers a flat area to arrange comfortable outdoor seating for lazy afternoons in the shade.
Part of the appeal of this sunny cottage breakfast room is the uneven beadboard and knotty wood floors. Designer Anne Hepfer kept these elements intact and simply transformed the look with white paint, casual decor and a fresh blue and white palette.
Create an old-school naval colour scheme with red quilts, white walls and a navy rug. Rope ties on the pillows, a tripod lamp and caned headboards add to the look.
Function marries form in chunky reclaimed-wood tables that roll on casters, a side table that boasts hidden storage, and a sofa clad in a white slipcover for easy cleaning. Wood accents, sculptural shapes and a bright suzani and throw pillows add warmth and personality.
A cottage bunkie is the perfect place to use a unique colour scheme, different from that of the main cottage. Here, fiery colours contrast sharply with the white painted-wood walls, adding a bohemian vibe to the room.
Windowboxes and a cheerful rug in bright yellow make this tiny bunkie a welcoming retreat for guests. Side tables next to each chair ensure the entrance is as useful as it is charming.
Tropical hues and organic touches invite visitors to kick back and relax. Textured rattan mats stapled to the walls create the look of pricey grasscloth wallpaper. Twin beds dressed in breezy polka dots can be used for sitting and sleeping. Mosquito nets add drama without cluttering the space.