Photo Gallery: Traditional Cottages
Rustic style from top architects and designers.
This Muskoka cottage takes its decorative cues from Northern Ontario nostalgia. In the boathouse living room, a collection of antique gauges surround the French doors leading to a little balcony. Checkered pillows and black outdoor fabric upholstery can handle wet bathing suits and towels after a dip in the lake.
Dark wood ceilings and floors visually connect to the rest of the cottage. Antique pizza boards and wooden spoons decorate the back of the brick fireplace. A window that opens up fully to the adjacent screened-in Muskoka room allows fresh breezes into the space.
The living room of this Sarah Richardson-designed home pulls together the sea-inspired blue and white palette with a large blue area rug, chair and floral pillows. A soaring ceiling accomodates the two-tiered wrought-iron chandelier.
Unadorned oak floors, traditional furnishings and walls with recessed panels speak to interior designer Alyson Wood’s love of classic interiors.
Sailboat models play up the home’s water theme. A relaxed wood dresser stores Alyson’s daughter’s arts and crafts supplies. All of the hardware in the home is warm, old brass including the carpet rods.
A casual blue and white palette, beadboard ceiling, a collection of starfish and an antique model boat reinforce the seaside aesthetic in this cosy four-season sunroom, which has radiant-heated floors.
Heavy Spanish cedar pillars and a beadboard ceiling add rich detail to this porch, where a wicker set strikes a timeless note. Alyson planned to paint it black, but loved the blue so much, she kept it as is.
In this Muskoka cottage designed by Michael Angus, ceiling-mounted spotlights cast a warm glow onto this natural stone fireplace. A low-slung daybed serves as a room divider while keeping sight lines open.
A country-style screen door and a pair of refurbished 1920 wicker rocking chairs lend authenticity to this setting. Loads of greenery — inside and out — add to the organic feel.
Notes of brown are used throughout the cottage, most noticeably in the stunning stained wood floors and timbered ceilings, while crisp white walls keep the brown tones from feeling too heavy.
Michael had this antique harvest table stained to match the wide plank floor. Windsor chairs with pin-striped seat cushions complete the look. Wood venetian blinds have a sculptural effect and floor-to-ceiling drapes accentuate the ceiling height.
A dark wood Mission-style banister contrasts with the white walls and ceilings. Keeping the floor planks and beadboard ceiling running in the same direction helps draw the eye to the back, where antique birch storage trunks and an archer’s quiver with arrows sit on display.
Deep brown ceiling planks add to the natural cottage charm. Cushions covered in outdoor fabric on the antique wicker armchairs have a masculine appeal, as do the vintage sporting goods, like a tennis racket, oars and fishing net.
Michael adorned the foyer walls with antique sailing and fishing prints, and filled an antique bucket with fishing rods and walking sticks.
A headboard slipcover and bedskirt in watery blue and white stripes bring a touch of colour and pattern to this principal bedroom. Placing the bed under a window ensures lake breezes for a comfortable sleep.
French plumbing heightens this tub’s character, while a dark schoolhouse-style sconce contrasts with the white room. A bank of windows lets in plenty of natural light.
Coastal- and cottagey-feeling, this sunroom features subtle East Coast motifs, including bright buoys in the shelves above the window and a bronzed pendant lantern.
In designer Philip Mitchell’s weekend home in Nova Scotia, warm wood tones, full drapes and a low ceiling provide a cosy feel. Rich green trim adds a historical touch that complements the antique chandelier.
Philip opted for surface-mounted light fixtures all set on dimmers to cast a soft glow in the space. A multifunctional island houses a second sink, extra storage and wine fridge.
Vintage bird prints hang everywhere in the guest room, known as “The Bird Room.” By placing the headboard against the window, Philip was able to use a larger bed while keeping clearance under the sloped ceiling.
Philip went to great effort to centre the doorway in this sweet little guest room, but the move was necessary to accommodate both twin beds. Sketches of schooners and the porthole mirror reference the home’s location — the seaside town of Chester.
The beautiful newel post on the staircase was restored in this entryway. Covers were built for the radiators, so they look like pieces of furniture. Straight ahead is the fridge, disguised as an antique armoire.
Located near the Shlei fiord, this romantic home’s main entrance is sheltered under the balcony off the principal bedroom. Homeowner Monique Waqué planted the boxwood-edged garden with poppies, carnations, succulents, peonies and Siberian iris.
Side-hung windows that open onto a thriving garden add to this cottage’s storybook feel. Monique adds colour with portable planters which can be switched up every few months with seasonal flowers.
To complement the region’s northern light, Monique decided to decorate with pale colours evocative of Danish style. Check fabrics in a mix of colours and scales are used as the home’s primary pattern. She also 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.
A generously sized kitchen table made of reclaimed pine easily accommodates large family dinners. An elaborate handmade French chandelier adds an unexpected twist.
In her Collingwood country house, designer Sarah Richardson painted a salvaged clawfoot tub yellow to coordinate with the country-chic drapes. The vanity is also a reclaimed find that blends well with the feel of the old home.
With a nod to the home’s heritage, a large fieldstone fireplace and limestone flooring define a room that’s screened for relaxed summer use and glassed in when the weather turns cold. Family members often sit around the cocktail-height table for casual fireside meals.
In the principal bedroom, a palette of pale blues and creamy whites creates a calm atmosphere. The homeowners had the cypress ceiling pickled to accentuate the height, and to tone down the orange. French doors flood the room with light and lead to private gardens.
See more photos of this gorgeous country home in our photo gallery.
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.
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.
Carmen built the woodsy table with a wooden plank wrapped in artist’s canvas placed atop 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 in this former schoolhouse-turned-cottage 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.
Tucked in Quebec’s eastern townships, this wooded two-storey guest house offers visitors a cabin-style getaway with all the amenities. The bare wood siding adds a timeworn look that blends into the lush natural surroundings. New windows and French doors were installed to provide comfort year-round.
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.
In the kitchen, 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.
Painted beadboard continues in the dining area, combined with pine and bare wood. 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.
Tour this cottage designed by Colette van den Thillart in this online video.
The unique scale in this room, combined with old wood beams, an antique cradle and horse saddles give this space fairytale charm. The ladder is a book lover’s delight and an orange-red rug adds to the cosiness.
The aesthetic of this bunkie guest room ties in with the main cottage so that visitors who stay here feel equally comfortable. Tongue-and-groove panelling, painted a soothing sage and a bright white, creates a cosy backdrop for an inviting mix of thrift store finds.
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.
Simple window treatments and plenty of natural light give this bedroom an airy feeling. The black accents on the bed ground the space, while the twig bed frame, antlers and woolly carpet add warmth and texture.
In a three-week-long painting spree, the homeowner painted the entire space white (she even painted the floor) to transform this once-dingy building into a welcoming, functional space. An antique rope-bed with a tufted mattress serves as a makeshift sofa during the day. A pair of bergere-style chairs are an elegant touch.
This traditional New England shingle-style home, designed by architect Richard Wengle with interiors by Melody Duron, is perched high on an island, offering sweeping views of the water. The owners used plants and mosses native to the area, and intend to add planters gradually to this granite terrace.
Inside, 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. A sisal rug and neutral furniture chosen by interior designer Melody Duron keep the space casual and cottagey.
A charming floral curtain (hung on a rod with hooks) hides the dishwasher, making the space seem more traditional and old fashioned. Simple open shelves, old wine casks and a wicker basket holding condiments also keep with the casual, unfitted tone of the kitchen.
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 home.
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 original tamarack ceiling and pine door of this kitchen highlight this Quebec home’s rich history, while stainless steel appliances and contemporary fixtures offer modern style and functionality. The wine niche, once used for milk bottles, adds character and secondary storage for the owners’ red wine collection.
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.
A lush forest keeps this gorgeous cottage secluded and private. Consider perching new-build cottages on a hill to maintain views, like editor Suzanne Dimma did with her cottage.
As with the front of the cottage, the 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.
Inside, this cottage designed by Anne Hepfer features graphic prints, comfortable furniture and a blue and white palette. The dining and living room chairs have very different patterns, but both have a vintage, nautical look to them, so it works.
Part of the appeal of the sunny 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.
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.
Inside, textured rattan mats stapled to the walls are an affordable substitute for grasscloth wallpaper, and mosquito netting over the beds is both practical and dramatic. These fun decor tricks are also budget savvy: the mosquito nets were $10 each at Ikea, and the rattan mats were $10 each in Chinatown.
Architect Alexander Latham designed this summer home with the owner’s “Carolinas inspiration” in mind. The owner pined for the wraparound porches and weathered-shingle façades of the south. The interior plays on the same theme with crisp white walls, slipcovered white furniture, and pops of brown and green. The owner scoured her favourite shops and outdoor antique markets, hunting for vintage finds and items with patina and worn paint — anything that would give the new-build home a feeling of history.
To achieve a historical feel and balance the dark flooring in this room, reclaimed ceiling beams were painted black. A painting of an old boat lift adds to the vintage vibe of the space.
Most of the dining room furniture is black, but the white coffered ceiling and twig chandelier keep the room feeling airy. Shaker-style chairs, a trestle table and a zebra-print rug combine in this new-country look.
Inside Tidey’s main cottage, rattan furniture with bright pillows, panelled white walls, vintage mirrors, and driftwood and shells lend a relaxed summer feel to this living room. A cottage is the perfect place to add a personal touch with found objects and special mementoes.
This charming cottage sits amongst the trees as if it were part of the forest. The owners brought in natural granite to emulate the native landscape, covered the exterior in dark-stained cedar shingles and stone, and opted for a gambrel roof that allows for a semi second storey without towering above the trees.
Inside, 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.
From the kitchen eyes are drawn to a two-sided stone fireplace — an organic focal point. “We wanted it to look like it’s been here forever,” says the home’s designer, Andrea Crawford. The model sailboat on the mantel is in keeping with the casual tone.
In this rustic cottage, slipcovered furniture, a brick fireplace and exposed barn beams contribute to the inherent cosiness of the living room. A seagrass area rug suits the natural palette and a unique turquoise fixture adds overhead lighting and personality.
The musician envisioned a family-friendly cottage reminiscent of a classic Adirondack lodge — and that’s exactly what he got. Natural materials, a dark brown exterior, and large windows connect the home with its woodsy surroundings.
The living room’s leather furnishings and hits of red complement the pine walls. Large-scale photos of Kenny G’s sons, Noah and Max, recall a memorable fishing trip. A double-faced stone fireplace opens to the kitchen on the opposite side.
Walls of windows keep this room from feeling dark, while vintage iron seating with white cushions add comfort. A butterfly net, wicker lampshade and collection of red lanterns add to the outdoorsy vibe of Kenny G’s cottage.
The cabinetry’s dark finish contributes to the lodge theme of the home. A pale green ceramic tile backsplash features accent tiles with subtle pinecone and leaf motifs.
Crisp white bedding, pine walls and a softly draping mosquito net add a sense of adventure and a well-traveled feeling to Kenny G’s exotic principal bedroom.
Architect Gordon Ridgely wanted to maintain the original beauty of this 100-year-old home while expanding the windows to update the exterior and capture more natural light. Many of the windows were shifted and enlarged, yet the façade remains quite true to its original design. Inside, nine bedrooms were rearranged into six to accommodate ensuite bathrooms for five of them, allowing the owners to entertain several couples at a time.
A clawfoot tub and brushed-nickel faucet in the bathroom keep with the home’s historic theme. Beadboard walls, sun-dappled blinds and an all-white palette create a serene atmosphere. A wall-mounted shelf and convenient side table allow for easy storage, too.
Toronto designer Barb Purdy wanted to spruce up her Parry Sound cottage on the cheap. So, instead of hiring contractors, her husband built the cedar deck himself. They also used discount-store fabric for the cushions instead of buying pricey designer pillows. A railing and bunkie are still to come, but the deck is livable and welcoming already.
Unfinished tongue-in-groove pine walls give Barb’s cottage dining area a natural look. A twig-wrapped chandelier is a playful nod to the outdoors.
In the cottage living room, Barb opted for custom linen slipcovers to cover her old furniture instead of buying a new sofa, installed pine built-ins in lieu of hardwood bookcases, and hung several bamboo blinds instead of splurging on custom window coverings. The result? A warm and inviting space with a customized look and loads of storage.
Once a local secret, Hirtle Beach now has some of the most coveted real estate in Nova Scotia. In this coastal home, designer Mimi Findley stained the hand-hewn spruce beams and floorboards the same hue to unify the barn-inspired space.
Cobi Ladner’s P.E.I. retreat is filled with simple charm. “I wanted to get away from anything that looked formal,” she says. The multicoloured rag rug, which warmed the floor of her first apartment, worked well with an outdoor teak table and other accent pieces in Cobi’s favourite shade of “cottage green.”
Toronto designer Melody Duron’s restored barn boasts a living room that eschews the trappings of “country cute”, taking on a sophisticated-rustic look instead. All the stones that make up the commanding fireplace were found on the property. New pine flooring was installed, but the width of the planks and an oiled finish lend it a timeworn patina.
Youssef’s cottage is like a lodge, filled with the beautiful objects he loves and collects. In his rustic dining nook, he showcases four vintage hurricane lamps above a rough, nature-inspired cedar pedestal table. Making use of every square inch of the space, he built an L-shaped banquette seat, covered in white terry cloth, which he also uses for storage.