Decorating & Design

July 31, 2009

Cottage Drawings

In real time, more than a year passed since I started collecting my thoughts and inspirations for the interior décor of the cottage that you saw in my last post. During this time we went up almost every weekend and just enjoyed the escape from the city — getting to know the land and getting into our own groove of what our cottage life would be like together.

Since I grew up cottaging, I have very strong ideas on what I think is important for a rewarding experience up north. To me it’s about spending time outdoors — especially swimming, hiking, sitting by the campfire and lingering over long leisurely meals with friends. Arriz was a cottage newbie and came to it with fresh eyes. After spending so much time immersed in the natural environment, we both agreed that our cottage design had to be about the experience of connecting with the land. Nothing fancy or grand, just simple lines and all the attention on the views.


Arriz has books and books of sketches and notes compiled through the process of mapping out the design. These are a few of the earlier renditions. Originally we planned on a two-storey building like you see here on the left. And on the right is the beginnings of the sloped roof design her eventually settled on.


The drawings on the left are at a later stage, the point when we decided to drop the shed below the building so it could act as a support structure. On the right is an early floor plan just before when the idea of a breezeway between the front and back half started to form.

Antony Todd - wooden paneling

We spent so much time on the site before designing the building (never mind construction) that we each developed a relationship to our environment and fell in love with different parts of it. Since I love the water and Arriz the land, we have sweeping views of everything! I’m so impressed at what a great job Arriz did with framing the vistas. They’re works of art similar to the way this window acts like a giant painting in this cottage that I love by one of my favourite designers, Antony Todd. Our wood panelling is wider and runs horizontally, but the inky blues and white that Todd used here are going to be the key colour accents for us too.

Here is a copy of the floor plan. Building from the ground up is a real luxury because you can incorporate your wish list, like the wraparound deck, an outdoor shower and Japanese hot tub (fire-heated, no jets). Light is really important too so we designed the rooms accordingly. The bedroom will get speckled light as the sun rises in the morning and by the time we want to eat breakfast, the deck off the kitchen will be in partial sun — perfect for starting the day. The main living area and bedroom and bathroom are separated by a breezeway that allows light and air to flood the space. We’ve used oversized sliding barn doors throughout so that you can leave the entire space open like a woodsy loft or create separate rooms for privacy. This will come in handy when we have guests stay over. The end portion of the living room can be closed off via stackable doors on a track and turned into a guest room if needed. We are putting an extra-wide custom daybed in here that will serve both as an extra-comfy sofa and a bed for two.

Heating source - wood stove

The wood stove will be the heating source for the whole cottage in the colder months. Its central placement and the layout allow airflow so that the stove warms the entire space. We researched wood stoves and asked everyone we could what they thought. In the end we decided that the Canadian company Regency was the best choice to withstand a Canadian winter up north. Our friends and neighbours on the lake, Dan and Diane, also have a Regency (here it is from behind). We changed our minds about 500 times on whether it should be against the wall as it is, or in the centre of the room.

Computer-generated drawing - front elevation

This computer-generated drawing shows the front elevation. The orange “poles” are trees, and in reality there are a lot more surrounding the building. The lower structure to the right is a shed that doubles as a structural support. We’ll use it as a studio and for storing tools and boat equipment.

This is a close-up of the shed side of the building. You can see from this illustration that the roof is slightly pitched. This design gives us a higher ceiling inside and is also necessary to deal with snow loads. It has a subtle pitch and because you approach the cottage from below, the roof actually appears to have the elegant line of a Richard Neutra style, flat-roofed building — an inspirational architect for both of us.

The views into the fern valley at the back are just as important as the front views to the lake, but you can see that we’ve mixed solid walls with glass windows. Arriz did a brilliant job of combining these two elements throughout so that the interior is cosy but still feels open and airy. We chose the light-coloured metal standing seam roof because it reflects the sun and will keep the house cool, plus it doesn’t require maintenance. Taking the time to really examine how we want to spend our time here and getting to know the land intimately before drawing up our plans has resulted in a classic shed design that is beautiful in its simplicity.

Check out 3rd Uncle where Arriz is a principal to see more of his work.

Modern tree house - Baumraum

I mentioned in an earlier post that since we had to build it on stilts to get a flat platform, we think of the cottage as a modern tree house. Kind of an oxymoron, but I did find some interesting designs by a German company called Baumraum.

Check out Arriz’s blog for more on the construction and design of the cottage. 

Photo credits:
1-2. Sketches by
Arriz Hassam, photography by Sarah Hartill 
Antony Todd
4. Floor plan by
Arriz Hassam
Mafco House published in Elle Decoration 2005
6-8. Computer renderings by Andy Gearing