Explore 10 Of The Best Canadian Cottages From House & Home
Spending the day by the water or deep in the woods is one of the best ways to enjoy a Canadian summer. But having a beautiful cottage to retreat to at sundown? A place to relax, recharge and entertain? Well, that’s our idea of perfect!
So, if you’ve been daydreaming about cottages lately, too, check out our top 10 picks. Peppered across the country, they prove that cottage style is just as diverse as the Canadian landscape. You’re sure to find one that inspires you, whether you’re a veteran cottager or just love a bit of breezy, laid-back decorating.
Known simply as “Bellamere,” the façade sets the tone before guests even step through the front door: tailored, welcoming and a little nostalgic. This waterfront hideaway is the year-round home of Cory DeFrancisco, his wife Catherine and their young son, Charlie. Cory is co-owner of local destination Muskoka Living Interiors. “My passion has always been for the area and design, so it was a natural fit,” Cory says of his choice to relocate to Port Carling and join the family business.
The sunny screened-in porch, with its fresh white-and-wicker palette, has the classic cottage look the DeFranciscos were after. The sofa is covered in washable Sunbrella fabric, so it will stand up to the elements beautifully, while walls of windows offer stunning views of the lake.
Cory looked to vintage Canadiana when designing his kitchen. An X motif on the island and upper cabinets nods to rustic architecture, while a chestnut countertop on the island adds a shot of warmth to the mostly white space. Casual-but-chic doors (not shown) mean the kitchen can be closed off during cocktail parties when the adjacent dining area is bustling with activity.
A creamy palette lends a sophisticated and calming vibe to Bellamere’s interiors. In the dreamy guest bedroom, traditional wooden double-hung windows are accented by rich grey sashes for a bit of contrast. “When our friends visit and have to leave on Sunday night, they sort of begrudge that we get to stay here,” says Catherine, with a laugh.
Clad in charming cedar-shake siding, this 1,200-square-foot cottage is its owners’ dream getaway. “My husband, kids and I are from Alberta, and when we first came to the Laurentians, we fell in love with this lake,” says Jane, one of the owners. A big cedar deck is perfect for entertaining a crowd, while a simple dock offers the owners a more contemplative spot to retreat to. “I like to sit at the dock first thing in the morning or after 5 p.m. and watch the way the light plays off the water,” says Jane.
On the 400-square-foot screened-in porch, a stone fireplace takes the edge off cooler evenings and encourages the family to gather together. Jane chose the pine floors since they’re soft underfoot and will age nicely over time, and opted for comfortable seating that’s anything but precious. “When we first bought this place, we had three small boys. They’d come in from the lake and throw themselves on the sofa, even in wet bathing suits — and it didn’t matter,” she says. “The whole thing for me is about being by the lake.”
Cooking with family and visiting friends is an integral part of life at this bustling cottage. “This isn’t meant to be another house. It’s an authentic cottage to enjoy in the summer months — a place to reconnect,” says Jane. The kitchen’s open storage makes accessing ingredients quick and easy, and adds an unfitted charm to the room.
The cottage’s all-white bedrooms are perfect for balmy summer living. In one bedroom, hooks suspended from the ceiling keep old school flip-up windows in place when they’re open. “Kids are particularly amused by the way these old windows work,” says Jane.
This B.C. cottage is a true one-of-a-kind retreat. The owner’s vision? “A piece of art — a sculpture within the landscape of trees and ocean.” To bring her dreams to life, she reached out to designer Erin Chow and architect Marko Simcic, who partnered to design a mod series of seven buildings connected by concrete walkways.
“The rooms are intimate, like you’re always in a small cabin, but every room also feels like it’s part of a bigger space,” says the architect. This way, the cottage never feels too expansive or too crowded. Its strategic design also blurs the line between indoors and out: Large windows were added here, there and everywhere, and like the leaves of the surrounding trees, the exterior of each structure was painted a different shade of verdant green.
An airy, monochromatic color palette meant the designer could go for a confident blend of furniture styles in the cottage. “We mixed modern with rustic and even traditional pieces,” she says. The eclectic combination gives the open kitchen-living area — part of the cottage’s largest building — a super relaxed ambience.
In one bedroom, a brass bed delivers a touch of traditional polish, while a handsome armoire strikes a historical note. “I love armoires — they’re romantic yet practical, and much more interesting than an ordinary closet,” says the owner. “I was moved by the story behind this one: It was originally made in France by a father who gifted it to his daughter when she got married and left home.”
Relaxed and welcoming, this cottage is also packed with heartwarming history. The retired owners are high-school sweethearts and have been coming to the region since they were teenagers. His four brothers have cottages of their own within a few kilometres’ radius, and his mother still owns the original family cottage nearby. Now, on their quiet island retreat, the couple enjoys hosting up to 30 family members for casual gatherings and celebrations, including corn roasts, golf tournaments and summer kickoff brunches.
Builder Heath Billington joined forces with designers Natalie Hodgins and Shannon Morrison to make the cottage sing. He dreamt up a floor plan that would fit the original cabin’s footprint, but offer a more modern, open-concept feel. For their part, Natalie and Shannon swept a contemporary brush over the spaces, layering in natural texture and watery shades of blue.
With its full-height windows, the dining area has an alfresco ambience. Natalie and Shannon paired a Gothic chandelier with more traditional fan-back Windsor chairs for an eclectic look. “It’s a fishbowl of beauty,” says one owner of the sunny space. “You feel as if you’re right out in nature.”
At this cottage, there’s always room for a crowd to spread out — and spend the night. In one room, a handy Murphy bed pulls down to create an extra sleeping area. Two separate bunkies — each with its a bathroom, bedroom and living area — offer even more room for visiting guests, so everyone can enjoy a little bit of island tranquility.
Perched on the rocks and surrounded by lapping waves, Tracy Thomson and Jody Colero’s cottage is a lake-lover’s dream. The prefabricated structure is known to the couple and their two kids as Twilight Cove, and is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Colorful accents including a blue throw, green lampshade and striped pillows invigorate the spacious family room. “The muted colors of the island’s granite and lichen were the inspiration for our neutral sofa and chair fabrics,” says Tracy. The transom windows were a custom feature (adding them required raising the prefab cottage’s ceiling from 8 feet to 11 feet in height), and they flood the living spaces with sunlight.
A modern chandelier provides interesting contrast in the warm, Douglas fir–paneled dining area. “We brought in raw wood paneling and natural stone walls throughout to reflect the landscape,” Tracy explains. The antique pine table was salvaged from the original cottage, and the pieces of art were painted by Tracy herself.
A colorful Hudson’s Bay blanket and graphic throw pillows enliven the otherwise minimal decor in one of the kids’ bedrooms.
Set in the historic village of Chester, Nova Scotia, Deb Nelson’s cottage is packed with character and charm. And while it took a lengthy renovation to bring the fixer-upper up to snuff — with Deb herself ripping up the carpets, refinishing the floors, tearing down walls and fixing or repainting almost everything else — it was all worth it.
Deb opted for a contemporary black-and-white color scheme throughout her cottage. An eclectic mix of furnishings and accents feels equally fresh, and provides plenty of visual interest in the compact spaces. Here, Deb took down a wall to make more room for cooking and dining. She also opened up the ceiling to uncover the double-height vaulted roof, removing drywall and panelling to expose the rustic planks and beams beneath.
In the pantry, Deb puts her enviable collection of dishes and glassware — comprised of both new and vintage pieces — on show. Blue and white textiles add a little coastal color, while a classic Wishbone-style chair injects some natural texture.
The attic bedroom is a sweet spot for guests to crash. Deb revitalized a pair of antique beds, hand-me-downs from her great aunt, with a coat of crisp white paint and some affordable linens. A once-neglected wooden chest was reborn as a bedside table and storage unit.
Martha Sturdy’s British Columbia cottage is as striking-looking as her celebrated art and resin furniture. But remodeling the secluded getaway, which she owns with her husband David Wardle, was a challenge. Set on a private island, everything needed to be brought in by barge — and only in good weather. “We’re not tucked into a nice little safe cove, and that made renovating harder,” Martha says. “But in the end, it’s fabulous because we’re really in touch with the environment.”
While the cottage’s exterior remains largely unchanged, Martha made sure the interiors would reflect her cleaner, more minimalist aesthetic. A simple palette of wood and white — seen here in the open-concept living-dining space — doesn’t detract from the stunning natural views. “There’s a wildness about it that’s very dramatic,” Martha says of the rocky island.
In the principal bedroom, a resin headboard and side tables boast a pretty marbled effect, nicely echoing the island’s stone. A pair of Martha’s own pieces make a graphic, energetic statement mounted over the bed.
The deck is one of the best places to take in the cottage’s gorgeous surroundings, so Martha went with clean-lined, neutral-toned outdoor furniture to keep the focus on the landscape.
John Baker and Juli Daoust-Baker are the owners of Toronto design destination Mjölk, so it makes sense that their 1,000-square-foot guest cottage on Ontario’s Georgian Bay is a lesson in stylish, memorable decorating. “After we had kids, we realized we needed a second space here for our extended family and friends to stay,” John explains. That’s when he and his brother, Frank, got to work on the Bakers’ dated 1940s guest cottage — one of two side-by-side summer properties Juli inherited from her parents. A clean, Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic makes the place feel more like home for the couple, who can now host a crowd with ease.
The cottage’s entryway sets the tone: spare yet sunny. The Bakers took design inspiration from the home of Alvar Aalto when designing the cottage’s interiors, and a bench designed by the prolific Finnish architect makes an eye-catching addition both here and in the adjacent living room.
Though no walls were removed during the reno, it took a lot of work to get the cottage back to basics. After removing a dropped ceiling, John and Frank lifted layer upon layer of linoleum until they reached the original pine floor below, which they then sanded and soap-treated to a pale finish. They also painted all the walls John and Juli’s signature shade: Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White.
In one of the guest cottage’s three bedrooms, a blue-striped Marimekko duvet strikes a nautical note. The space is otherwise neutral-toned and refreshingly uncluttered. “Design-wise, our guest cottage is pretty simple,” says Juli. “What you see is what we have.”
To Youssef Hasbani, owner of Toronto home store L’Atelier, comfort means “a simplistic space that isn’t crammed with too many pieces.” That’s why he refuses to treat his Ontario cottage as a dumping ground for castoffs from his home in midtown Toronto. Instead, antiques, found items and personal treasures are put on show in the airy spaces. “To me, it’s important that a space has soul,” he explains.
Originally built in 1957, Youssef’s cottage is now a spacious 2,300 square feet, so visitors can easily hang out in groups or find a quiet spot to enjoy on their own. In the living area, a chintz-covered 18th-century bergere works surprisingly well with a mid-century modern Paul McCobb table, while the wood-burning stove — salvaged from the original cottage on the property — adds a sense of history.
Youssef selected a brilliant white for all the walls in his cottage: Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. “White shows everything off nicely,” he says. “Plus, white is soothing and relaxing, which is how I like to live here.” In one of the bunkie’s bedrooms, windows swing up for a breezy boathouse effect, capitalizing on the cottage’s dreamy waterside locale.
An outdoor shower, complete with a wash basin and horn-trimmed mirror, is a highlight of one guest bunkie. “I love that the ‘ceiling’ is trees and sky,” says Youssef of the alfresco bathroom.
At the end of a busy workweek in the city, celebrated ballet dancer Karen Kain and her husband, noted actor and theater producer Ross Petty, head to their idyllic retreat. Located just an hour north of Toronto, their cottage is set on a private lake that borders on a conservation area — a serene place to recharge. Its timeless good looks come courtesy of designer and H&H alum Cameron MacNeil, who helped Karen and Ross make the most of their getaway with a bright, classic envelope and rustic accents.
Before Cameron came on board, Karen and Ross reconfigured the cottage’s floor plan with designer Michael Hatch and contractor Ferdinand Wingenroth, opening up the living spaces and relocating the kitchen so it would look out over the living room and lake. To capitalize on the kitchen’s new and improved layout, Cameron selected traditional glass-front cabinets, a charming farmhouse sink and classic pulls and knobs.
In the casual dining area, Cameron chose rough-wood pieces to complement a weathered bench Karen and Ross had picked out. Simple glass pendants keep the mood laid-back and light.
Cameron designed a soft linen-covered headboard for the principal bedroom, flanking it with two inexpensive shelving units that Karen and Ross pack with books, blankets and curios. A pair of framed maps create a colorful, unexpected focal point in the space.