Find Your Cottage Style: 25 Modern & Minimal Summer Spaces
For some, only bright, beachy or rustic decor will do for life at the cottage. While for others, striking design and connecting to nature are equally important. That’s where the pared-back, modern getaway comes in.
In addition to bold architecture, you’ll find cool kitchens, sculptural fixtures and sleek styling in these minimalist spaces. Here are a few of our favorite retreats that show a cleaner side of cottage style.
Set on a rocky shoreline in Ontario’s Kawarthas region, the Glass Boat House — winner of the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture — casts a serene glow. “We chose the most direct and simple solution for the site: a pure glass box,” says architect Pat Hanson. “What [the owners] loved was being in these surroundings, so the building is as invisible as possible; it’s almost as if it isn’t there.”
Inside, the open-concept kitchen and dining area offer expansive views of tranquil water and colorful granite. The sinks are integrated into the Corian countertops for a smooth, seamless look, while the fridge and ovens are neatly tucked away behind flat cabinet doors.
On the second floor, a loft-style bedroom — the only one in the cottage — looks out over the living area and the lake. White walls, floors and linens bounce natural light all around the room, creating a super spacious feel.
The attached principal bathroom enjoys equally dramatic views of water and sky. For a more private soak, a flick of a switch encloses the room with sliding ceramic frit panels.
Designer Carrie McCarthy’s 830-square-foot cottage on B.C.’s Pender Island is a calming respite from her life in Vancouver. Clean lined interiors painted creamy white keep the focus on the surrounding mountain, forest and ocean vistas.
In the living area, simple built-in benches are the perfect spots to read and offer practical storage space for pantry items and linens.
In the kitchen, a slim fridge is the perfect fit for the compact space, while simple cabinetry and Silestone counters have minimalist appeal. Open shelves put Carrie’s collection of mod pottery on show and keep the space from feeling closed in.
The bedroom is perched on the 830-square-foot cottage’s second-floor loft. Here, a simple wooden cube serves as a bedside table, while a sleek white task lamp adds a bit of industrial cool.
Tucked into the peak of the bedroom ceiling, an unfussy desk topped with leftover MDF and a cool metal chair create a simple workspace.
Set up in the trees on a 45-acre island, this Haliburton, Ontario, cottage is the ultimate off-the-grid getaway. Like a bridge, the building is supported by slender, lack-painted steel posts anchored to a rugged slab of rock. The open space underneath lends the cottage a cool, hovering quality.
This cottage’s owners — former H&H editor-in-chief Suzanne Dimma and designer Arriz Hassam — designed their retreat with sustainability in mind. “We asked ourselves, ‘How will this building enhance our lifestyle without disturbing its environment?” says Arriz. In the kitchen, appliances run on solar power, while minimal cabinetry and sleek stools create a quiet, unobtrusive envelope.
A high-efficiency wood-burning stove provides heat in the cottage’s open-concept living area, while a found branch acts as natural sculpture.
Suzanne counts the screened-in porch as her favorite spot to hang out in the cottage, particularly on the slatted daybed with angled legs, which Arriz designed. A nearby waterfall can be heard through full-height screened panels.
Vancouver-based architect Marko Simcic designed this 1,350-square-foot cabin on B.C.’s quiet Gambier Island to be bright and welcoming. A leafy green façade helps the cottage’s multiple structures stand out amongst the forest of maples and wild foxgloves around it.
Enclosed on three sides, an outdoor shower is a dreamy addition, set just a few steps away from the main bathroom.
The cabin’s monochromatic interiors allowed designer Erin Chow to embrace an eclectic blend of furniture styles. “We mixed modern with rustic and even traditional pieces,” she says. In the main living space, white walls and heated concrete floors have a gallery vibe that feels cool and calm, while a textural rug adds softness underfoot.
A rubbing of an ancient Mexican tree section makes a graphic, yet appropriately woodsy addition to the all-white guest bathroom. “This empty wall was just screaming for dramatic art,” says Erin.
Learn how to make your own DIY: Tree Stump Print.
In a guest bedroom, a window set just below the roofline lets in plenty of sunlight throughout the day. A black metal floor lamp and table base add a shot of contrast, while throw pillows and framed, shibori-dyed fabric introduce a little pattern.
The principal bathroom clad in smooth porcelain tile is a luxurious retreat in the otherwise low-key cabin. A shapely freestanding tub is positioned to look out onto the ocean, while a large skylight creates a feeling of bathing outdoors.
Canadian artist Martha Sturdy’s secluded island cottage enjoys stunning views of Howe Sound, and is just a half hour by boat from West Vancouver. “There’s a wildness about the island that’s dramatic, being so exposed to the elements,” she says of her private five-acre property.
Outdoors, a wraparound deck, appointed with clean-lined outdoor furniture and floor pillows, lets guests kick back right next to the Pacific.
The 3,500-square-foot cottage’s sundrenched, open-plan kitchen, dining and living areas come together beautifully thanks to a cohesive palette of white and warm wood. Resin orbs suspended over the table at asymmetrical heights make a playful focal point.
Throughout the cottage, Martha was faced with the challenge of reconciling her unapologetically minimalist aesthetic with the existing warm wood accents. In her principal bedroom, she stuck to a palette of black and airy white, and kept accessories and furnishings to a minimum.
Martha’s pared-back aesthetic is clearest in the home’s striking architecture. On one side of the cottage, a sleek, glass-enclosed gangway leads to the patio and affords unobstructed views of the ocean.
John Baker and Juli Daoust-Baker’s Ontario guest cottage is as minimal and memorable as their Toronto design shop, Mjölk. In the entryway, a light wood bench by renowned Finnish designer Alvar Aalto and simple hat rack set the tone: light, Scandi, and refreshingly contemporary.
In the open-concept living-dining room, a blue sofa adds a splash of color. The original pine-plank floors were treated with lye and soap for a bright, bleached look, providing nice contrast with the original oak French doors.
Ikea roll blinds softly filter natural light in the cottage’s understated kitchen. John and Juli spruced up the existing cabinetry with new knobs and an economical plywood counter.
The cottage’s three bedrooms all have a similarly bright and breezy feel, with crisp white walls and striped Marimekko duvets for a touch of nautical style.