This Urban Cottage Will Make You Feel Like You’re On Vacation
Located just beside the owner’s main house in The Beach neighborhood of Toronto, this two-bedroom guesthouse’s architecture, design and landscaping make it feel like it’s nestled in the heart of cottage country. “The owners wanted something like an English garden house,” says designer Margot Bell of Peaks & Rafters, the design firm and store rooted in Port Carling, Ontario, and now in Toronto.
For the exterior, architects Brian Lee and Marilyn Lake drove home a beach house feel with whitewashed shingles. But the biggest sleight of hand may be how this house makes guests feel like they’re on vacation, miles away from the pressures of work. “You could walk into the house in wellies with flowers in your arms and go right into the kitchen,” says Margot. Read on to recreate the look of a breezy weekend escape in the city.
Well-considered architectural details, such as the shingled exterior, waveform porch roofline, columns and oval ox-eye window, reflect the neighborhood’s heritage and confer an instant pedigree.
A coat (or two) of white paint is a classic way to lighten up the space. “A painted table doesn’t feel heavy in the dining area, like too much wood might,” says Margot. All the white helps offset special furniture pieces and accessories.
Whether it’s the wrought-iron chandeliers, stone-topped consoles or the zinc table, rustic, easy-care materials are staples in this guesthouse. The raw look of an exposed-frame sofa is complemented by solid linen upholstery. “We didn’t want to overdo the floral print,” says Margot. “There are lots of opportunities for fresh flowers to come into the room.” A custom stained glass window lets light from the living room flow into the front entrance.
Swivelling armchairs pivot to face the garden. A wool herringbone rug looks like sisal but is warm and comfortable underfoot.
The island’s curved corners have retro flair, and the biscuit hue is reminiscent of a 1940s Bakelite finish. “White marble and cream paint is a lovely combination,” says Margot. A bridge faucet, quirky plates and a trellis-print shade reinforce the vintage vibe.
A group of chocolate brown and white transferware plates displayed in a wooden hutch resembles a well-loved family collection.
The sofa’s cabbage rose fabric sets the tone for a garden room feel. A trio of chandeliers draws the eye up to the vaulted ceiling, which is framed by whitewashed fir trusses.
Stone pavers from Owen Sound, Ontario, will lighten with sun exposure, but the chairs’ Sunbrella fabric resists fading. A retractable striped awning keeps guests cool, while a fountain helps muffle street noise.
The loft bedroom is open to the main room below to keep the mood breezy and open. A board-and-batten-style wall treatment and oversized pillows stand in as a headboard. Painted side tables and a Windsor chair look like finds from a country auction.
A gently curved tub, subway tiles and a handheld spray fixture are a nod to the classics in this bathroom. Figurative sketches in luxe, gold-leaf frames add a touch of opulence.
“The bathroom has masculine appeal,” says Margot. “The grey paint on the vanity gives it a bit of weight.” Nautical-style sconces and hooks for casually draping towels embody a carefree, cottage spirit.