Those of us, who are fortunate to have spent time in Muskoka, know what a magical place it can be. Whether it’s a friend’s cottage for a long weekend, or you’re second home, you likely have these fond memories. If you have not experienced Camelot in the summer, I suggest you add it to your bucket list.
Our design firm is fortunate to be heading into its 13th year servicing both homeowners and the cottager in Muskoka. We see it all. Our clients are as unique as their cottage; the place reflects the personality. Enlisting our services are, the young professionals building new cottages to make memories, the retired clientele who are building on memories already made and the fixer upper cottager – those who aim to tweak their existing cottage to maximize
The ‘look’ of the cottage and how it’s styled have changed in recent years. The cottage, much like your basement, was a disjointed collection of outdated furnishings that were no longer acceptable at the family home. These pieces are often strapped and trapped in an open trailer loaded down and barreling up the highway 400. You know that furniture, it’s that brown plaid sofa with the big wood arms and matching frame. Oh let’s not forget the television in the cabinet that weighed as much as a small car. Throw in a dining set from the sixties, and voilà ‘perfect cottage furnishings’.
The perspective of the cottage has changed. Travel time to Muskoka is relative now, and a commuter’s perception of its proximity to the city centre has changed. When it takes two hours to travel from downtown to Vaughan at five o’clock, two hours to paradise is a no-brainer. Okay, maybe on a long weekend it takes four hours or more, but if you do it right, the drive becomes part of the cottage experience.
Cottage design and decorating trends have followed suit. The choices of furniture, fixtures and finishes are detailed and carefully thought out. I am generalizing here, but there are three major trends to cottage design as of late. The Muskoka Lodge, the Beach Cottage and the Summer Home.
The Muskoka lodge cottage looks and feels vastly different from the home. Oil rubbed bronze, or black iron lighting, plumbing and hardware fixtures help to play up the rustic elements. Heavy leather furnishings and fall type colours adorn, it is cottage personified. This look has been very popular since early 2000.
The Beach look continues to be on trend for 2015. It involves an excessive use of white, paired with accents and furnishings that mimic water, sun and sand. Rope lighting, glass tables and baskets complete the look. Blue paint, linen materials and slipcovers fit right in here. This cottage mixes the feel of the Hamptons with a Muskoka twist.
The second home or retirement cottage looks a lot like the city house, only slightly less rigid. It may be slight variations in finishes that make the two places different. At home the kitchen has polished marble countertops and at the cottage it’s honed and more relaxed. The décor and furnishings are classic and comfortable. It has all the latest appliances, often duplicated for entertaining in volume. The mechanical upgrades include heated floors, generators and HVAC all easily monitored by a smart phone. The audio/video has theatre like quality, inside and out. Comfort and relaxation guide this cottage approach.
Remember that the cottage is what you make it, regardless of where it is. It should feel like an old friend, be comfortable and stress-free. Like any good relationship, it requires a little love and effort. Enroute North, from time to time, you may catch a glimpse of that plaid sofa, but I can assure you it won’t be every weekend anymore.
Toronto & Muskoka based designer Kris Brigden, Principal of north Muskoka House Ltd. The Firm is a full service residential design firm that works on small and full scale design projects throughout Northern Ontario & Toronto and GTA. Dedicated to designing inviting interiors that are specifically catered to each clients individual lifestyle needs. northmuskokahouse.com
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