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Breathing New Life Into An Old Property

Our client had recently purchased a stunning Muskokan property that they wanted to turn into their dream home away from home in the city. The natural setting was so beautiful, that although modern-contemporary elegance was the family’s style in their urban home, they wanted their cottage getaway to be inspired by its Northern Muskokan surroundings. A completely contemporary exterior and interior design would simply not blend in with its rugged, natural location. What fits in an urban landscape doesn’t always translate in cottage country.

 

Although an existing cottage – built in the 1960’s – stood on the property when purchased, mould damage had rendered it unsafe for living, especially for a family with a small child. The cottage was knocked down, and brand new plans were designed for a “new-Muskoka” style cottage in the same location (with minor variance).

Hybrid Materials Achieve Balance and Beauty

The new custom cottage design would incorporate mixed materials to create a modern, yet warm balance of contemporary features and an authentic Muskokan feel throughout. The sourcing and selection of materials was a key component to accomplish this hybrid style. Designer Peter Groza custom manufactured wide-plank wood channel boards that were laid horizontally along the walls, giving the space a naturally linear, modern feel. The corners were mitred to carry through a clean, neat look with detail.

 

Adding to the hybrid natural-modern style, Peter sourced straight line pieces of stone from a local quarry but requested the face be left rough and ruggedly chiselled. The design of the stonework strayed from the once in vogue – but now dated – style of thick mortar and uneven joints. Peter kept the rough, heavy face authentic to Muskokan natural styling but opted for more contemporary clean joints and lines.

Gorgeous grey, textured, two-hundred-year-old barn board from Colorado was repurposed throughout the cottage, along with milled Douglas Fir and Timbers used for beams, posts and frames. Wide plank recycled Elm was used for flooring, treated and coloured to match the Timber stairways and railings. Cabinetry in the kitchen was designed to be exceptionally contemporary in style; a perfect offset, yet harmonious with the more natural sensibilities of the surrounding space. The ceilings were constructed from Poplar and pre-painted to a warm off-white colour. In many areas, the ceilings were vaulted with a dark Timber perimeter and barn board interior. These details and unique mix of materials introduced levels and spatial variance to the home, along with distinctly elegant clean lines and arches.

Peter prefers to use environmentally and ethically sound wood products for decks and docks. In this case, Burnt Ash was used as the primary material for the cottage’s dock. This beautiful North American wood is heat treated to seal the pores and repel water absorption, and incredibly durable.

 

When it comes to mixing old and new styles with hybrid materials, Peter says, “The materials themselves are not new – it’s a touch of creativity and how you use them throughout the space that creates a fresh and totally unique style.”

Natural Challenges and Opportunities

The property was on the market for awhile, not because the location was undesirable, rather that it was particularly challenging to develop. 10 kilometres of road needed to be built to get to the location of the new cottage, this required substantial land research before blasting through a 250-foot-high cliff. The property is a topographical stunner, replete with a mix of rugged rocks, dense trees and forest, beachfront, etc.

The natural quarry along the cliff produced rocks used for landscaping around the property. Typically, a landscaper would source industrial quarries for rocks, but nothing is as natural-looking as untouched stone hewed directly from the land. Even natural vegetation was used in the landscape design; native plants were hand-picked from the property which created a truly authentic and natural setting for the new cottage.

 

The clients love their dream cottage and even say they feel more comfortable in this space than in their city home.

 

If you're interested in how to renovate your old cottage while maintaining its classic look, download our eBook about vintage remodelling today!

Canadian cottager's guide to vintage remodelling

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