Oke Woodsmith’s plan provides a gathering place
Family is at the heart of Lynne’s Lakeshore Retreat. Her memories of summers at her parents’ cottage in the area and the proximity of three other family members’ cottages in the Oakwood neighbourhood made the location perfect.
The existing building was less than ideal for her vision of big family gatherings. Her brother, who is in the construction industry, found Oke Woodsmith through an online search and recommended the family company. “He was my go-to for the design,” says Lynne of her brother Bob. The two worked with Steve Poortinga, of Oke Woodsmith, to capture the best elements of their childhood cottage in the five-bedroom, five-bathroom, three-level award-winning cottage.
Lynne’s three children, four grandchildren and large extended family were all a big factor in decisions. “I kept them in mind a lot when designing it. I kept in mind my parents’ cottage with a big living room and sunroom facing the water. But we eliminated the walls so that the design also includes an open dining room and kitchen. Every room has full exposure to the sunsets. We like to be all together. It flows well.”
Regulations required the same footprint as the existing building. At first, the plan was to open up and reconfigure the ground level and add a second floor. But as that became an impossible challenge, the design was changed to a total rebuild retaining only the lower level.
Throughout the process, Lynne made several changes. The first was triggered by the entry configuration. “The old cottage entry was dark and narrow. When they discovered the windows needed to be replaced, we seized the opportunity to change the entrance and front door and increase the celling height everywhere. The result is a grand welcome with old-fashioned double screen doors that allow cross breezes to blow through and cool the whole cottage.
“The Oke Woodsmith team was great to work with. It was a real team approach. They gave good advice and also listened to me,” says Lynne.
In addition to working with the Oke Woodsmith team, Lynne had her own team of ‘consultants’ in the form of family and friends who helped her make many crucial
To create a soaring space in the great room, Lynne eliminated a second-floor bedroom from the original plan. Now the rebuilt stone wood-burning fireplace takes centre stage, flanked by a pine wall, and lit by a driftwood chandelier created by interior designer Jim Telfer, who helped Lynne with decorating. A wood barrel ceiling caps it off. “The old cottage was all knotty pine – every wall, ceiling. The crew took it all down so it could be recycled and reused.” Lynne says they prioritized several accent walls in the great room, hallway, playroom, two bedrooms and used the rest for bedroom closets. They were able to reuse about 90 per cent of the pine.
Early plans included glass doors between the sunroom and great room. “We took the glass doors out,” says Lynne. “Best thing we ever did. Now, when we have big groups (before pandemic restrictions) people pull in the chairs from the sunroom. It’s nice it’s so open.”
A large buffet provides a perfect place to lay out food for a crowd watching sports or movies. The kitchen island has lots of room to pull up a stool and chat.
A gas fireplace in the sunroom and panelling in the den also create great gathering spots. “It’s a nice cozy room,” says Lynne of the den. “You wouldn’t know it’s not original panelling. They had tremendous attention to detail to do that,” says Lynne of the Oke Woodsmith team. “They did a good job of those things that make it all blend.”
Upstairs, Lynne’s bedroom suite is her private retreat. It includes a spacious bedroom with sitting area, access to a balcony and large bathroom with stand-alone tub and walk-in shower. “My room is gorgeous. It looks out to the lake and is my quiet reading spot.”
The lower level bedroom contains four single beds and a Queen-size. “We call it the clubhouse. My grandchildren love it,” she adds.
The décor is natural and relaxed, exactly the vibe for a family gathering place. Distressed hemlock floors unify the whole cottage. A variety of tiles in showers and backsplashes in pebble patterns and soft sand tones add to the beach look. The exterior uses stone and Maibec wood siding. “I wanted it dark – to be calm, try to disappear and not look new. It looks like it’s been there forever.” The lakeside façade is almost entirely windows.
Terraces for dining and sitting to enjoy the view bridge the yard between house and lake. An outdoor shower helps eliminate tracking the beach inside. According to Lynne, “We added it at the last minute for the kids
Other practical considerations included two laundries, the original one on the lower level, and a new one on the second floor with all the bedrooms.
“There were so many decisions to make, I couldn’t make any more. So we moved all the furniture from the old cottage including an extended harvest table, a beautiful stained-glass window, and all of the bedroom and living room furniture.” She kept the elevator from the existing cottage, so the cottage is completely accessible. That means Lynne and her family will be able to enjoy it far into the future.