Sand Dune Oasis

After falling in love with the Oakwood area during a family excursion in the early 1990s, vibrant Oakville couple, Mark and Anne, began to envision themselves acquiring a quaint cottage of their own to which they could vacation with their family and eventually retire. However, as it often does, life got in the way; it wasn’t until the couple rediscovered the area during a golfing trip with their adult children in 2013, that their original passion for the scenic location was reignited and the desire to obtain a property in the area was rekindled. During a leisurely stroll down the beach, Mark and Anne happened upon a charming residence for sale that, despite being quite dated (originally constructed in 1944), possessed a stunning view of Lake Huron. “We were immediately excited by the potential the cottage had to offer, but we weren’t certain that it was the right time for us,” Anne explains. Several months later, upon another visit to the beach, the couple was pleasantly surprised to find that the property was still for sale. “I think we knew in that moment this property would be ours,” Mark states. “We were ready for the challenge.”

Following the purchase of the property (and the existing cottage) in August of 2014, the couple turned to Oke Woodsmith, a company to which they had been recommended by close friends, to aid them in the renovation process. “There was a lot of work to be done,” Anne explains. “It was crucial that we selected a company that we could whole heartedly trust as our Oakville roots would ultimately leave us unable to oversee every stage of development.” “We were incredibly impressed by the quality of craftsmanship Oke had done in our friends’ home,” Mark adds. “It was clear early on in the process that we made the right choice. Oke was brilliant.” A preliminary brainstorming session with the Oke Woodsmith design team allowed Mark and Anne to vocalize the primary goals they had for the property and describe how they had envisioned the space would function. The couple yearned to create a home that would not only compliment the scenic landscape that encapsulates the property, but would also compliment their lifestyle. Mark and Anne wrestled with the decision to expand on the original footprint of the cottage, so as to provide more space for entertainment and leisure. Ultimately, the couple opted not to disrupt the existing footprint in an effort to maintain some of the home’s original charming features, most namely the beautiful stone staircases leading to the entrance. The maximization of the home’s boarding space was of critical importance to Mark and Anne, who purchased the property with the intention of transforming it into a luxurious sanctuary to which family and friends could retreat for the purpose of relaxation and rejuvenation. The couple decided to include a main floor master bedroom suite in their design, allowing for additional boarding space on the home’s upper level and providing separation for their guests. Although this decision required Mark and Anne to eliminate some of their main floor living and entertainment space, Steve Poortinga, Oke’s primary designer, presented several brilliant suggestions to maximize the square footage they had left to experiment with. Steve crafted a unique open concept living design featuring raised ceilings, large windows, and a sliding glass door leading out to the beach. Sunlight filters in through each pane, breathing life into what was once a dark space and providing a means for the surrounding scenery to embrace the home and those who reside inside it. Just beyond, a comfortable covered porch provides additional entertainment space where guests may retreat to enjoy refreshments, experience the captivating landscape, and listen intently to the crashing of the waves. Cobble Design streamlined the property’s overgrown landscape, giving the green space a more “manicured” look. However, the couple was heavily invested in maintaining a natural beachfront aesthetic, and although certain plants were removed to ensure that the view of the lake was not obstructed, dune grass was added to blend the “lawn” into the landscape.

Inspired by the sand and surf that surround their home, Mark and Anne worked to cultivate a traditional “cottage” aesthetic, featuring various nautical elements that work to successfully anchor the seaside theme. Charming bead board from London’s County Heritage accentuate various walls, providing texture and contributing to the desired “cottage” motif. Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White paint runs throughout the entirety of the home, presenting a crisp, tranquil, and cohesive space. Subtly distressed white built-in bookcases and cabinetry juxtapose rich hardwood flooring and simple modern light fixtures in the couple’s open concept living and dining area. Contributing to the nautical or beach inspired aesthetic, comfortable apartment sized furniture from St. Joseph’s Forever Furniture creates texture, warmth, and visual interest by the inclusion of various fabrics, colours, and prints. In an effort to inject the space with a dose of the ever-so-coveted “quirky” cottage charm, Anne worked to include a handful of unique touches into her design scheme. Charcoal and white geometric tiles imported from England (Anne’s birthplace and a frequent travel destination for the couple) cover the floors of all three of the home’s bathrooms, infusing character into the space and providing a nostalgic element to the design. Again, working to contribute to the cohesiveness of space, the navy colour featured in the imported tiles is complimented by the powder room’s charcoal grey custom vanity from Woodecor Limited, which in turn recalls the home’s exterior siding. Subtle aquamarine hints are littered throughout the home and are represented in small decor details – such as reclaimed wood candlesticks and framed prints – as well as several larger statement design elements. Most namely, the home’s upper level bathroom features an eccentric custom aqua vanity that blends beautifully with the room’s countertops and wall tiles, all of which are accented with sea glass. A magnificent walk-in shower stands adjacent to a deep soaker tub, above which hang two unique seaside watercolour paintings, purchased by the couple during a trip to Covent Garden. A minimalistic approach to décor is employed throughout the home, drawing attention instead to the custom architectural design elements of each room. Transom windows in the bedrooms produce added visual interest and character while providing a means of increasing airflow during the summer months; inspiring ambiance by allowing light, the sound of rushing waves, and the smell of the water to penetrate the space. The most popular guest bedroom features a vaulted ceiling lined with bead board and an exquisite balcony that is fashioned with two bright red Adirondack chairs, ideal for reading, relaxing, and embracing the scenery. “Oke Woodsmith always went the extra mile to ensure that we were enjoying the renovation process,” Anne explains. “They even carried these incredibly heavy chairs onto the balcony for us as a surprise. I was thrilled.” “We could tell that the team took pride in revealing the progress that had been made each time we came in to check in on the space,” Mark adds. “We were continually impressed by their dedication, flexibility, and understanding.” Oke Woodsmith’s attention to detail and magnificent craftsmanship is unparalleled, however, it is the company’s ability to create strong and lasting relationships with their clients that propels their level of service well above their counterparts. “Although I was unable to oversee every decision that was made, I was content in knowing that Oke would do a fantastic job in whatever it was they set out to do.” “They created an atmosphere of comfort for us during the renovation process that is still present in the finished space. We are home.”

Credits: Story by: SYDNEY VAN KERREBROECK , Photos by:

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