In an effort to maximize enjoyment of the breathtaking landscape that surrounds the family’s lake front cottage, Tom and Nicole called on locally renowned builders, Oke Woodsmith, to help them navigate what they believed would be a rather tricky renovation. “Building and renovating this close to the lake comes with a unique set of obstacles,” Tom explains. “However, Oke Woodsmith was excited to embrace these challenges and tackled the project head on.” Originally built in 1970, the quaint beachfront property has provided decades of enjoyment for Tom and his family. “We absolutely loved our old cottage, but it was tired and desperately needed an upgrade,” he states.
As a result of the unique limitations placed on the design development by the cottage’s proximity to the lake, the process of brainstorming and planning was quite lengthily. The couple was eager to expand the space, however, conservation requirements made doing so extremely difficult. “We had to get creative,” Nicole explains. “Oke’s team was able to craft an impressive plan that would not only provide us with extra living space, but also maximize what we currently had.” “They had a very direct and realistic approach,” Tom adds. “The entire team was extremely patient and adaptable to any issues that were raised.” Embracing the cottage’s original shape, the Oke Woodsmith design team looked for ways to increase and maximize space without drastically changing the fundamental structure and square footage. Increasing functionality, Oke converted the family’s covered porch into an enclosed three-season room using a clear plastic window and screening system by Weather Wall. This addition allows light to pour into the space and works to connect the room with the tranquil scenery that lies just beyond. Additionally, in an effort to create more living space for the family of four, Oke transformed the property’s old work shed into a bright and comfortable master bedroom space for Tom and Nicole to enjoy.
Apart from expanding on the current amount of living space the cottage had to offer, maximizing the view of the lake was the couple’s number one priority. “The team really changed the lake experience for us,” Nicole explains. “Before there was the cottage and the lake, but the renovation fostered a connection between the two.” Upon Oke’s recommendation, the couple opted for an open concept design with raised ceilings; elements that work to breathe life back into the once dark and segmented living space. Large windows line the wall of the main living, dining, and entertainment area, allowing light to filter into the entirety of the space and providing a means for the surrounding landscape to embrace the home and those who reside in it. Inspired by the Muskoka aesthetic, Tom and Nicole, along with designer Rawda Al Henedy, worked to select specific design elements, including furniture, paint colour, stone features, and wood accents, that would recall the “traditional lakefront look.” Warm hardwood is juxtaposed by cool grey paint and various crisp white accents that run throughout the cottage. The clean white elements coupled with several rustic touches – for example, the charming tongue and groove ceiling and the unique reclaimed wood beams used as mantels in both of the cottage’s gorgeous fireplaces – work to bring the beach into the home and expertly blend the interior design with the serene scenery that encapsulates the property. The couple’s marvellous kitchen, admittedly Nicole’s favourite space, features simple stainless steel appliances, luxurious white and grey marble countertops, and clean white cabinets, all of which come together to form an elegant aesthetic. So as not to impede the line of sight from the kitchen to the lake, lovely minimalistic lights from London’s The Lighting Shoppe, hang above the sink and provide an ambient glow as the sun sets over the water. “Having the ability to look out the big beautiful window at the peaceful beach makes doing the dishes much more bearable,” Nicole excitedly exclaims. “Fun, in fact!”
The renovation of the couple’s cottage was, according to Tom, “a delicate procedure,” as the entire building was lifted for excavation purposes, providing a means to lay a new foundation in an effort to support and reinforce the existing structure. Proper insulation, weatherproofing, air conditioning, and in-floor heating, were among some of the additions that work to elevate the cottage from a damp summer destination to a warm and comfortable four-season getaway. “In the end, Oke’s team transformed the cottage experience for us,” Tom states. “This has become a second home; one that we are able to stock with linens, food, and clothing without a second thought.” “We are able to hop in the car and go,” Nicole adds. “It has made the process of travelling to the cottage incredibly easy and as a result we will likely be going more often.”
Once again recalling the Muskoka lakefront aesthetic, Tom and Nicole opted to fashion the exterior of the cottage with dark blue-grey Hardie Board; a design choice that is both practical and pleasing to the eye. The dark siding is contrasted by clean white trim, drawing attention to the home’s stunning windows and presenting a striking and unique look. Not only did Oke’s team work to maximize the cottage’s interior space, but they also suggested the aesthetic and functional benefits of working to “open up the property” by clearing some of the grounds’ trees and bush. Tom and Nicole worked with Cobble Design Inc., a Zurich based landscaping company, who were able to truly grasp the couple’s vision for the property and successfully mould the family a lush haven, ideal for a relaxing retreat or hosting lively entertainment. Directing the eye towards the lake, a tiered deck was constructed off of the back of the cottage, and is surrounded by lush gardens and large transplanted trees in which delicate string lighting was installed. “I often feel as though we are at a resort,” Nicole describes. “It is absolutely beautiful.” “We are both so happy with the finished result of Oke’s work,” Tom adds. “The property feels fresh, which is exactly what we were looking for.”