Location, location, location. The realtors’ mantra is chanted by house hunters everywhere, and in cottage country the refrain assumes a feverish pitch. Finding the perfect private waterfront spot takes patience – so it helps if you’ve been staring at it for almost five years. “From our previous cottage on the same lake, we watched,” says homeowner Katie McLean, “and we waited for the right location to come up on the market.” And Katie’s husband, Brian? He didn’t get to see the cottage before they bought it. “But he knew the property,” says Katie.
The Kawarthas, Ont., cottage-country site was ideal, but the house featured 1970s decor and an awkward layout that ignored the cottage’s best asset: its view. “I knew I couldn’t tackle the layout on my own,” says Katie, so she asked designer Robyn Clarke of Robyn Clarke + Co. Interior Design to take a look.
Though the house was in rough shape, Robyn, who had renovated the McLeans’ Toronto home (they’ve since moved to Calgary), saw its potential. “Robyn more or less had carte blanche,” says Katie, whose only instructions were to open up the layout and give the kitchen a view (so she could keep an eagle eye on her four children), as well as to create a fresh, bright, contemporary interior.
Dining room Homeowners Katie and Brian McLean wanted the dining room to feel connected to the kitchen, but the room was a couple of steps down. Designer Robyn Clarke opened up the archway between the two spaces and wrapped the kitchen countertop and cabinetry around the corner and down into the dining room, where the bank of cabinets serves as a sideboard and forges a visual link with the rest of the space.