A fresh seaside-chic lake house
This cozy lake house in Port Carling, Ont., boasts a fresh seaside-chic vibe while paying homage to old-school Muskoka.
Nestled on the south shore of Lake Rosseau in Port Carlin, Ont., this 6,800-square-foot six-bedroom house is decorated the way one would dress when visiting: in a crisp Polo Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt and comfortable, well-worn chinos paired with Sperry Top-Siders. It's a timeless look that's coastal, casual and effortlessly chic with a neutral palette at its core.
"The homeowners wanted to capture that warm, windswept lake house aesthetic but with a relaxed, cozy Muskoka feel for their young family of four," says Cory DeFrancisco of Mukoka Living Interiors, who designed and built the home from scratch, finishing in 2013.
Like a friendly smile and a firm handshake, the entryway makes a confident and inviting introduction to the home.
"A lot of old cottages have those tunnelling hallways in their guest cottage or service quarters, and this beadboard wall treatment references that," says builder and designer Cory DeFrancisco.
This small boathouse sunroom is literally right on Ontario's Lake Rosseau: On windy days, you can feel waves crashing up through the floorboards.
"We took up 90 percent of the wall with windows," says Cory of the gorgeous great room, where the ceiling's oak beams guide your eye directly to the view. "The overstuffed sofas are insanely comfortable," he adds. "They're slipcovered in high-quality Belgian linen that gets softer with each wash.
Though the spacious kitchen is crisp, white and polished, simple details, such as the grain of the reclaimed-oak floors and the texture of the brush strokes on the hand-painted cabinetry, keep it humble and homey. "It's a new take on a traditional cottage kitchen, with all the modern amenities," says Cory.
A big weathered farmhouse table paired with slipcovered seating and sophisticated lighting that doesn't block the view equals a dining room with easy elegance. But the best feature of this space is that, with the doors open, you really feel like you're eating alfresco.
Even though this home is grand, the family who lives here wanted an overall feeling of togetherness, so Cory kept it largely open concept.
The west-facing Muskoka room, with wall-to-wall windows, is so bright that it can pull off the charcoal walls. "The darkness acts as an anchor, while the light that shines in highlights the furnishings," explains Cory. The modular sectional is meant for the outdoors (so go ahead, get it wet) and can be reconfigured when company comes to create multiple sitting areas.
The whole master bedroom is very generous, but its sleeping area is quite small. In it, you'll find only an upholstered bed, two small side tables and a 180-degree view of the water.
The large window behidn the free-standing bathtub overlooks a garden and granite. "It's hard to make boulders sound nice," says Cory with a laugh, "but it's a beautiful view."
"All of those elements are, I think, what makes it feel authentic to Muskoka. There's nothing ornate in the whole place," says Cory. And just 35 feet away, in the boathouse, the look is much the same. The palette is almost all white and the dress code is bathing suits - after all, the lake's right there. Take one step out the door, and jump right in. The water's perfect.
Image by: Tracey Ayton
A romantic retreat isn’t as far away as you may think. A few easy additions to your home can turn your space into the perfect escape made just for two.
No matter what your living situation is, it’s important to have a space in your home where you and your special someone can retreat to and reconnect. Whether it’s a nook, a favourite spot on the sofa, or the bed itself, create an area that’s comfortable, cozy and made for both of you.
From lighting to memorabilia, there are a number of easy and thoughtful ways to instantly turn your bedroom into a romantic escape. So put away the passports and get comfy because you two are staying in tonight.
Image by: Stacey Brandford
There’s something comforting and intimate about the tactility of textures. The indescribable softness of a knit throw blanket, the luxuriousness of a faux fur rug, or the delicateness of a lace appliqué. By incorporating these textural elements into your space, you can instantly incite that sense of touch and instill a feeling of romance.
Image by: Janis Nicolay
Creating a place in your home that you actually want to spend time in means it has to be comfortable and cozy. So, it’s time to layer up your space. Throw blankets and toss cushions are an effortless way to inject colour and texture into any room, and there’s no beating the satisfaction of nestling into a soft little nook with your love.
Image by: Ashley Capp
There’s nothing romantic about harsh, bright white lights, so unless you have a thing for sterile hospital waiting rooms, be considerate of your bedroom lighting. The essential here is keeping your lighting options low and warm. A beautiful chandelier on a dimmer switch, for instance, can add instant drama and ambiance, while vintage sconces can create a pleasant soothing glow. Not able to install either? You can never go wrong with candlelight.
Image by: Janis Nicolay
Do you ever notice you’re more drawn to rooms decorated with plants? Fresh florals have always made fabulous decor accents, but they’re also known for improving your home’s air quality, as well as being mood boosters. By adding plant life to your bedroom, you’ll find it becomes a more livable place that you’ll both want to spend more time in, too.
Image by: Tracey Ayton
While it may not be ideal to eat three meals a day in bed, having a breakfast-in-bed for two every now and then is one of life’s simple luxuries. In fact, breaking the usual morning routine and enjoying a cozy meal first thing is a great way to spend a little extra time together and reconnect.
Image by: Michael Graydon
Even a simple nook can be turned into an enchanting retreat. Find a corner to fit a love seat or dress up a small alcove by the window — when there’s just enough room for two, it’s the perfect excuse for an extra cuddle.
Image by: Christy Wright
Create a space that’s for both of you, where you can both feel at-home and relaxed. Take each other’s styles and comforts into consideration, or add some photos or keepsakes to conjure cherished memories, and you’ll have a cozy spot where you both feel welcome.
This pretty verdant wreath is easy to make and enjoy all summer long.
Learn how to make your own fragrant herb wreath.
The Vancouver-based team at Celsia Floral shows you how to create a summery wreath using favourite herbs.
You will need: Natural moss, wreath frame, potting mix, water-storing crystals, floral wire, small knife, assorted herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, lemon balm or oregano), tray and watering can.
Moisten the moss in a tub of water and then spread it out on a flat work surface.
Place the wire wreath frame in the centre of the moss.
Amend the potting mix with a scoop of the water-storing crystals.
Scoop the amended potting mix into the wreath frame until the entire form is filled. Use your hands to firm down the soil.
Secure one end of the floral wire to the wreath frame.
Use your hands to make a hole in the centre of the wreath and place the spool of floral wire in the centre (leave it there for now).
Wrap the moss around the wreath frame – working from the edges toward the centre – until the entire frame is covered.
Wind the floral wire around the moss-covered wreath frame to secure the moss in place.
Use the small knife to divide the herb plants into smaller sections.
Grasp the base of one of the divisions and insert it into the wreath form, tucking in the roots.
Continue to plant the remainder of the herbs into the wreath form, staggering the spacing so the herbs will fill in evenly.
Place the completed wreath in the tray and water with a watering can, allowing the wreath to become fully saturated. The wreath should remain flat for two weeks before hanging.
Image: Nicole Cohen
After a series of nips and tucks, a derelict brownstone in Brooklyn, N.Y., reaches its full potential – and then some.
Four years ago, Nicole and Jordan Stein made the trip from the maelstrom of midtown Manhattan to a quiet, leafy street in Brooklyn that, compared with the city, felt downright pastoral. They had come to tour a brownstone as part of an estate sale, and immediately saw its potential despite certain drawbacks.
“I definitely had some trepidation because the house was in extremely rough shape,” says Nicole, who designs fine jewellery she sells through her online Etsy shop, ByNicoleAlexis. Conversely, Jordan, a Montreal-born business consultant and entrepreneur, was confident it could be brought back to life – after all, he had watched his parents successfully transform a beat-up Vermont ranch when he was younger.
“Our goal was to marry classic architecture with a modern aesthetic,” says Nicole, who wanted the interior envelope to look original to the house. Though the idea of gutting the space and blasting out the walls was brought up, it didn’t get far. “We bought a brownstone, not a condo,” says Nicole cheekily. “Sure, we have a narrow hallway and a tiny powder room, and yes, it’s a little quirky, but it’s true to the original home.” So the small rooms remained intact and were slowly brought back to code over the course of a year under their contractor’s exacting eye.
Next up? Christine Dovey, a designer based in Oakville, Ont., who has remotely kitted out homes (via email) from America to Norway, stepped in to apply her signature style: ravishing rooms with traditional architectural details in a modern palette of black and white with bursts of pink; spaces in which provocative contemporary artwork often sits alongside antique furnishings.
To deliver an authentic period look, Christine suggested the homeowners invest in crown mouldings. “Nicole wanted something that looked like it was there originally, so we went with big plaster mouldings as a splurge on the living room ceiling but regular crown throughout,” says Christine. Making sure the interior looked more downtown than Downton, the designer balanced the historic architectural elements with what she calls “a mixed bag of edgy yet elegant furnishings.”
In need of some hand holding a little closer to home, Nicole also worked with local designer Natalie Kraiem, who helped achieve the look by choosing key pieces including the rugs and living room artwork.
The sculptural replace in the eat-in area of this Brooklyn, N.Y., brownstone was in such rough shape, it had to be removed and rebuilt. Above it, the enormous antique filigree mirror that belonged to the previous owners lends romance to the space. “We loved it so much we negotiated it as part of the sale of the house,” says homeowner Nicole Stein.
Dripping with crystal beads, the antique brass basket chandelier was a splurge, but Nicole insists it’s a forever piece. “I’m crazy about it too,” says designer Christine Dovey. “I love how it contrasts the rough-hewn wooden table.” The bespoke kitchen peninsula, with its marble waterfall edge, was also pricey, but Nicole had the fabricator use the scraps to make luxurious window ledges. “Everyone comments on them,” she says.
A blend of vintage- and modern-look furnishings gives the formal living room an eclectic, collected feel. Sculptural retro Alky chairs are a fun contrast to the stiff-backed caned settee. Heavyweight-cotton curtains draw the eye up to the 11-foot- high ceiling. They were originally placeholders, but looked so fabulous that Nicole decided to keep them – proving that you don’t always need to spend a mint on custom drapery.
Inspired by the iconoclastic Mexican painter, Frida is a punchy print that presides over this area of the living room, where a brass Sputnik lamp, oversized mirror and sculptural fireplace surround offer exciting diversions.
Wild! This spotted antelope-print runner gives an unexpected punch, introducing a graphic pattern into the front hall. “It’s classic but edgy,” says Christine.
Show-stopping architectural details on the ceiling of the living room’s media area are period appropriate but were non-existent when the couple bought the brownstone. Nicole tracked down a plaster restoration specialist in Long Island, N.Y., and sent Christine samples to narrow down the options. The installation took a week and was definitely a splurge. “It’s a real art. There is literally someone there with a cotton swab and a fine blade forming everything by hand,” says Nicole.